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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guru's NCAA Report: Auriemma Cites McGraw's Common Roots

(Guru's Note. There is a notebook under this. You know the drill. In melgreenberg.com click mel's blog on the left to get to the entire list of new and old offerings.) -- Mel

By Mel Greenberg

Because Connecticut and Notre Dame will be meeting a fourth time this season on Sunday night at the NCAA Women’s Final Four at Conseco Fieldhouse there may be a tendency to apply a Big East conference label to the second national semifinal game after Stanford and rookie Texas A&M meet in the opener.

But in terms of common backgrounds of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw the meeting between the Huskies and Irish can also be called the Philadelphia semifinal.

Both have roots to the City of Brotherly Love and St. Joseph’s University.

Auriemma grew up in Norristown just to the northwest of the city and made his debut in the women’s game as a one-year assistant at St. Joseph’s to his friend Jim Foster, who now coaches Ohio State.

McGraw starred for the Hawks. Born in Pottsville, which is in the coal region of the Keystone State, her formal years were spent growing up in West Chester, which is the town of the university by the same name from which Auriemma got his degree.

She replaced Auriemma on Foster’s staff and of course went on to a successful head-coaching career, which will be recognized in June when McGraw is inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

And to segue off of that location, if not for the second-seeded Irish’s upset of top-seeded Tennessee Monday night in the Dayton Regional final, Wednesday’s Final Four preview teleconference conducted by the NCAA might have otherwise been a little cantankerous considering the Lady Vols and Connecticut have not played since 2007 when Tennessee’s Pat Summitt cancelled the nationally-followed series for reasons she has never publicly revealed.

So instead of angst, there was some good-natured ribbing from Auriemma, especially off the fact that the two schools will meet a fourth time this season on Sunday night.

“I was reading somewhere where (Baylor coach) Kim (Mulkey) was saying there was a conspiracy to try to put us and Tennessee together; that the NCAA had something up their sleeve, that’s why they matched us in the semifinals if we would win and they would win, but I really think the conspiracy was started by Muffet,” Auriemma said.

“I think she knew that after the way they played us those three times (all won by UConn), she wanted another crack at it. So if you want to blame anybody for us playing four times, I think it’s Muffet’s fault.”

Later, when asked to compare the keys to the game for both sides, Auriemma was back at it again:

“I think this is all about me and Muffet. I think this is personal, I mean after all those three games our teams are evenly matched,” Auriemma responded in his trademark wit. “II think this is about me and Muffett, what she’s going to wear, what I’m going to wear, whether she can defend me in the post or whether or not, you know, her high heels, she’s going to stab me in the eye with one of them.

“I think this is a personal vendetta between the two of us. We’re both from Philly. Both products from the same area. And this is a grudge match that goes way, way back between me and her.”

After getting serious for a bit in citing all of Notre Dame’s strengths – balance, the play of Devereaux Peters and Natalie Novosel and the extra leadership from sophomore point guard Skylar Diggins – Auriemma slipped back into his standup act.

“You know, trying to find weaknesses in their game, they shoot it well from the perimeter. They knock you around inside, They’re very physical,” Auriemma continued.

“We have to find a way to attack those green fingernails, though. They’re a little bit of a problem for me. Other than that, I don’t see a lot of weaknesses on their team.”

Maya Moore’s Place In The Women’s Universe

The number one side story of this weekend’s Women’s Final Four is the last collegiate ride of Connecticut senior Maya Moore, who Wednesday picked up the first of what is expected to be a sweep of national player of the year honors – this one from the United States Basketball Writers Association.

Coaches on the NCAA phone call were asked to assess Moore’s career in the history of the women’s game.

“I think she is the very best (of all time),” Notre Dame’s McGraw said. “I don’t think there’s anybody better. I think she is an amazing player in every facet of the game. I think she works extremely hard. She’s really well respected.

“She’s a great student. I think when you look at the overall package, I don’t think there’s ever been a player that’s better than her.”

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who has had to coach several of the game’s greats on her own Cardinal team and in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, besides coaching against other superstars, noted:

“I definitely think she is one of the greatest college female players. I think she has great talent. But part of what makes her great is also the system she plays in,” VanDerveer explained.

“I credit Geno for that, and the players she’s played with. I think she’s always going to be a very good team player. I think it’s partly what she does, but also the environment she’s in and the team that she plays on.

“When I look at a player like that – to me one of the best players I’ve ever seen ins (former USC star) Cheryl Miller. She just on any team is going to be a standout. Maya Moore on any team would be a standout. But I think she’s even more effective because of the system that she’s in.”

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, whose second-seeded Aggies are in their first finals after upsetting top-seeded Baylor in the Dallas Regional final, was not asked to comment on Moore, but Auriemma certainly was about his own player whom he’ll undoubtedly will coach next year in the Olympics at the 2012 London games in England.

Auriemma, of course, has already had several great stars who also became Olympians in Sue Bird of the WNBA-defending champion Seattle Storm and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi, who is currently acclaimed as the world’s top women’s star.

The Connecticut coach was asked if it was already appropriate to list Moore among some of the names that were alluded to on the call and are mentioned in this blog report.

“Well, think back to the people you’ve named,” Auriemma said. “How many of them accomplished in college what Maya did?

“So that answers the question. If you mentioned five names to me, I don’t care which five names you name, other than Diana, you’d be hard pressed to find somebody that went to four Final Fours, scored 3,000 posts, was First-Team All-American four years in a row and led a team of a bunch of young people that have no other All-Americans to the Final Four and played a schedule that we played and won as many games as we did and played as well as she did in all those games.

“You would say, `Where does she fit in among the great ones?’ Should we mention her name? I would say you’re not going to be able to mention a lot of names before you get to her name. For sure I’m certain of that.”

Outnumbered But Not Outgunned

This season Connecticut has been able to thrive despite playing with a reduced bench because of injuries and after two months, the departure of freshman post player Samarie Walker to Kentucky.

Auriemma and McGraw, who had a similar low-numbers roster when Notre Dame won the 2001 NCAA title, were asked about advantages and disadvantages coaching in that situation.

“There are advantages to having a thin bench, for one game, for one-half,” Auriemma said. “Having to do that for two months, that starts to wear on you if you are not careful.

