Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guru Musings: UConn Still Has Moore With One Less

By Mel Greenberg

Back in 2003 when Connecticut's previous record win streak of 70 straight came to an end at the hands of Villanova in the Big East championship game, Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma commented in his press conference remarks that one potential fallout from the upset would be that the Huskies could end up going out in the first round of the NCAA tournament losing to the 16th seed.

Most in the room took a pass on the remark because a) the Huskies were scheduled to play the first two rounds at home and b) the Huskies had Diana Taurasi and no one else did.

So now that prized freshman Samarie Walker has departed, the Huskies are shorthanded in the post, and the end may be near.

Not so fast.

This time around UConn's Taurasi equivalent is Maya Moore and on Monday night with Walker already absent for the North Carolina game the feared challenge from the Tar Heels never came because of the nation's top player and a career highlight by Tiffany Hayes.

No matter what happens dead ahead for the Huskies and dead ahead is just around the corner, they're still likely to be sent to the Philadelphia Regional and may not get much of a challenge considering the lack of threats from teams along the Eastern seaboard. Remember the NCAA committee plays the geography game in setting up the women's bracket.

But the next two weeks will offer how much Walker's self-imposed subtraction is affecting UConn.

The Huskies will be still be a strong favorite in Vegas to win at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights, while not being a leader of the pack, does have people such as Monique Oliver to block a shot or two.

It also looks like Jan. 31 is the new must-watch date when No. 3 Duke, which crushed ACC-rival Georgia Tech 69-32 Friday night, visits Gampel Pavilion looking to catapult over UConn in the polls and in projected NCAA committee seeding.

Afterwards will be two major Big East encounters with a visit from DePaul and a trip to West Virginia.

So after that set of games we'll know if the traditional resiliency that has stood UConn well over the years in times of adversity is still a potent factor.

Terrapins Ready To Dance Like Its 2006?

Back in the stretch of the 2006 season Maryland rose up to beat Duke at about this point in time and barely missed upsetting North Carolina.

However, the back-to-back performances did wonders for the confidence of a young Terrapins group who then got both schools in the Women's Final Four for Maryland's sole NCAA title in women's basketball.

On Friday night, the Terrapins rallied in the closing minutes and then stunned host Virginia in overtime for a 77-75 victory, not that the team Maryland beat is your grandmother's Cavaliers.

But if this gives the Terrapins a big shot of confidence, coach Brenda Frese's group will be in position to get North Carolina when the Tar Heels visit the Comcast Center at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Virginia meanwhile needs a run quickly if the Cavaliers want to avoid sitting in the stands when one of the NCAA opening set of games are played in their John Paul Jones Arena.

Drexel Lives By The Winning Shot and Also Dies By It

A week ago, Kamile Nacickaite kept Drexel in the thick of the Colonial Athletic Association race with a buzzer-beatng trey in overtime to stun host William & Mary.

On Thursday night a comeback went to waste when host George Mason got Drexel with 4.1 seconds left in regulation on an inside shot by Taleia Moton for a 49-47 triumph.

That setback put the Dragons (11-6, 3-3 CAA) two games behind the mob of leaders in Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington, James Madison and VCU.

"I'm only worried about one thing -- having lost Marisa Crane and Jackie Schluth to knee injuries has hurt our chemistry," coach Denise Dillon said afterwards. "We seem to be going backwards. We as a coaching staff don't want to dwell on the losses. We don't talk about it. We want to move forward and keep playing the kind of defense that had us winning."

Drexel is locked with Delaware and Hofstra at 3-3 but already has a win over the Blue Hens. So when Hofstra visits Sunday at 2 p.m. in the second annual homecoming of former West Chester Henderson High star Shante Evans, consider the game a must-win on both sides.

Saturday's Local Slate

Temple will visit Penn at 2 p.m. for a Big Five game against a Quakers squad coming off an upset of La Salle.

A vastly improved Duquesne team coached by former Penn State star Suzie McConnell-Serio visits La Salle at 2 p.m. trying to recover from the loss to Richmond, while at the same time St. Joseph's will be at home trying to break its slide by beating Massachusetts.

Villanova must deal with another Big East ranked team when the Wildcats visit Georgetown, while Rutgers will be looking to keep the momentum going when the Scarlet Knights host Providence.

The Guru will have it all so see you all in the next 24 hours. In between keep you eye on the tweets.

-- Mel

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