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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.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Guru Report: Delle Donne Gets Nasty In Delaware Win Over Drexel

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. –
Something among the 38 pills that Delaware sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne says she is taking daily to combat the symptoms of Lyme Disease might be contributing to a newly-found mean streak of sorts.

“Maybe it’s the medicine, but I’ve rarely seen her like that,” her father Ernie quipped after Delle Donne displayed a relatively unseen court personality Sunday afternoon as the Blue Hens topped arch-rival Drexel 53-44 at the Carpenter Center to take sole possession of fifth place in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Her vocality was such that Delle Donne even yelled or glowered toward officials on a few occasions when a call went against her or her teammates.

Though Drexel coach Denise Dillon drew up a strategy that somewhat held the 2008 national high school player of the year to 18 points – eight below her 26.0 average – Delle Donne became a defensive force with a career-high 18 rebounds and a blocked shot in 36 minutes of play.

She had two offensive rebounds and when she scored off one of them and was also fouled to complete a three-point play to help the Blue Hens (13-9, 6-5 CAA) gain the momentum, she yelled to her teammates in s will-to-win exclamation.

The play brought Delaware to a 34-34 tie with the Dragons (13-9, 5-6) with 11 minutes, 59 seconds left in the game. Delle Donne went on to score four more points in the 13-2 run that gave Delaware a 44-36 lead with 8:06 left to play.

Lauren Carra also scored in double figures for the Blue Hens with 10 points.

Drexel’s Hollie Mershon scored 17 points and Jamsina Rosseel had 11, but Dillon benched leading scorer Kamile Nacickaite in the first half for breaking an unspecified team rule. She finished with three points in 13 minutes of action.

“It really was everything,” Delle Donne said of the entire Delaware focus to crash the boards that resulted in a 43-30 rebounding advantage, including 14-6 on the offensive glass. “Drexel’s too good of a team to give second shot opportunities. We knew it had to be one-and-done or we wouldn’t win the basketball game.
“It definitely set up our transition and things like that.”

Drexel, which fell to a tie for sixth with Hofstra (13-9, 5-6) going into a visit to the Pride on Long Island Thursday night, still had chances to win despite the Delaware run.

After the Blue Hens scored their 44th point, they didn’t score again for the next seven minutes until former St. Joseph’s star Sarah Acker hit two foul shots with 55 seconds left to play.

But Drexel, which has now lost four of the Dragons’ last six, could only manage a three-pointer in the same stretch and couldn’t get over the hump.

The Dragons have been struggling since losing point guard Marisa Crane to a knee injury in late December and freshman reserve Jackie Schluth to a similar knee injury a week later after the New Year.

One of the two wins was a 59-56 triumph last month over Delaware in Philadelphia when Delle Donne was missing a stretch of 11 games suffering from fatigue while her condition was being diagnosed.

She returned a week ago when Delaware lost at Hofstra before beating Northeastern here Thursday night.
Dellle Donne laughed when asked about her feistiness in Sunday’s game.

“I’m trying to be more of a leader for my team and I want them to be able to follow my lead with my energy and everything like that because it’s critical and champions play with energy every day.

“So I just want to be the best leader I can be for my team and we’ve becoming a family lately and are just having a lot of fun out on the court together.

“We knew this game was going to send out a statement because we needed to win a game like this because we hadn’t beaten any of the top teams yet and it kind of gives us a boost for the next few games.”

It was a big day all around for coach Tina Martin who had been asked for her Super Bowl favorite on the postgame radio show and alluded that although she grew up in Pittsburgh Steelers country in Western Pennsylvania – she’s a Lock Haven grad – she was pulling for Green Bay because she liked the style of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The QB delivered for a 31-25 win in Dallas and now Martin needs her team to do likewise on a critical three-game road trip at Towson Thursday and then at William & Mary and at George Mason.

The Blue Hens, though trailing fourth place by two games, could still catch Virginia Commonwealth for the final bye slot in next month’s CAA tournament at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., near Washington.

But after the road swing comes home games against defending champion James Madison, which took over sole possession of first place Sunday, VCU and then a trip to Old Dominion before finishing up at home against Towson.

“It’s a big stretch because we’re on the road and then it’s us against the world and that’s what the mentality of our team has to be,” Martin said of the road ahead. “And hopefully it’s going to bring us even closer (to each other). I hope we capitalize on the road games because the road games are really difficult in the CAA.”