“The advantages I think are such that I think offensively you can get into a flow that maybe you can’t get into if you’re playing eight, nine players.

“I think players get a chane to play through some mistakes, you know, some stretches of the game where things aren’t going their way. You might have a tendency to take them out, and they may end up never getting a feel for the game. So there is some benefit, no question about it.”

But Auriemma also pointed out the down side of the situation.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that situation, though. I mean, I’m not thrilled about going out there with six players that I know that I can count on.

“But at the same time you can’t worry about it, and it is what it is. But if I had my druthers, I’d rather have eight.”

McGraw also spoke about the positives of the reduced roster.

“You know, I don’t think it’s really a huge disadvantage to only have six players,” she said. “I think that your team has great chemistry. I think that everybody that’s on the floor has played together for a significant amount of minutes. You don’t ever look out and go, `Here’s a lineup we haven’t worked on much because we’re down into the bench a little deeper than we normally go.’

“So I think in that way – our championship team in 2001, we played six people. We’ve had teams where we’ve only had a few options, and I think it kind of makes you stronger. You get in great shape. If you can stay out of foul trouble,I t’s really not as big a disadvantage as people think.”

The Wisdom of Blair

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, who grew up in the Lone Star State, was in one Women’s Final Four back in 1998 when his ninth-seeded Arkansas team upset second-seeded Duke and was the beneficiary along the way of the famous 16th-seeded Harvard upsetting No. 1 Stanford in the first round after VanDerveer’s Cardinal lost two starters following the revealing of the bracket, which was done back then on Selection Sunday.

Here are a couple of pearls from Blair, who was an assistant coach on Louisiana Tech’s national champions – he coached Baylor’s Mulkey – and also was a head coach at Stephen F. Austin, reviving that program a bit taking over several years after the late Hall of Famer Sue Gunter moved on to LSU.

On Playing Defense: “I don’t know this for a fact, but somebody check, has anybody ever held four opponents under 50 points in the NCAA Tournament to get here (at the Final Four)?

“I think that says a lot about our team. It’s the best offensive team that we’ve ever had. But our defense has not been very good as what it’s been in the past but in the NCAA tournament I hope we’re peaking at the right time, because we’ve played very good defense in our last four ballgames.”

On Stanford’s Final Four Experience (4th straight and 10th overall): “The experience factor is in age, and I’m older than Tara and I’m going to use that to my advantage.”

On VanDerveer’s Recruiting Players Out Of Texas: “I just hope she stays out of Texas. And, shoot, she’s got another point guard coming from Texas next year. She needs to start paying taxes down here or at least let me starting coming up there (to northern California in the Bay Area).

“If I can’t get players, let me get some of that stock in some of those tech companies around Palo Alto.”

Mirror Mirror on The Team

Three of the Final Four coaches were asked in what ways their respective teams reflect their personalities as coaches. It could be time ran out before the same individual could pose the same thought to Stanford’s VanDerveer.

Blair’s response: “Oh, shoot. If I had to put myself as a coach, I would probably be the John Madden of basketball, I guess. I’m not your (former Louisiana Tech coach) Leon Barmore, Pat Summitt or Geno Auriemma. The guy with the great basketball background that had a little bit of game. I didn’t have much game. I sat on the bench in basketball and I played baseball.

“And I’ve had to learn the game through the girls that I’ve had the opportunity to coach. So I’m constantly learning by TV. I’ve got a legal pad next to me watching all those late night games on the West Coast, copying down. I’m an offensive coach. I believe in pressure. Pressure defense, pressure offense, attack mode.”

Auriemma’s answer: “This team, not much. I don’t have a lot in common with the players on this team, to be honest with you. We get along great and I love every one of them. They’re all – great, great kids that I enjoy spending time with.

“Bu you know, Kelly Faris, Maya Moore, even Bria (Hartley), they’re very quiet kids, very quiet, very reserved in so many ways. Stefanie (Dolson) is a little more outgoing. But this team is pretty low key. Maybe that’s why they haven’t been affected by a lot of this stuff that’s happened to them this year, the (90-game win) streak, the thin banks, the unbelievably difficult schedule, you name it.

“They’re very low key. They’re not highly emotional. So we play off each other pretty well. They calm me down and I get them riled up every once in a while. I think it’s a good combination.”

Muffet McGraw: “I think they reflect Becca Bruszewski, our captain. I think we’re all extremely competitive. I think our entire staff and players all share that. We’re fighters, we’re competitive, we’re intense, we want to win.

“But this team is much looser than any team I’ve ever had, which is not really a reflection of my personality. I think they’re outgoing and have fun, and they’re very, very boisterous and passionate on the court. They show their emotions on the court in a way that’s a lot different than the teams we’ve had in the past that were a little more businesslike.”

-- Mel

Guru Notebook: Staley Game To Stay in South Carolina

(There is a post above this from the NCAA teleconference with Women's Final Four Coaches.)

By Mel Greenberg

Though the word was out hours ago in late afternoon Wednesday, just to get it on the record here, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley announced she is staying with the Gamecocks.

Staley had been speculated as a leading candidate for the Virginia vacancy that occurred several weeks ago with the resignation of longtime Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Debbie Ryan.

Staley issued a statement from the Gamecocks saying the Cavaliers are going into a different direction.

Given the talent resources in the state and the overall level of the Southeastern Conference this past season, Staley could make more progress quickly moving up the standings where they were the fifth seed in the conference tournament her third season in Columbia.

Based on various reports involving the South Carolina buyout in Staley’s contract and the remainder of the buyout involving her departure from Temple a few years ago the Cavaliers' intentions could have financial implications.

UCLA’s Nikki Caldwell and Georgetown’s Terri Williams-Flournoy are still believed to be among the group of Virginia’s top wishes to find the candidate to succeed Ryan.

With Charlotte eliminated Wednesday night by host Toledo in the WNIT semifinals, Karen Aston, a former assistant at Baylor and Texas, could jump into wish lists for some of the vacancies that have already occurred.

Some places may pursue Xavier’s Kevin McGuff considering the graduation of his all-American post combo in Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips.

Toledo’s move into the WNIT semifinals could also make Rockets coach Tricia Cullop a candidate, though it needs to be noted that she and Williams-Flournoy both signed contract extensions prior to this past season, as did McGuff.

