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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guru Report: Delaware Moves On Still Hopeful of Delle Donne's Return

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. –
While the wait continues over whether Delaware sophomore sensation Elle Donne will be back in uniform for the Blue Hens this season, coach Tina Martin’s squad is beginning to find ways to stay in the thick of the early phase of the Colonial Athletic Association race without the scoring power of its star player.

When it became obvious that the 2008 national high school player of the year out of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy may not be back anytime soon, the Blue Hens had a little soul search party among themselves.

“They’re fighting right now,” Martin said after the Blue Hens used a strong first half to beat William & Mary 60-51 Thursday night at the Bob Carpenter Center. “They know they’re in a battle and they have to do it together.

“After we had the injuries to our two starters (Kayla Miller was lost in the preseason with a bad back), we had our team meeting and I said to Danielle Parker, `What do we need right now?’ And she said, `We need fighters. We need people that are going to fight.’

“These kids are fighting right now. They’re fighting. They’re not always going to do everything right. And we got all these sophomores running around. We got freshman Kelsey Buchanan around. But they are really trying to stick together. They are really trying to play together as a group and I’m real proud of them right now.”

Exhibit A is junior guard Jocelyn Bailey, who shook off a nagging knee injury to score 17 points to lead the way for Delaware (10-5, 3-1 CAA).

“She’s a gamer right now,” Martin praised Bailey, who had a career-high five steals. “I’m happy for the team right now.”

Parker, Vanessa Kabongo and Lauren Carra each scored 12 points against the Tribe (1-13, 0-4), whose play was not reflective of its record.

William & Mary’s Taysha Pye scored 19 points.

Delaware quickly built a double-digit lead that stood at 35-18 at halftime before extending the differential further to 20 points early in the second half.

The Tribe then rallied to within five points of the Blue Hens at 45-40 with 7 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game before Delaware reasserted itself the rest of the way.

Martin was also pleased with the 12 assists – a season high.

“That first half, we played the best we have all year,” Martin said.

Bailey thinks things are falling into place in the wake of Delle Donne being stuck on the sidelines with a back condition.

“As a team we communicated more this game,” she said. “We stuck together, picked each other up.

“I think everyone is starting to accept their roles and bring more of what they’re capable of doing.”

By the time the final CAA game of the night ended Delaware had moved into a second-place logjam with Virginia Commonwealth, James Madison, and UNC Wilmington behind front-runner Old Dominion (10-5, 4-0), which visits the Blue Hens Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

“They have five seniors,” Martin pointed out, saying the Monarchs are capable of running away from the rest of the conference if they can’t be contained.

Delaware lost all three games to ODU last season by a combined total of four points, including a 50-49 defeat in the CAA semifinals.

“They have all kinds of weapons – all kinds of talent,” Martin said of the ODU experience. “They won the regular season last year, went to the championship game and with all those seniors they’ve played like it.

“Every game is going to be a battle. This was a good win – I don’t care what (William & Mary’s) record is. They’ve held leads on everyone all year.”

Drexel (10-5, 2-2) fell into a tie with Hofstra (10-5, 2-2) after forcing defending CAA champion James Madison (10-6, 3-1) into overtime on Hollie Mershon’s long three-pointer before regulation expired, only to lose to the Dukes 77-73 on the road.

The Dragons recently lost starting point guard Marisa Crane and freshman reserve Jackie Schluth to knee injuries and Tyler Hale, another starter, has missed three games due to a concussion suffered when she collided with Jasmina Rosseel during the afternoon shootaround before the win at home over Georgia State.

Hale is expected to return Sunday at the Dragons’ next road stop at William & Mary in Williamsburg,Va.

Drexel’s Kamile Nacickaite matched a career-high with 27 points, but JMU’s Dawn Evans, the nation’s lading scorer, matched that total.

Delle Donne had been the nation’s top scorer with a 26.0 average but has since been ruled out of the NCAA statistics rankings at the moment for not playing in at least 10 games.

After removing herself from the La Salle game six minutes into the battle in Philadelphia won by Delaware in late November, Delle Donne, both the CAA most valuable player and rookie of the year last season, missed the home loss to Princeton.

She played against Penn State but has since missed seven more with a nerve affecting her back.

Delle Donne has been going to doctors, who have yet to diagnose her condition officially.

“She went to see more doctors, she had more tests today. We’ll be waiting by Monday, we’re hoping all the test results will be in. But we’ll just wait,” Martin related.

“From day-to-day, some days she feels better than other days but she still feels the same way. She feels like she cannot play.

“A lot of the tests have come back negative and she’s ok, from the different things they’ve looked at – which is good. Which we’re relieved about.

“Until all the tests are through, we sit and we hope. That’s all we can do at this point. And some days are better than other days for her but we have to figure it out and hope for the best,” Martin said.

“She hasn’t been able to do anything on the basketball court. Even if we do figure it out and fix the problem, as they say, it’s going to take her time to get back in shape, it’s going to take her time to get back in the flow. I know she’s anxious to come back and now we’ll see what happens next.

“Now we sit and wait for the test results – trust me it’s been a long wait. We’re waiting – that’s all I can say. She tells me when the doctors’ appointments are. She goes and sees the doctors and then we wait for the results.

“And that’s pretty much how it’s been now for the last three weeks or so since before Christmas.”

