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, February 04, 2011

Guru Report: Delle Donne's Time, Overtime, And Nick of Time

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. –
Elena Delle Donne is on the mend and again setting records for Delaware while overtime finishes and close finishes highlighted Thursday night games across the nation, especially in the Colonial Athletic Association.

And beyond that, guess who has suddenly emerged for at least a few more days in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten?

Hold your answer, but first, the lights are going back on here in Delaware’s season, though Drexel threatens just ahead when the Dragons visit the Bob Carpenter Center Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

After returning from an 11-game absence in Sunday’s loss at Hofstra due to what school officials now say are “symptoms of Lyme Disease,” Delle Donne played at home for the first time since Nov. 23 and was the star of the show with a game-high 24 points in an easy 52-37 win over Northeastern in the CAA.

When Delle Donne hit the first of two foul shots for her first score of the second half when 19 minutes, 32 seconds remained in the game, the sophomore sensation and 2008 national high school player of the year reached her1,000th career point.

The milestone, which occurred in her 38th game, made her the fastest to reach 1,000 points in CAA history, topping the former mark of James Madison senior Dawn Evans, who hit the magic number in her 55th game.

She is also tied for the fourth fastest in combined history of the former Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), which went out of business after 1982, and the NCAA, which began women’s championships that same 1981-82 season.

Three players reached 1,000 in their 37th game – one less than Delle Donne – including LSU’s Maree Jackson (1976-78), the Australian mother of WNBA All-Star Lauren Jackson of the defending champion Seattle Storm; Oregon State’s Carol Menken (1979-81), and New Orleans’ Sandra Hodge (1981-84), the first and only previous player under the NCAA to achieve the 1,000th point total for speed.

Weber State’s Kathy Miller is tied with the Delle Donne total of 38 games, which she achieved in 1976-79.

“I love playing in here, obviously home court advantage,” she said of the arena that had 2,031 fans for the Blue Hens (12-9, 5-5 CAA). “But even more to me, I’ve been playing here for a while.”

Delle Donne won several state championships in the facility with nearby Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy.
Lauren Carra also scored in double figures for the Blue Hens with 10 points while Dani Iverolino scored 13 for Northeastern (8-13, 3-7).

Delle Donne, who hit 4-of-6 three-point attempts, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots, reached her 999th point near the end of the first half.

“I’ve been working a lot in the gym – extra time to get back but also not to overdo it because I’m still fatigued and things like that,” she said.

“But I felt pretty good about my shot tonight, I was happy about my moves, things like that, so I felt fine.”
Lyme Disease affects the joints and Delle Donne wore black leggings as part of the recovery efforts.

She said she was aware of her stats when she went to the line to get the CAA record.

“My teammates had to remind me at halftime that I was one away. So, definitely, I was aware,” Delle Donne said with a laugh.

“It’s amazing to achieve something so incredible like that – to have my teammates behind for the whole thing, it felt awesome.”

Delle Donne had also missed a previous game and prior to that one hardly played in the win at La Salle in Philadelphia in late November when she first began to be affected by the disease, which took a long time to diagnose.

She entered Thursday night’s game averaging 26.3 points, which would lead the nation but her absences preclude her from qualifying to be listed in the NCAA stats.

Delaware coach Tina Martin sensed the potential for the Blue Hens’ performance based on Wednesday’s practice, which had been one of the best all year and had a lot of energy.

Delle Donne did not play in the 59-56 loss last month at Drexel but made the short 45-minute trip to Philadelphia.

“We have to bring our A-plus game because Drexel is a phenomenal team, they knock down shots, they split screens, they read defenses really well and they play great defense.”

Drexel swept both regular season games in overtime last season but then lost to the Blue Hens in overtime in the quarterfinals of the CAA tournament.

“If we can maintain (energy) the rest of the way, we’re going to be a tough team when all is said and done,” Martin said of Delaware picking up the pieces from a roller coaster ride to date.

“We’ve gone through some tough times with all that’s happened and a couple of kids are still playing through some injuries,” she added. “But I think the mindset of the team tonight was very, very different.