Wooden All-Americans

The five finalists to no one’s surprise who earn all-American status from the Wooden people who will issue the Wooden Award next month to the top women’s and men’s players from their panels are:

Connecticut’s Maya Moore, who won the player award in 2009; Baylor’s Brittney Griner; Stanford’s Nnemkadi Oguwmike, a finalist last season; and Jeanette Pohlen and Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot.

Moore, as she is in the Associated Press vote, is a four-time first-team All-American

USBWA Awards

Moore also picked up the United States Basketball Writers Association top player award, which will be handed out at the Women’s Final Four.

The coach of the year is Baylor’s Kim Mulkey in what the Guru can tell you was a very close vote among several candidates.
Baylor’s Odyssey Sims is the freshman of the year award.

The other nine players – the last spot though this is not in ranked order was close among five players – are
Texas A&M’s Danielle Adams; Baylor’s Griner; Xavier’s Harris; Miami’s Shenise Johnson; Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender; Stanford’s Oguwmike and Pohlen; Tennessee’s Shekinna Stricklen, and Gonzaga’s Vandersloot.

Toledo and Southern Cal Advance to WNIT Championship

Since there was not wire service coverage on the Guru’s access, here are school website accounts of the two WNIT semifinals results from Wednesday night.

TOLEDO, OH - Toledo provided a sellout crowd and a national-television audience all it could ask for by cruising to an 83-60 victory over Charlotte in the WNIT ‘Final Four' on Wednesday evening. Tonight's semifinal contest was played before a school-record and Mid-American Conference-best 7,020 fans in Savage Arena.

With the lopsided 23-point triumph, the Rockets (28-8) will advance to the championship game against Southern Cal (24-12) on Saturday, April 2 at 3:00 p.m. The finals will again be televised nationally on CBS College Sports Network.

The 2010-11 Mid-American Conference champions shot an impressive 47.9 percent (34-of-71) from the field and 70.0 percent (7-of-10) from the charity stripe to extend their home win streak to 17-consecutive games, tied for third-longest in school history. UT also did a fantastic job taking care of the basketball and finished with 21 assists, compared to a season-low three turnovers.

Five Rockets scored in double figures with junior Naama Shafir leading the way with 16 points and nine assists. Senior Jessica Williams (15 pts.), sophomore Yolanda Richardson (14 pts.), redshirt freshman Andola Dortch (13 pts., career-high 10 rbs., 7 asts.) and senior Melissa Goodall (11 pts.) also scored in double digits, helping the Midnight Blue & Gold top the 80-point mark for the second-time this season.
NORMAL, ILL. - The USC women's basketball team handed Illinois State its first home loss of the year as the road warrior Trojans clamped down defensively, hauled in their fourth straight road win and secured themselves a spot in the WNIT Championship game with a 63-36 win over the Redbirds.

Playing in Normal, Illinois, in the WNIT Semifinals, the Women of Troy got out ahead of the Redbirds early and kept them out of reach down the stretch in front of a crowd of over four thousand at Redbird Arena on Wednesday night. USC improves to 24-12 overall with the win, while Illinois State finishes 24-11 after their third straight WNIT Semifinal appearance. USC will face Toledo in the WNIT Championship at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday (April 2) in Toledo, Ohio.

USC silenced Illinois State from the floor for almost 10 full minutes to start the game as the Trojans built up a 16-1 lead on the Redbirds. ISU would pick up the scoring pace by the close of the half, however, improving to 36 percent from the floor in the first half to trail USC's 45 percent effort as the Trojans led 30-22 at halftime thanks in part to 11 first-half points from Jacki Gemelos.

The Trojan defense allowed only 14 second-half points by the Redbirds while pouring in 33 of their own. By the final buzzer, Gemelos led the way with 15 points, with Ashley Corral adding 14 and Briana Gilbreath putting in 11 while Christina Marinacci and Cassie Harberts cleaned up the boards. Marinacci finished with 13 rebounds, and Harberts hauled in 11. ISU had no players finish in double figures, with Emily Hanley scoring nine to lead ISU. USC finished out the game shooting 46 percent to ISU's 36 percent, and USC won out on the boards 47-29.

-- Mel

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guru's NCAA Report: UConn Gives Auriemma A Sweet Home Win

(Guru’s note: A notebook focusing on Maya Moore’s milestone 3,000th point and other news items are posted below this as well as an updated NCAA schedule. In melgreenberg.com click mel’s blog to get to everything else besides the top story.)

By Mel Greenberg

Once again a hometown setting Tuesday night was kind to coach Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament – this time at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.

Whether a third tournament success near where Auriemma grew up in Norristown will ultimately prove as noteworthy for UConn as the previous two trips – the 1991 East Regional at The Palestra and the 2000 Women’s Final Four at the then-named First Union Center -- will have to be determined by the Huskies (36-1) themselves when they arrive in Indianapolis this weekend for the national semifinals and championship at Conseco Fieldhouse.

For the moment, though, Connecticut’s dominating 75-40 victory over second-seeded Duke (32-4) was enough to celebrate the Huskies’ advance to their 12th Women’s Final Four and fourth straight dating to 2008.

The Philadelphia Regional title by the overall No. 1 seed in the 64-team NCAA field also meant the opportunity for a short-term extension to enjoy the exploits of UConn senior Maya Moore, who became the seventh NCAA player to reach 3,000 career points. She did that exactly by scoring 28 points before leaving the game in which she also grabbed 10 rebounds and seven steals besides blocking two shots.

“I think we were all on the same page today,” Moore said of the way the Huskies quickly closed their deal after building a 10-point at 30-20 at the half on her jump shot just before time expired. “The first half, we were a little too fast. We all were kind of struggling a little bit to get it done offensively but I think in the second half when we settled down we were all moving the ball really well.

“We had 24 assists as a team. When we’re passing the ball like that, I’m probably going to have a lot of points because my teammates do a good job of finding me. When the tournament comes around I get the mindset that if I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” she continued.

“Sometimes it’s a little rushed, but in the second half I started to settle down a little bit and they were falling. It was just an all around good win for our team. If you look at the stats, every single player, especially the starters, have something that jumps out.”

