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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Guru's Musings: AP Poll Thoughts, CAA Scramble, NCAA Bracket

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA –
Quick thoughts while killing time before heading up on post-midnight ride to Yukon, er, UConn territory for the Duke showdown.

Looks like several showdowns are ahead for the Huskies on this stretch.

Incidentally, it seems there could be as many as three vacancies in the AP voters minds as of this writing – caused by Georgia, Ohio State and possibly Georgia Tech depending on value of an overtime loss to Miami – in casting their ballots this week.

Therefore, glancing at conference standings, RPIs, and other stats, some worthy candidates might be:

Marquette – If you can make it in the Big East you can make it anywhere.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions are in a two-way tie with Wisconsin for the Big 10 lead after beating Ohio State at home, but maybe a brief waiting period should be injected this week until coach Coquese Washington’s squad completes a road swing to Michigan State and Iowa.

Duquesne – The Dukes have been knocking on the door but perhaps an answer on the worthiness of themselves or Temple will be answered Saturday when the Owls play Suzie McConnell-Serio’s squad in Pittsburgh.

Blue Demons Moving Up?

The lopsided win by DePaul over West Virginia Sunday in Chicago could propel the Blue Demons into the top 10 for only the second time in their history of AP appearances.

Coach Doug Bruno’s team was ranked 12th prior to Sunday night’s vote. But with Michigan State’s 66-64 narrow loss to Iowa and West Virginia losing twice, the leverage is there to vault into the high rent district for the first time since a 10th place approval in mid-January of 2006.

Colonial Athletic Association Intrigue

That is looking like some kind of tournament the Colonial Athletic Association will be holding in mid-March in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the Showplace Arena that hosted the Atlantic 10 women a year ago.

The three front-runners Old Dominion, James Madison, and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s UNC Wilmington squad stayed locked in first place with victories while Virginia Commonwealth remained a game behind by beating Drexel 69-65 at home in Richmond Sunday.

The loss by the Dragons (12-8, 4-5 CAA) and Delaware’s 81-68 loss at Hofstra together with George Mason’s win over Northeastern has created a four-way tie for fifth among Drexel, Delaware, Hofstra and George Mason.

The quartet is three games behind the four frontrunners but there’s an indication that quarterfinal play could be the wildest ever with a slew of upsets potentially happening.

The win by VCU (12-7, 7-2) was the first over the Dragons in three seasons as Courtney Hurt had 23 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

The Rams dominated the Dragons in the paint 38-14 on the scoreboard.

Jasmina Rosseel had 17 points for Drexel in hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers.

Drexel next hosts Towson Thursday.

Hofstra (12-8, 4-5), meanwhile, at home in the Mack Sports Complex, proved to be better against Delaware (11-9, 4-5) when Blue Hens’ sophomore scoring sensation Elena Delle Donne plays than when she is sidelined.

The Pride blew a 16-point lead earlier this month in Newark, Del., when Delle Donne was suffering from what was eventually diagnosed as lyme disease.

On Sunday when the 2008 national high school player of the year returned to action for the Blue Hens for the first time since a Dec. 19 loss at Penn State, Hofstra grabbed an 81-68 win as Shante Evans, a West Chester Henderson High graduate, scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Delle Donne, who returned to practice on Tuesday, entered off the bench early in the game and finished with 28 points, including a 9-for-9 effort on the foul line.

She now has 984 points in 37 games in her career and could reach 1,000 Thursday becoming the player to reach the milestone fastest in the history of CAA women’s competition.

The Blue Hens will host Northeastern and then play Drexel Sunday.

Decisions Decisions

Now that Baylor has beaten Texas A&M in the first of their two meetings in the Big 12 regular season, the bracketing configuration for the NCAA tournament could be messy in terms of near geography placement and keeping conference teams from playing each other until at least the regional finals round.

The Aggies could land in Philadelphia at Temple as a No. 2 seed but let’s hold all that until later as the Guru heads for the driver’s seat to head to UConn where the No. 2 Huskies will host No. 3 Duke in a game that also could have a great bearing on which team will be the top seed in the Philadelphia bracket.

-- Mel

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