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 29, 2011

Guru Report: Maryland Routs Wake Forest With Two-Way Threat

By Mel Greenberg

– There was a lot to like about 14th-ranked Maryland’s play Friday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference 75-44 victory over Wake Forest at the Terrapins’ Comcast Center.

The way Maryland (17-3, 4-2 ACC) executed its offense and defense didn’t leave much in the way of prayers for the Demon Deacons (10-12, 1-5).

Terrapins coach Brenda Frese said afterwards one phase begat the other for her squad, which did not let down after tarring the heels of North Carolina 88-65 at home Sunday.

“I really like where we were defensively tonight,” Frese said. “I thought we just a did a tremendous job in our man – I thought we were really aggressive and then I thought our defense led to our offense, our transition game, how our offense really getting out and running the floor.

“You can see how we’re moving out and shooting the ball with confidence. You can start to see that some really good things are coming together for this team.”

The offensive side was highlighted by a 17-0 run at the end of the first half to put the game away and it was triggered by junior guard Kim Rodgers, who nailed three straight three-pointers following Tianna Hawkins starting the run with a layup.

“I really felt that stretch was our depth,” Frese said of the key to the run. “We were wearing them out. There was one stretch where we went about seven minutes before a timeout and I thought the kind of shape we’re in and the depth that we play with and how hard we play on the floor, I thought was absolutely the difference.”

Late in the second half Maryland spent nearly two minutes in women’s basketball’s version of icing the puck. Though the Terrapins did not get a score out of the effort, they showed their prowess on the boards with five straight offensive rebounds off a series of five missed three pointers.

Thomas had another stellar performance getting her fifth double double in six games with a game high 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen’s good natured demeanor afterwards almost made him sound like he was holding a wake for Wake.

“I can entertain. I have a five-minute monologue ready to go if that’s what you want,” Petersen said and also praised the night’s work by Thomas.

“She’s really long, really athletic, and just makes plays in transition and she makes plays that don’t need a play,” he said. “She gets loose balls, she runs and finishes on the break, she gets her hands on a lot of balls.

“You (Maryland) don’t have to set a screen to get her a mismatch. Who are you going to guard her with? You have to put your five on (Lynetta) Kizer, probably going to put your three on (Diana) Tchatchouang, put your four on Hawkins, are you really going to put your two on Alyssa Thomas?

“It’s a problem (for opposing teams). You set a screen and all of a sudden you have a mismatch and she’s very good at taking advantage of it. She’s a very talented player who is playing very hard and very well.”

Rodgers’ shooting, not to be confused with TV cowboy Roy Rogers, netted her 17 points off the bench, while Hawkins had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Thatchouang had 10 points.

Wake Forest’s Sandra Garcia scored 14 points and Patrice Johnson scored 10.

The Terrapins dominated the boards with a 54-35 advantage, including 22-12 on the offensive glass.

“The one late when they got five straight offensive rebounds distorts the stats a little bit,” Petersen said, “but they got the ball back whenever they needed it back during the course of the game. They shoot a lot of free throws for a reason because they go chase down a lot of loose balls and rebounds and they’re strong and they finish. And we fouled them and they shot free throws.”

Frese noted the Terrapins, who have no seniors, have progressed a long way in the past month.

“Absolutely we’re now a million times better than the beginning of the season because we’re now played so many games together and practices and you can see the chemistry on the floor and the unselfishness that we’re playing with.

“I really believe this team just doesn’t understand yet how good we can be and we’re just tapping it right now. As you can see our depth, when you talk about Kim and Tianna and Laurin Mincy, and Alicia DeVaughn and as they’re putting games together they’re making us a dangerous team.

“I wouldn’t know how you would scout us when they’re playing consistent and that’s what we have to have to make a deep run. (in the postseason).”

In another ACC game played, No. 15 North Carolina shook off its loss to Maryland and sidelining injuries to Jessica Breland (knee surgery) and Chay Shegog (concussion) to down Virginia 64-52 at home in Chapel Hill.

She’la White topped four teammates in double figures with 14 points for the Tar Heels (18-3, 4-2), who outrebounded the Cavaliers 52-34.

Paulisha Kellum had 15 points for Virginia (12-10, 1-5), which needs to get untrack quickly in conference play to stay in the hunt for an NCAA at-large bid if the Cavaliers don’t win the conference tournament and automatic bid.

During halftime Cheltenham High's Laura Harper, a member of the 2006 NCAA championship team at Maryland, announced a $5,000 check to the Team Tyler Foundation created by members of the champion Terrapins such as Willingboro's Crystal Langhorne on behalf of one of Frese's twin boys Tyler who was diagnosed with leukemia in late December.

Childhood leukemia awareness night was held by the university in association with Friday's game.

Princeton Wins Penn Loses

Only 12 games were played in Division I Friday night and most were either in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference or the Ivy League.

Two were in the ACC, which are already addressed.

Penn, which had been playing better in recent weeks, opened Ivy weekend action on the road and lost at Yale 53-44 in New Haven, Conn.

Alyssa Baron had 12 of her game-high 16 points for the Quakers (6-10, 0-2 Ivy) in the second half.

Yale (7-10, 3-0) nailed eight three-pointers to stay unbeaten in the league.

Penn finishes the weekend trip in Providence, R.I., Saturday night visiting Brown (4-12, 0-2), which lost to defending league champion Princeton 70-48.

The Tigers (13-3, 2-0), who went unbeaten in the Ivies last season, got 18 points from Addie Micir and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Devona Allgood.

Princeton had been idle for 24 days during final exam period and the semester break after beating Penn in the league opener.

The Tigers travel to Yale Saturday night.

Looking Ahead

Richmond is at Temple in McGonigle Hall at 2 p.m. Saturday in a key Atlantic Ten game in which the Owls will take the floor as one of only two conference teams along with No. 7 Xavier unbeaten in league play.

George Washington will be at La Salle Saturday night in another A-10 game while St. Joseph’s will be at Dayton.

Notre Dame, which is back in the Top 10, will visit Villanova in a Big East game at 7 p.m.

Rutgers will try to shake off Wednesday’s loss to No. 2 Connecticut when the Scarlet Knights visit Louisville.

Connecticut’s final tune up before Monday night’s nonconference showdown with No. 3 Duke in the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion on campus will be at Cincinnati, coached for her second season by former UConn aide and star Jamelle Elliott.

Will be back in 24 to round it all up.

-- Mel


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