“That’s a tribute to the team itself. I think some people have stepped up and taken so leadership roles.”

Martin said the entire waiting period to figure out a diagnosis for Delle Donne’s situation caused great anxiety, especially for the coaching staff, trying to plot the way in what began as a season of great promise.

The win Thursday night kept Blue Hens in a three-way tie for fifth with Drexel (13-8, 5-5), which edged Towson at home 45-43 in overtime at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, and Hofstra (13-8, 5-5), which beat William & Mary at home 79-65.

The top four teams in the CAA will get byes in next month’s conference tournament at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., for an NCAA automatic bid.

The top three frontrunners stayed in place with Old Dominion (15-6, 9-1) edging host George Mason 68-67 in Fairfax, Va.
Jasmine Parker’s 15-foot shot before time expired gave Old Dominion the win while the tough loss by the Patriots (10-11, 5-6) dropped them a game behind the fifth-place logjam.

James Madison (16-6, 9-1), the defending champ and preseason favorite, downed Georgia State 62-55 at home at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va., as Dawn Evans topped three teammates in double figures with 19 points against the Panthers (7-14, 2-8).

But coach Kenny Brooks wasn’t thrilled with the way the night went according to his quotes on the JMU website.

“I was disappointed with the way we played,” Brooks said. “(At times) we were out of sync, out of character. We cannot play like this and be the team we want to be.”

Meanwhile, in yet another close encounter at the top, UNC Wilmington (17-4, 9-1) rallied at home to down Virginia Commonwealth, 68-64, in overtime, as Martha White had a career high 27 points against the Rams (12-8, 7-3) in the first-year under Hall of Famer and former WNBA All-Star Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.

The Seahawks, whose Treasure Johnson buried a 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left in regulation, set a school record with their eighth straight CAA victory.

VCU, which got 17 points from Andrea Barbour, fell two games off the pace behind the frontrunners and now are only two games ahead of the crowd in fifth place.

But there’s no comfort because of the opponents still left on the Rams’ schedule and the threat that one of the Delaware-Drexel-Hofstra group could catch VCU for fourth place and the last bye opportunity.

Despite injuries, Drexel is finding ways to win and right now would be the fifth seed.
Jasmina Rosseel’s three-pointer with 46 seconds left in overtime gave Drexel the go-ahead points while Taylor Wootton’s ensuing block of a Towson shot at the finish ensured the victory.

Kamile Nacickaite had 17 points for the Dragons and Tyler Hale grabbed 12 rebounds.

Penn State Blasts Way To Take Sole Possession At Top In Big Ten

The Nittany Lions (19-5, 8-2 Big Ten) are all alone by a half-game on top of the conference as a result of their dominating 81-63 win at Michigan (13-9, 6-4) along with No. 11 Michigan State’s 73-70 win at Wisconsin (12-10, 7-3), which knocked the Badgers out of a deadlock with Penn State to a game behind.

The Spartans (19-3, 7-2) moved to within a half-game of the Nittany Lions as Kalisha Keane, who had a game-high 28 points, nailed a three-pointer with 13 seconds left in regulation and scored seven in the overtime.

Penn State’s 19 wins is a six-season high matching the total of the 2004-05 contingent.

Freshman Maggie Lucas of Nartberth and Germantown Academy had 23 points for coach Coquese Washington’s team, Alex Bentley scored 11, Zhaque Gray also had 11, Nikki Greene scored 14 points, and Devon’s Julia Trogele had 10 points while on the night passing 700 career points and 600 career rebounds.

Penn State goes for a road sweep Sunday when the Nittany Lions visit No. 20 Iowa (17-6, 5-5), which was routed on the road at Purdue 60-41.

Brittany Reyburn had 23 points for the Boilermakers (16-7, 6-4), who visit Michigan State Sunday.

Elsewhere in the Big 10 the two in-state rivals were at it again with Northwestern edging visiting Illinois 80-79 as senior Amy Jaeschke hit a fall away jump shot with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation in Evanston, Ill.

The Wildcats (15-8, 4-6) under former George Washington coach Joe McKeown, a Father Judge grad, earlier in the season beat the Illini (7-16, 2-8) in overtime in Champagne and it’s their first season sweep since 1996.