Moore, who became the second four-time Associated Press first team all-American earlier in the day, was named the most valuable player and was joined on the all-tournament team by sister Huskies Lorin Dixon, a senior; freshman Bria Hartley (14 points), and Duke seniors Karima Christmas and Jasmine Dixon (17 points).

“There is something special about this group and what we had to deal with all season long and what they were able to persevere through,” Auriemma saluted his team after beating Duke for the second time this season.

Back on January 31st on UConn’s campus in Storrs, the Huskies blitzed to a 23-2 lead and won 87-51, one of the worst drubbings in the history of the Duke women, who were this season’s last unbeaten Division I women’s team entering that contest.

In Tuesday’s game Connecticut jumped to a 10-2 lead but the Blue Devils were able several times to get within three. However, trailing by 23-20 with 3:37 left in the half, the Huskies took off on a layup by Tiffany Hayes, who had 11 points in the game, and then got a three-pointer and the buzzer-beater from Moore at the break.

Center Stefanie Dolson, who struggled in Sunday’s win over Georgetown, had 12 points for UConn, which had a lopsided 40-8 scoring advantage for the game inside the paint, including 22-4 in the second half.

Connecticut, which shot 72 percent from the field in the second half, opened the period on a 15-3 run and it got worse the rest of the way.

“I think the difference was obviously their speed and we didn’t come out like we needed to come out,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said of the final stanza in remarks similar to those uttered back in January after the first loss.

“Frankly, offensively, we were just horrible. To get eight points in the paint (for the game)? C’mon you can’t beat anybody with eight points in the paint.

“You have to credit their defense but I was just a little dismayed on hustle plays to be honest with you. I felt they beat us to the ball, they out-hustled us a bit on loose balls, certain plays in transition, not getting the two guards back to defend.”

The Huskies outscored the Blue Devils 20-11 on points from transition turnovers.

Asked if he sensed Moore's big night beforehand, Auriemma noted, ""You could sense it. There was just too many games leading up to this where things just didn't click for whatever reason.

"But, she doesn't let a lot of big games go by without going off. There wasn't too many of them that went by. I didn't think she was going to let this one go by."

The Huskies have made it to the Final Four the same time their male counterparts have advanced in their tournament. The dual
advance also occurred in 2009, while, additionally, in 2004 the two programs became the first to win national titles in the same season.

Furthermore, the two programs help make UConn the first school to have dual advancements to the Final Four and a football appearance in a BCS Bowl in the same academic year.

On Sunday night in the second national semifinal game, Connecticut will meet Big East-rival Notre Dame, (30-7) which felled Tennessee 73-59 to upset the Dayton Regional top seed on Monday night.

"You would love to be playing somebody that's not in your conference, but, at the same time, there's going to be a Big East team playing for the national championship next Tuesday night and that's pretty cool," Auriemma said.

Indianapolis is an easy drive from South Bend in the state for fans of the Irish, causing Auriemma to quip: We already played Notre Dame on the road once, so playing them on the road twice is really no big deal. Let’s get that started right away,”

The Huskies have already beaten the Irish three times this season, including the Big East title game. Notre Dame hasn’t been to a Final Four since the two met in the 2001 national semifinals and the Irish won to advance to the championship round where they beat Purdue in St. Louis.

“There’s only a couple of kids in America that are playing next weekend and know how to win a national championship and I’m fortunate to have them on my team,” Auriemma said. “So, when things have to get done, we know how to get them done. That doesn’t mean they’re going to get done, but they know how to handle these situations.”

The Fourth time was the charm in the Dallas Regional Tuesday night for second-seeded Texas A&M (31-5) against top-seeded Baylor (34-3), the Aggies’ Big 12 rival. Coach Gary Blair’s squad broke through the first time this season with a 58-46 victory.

Texas A&M will open play Sunday night against Spokane Regional winner Stanford (33-2), a top seed which is in its fourth-straight Final Four, similar to the Huskies whom the Cardinal beat in December at home out west in Maples Pavilion.

That win over the Huskies gained revenge for last season’s rally that brought UConn its second straight unbeaten national title in San Antonio and seventh overall.

Only Tennessee at eight has won more NCAA women’s crowns.

The Stanford triumph also stopped the Huskies’ NCAA-record win streak run at 90 games and since then they have won 24 straight.

-- Mel

Guru's NCAA Notebook: Maya Moore Hits Three Grand Going After A Grand Three

(Guru's notebook: Game coverage of the UConn-Duke is posted above this and the enhanced schedule is updated below.)

By Mel Greenberg

Connecticut Senior Maya Moore hit the crossroads of Division I women’s basketball history twice on Tuesday on the way to her fourth straight NCAA Women’s Final Four courtesy of the Huskies’ 75-40 lopsided win over Duke to capture the Philadelphia Regional in Temple’s Liacouras Center.

Earlier in the day Moore joined former Oklahoma star center Courtney Paris as the only four-time first-team Associated Press all-Americans since the national wire service began issuing the honor in 1995.

Then near the end of Tuesday night’s win over Duke – with 3 minutes, 44 seconds left in regulation – the product of the suburbs of Atlanta let loose a jumper and she became the seventh Division I player and 10th overall to reach 3,000 career points.

“I really don’t think about it right now but of course it’s really exciting to be able to be at a program where I’ve been able to flourish as an offensive player,” Moore said in the postgame press conference.

Connecticut on Sunday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will meet Big East rival Notre Dame for the fourth-time this season including home-and-home games in South Bend, Ind., and Storrs, Conn., along with the Big East championship game several weeks ago in Hartford, Conn.

“It’s going to be rough,” Moore said of the fourth tango with the Irish.

UConn survived a multi-matchup experience with another Big East foe in the regional semifinals when the Huskies rallied Sunday afternoon to beat Georgetown a third time and second this month.

“We’ve played each other so many times,” Moore continued about the looming Notre Dame game. “We know each other so well. There won’t be a lot of surprises a lot of tricks. It’s going to be a battle to grind it out and see who wants it more. I’m just proud to know that we are representing well for our conference in both of us making it to the Final Four. It should be fun.”

Moore needed 28 points to reach the 3,000-point plateau and scored exactly that total.