Turning to Sunday’s game specifically, Martin observed:

“It’s fun playing intense, competitive basketball,” she noted of the defensive battle that was enjoyable for the home crowd of 2,339 fans.

“I feel like my team is really bonding right now and I think they understand now what it takes. We’ve been talking about team toughness and our mentality as a group,” Martin said.

“We’ve been talking about worry what we’re doing, not necessarily what other teams are doing. I just thought the kids played very good defense today. I thought Drexel played outstanding defense as well.

“Both teams you could tell. This is a rivalry. No question for years and years it’s been this way,” Martin explained. “One team might win a few more than others but the games are always close, the games are always intense.

“I just thought both teams really went at it today and fortunately for us we came out on the winning side and did the things we needed to do but I thought the star of our game was our defense – the collective team defense.

“They hustle and get a lot of hustle rebounds because that team plays with a lot of fight and a lot of hustle – I have a tremendous amount of respect for them.

“It was a great game – back and forth, back and forth – every shot was contested and people were taking great shots. The defense was so tough and people were hustling all over the floor. I wouldn’t consider that an ugly game at all. It was just one of those Jim Dandies like the Ali-Frazier fights.”

As for the fight shown by Delle Donne, Martin said, “Elena has really, really tried to help lead this team. Since she’s come back she’s really tried to invest herself not just on the offensive end but on both ends of the floor

“And it does show. And it makes us a better team. There’s no question. And that’s a tribute to Elena and her willingness and wanting -- she wants us to win so badly and I think that’s just an awesome thing. But I think the other kids, too, to be honest,

I think they’re rallying around her and she’s rallying around them.

“She sees how hard they’re working. They see hard she’s working and it rubs off on each other and that’s what makes a team.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the CAA the three-way troika that had been on top of the standings turned in the direction of James Madison (17-6, 10-1) Sunday when the Dukes knocked down Old Dominion 67-58 at home in the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va., to drop the Lady Monarchs (15-7, 9-2) a game back into second place.

A crowd of 6,099 fans, the second highest in JMU women’s history, saw the Dukes fend off an ODU rally in the second half as Dawn Evans scored 25 points and dealt six assists.

Tia Lewis scored 18 points for the Lady Monarchs, who next host Northeastern (8-14, 3-8) and are now tied in second place with UNC Wilmington (17-5, 9-2).

The Seahawks, who had won eight straight, got knocked from the top courtesy of an upset 76-67 loss at Georgia State (8-14, 3-8).

Cody Paulk scored a career-high 15 points for Georgia State while Martha White had 21 points for UNC Wilmington, which next goes to William & Mary.

VCU (13-8, 8-3) stayed in fourth place, two games behind frontrunner JMU, by gaining an easy 82-55 win at Northeastern as Courtney Hurt scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the winning Rams, posting her 17th double double, which is tops in the NCAA.

Christine Huber scored 12 for the Huskies.

VCU hosts James Madison on Thursday.

Hofstra stayed locked with Drexel by suffering a 76-70 loss at George Mason (11-11, 5-6) despite 17 points and eight rebounds from West Chester Henderson grad Shane Evans and a career-high 15 points from Candace Bond.

Penn State Maintains Big Ten Lead

How sweep it is for the Nittany Lions (20-5, 9-2 Big Ten), who completed a perfect two-game road swing for the week Sunday as well as a two-game season series wipeout of No. 20 Iowa ((17-7, 5-6) with an 82-75 win over the Hawkeyes in Iowa City that became Penn State’s 800th win in history and also guaranteed the first 20-win campaign since 2003-04 back in the Kelly Mazzante era.

PSU became the 13th Division I women’s team to reach 800 wins and the conference total for the season to date is the most since 13 in 2004-05.

More important, coach Coquese Washington’s group maintained a half-game lead at the top of the conference a half-game in front of No. 11 Michigan State (20-3, 8-2) setting up a showdown with the Spartans at home Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Alex Bentley had 25 points for PSU, while freshman Maggie Lucas of Narberth and Germantown Academy scored 18 points to pass the legendary Suzie McConnell-Serio, who now coaches Duquesne, and Corrine Gulas to move into fourth place on the team’s freshman season scoring list.

