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 07, 2011

Guru Report: Temple's Smalls and Penn's Clark Heading to Big 5 Hall of Fame

By Mel Greenberg

Former Temple star Stacey Smalls (2000-03) and former Penn star Jewel Clark (2001-04) have been named to the Big Five Hall of Fame and will join with three former men’s standouts at induction ceremonies at The Palestra at a luncheon beginning 11:30 a.m. on January 21st.

The men’s honorees and former local stars are Temple’s Rick Brunson (1992-95), St. Joseph’s Rashid Bey (1995-98), and Villanova’s Kerry Kittles (1993-96).

“I’m just in shock. Did they finally announce it? I’ve been getting text messages all day of congratulations,” said Smalls.

She said Friday she was given the official word a week ago from Temple associate athletic director Kristen Foley, who recruited the former Cheltenham High star when Foley was the women’s basketball coach.

“I just think it’s a great class to be going into the Big Five Hall of Fame with,” said Smalls, who has familiarity with every one of her inductee classmates.

“I’ve been given a lot of awards and honors, but this, wow, this one tops them all. It’s great to be part of the Big Five history and to be honored in the town you grew up in.”

Boston University coach Kelly Greenberg was ecstatic in hearing the news of Clark’s honor, a recruit of Greenberg’s when she previously coached the Quakers.

“I’m so thrilled for Jewel,” Greenberg said from Beantown Friday. “As soon as I got the message I let my entire family know and they’re also happy.

“I’m sure Jewel’s whole family will be there. They were so supportive and I don’t think they ever missed any of her games at Penn.”

Smalls played one year under Foley and then three under Dawn Staley, who became coach of the Owls in 2000, quickly bringing them into national prominence before leaving eight years later to coach South Carolina.

“I’ve always had a special feeling for Kristen because she got me to Temple,” Smalls said. “I was also looking at Manhattan College, which had a very good program at the time.”

When Staley arrived to launch a coaching career in her native Philadelphia, she hadn’t expected Smalls to be her main point guard while watching film of the team to get familiarity.

“I thought Dunnee (current Drexel assistant Melissa Dunne) would emerge, though she still gave us great years,” Staley said in the past in recalling what it took to build the program.

Smalls, who was on former La Salle coach Tom Lochner’s staff, is currently going to school to get a teaching certificate but still follows both the Explorers and her alma mater.

She was a three-time all-Big Five first team honoree and three-time second-team honoree in the Atlantic 10 while also twice making the all-conference defensive team.

Smalls directed the Owls’ offense to their first Atlantic 10 title her junior season in 2001-02.

Her 1,258 career points was sixth on Temple’s all-time list in the women’s program when she graduated. Smalls is now eighth after being passed in recent seasons by all-time great Candice Dupree and Kamesha Hairston, who both became first-round draft picks in the WNBA.

Smalls is still the only Owl to score 1,000 or more points while also leading the team in assists for three straight seasons. Her 154 three-point baskets are still the best for a career at Temple while her nine 3-pointers against Massachusetts on January 17, 2003 are still the best individual game record at Temple in that category.

Greenberg still recalls landing Clark, whose first name Jewel is appropriate in terms of the gem she became with the Quakers.

“She was like the seventh person when we saw her,” Greenberg said. “I remember her wearing goggles and no one was going after her.

“As soon as I arrived I said to Joe (assistant coach Joe McGeever) that we really got a steal. We won the first Ivy title (2001) when it was Diana’s (Caramanico) senior year but Jewel did a lot for us. And then as senior she led us to another title (2004).

“At practice, she didn’t look like she was working hard but that was because she was just so smooth.”

Caramanico, Penn’s all-time everything who now coaches Penn Charter, recalled Clark’s arrival.

“She did a lot and made an impact as soon as she arrived,” Caramanico said. “She brought us a level of athleticism we needed and she was extremely difficult to guard.”

Clark was a three-time all-Big Five honoree, like Smalls, and also made the all-Ivy first team three straight seasons. She was both Big Five and Ivy player of the year her senior season.

Her 1,743 points at Penn is second to Caramanico’s 2,415 points – the all-time career scoring record for women in the Big 5.

Her 630 field goals are second to Caramanico (697) and her field goal attempts of 1,355 also rank behind the former Penn sensation, who leads with 1,764. Clark’s 475 foul shots made are still the best in Penn women’s history.

Continuing with Clark’s all-around statistical performance, the 933 career rebounds rank behind Caramanico’s 1,207 and Natasha Rezek’s 972.

Going For 600

Snow or no snow unless conditions dictate otherwise, Philadelphia University women’s coach Tom Shirley goes for his 600th career victory Saturday afternoon when the Rams visit Felician in Rutherford, N.J., the scene of his 500th triumph on January 5th, 2006.

Shirley, who has been at Philadelphia University for 22 seasons, is the winningest active Philly women’s hoops coach ahead of Villanova’s Harry Perretta, who has 593 in 33 seasons going into Saturday’s Big East game at Rutgers.

Overall, Shirley is fourth in Philly history behind former St. Joseph’s coach Jim Foster, who began the season at 716 at Ohio State; former St. Joseph’s coach Rene Portland, who made a stop at Colorado and left Penn State in 2007 at 693, and Theresa Grentz, who also was at St. Joseph’s before moving to Rutgers and Illinois with 671. She is now retired working at Immaculata, her alma mater.

-- Mel


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