The magic number was reached for the first time since former Southwest Missouri State (now called Missouri State) star Jackie Stiles finished with the NCAA-record 3,393 points at the 2001 Women’s Final Four in St. Louis, which is where Notre Dame last played in the national semifinals and emerged with a win over Connecticut and eventually the Irish’s only title by edging Purdue.

However, the “number 10” on the Guru list of 3,000-pus scorers include three well-known stars of the AIAW era – Montclair State’s Carol Blazejowski, who was the top executive head of the WNBA’s New York Liberty for its first 14 years until being let go after last season.

Denise Curry starred at UCLA and Lynette Woodward played for Kansas and was the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters while also serving a short playing stint in the early WNBA days.

All three are in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Here is the list and feel free to contact the Guru if you feel someone is missing:

Lynette Woodard, Kansas 3,649 points (1981)-*
Jackie Stiles, Southwest Missouri State 3,393 points (2001)
Carol Blazejowski, Montclair State 3,199 points (1978)-*
Denise Curry, UCLA 3198 points (1981)-*
Lorri Bauman, Drake 3,155 points (1984)
Patricia Hoskins, Mississippi Valley State 3122 points (1989)
Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee 3,025 points (1999)
Cheryl Miller, Southern Cal 3,018 points (1986)
Cindy Blodgett, Maine 3,005 points (1998)
**-Maya Moore, Connecticut 3,000 points (2011)

*-AIAW era, which ended in 1982
**-Still active

Ironically, Blodgett, who played for Duke’s Joanne P. McCallie at Maine, was fired earlier Tuesday as coach of the Black Bears.
Moore needs 26 points, which she could get next Sunday or, if the Huskies win, by the championship Tuesday, and that would leave her at seventh on the combined list and fourth on the NCAA list.

Wildcats Not Needed

Villanova was in the house Tuesday night but coach Harry Perretta’s squad was not the Wildcats bunch introduced to the crowd. That group from the Main Line happened to be the NCAA Cross Country women’s champions.

But it was funny as the evening evolved in terms of some Guru pre-game humor to his colleagues.

Noting that Moore needed 28 points to hit the mark, the Guru said Perretta’s group was being hidden away in Duke uniforms ready to run onto the court and replace the real Blue Devils if Moore got hurt just before her 3,000th point was about to arrive.

The reference was to the famous game in February 1998 when Perretta and Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who ran their plan by proper officials, conspired to allow UConn senior Nykesha Sales, who had just suffered a torn Achilles heel in her previous game, to score two gift points at Villanova to break the school scoring record.

The Wildcats at the outset would then in turn be allowed to score and the game would inherently begin with the scoreboard reading 2-2.

So what happened Tuesday night here soon after Moore reached 26 points on a jumper with 8 minutes, 23 seconds left to play?
She banged knees with a Duke player, hit the deck with a grimace and then left the action with 7:39 left.

Cue Villanova?

Never mind.

“I was on the wing and I tried to back cut and I banged knees with Karima Christmas or someone else,” Moore smiled. “I think her knee kind of hit right above my knee. It was a little bruise right above my knee so it stung a little bit but I got up and I’m not worried about it.”

Moore re-entered the game with 4:46 to play and then popped No. 3,000 on a jumper with 3:44 remaining to make the score 69-35.

She then left the game 19 seconds later.

However, Auriemma had to reverse a long-standing personal policy and listen to his assistants before re-inserting Moore after she got hurt.

He first explained in the old days he would never had known how many points Moore had when she left the game.

“But now you get a stat sheet after every possession,” Auriemma continued. “So, when Maya came out and that was one of the first things everyone started yelling -- `She needs two more points!’ and I was like, `So what? I don’t care, she’s out.’

“And then (associate head coach) Chris (Daily) goes, `Listen, let’s just get her out there and that way we don’t have to worry about it next weekend.’

“So I said, `Yeah, you’ve got a point.’

“That’s the first time I’ve ever done that with anybody – put someone back in to get something done like that, because I feel you should just do it over the course of what’s going on. But I’m glad we did it, I’m glad it’s out of the way and now we can just focus on playing Notre Dame rather than having to answer those questions during the week.”

One question Auriemma had to answer – and he was ready – the idea that the anticipated UConn-Tennessee showdown for the semifinals for the first time since Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt cancelled the nationally-followed series after the 2007 was not going to happen again because of Notre Dame’s upset in the title game of the Dayton Regional.

This meant that Moore would not have faced Tennessee over the course of her collegiate career because UConn lost to Stanford in the 2008 semifinals while Tennessee went down in the first round of the 2009 tourney; lost in the region semifinals a year ago and then got ejected by Notre Dame this week.

“If Maya was supposed to play them, we would play them," Auriemma said. "We had a chance last year to play them and we had a chance this year to play them and it didn't work out.”

“The object of playing at Connecticut is to play against the best teams in the country.

"Maya has done that."

No Asterisks for Blair This Time

Back in 1998 Texas A&M coach Gary Blair was handling Arkansas the last time he was in a Women’s Final Four.

The Razorbacks – a ninth seed – beat No. 8 Hawaii 76-70 in a first round West game. But the big story of that little quad was
No. 16 Harvard upsetting No. 1 Stanford, which had lost two starters.

Arkansas then beat Harvard to get to a regional.

Although one might call the advancement slightly tainted because someone else had done the dirty work against the Cardinal, Arkansas’ move to Kansas City was not entirely without merit.

With Stanford consigned to the history books, it seemed that a gold opportunity had arrived for Duke, though the super 1998 Tennessee team was elsewhere on the bracket.

Well Arkansas upset the Blue Devils 77-72 and became one of the lowest seeds to advance to the national semifinals.

Duke had its greatest moment a year later upsetting Tennessee in the regional final but then lost to Purdue in the title game.

This time Blair is coming through the front door with the Aggies, who were seeded second. While Texas A&M dispatched Dallas

Regional top seed Baylor, the first win over the Bears this season in four tries against the Big 12 rival, the Aggies could have easily been a No. 1 seed elsewhere.

The biggest question for Blair will be how will he handle being in Indianapolis this weekend when the national pastime launches play since he is an avid fantasy baseball buff.

Coaching Vacancies

The rumors over jobs will be intensifying as the WBCA convention gathers in Indianapolis.