Mia Nickson had 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Iowa’s Kamille Whalin scored 24 points.

Michigan State stayed on PSU’s heels with a 76-57 win at home in East Lansing against Purdue (16-8,6-5) as Brittney Thomas had a career-high 22 points for the Spartans while Drey Mingo scored 16 points for the Boilermakers (16-8, 6-5). They now trail the Nittany Lions by three games despite a win over them earlier this season at home in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Spartans’ record matches their best start in the program’s history.

Wisconsin (8-3, 13-10) stayed a game behind Penn State with a 75-49 win at Indiana as Alyssa Karel scored 21 points and coach Lisa Stone gained her 500th victory.

Michigan (14-9, 7-4) snapped a two-game losing streak and stayed two games off the pace with a 69-56 win over visiting Illinois (7-17, 2-9) as Veronica Hicks matched a career-high with 24 points at the Wolverines’ Crisler Arena.

Northwestern (16-8, 5-6) meanwhile, made it a season sweep with a 74-68 win at Ohio State (13-9, 4-6) in the Value City Arena as the visiting Wildcats’ Amy Jaeschke scored 29 points in a game between two coaches who competed against each other in the Atlantic 10.

Northwestern, whose coach Joe McKeown used to be at George Washington, won in Columbus for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

Buckeyes coach Jim Foster was at St. Joseph’s.

La Salle Rising

The Explorers may be on the verge of ending a three-year absence from the Atlantic 10 tournament after beating Fordham 69-54 Sunday afternoon at home at the Tom Gola Arena to move into a tie with St. Joseph’s for eighth place in the conference standings.

Ashley Gale passed her 1,000th point for La Salle (7-16, 3-5 A-10), needing 21 before the game and getting 25. Carlene Hightower was the 22nd member of the program to gain the milestone back in the 2007-08 season.

Alexis Scott added 14 points, while Nadia Duncan and Ebonee Jones each scored 10, and Jess Koci grabbed 13 rebounds against the Rams (10-14, 2-6), who fell into ninth place and got 12 points from Caitlin Shadbolt and 10 from Kyara Weekes.

La Salle earned a split with Fordham with the win and has a chance to grab two in a row for the first time this season when Rhode Island, winless in conference play, visits Wednesday night.

Big East: Rutgers Recovers While ‘Nova Still Winless in Conference

Rutgers (13-9, 6-3) recovered from its tough loss at the finish at St. John’s Tuesday night by making it a season sweep over Syracuse (16-6, 4-5), beating the Orange 54-47 at home in the Louis Brown Athletic Center Sunday afternoon.

Monique Oliver had 15 points, six rebounds, three steals and four blocked shots for the Scarlet Knights, who have suffered another roster loss due to Julie Paunovic’s knee injury at practice last week.

The Australian is out for an indefinite period and had only played seven games as she waited to satisfy NCAA transfer eligibility rules.

Khadijah Rushdan had 14 points and dealt nine assists while Erica Wheeler scored 13 points for Rutgers, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

The game was a must-win for the Scarlet Knights, though Syracuse needed it badly also. Rutgers is now sixth in the conference, a half-game ahead of Louisville and West Virginia and a half-game behind Georgetown.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s squad faces another must-win at home Tuesday night when Pittsburgh, fresh off an upset at No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday.

The game also marks the return of former Rutgers’ women’s media liaison Stacey Brann, who left before the season to fill a similar job with the Panthers in Agnus Berenato’s program.

Villanova (8-14, 0-9 Big East) is still looking for its first conference win of the season after suffering its latest loss Sunday afternoon, a 64-48 setback to Louisville (15-9, 6-4).

Laura Sweeney scored 14 points for the Wildcats and Lindsay Kimmel had 12 points off four treys while also dealing four assists.

Monique Reid had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals who had 22 turnovers to 20 for Villanova.
Villanova next visits Providence Wednesday as coach Harry Perretta continues to be stuck on career victory 594 trying to get to 600.

ACC Traffic Jam

No. 3 Duke (21-1, 7-0), which will probably be less than that early Monday afternoon when the next AP poll is released, holds a two-game lead over No. 15 North Carolina (20-3, 6-2), whom the Blue Devils visit later Monday night, and three other teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

No. 12 Maryland (20-3, 6-2) moved up into the crowd Sunday afternoon beating North Carolina State 88-59 in the Terrapins’ Comcast Center in College Park to drop the Wolfpack to 10-13 overall and 1-7 in the conference.