McKeown is in his third season at Northwestern, which is now guaranteed consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 1995-96 and 1996-97 editions.

There was also a bit of a reunion in this one because Illinois coach Jolette Law’s assistant Lisa Cermingnano is a former GW star under McKeown who later was one of his assistants.

Maryland Stings Georgia Tech At Finish

First came the power outage. Then No. 12 Maryland’s Kim Rogers provided the short-circuit and heartbreaking demise of No. 24 Georgia Tech with a three-point shot at the buzzer to give the Terrapins a 56-53 win in an Atlantic Coast Conference game played in Atlanta.

Maryland’s Lynetta Kizer had 19 points and freshman Alyssa Thomas scored 17.

Georgia Tech’s freshman Tyaunna Marshall had 14 points.

The Yellow Jackets (18-7, 6-3) had tied the game on a foul shot by Sasha Goodlett with 44.4 seconds left in regulation.

That followed the power failure that occurred with 2 minutes left in the game.

Rogers then juiced the game-winner for the Terrapins (19-3, 5-2), who host North Carolina State Sunday.

Apparently No. 3 Duke got its fight back from the nonconference blowout loss at No. 2 Connecticut Monday and took it out Thursday night on No. 18 Miami (20-3, 6-2) cruising to an 82-58 ACC win in Durham, N.C.

Miami’s Riquna Williams scored 27 points but the Blue Devils (21-1, 7-0), coming off of Monday night’s loss were not about to suffer two straight losses for the first time in three seasons.

Duke freshman Haley Peters had 15 points to make the Blue Devils 8-0 all-time against Miami.

Boston College, which might be on the bubble in terms of the NCAA tournament, kept matters from getting worse in the ACC with a 76-71 win over Virginia Tech, while Virginia beat Wake Forest 73-46 in another ACC matchup.

More Extra Time

Down in the Southeastern Conference, No. 24 Georgia Tech and visiting Arkansas got involved in another of a slew of overtime games with the host Bulldogs (17-5, 7-2) shaking off an early 11-0 deficit to beat the Razorbacks 57-54.

Jasmine James scored 14 points for Georgia while Lyndsay Harris had 22 for Arkansas (16-6, 4-6), which had ideas of rejoining the AP rankings.

No. 17 Kentucky (18-4, 7-2 SEC) took care of things nice and easy with a 69-38 win over visiting Auburn (13-9, 6-3), which was hounded into 28 turnovers.

In another close SEC confrontation, Mississippi hit 3-of-4 foul shots in the final 10 seconds to drop host Florida 61-59 in Gainesville.

The Rebels (10-11, 3-6 SEC) got a game-high 20 points from Valencia McFarland.

Brittany Shine had 12 points for Florida (14-10, 4-6).

Vanderbilt (15-7, 6-3 SEC) stayed perfect at home (12-0) in beating LSU 55-50 in Nashville, Tenn.
Stephanie Holzer had 23 points against the Tigers (15-9, 5-5).

Neither Washington nor Oregon are ranked but that didn’t stop the two Pacific-10 teams from being the conference’s OT game of the night with the host Huskies (9-10, 4-6 PAC-10) handing the visiting Ducks (12-9, 3-7) a 90-76 loss in Seattle.

Kristi Kingma had 20 points for Washington, which had trailed by 18 points early in the second half. Oregon’s Nia Jackson had 22 points.

Conference frontrunner No. 3 Stanford (19-2, 10-0 Pac-10), which stopped UConn’s NCAA Division I record win streak at 90 in December and is the only team in the last 100 Huskies games to beat them, has its own special win streak alive.

The Cardinal after a 72-54 victory at host Arizona State (13-7, 5-5) in Tempe are a win short of matching the all-time victory streak of 48 straight Pac-10 games.

The Guru next hops an early afternoon train to Pittsburgh for Saturday’s Atlantic 10 showdown witrh Duquesne.

Look for tweets after settling on the trainwhile perhaps the next blog will come within 24 hours,

-- Mel

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