Nothing new on Virginia except everything in the previous post seems to have been confirmed.

Former Stanford star Molly Goodenbour, who got the Anteaters of UC Irvine into double digit wins for the first time since 2003, has surfaced as someone who might be involved with the Washington opening.

Results of the WNIT semifinals Wednesday night could put things in play for coaches whose teams are eliminated in terms of being sought.

OK, lots to do.

-- Mel

Guru Report: Updated Enhanced NCAA Sked Final Results

By Mel Greenberg

Here's the final enhanced day-by-day NCAA schedule showing records, seed and AP ranking numbers. This was organized all the way through by days as compared to the total region-by-region look.
-- Mel

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Daily Schedule
AP-AP Ranking; S-Seed

Saturday, March 19
(16 Games Overall)
Philadelphia Regional First Round
At Penn State Bryce Jordan Center
State College, Pa.
S6 Penn State (24-9) vs. S-11 Dayton (21-11), 11:10 a.m. -- Penn State wins 75-66
S3 AP10 DePaul (27-6) vs. S14 Navy (20-11) -- DePaul wins 56-43

At Duke Cameron Indoor Stadium
Durham, N.C.

S7 Iowa State (22-10) vs. S10 AP19 Marist (30-2), 11:15 a.m. -- Marist wins 74-64
S2 AP6 Duke (29-3) vs. S15 Tennessee-Martin (21-10) -- Duke wins 90-45

Dayton Regional First Round
At Tennessee Thompson-Boling Arena
Knoxville, Tenn.

S1 AP4 Tennessee (31-2) vs. S16 Stetson (20-12), 11:05 a.m. -- Tennessee wins 99-34
S8 AP24 Marquette (23-8) vs. S9 Texas (19-13) --- Marquette wins 68-65

At Ohio State St. John Arena
Columbus, Ohio

S5 AP23 Georgia Tech (23-10) vs. S12 Bowling Green (28-4), 11:20 a.m. --- Georgia Tech wins 69-58
S4 AP18 Ohio State (22-9) vs. S13 UCF (22-10) --- Ohio State wins 80-69

At Utah Huntsman Center
Salt Lake City, Utah

S7 Arizona State (20-10) vs. S10 Temple (23-8), 4:05 p.m. -- Temple wins 63-45
S2 AP9 Notre Dame (26-7) vs. S15 Utah (18-16) ---- Notre Dame wins 67-54

Spokane Regional First Round
At Stanford Maples Pavilion
Stanford, Calif.

S8 Texas Tech (22-10) vs. S9 St. John’s (21-10), 4:20 p.m. -- St. John's wins 55-50
S1 AP2 Stanford (29-2) vs. S15 UC Davis (24-8) -- Stanford wins 86-59

At New Mexico The Pit/Bob King Court
Albuquerque, N.M.

S5 AP14 North Carolina (25-8) vs. S12 Fresno St. (25-7), 4:15 p.m. -- North Carolina wins 82-68
S4 AP17 Kentucky (24-8) vs. S13 Hampton (26-6) -- Kentucky wins 66-62 overtime

At Gonzaga McCarthy Athletic Center
Spokane, Wash.

S6 AP25 Iowa (22-8) vs. S11 AP20 Gonzaga (28-4), 4:10 p.m. -- Gonzaga wins 92-68
S3 AP8 UCLA (27-4) vs. S14 Montana (18-14) -- UCLA wins 55-47

Sunday, March 20
(16 Games Overall)
Philadelphia Regional First Round
At Connecticut Harry A. Gampel Pavilion
Storrs, Conn.

S1 AP1 Connecticut (32-1) S16 Hartford (17-15), 12:05 p.m. -- Connecticut wins 75-39
S8 Kansas State (21-10) vs. S9 Purdue (20-11) -- Purdue wins 53-45

At Maryland Comcast Center
College Park, Md.

S4 AP16 Maryland (23-7) vs. S13 St. Francis, Pa. (22-11), 12:20 p.m. -- Maryland wins 70-48
S5 AP22 Georgetown (22-10) vs. S12 Princeton (24-4) -- Georgetown wins 65-49

Dayton Regional First Round
At Virginia John Paul Jones Arena
Charlottesville, Va.

S3 AP11 Miami (27-4) vs. S14 Gardner-Webb (23-10), 12:15 p.m. -- Miami wins 80-62
S6 AP21 Oklahoma (21-11) vs. S11 James Madison (26-7) -- Oklahoma wins 86-72

Spokane Regional First Round
At Xavier Cintas Center

S7 Louisville (20-10) vs. S10 Vanderbilt (20-11), 12:10 p.m. -- Louisville wins 81-62
S2 AP5 Xavier (28-2) vs. S15 South Dakota State (19-13), -- Xavier wins 72-56

Dallas Regional First Round
At Baylor Ferrell Center
Waco, Texas

S8 Houston (26-5) vs. S9 West Virginia (23-9), 5:10 p..m. -- West Virginia wins 79-73
S1 AP3 Baylor (31-2) vs. S16 Prairie View A&M (21-11) -- Baylor wins 66-30

At Wichita State Intrust Bank Arena
Wichita, Kansas

S5 AP13 Wisconsin-Green Bay (32-1) vs. S12 Arkansas-Little Rock (23-7), 5:20 p.m. -- Wis-Green Bay wins 59-55
S4 AP12 Michigan Sate (26-5) vs. vs. S13 Northern Iowa (27-5) -- Michigan State wins 69-66

At Auburn Auburn Arena
S3 AP15 Florida State (23-7) vs. S14 Samford (25-7), 5:15 p.m. -- Florida State wins 76-46
S6 Georgia (21-10) vs. S11 Middle Tennessee (23-7) -- Georgia wins 56-41

At Century Tel Center
Shreveport, La.

S2 AP7 Texas A&M (27-5) vs. S15 McNeese State (26-6), 5:05 p.m. -- Texas A&M wins 87-47
S7 Rutgers (19-12) vs. S10 Louisiana Tech (24-7) -- Rutgers wins 76-51

Monday, March 21
(8 Games Overall)
Philadelphia Regional Second Round
At Penn State Bryce Jordan Center
S6 Penn State (25-9) vs. S3 AP10 DePaul (28-6), 7:10 p.m. -- DePaul wins 75-73

At Duke Cameron Indoor Stadium
Durham, N.C.