Lynetta Kizer had 22 points and 13 rebounds for Maryland while Kim Rodgers, the heroine of the recent win at the buzzer at Georgia Tech, had 14 points.

North Carolina State’s Myisha Goodwin-Coleman had 14 points, The Terrapins dominated the boards with a 51-28 rebounding advantage.

The other two teams in second are No. 14 Florida State (18-5, 6-2), which travels to Virginia (13-11, 2-6) Monday night, and No. 18 Miami (20-3, 6-2).

No. 25 Georgia Tech (18-7, 6-3) is a half-game behind the second place crowd in sixth.

The Rest of the Nation

Top-ranked Baylor (21-1, 8-0 Big 12) continues to roll in the conference, achieving its best start ever following an 84-57 win at Oklahoma State (13-8, 1-7) in Stillwater as Brittney Griner scored 19 points.

No. 10 UCLA (19-2, 9-1 Pac-10) made a cross-town visit to conference rival Southern Cal (13-8, 5-5) and came home with a 74-67 win as Darxia Morris had 24 points; Jasmine Dixon scored 23 and had 14 rebounds.

It’s the best start for the Bruins since the 1976-77 season, one year before winning the AIAW championship when Hall of Famer Ann Meyers-Drysdale was a senior.

Jackie Gemelos scored 16 for USC, which fell to sixth place.

No. 24 Georgia (18-5, 8-2 SEC) took a half-game lead into second place over No. 16 Kentucky (18-4, 7-2) in the Southeastern Conference by beating Alabama 81-54 at home in Athens to drop the Crimson Tide to 12-12 overall and 1-10 in the conference.

Georgia’s Khaalidah Miller scored 22 points for the Bulldogs.

The Wildcats’ stay on the rung is at risk Monday night when No. 5 Tennessee (21-2, 9-0) visits.

Elsewhere in the SEC, Vanderbilt (16-7, 7-3) was extended into double overtime before winning at Florida 103-97 to drop the Gators in Gainesville to 14-11 overall and 4-7 in the conference.

Tiffany Clarke and Stephanie Holzer each scored 23 for the Commodores and Clarke also had a career-high 13 rebounds.
Jennifer George had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Gators.

Dawn Staley’s South Carolina squad (13-10, 5-5 SEC) upset host Arkansas 64-62 in overtime to drop the Razorbacks to 16-7 overall and 4-7 in the conference,

Valerie Nainima had 14 points for the Gamecocks, who next host Kentucky Thursday.

Mississippi State (9-13, 1-9) got its first conference win with a 57-45 road upset at Auburn (13-10, 6-4), while LSU (16-9, 6-5) got 23 points from Adrienne Webb to beat host Mississippi 76-38, dropping Tigers coach Van Chancellor’s former team to 10-12 overall and 3-7 in the SEC.

Over in Conference USA, Houston (18-4, 9-0) opened up a three-game lead with an 85-70 win at Tulane (17-6, 6-4) in New Orleans that dropped the Green Wave into fourth place a half game behind Memphis and Rice.

The Cougars’ nine-game win streak is the sixth longest in C-USA history.

While Loyola of Maryland kept the pressure alive from second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Marist (21-2, 12-0) needed a left-handed layup from Corielle Yarde with 27-7 seconds left to beat host Fairfield 54-52 at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport, Conn., and stay unbeaten in the conference with a two-game lead.

There were five ties and six lead changes.

Elsewhere in the MAAC, Sarah Homan had 19 points and 20 rebounds while MyNeshia McKenzie scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Rider improved to 3-20 and 3-9 in the conference with a 93-87 double overtime win at home in Lawrenceville, N.J., over Iona (9-15, 5-7).

“I am so proud of our kids,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said after the game that featured 11 ties and 14 lead changes. “This was a team that absolutely annihilated us us by 30 points, and it wasn’t even that close, a couple of weeks ago.

“For us to come back and put this effort together and have so many different players just step up and do all of the little things that we talk about every day. I really couldn’t be more proud.”

That’s it till the next sunrise.

-- Mel

5 Comments:

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You mentioned the MAAC game between Iona and Rider. I was there! It was one of the best basketball games I have ever seen live at any level, and I've been to a few hundred.

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