Lucas Lights Up Minnesota For Penn State

The Nittany Lions (14-4, 3-1 Big 10) were held to 25 points below their scoring average Thursday night but still prevailed 58-54 against the Gophers (8-10, 0-5) at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College as freshman Maggie Lucas of Narberth and Germantown Academy scored 20 points and continues to be one of the Big 10’s top newcomers.

Lucas is now tied for sixth on Penn State’s single season three-point scoring list with 60 and is five away from tying the freshman three-point effort of the legendary Kelly Mazzante.

In another Big 10 game of note Northwestern (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten) at home in Evanston, Ill., upset No. 24 Ohio State 64-53 for the Wildcats’ first win over the Buckeyes (10-6, 1-3) since 2000, snapping a 19-game losing streak in the series.

The game brought together a reunion of former George Washington coach Joe McKeown, a graduate of Father Judge in Philadelphia, and Ohio State’s Jim Foster, who went against the Colonials when he was at St. Joseph’s fighting the Atlantic 10 wars.

“It’s a tough game because of how far back Jim and I go with each other,” McKeown said. “I still think they can make a run and win the conference and go a long way in the NCAA tournament,” he said of the preseason conference favorites.

Northwestern’s Amy Jaeschke had 15 points, while Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis each scored 19 for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State was ranked No. 6 a week before losing to No. 2 Connecticut in the Madison Square Garden game that enabled the Huskies to tie the UCLA men’s NCAA Division I win streak mark of 88, which they extended to 90 before losing at Stanford last month.

The Buckeyes are now likely to drop out of the AP poll next week.

In another Big 10 game involving two ranked teams, No. 9 Michigan State (16-1 overall, 4-0) defeated No. 16 Iowa 63-60 as Kalisha Keane sank a three-pointer with 0.3 seconds left on the clock at home in East Lansing to drop the Hawkeyes to 14-4 overall and 2-3 in the conference. The Spartans travel to Ohio State Sunday where they’ll try to stay perfect in the Big 10.

Georgia Upsets Arkansas For Milestone Win

The Bulldogs (13-3, 3-0 SEC) made another bid to return to the AP women’s poll as Khaalidah Miller’s three-pointer with 13.8 seconds left on the road in the Southeastern Conference resulted in a 59-56 win over the No. 20 Razorbacks (14-2, 2-2) in Fayetteville.

It was Georgia’s 800th victory – 50 more than Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma’s 750 with the Huskies and 100 more than the 700 currently won at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia.

Coach Andy Landers’ team is the 10th program to reach 800 among women’s squads.

The Bulldogs, who upset then-No. 10 Kentucky last week, haven’t beaten ranked opponents back-to-back in 15 seasons.

Kentucky got back on the winning track Thursday night when the No. 19 Wildcats (12-4, 1-2 SEC) beat the Dawn Staley-coached South Carolina Gamecocks 66-48 in another SEC game in which the Gamecocks (9-8, 1-3) did not hit a field goal over the final eight minutes.

The Wildcats’ Victoria Dunlap scored 20 points.

In another SEC game, No. 5 Tennessee (16-2, 4-0) handled Florida 83-40 in Gainesville as Angie Bjorklund scored 16 points. The Gators’ loss dropped them to 12-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference.

USP’s Shaw’s Night For A Grand

Prior to tipoff in a Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest against Wilmington University (2-13, 2-6 CACC), University of the Sciences’ Caitlin Shaw needed 26 points to reach 1,000 for a career during the game in West Philadelphia.

Shaw, a graduate of Monmouth Regional High and from Eatontown, N.J., landed on the money with a pair of foul shots with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game for 26 points as the host Devils (9-4, 5-2) grabbed a 67-46 win in the Bobby Morgan Arena.

She also reached a career-high 16 rebounds on the night and dished out three assists.

USP is off for a week until hosting Georgian Court next Wednesday night.

Boston College Gains Road Upset Of No. 13 Maryland

Although the headline spoils the guessing game, if one was told that Terrapins star Lynetta Kizer had had 22 points – one short of her career high -- and 10 rebounds while freshman Alyssa Thomas had 18 points and 13 rebounds and that the Eagles (14-3, 1-1 ACC) had committed 22 turnovers while No. 13 Maryland (13-3, 0-2) only committed 11 and held a 53-45 rebounding advantage, it would seem like the home team had another productive night in College Park in an Atlantic Coast Conference game, right?

Wrong! Advantage BC 78-69 because Maryland found the basket a strange place as a team to make contact. The Terrapins were 28-for-85 from the field, missing 57 shots, including 1-for-20 in three-point attempts and sunk only 12 of 28 free throw attempts. Overall, that accounts for 73 missed shots.

“We picked a tough night for everyone to have a tough night in ACC play,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said in the Comcast Center.

Boston College’s Stefanie Murphy scored 17 points.

UCLA Success Continues

The Bruins haven’t started this well since an all-American named Ann Meyers-Drysdale, now the head of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, was still in uniform as a future Hall of Famer.

Coach Nikki Caldwell’s squad (14-1, 4-0 PAC-10) downed visiting Oregon State (7-9, 0-5) at home at Pauley Pavillion 58-46 for the Bruins’ best start since Meyers-Drysdale’s junior season in 1976-77 when they went 18-1 out of the starting gate.

Caldwell bemoaned the squad’s flat play, which came prior to next week’s crosstown PAC-10 meeting with Southern Cal.

“They can’t act like they’ve arrived because they haven’t,” Caldwell said.

-- Mel


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