S2 AP6 Duke (30-3) vs. S10 AP 19 Marist (31-2), 7:15 p.m. -- Duke wins 71-66

Dayton Regional Second Round
At Tennessee Thompson-Boling Arena
S1 AP4 Tennessee (32-2) vs. SS8 AP24 Marquette (24-8), 7:05 p.m. -- Tennessee wins 79-70

At Ohio State St. John Arena
Columbus, Ohio

S5 AP23 Ga. Tech (24-10) vs. S4 AP18 Ohio State (23-9), 7:20 p.m. -- Ohio State wins 67-60

At Utah Huntsman Center
Salt Lake City, Utah

S10 Temple (24-8) vs. S2 AP9 Notre Dame (27-7), 9:40 p.m. -- Notre Dame wins 77-64

Spokane Regional Second Round
At Stanford Maples Pavilion
Stanford, Calif.

S1 AP2 Stanford (30-2) vs. S9 St. John’s (22-10), 9:40 p.m. -- Stanford wins 75-49

At New Mexico The Pit/Bob King Court
Albuquerque, N.M.

S5 AP14 North Carolina (26-8) vs. S4 AP17 Kentucky (25-8), 9:45 p.m. -- North Carolina wins 86-74

At Gonzaga McCarthey Athletic Center
Spokane, Wash.

S11 AP20 Gonzaga (29-4) vs. S3 AP8 UCLA (28-4), 9:35 p.m. -- Gonzaga wins 89-75

Tuesday, March 22
(8 Games Overall)
Philadelphia Regional Second Round
At Connecticut Harry A. Gampel Pavilion
Storrs, Conn.

S1 AP1 Connecticut (33-1) vs. S9 Purdue (21-11, 7:05 p.m. -- Connecticut wins 64-40

At Maryland Comcast Center
College Park, Md.

S4 AP16 Maryland (24-7) vs. S5 AP22 Georgetown (23-10), 7:15 p.m. -- Georgetown wins 79-57

Dayton Regional Second Round
At Virginia John Paul Jones Arena
Charlottesville, Pa.
S6 AP21 Oklahoma (22-11) vs. S3 AP11 Miami (28-4), 7:05 p.m. -- Oklahoma wins 88-83
Spokane Regional Second Round
At Xavier Cintas Center
S2 AP5 Xavier (29-2) vs. S7 Louisville (21-12), 7:10 p.m. -- Louisville wins 85-75
Dallas Regional Second Round
At Baylor Ferrell Center
Waco, Texas

SS1 AP3 Baylor (32-2) vs. S9 West Virginia (24-9), 9:45 p.m. -- Baylor wins 82-68

At Intrust Bank Arena
At Wichita, Kansas

S5 AP13 Wisconsin-Green Bay (33-1) vs. S4 AP12 Michigan State (27-5), 9:40 p.m. -- Wis-GB wins 65-56

At Auburn Auburn Arena
Auburn, Ala.

S6 Georgia (22-10) vs. S3 AP15 Florida State (24-7), 9:35 p.m. -- Georgia wins 61-59

At Century Tel Center
Shreveport, La.

S7 Rutgers (20-12) vs. S2 AP7 Texas A&M (28-5), 9:40 p.m. -- Texas A&M wins 70-48

Saturday, March 26
(4 Games Overall)
Dayton Regional Semifinals
At University of Dayton Arena
Dayton, Ohio

S1 AP4 Tennessee (33-2) vs. S4 AP18 Ohio State (24-9), Noon -- Tennessee wins 85-75
S6 AP21 Oklahoma (23-11) vs. S2 AP9 Notre Dame (28-7), 2 p.m. --- Notre Dame wins 78-53

Spokane Regional Semifinals
At Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
Spokane, Wash.

S11 AP20 Gonzaga (30-4) vs. S7 AP-NR Louisville (22-12), 9 p.m. -- Gonzaga wins 76-69
S1 AP2 Stanford (31-2) vs. S5 AP14 North Carolina (27-8), 11:30 p.m. -- Stanford wins 86-74

Sunday, March 27
(4 Games Overall)
Philadelphia Regional Semifinals
At Liacouras Center
Philadelphia, Pa.

S1 AP1 Connecticut (34-1) vs. S5 AP23 Georgetown (24-10), Noon -- Connecticut wins 68-63
S3 AP10 DePaul (29-6) vs. S2 AP6 Duke (31-3), 2:30 p.m. -- Duke wins 70-63

Dallas Regional Semifinals
At American Airlines Center

S6 AP-NR Georgia (23-10) vs. S2 AP8 Texas A&M (29-5), 4:30 p.m. -- Texas A&M wins 79-38
S1 AP3 Baylor (33-2) vs. S5 AP13 Wisconsin-Green Bay (34-1), TBA -- Baylor wins 86-76

Monday, March 28
(2 Games Overall)
Dayton Regional Championship
At University of Dayton Arena
Dayton, Ohio

S1 AP4 Tennessee (34-2) vs. S2 AP9 Notre Dame (29-7), 7 p.m. -- Notre Dame wins 73-59

Spokane Regional Championship
At Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
Spokane, Wash.

S11 AP20 Gonzaga (31-4) vs. S1 AP2 Stanford (32-2), 9 p.m. -- Stanford wins 83-60

Tuesday, March 29
(2 Games Overall)
Philadelphia Regional Championship
At Liacouras Center
Philadelphia, Pa.

S1 AP1 Connecticut (35-1) vs. S2 AP6 Duke (32-3), 7 p.m. -- Connecticut wins 75-40

Dallas Regional Championship
At American Airlines Center

S2 AP8 Texas A&M (30-5) vs. S1 AP3 Baylor (34-2), 9 p.m. -- Texas A&M wins 58-46

Sunday, April 3
Final Four

At Conseco Fieldhouse

National Semifinals
S1 AP2 Stanford (33-2) vs. S2 AP8 Texas A&M (31-5), 7 p.m. -- Texas A&M won 63-62.
S1 AP1 Connecticut (36-1) vs. S2 AP9 Notre Dame (30-7), 9 p.m. -- Notre Dame won 72-63

Tuesday, April 5
National Championship

S2 AP8 Texas A&M (32-5) vs. S2 AP9 Notre Dame (31-7), 8:30 p.m. -- Texas A&M (33-5) won 76-70.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guru NCAA Notes: Caldwell Back in Play At Virginia?

(Guru's note: An updated NCAA schedule is under this post. If you are in melgreenberg.com just click the mel's blog link on the left side.)

By Mel Greenberg

Well apparently UCLA’s Nikki Caldwell may still be in play at Virginia and based on a whisper or two might have even detoured to Charlottesville sometime Monday on the way to doing in-studio analysis at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., for Monday night’s Dayton and Spokane Regional Finals of the NCAA tournament won by Notre Dame over Tennessee and Stanford over Gonzaga.

Several other sources confirmed Cavaliers athletic director Craig Littlepage’s visit to Sunday’s Philadelphia Regional final – only thefact that he was here – at Temple’s Liacouras Center most likely to view Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy guide the Hoyas against Big East rival Connecticut.

Virginia alum Dawn Staley, who made a successful coaching debut building Temple into a nationally recognized program in her eight seasons on North Broad Street and moved to South Carolina in 2008, may be too expensive in terms of the Gamecocks’ buyout in addition to the ongoing Temple buyout according to one source.

Incidentally the Guru was astounded at the through-the-roof numbers on the previous post concerning the vacancy – highly competitive with the readership that visits the Guru from UConn – showing Hoos women’s hoops does draw interest.

The Pluck of the Irish

Congrats to DishnSwish’s David Siegel, who on our radio panel go-round two weeks ago on his program, after the bracket was announced, emphatically predicted Notre Dame to come out of the Dayton Regional beating Tennessee.

The Guru chose Tennessee on the program but he did express reservations over his own pick, believing the Southeastern Conference to be quite soft this season. While the Lady Vols may have seemed great he did not think they had seen enough of a strong dose of competition the SEC used to offer.

By contrast consider what the Irish faced in the Big East. Notre Dame saw a heavy diet of nationally ranked teams night after night so although they went into Monday night’s game 0-20 against Tennessee, this particular season that gaudy statistic was moot.

Texas back in the day used to have similar difficulty when going a long portion of a season without meeting a real threat. The Longhorns would register key nonconference wins heading into January, as Tennessee did this season, but then would so dominate the old Southwest Conference that by the time they met a high quality opponent again in the tournament they would suffer premature upsets.

Of course, Texas finally got so good as to go unbeaten in 1986 —the first and only perfect season in the NCAA era until Connecticut came along in 1995 and produced the next one and three more since then.

Tennessee put up an unbeaten mark in 1998 with the fab freshmen and Chamique Holdsclaw.

With Monday’s advancement by the Irish and Stanford, for the fourth straight season by the Cardinal, out of the West, the Women’s Final Four could have double famers.

Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw is slated for induction in June as part of the 2011 class into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in, of all places in light of Monday’s win, Knoville, Tennessee.

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer is a finalist for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., whose class will be announced this weekend.

Usually, the entire class is presented at the men’s Final Four, but because the Cardinal will be in Indianapolis, if VanDerveer has been elected, she will have to be introduced at the women’s site.

Sometimes maybe karma is the real reason that things occur.

Consider this is the 10th anniversary of Notre Dame’s first and only NCAA title, though it is the Irish’s third trip to the Women’s Final Four on the way to a potential championship.

To win it all in St. Louis in 2001 Notre Dame had to rally and beat Big East rival Connecticut in the national semifinal.

Ironically, the timing couldn’t be better for one Jeff Goldberg, the former Hartford Courant beat writer covering the UConn women.

Goldberg’s first book, Bird at the Buzzer, had recently gone public. It focuses on the 2001 Big East title game in which Sue Bird nailed a long shot just before time expired to give the Huskies a win over the Irish, who had beaten them in South Bend, Ind., in the regular season.

The two programs were the best two in the country in 2001 but met in the semifinals – don’t ask about the bracketing in that one.

On tour with the book, Goldeberg had planned to be at the Final Four and now if Connecticut beats second-seeded Duke here Tuesday night, a rematch of that national semifinal in which the Irish got the last word against the Huskies will occur Sunday night.

The other side will have Stanford against the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Big 12 rivals Baylor, the top seed in the Dallas regional, and Texas A&M, the second seed.

But don’t cry over the failure of Tennessee and UConn to hook up again in the tournament for what would have been the first meeting since Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt cancelled the nationally followed regular season series between the two in the summer of 2007.

They almost met, anyway, in 2008 but Connecticut lost to Stanford in the national semifinal before going on the NCAA-record 90-game win streak.

Tennessee almost didn’t make it to the title game, either. It took a last-second shot against LSU to advance to the final against Stanford and the second of back-to-back titles for Candace Parker before she headed off to the WNBA.

Tennessee and Connecticut were on an NCAA collision path in 2009 but Ball State ejected Tennessee in the first round and a year ago the LadyVols lost in the regional semifinal to Baylor.

Lots of storylines exist in place besides the potential UConn-Notre Dame rematch that brings together two Philly people in McGraw, a St. Joseph’s graduate who was a local product, and Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown and was an assistant at St. Joseph’s to his friend Jim Foster for one year.

Ironically, McGraw replaced Auriemma, who spent just one season with Foster.

As for other storylines, since two games must be played Tuesday night, let’s wait 24 hours to go over all of them or at least the ones that still will be in place after two teams are eliminated.

Duke Seeking Ambush Mode

The Blue Devils, though never having won a national title in this tournament, own one of the all-time upsets in felling Tennessee in the East Regional Final of 1999,ending the collegiate career of Chamique Holdsclaw.

A similar occurrence would come about if Duke prevails over Connecticut Tuesday night, which would short-circuit Maya Moore the same way Holdsclaw was stopped in that previous game.

“She’s the best player in the world,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said at Monday’s press session when asked to discuss Moore.

An aside, purists would argue Moore is close to that but a former UConn star that was starting out as a freshman a decade ago in Diana Taurasi, currently with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, occupies the throne at the moment.

“She’s the greatest women’s basketball player alive today. I think she obviously has a tremendous work ethic.” McCallie continued. “I think that she obviously has a tremendous work ethic. She works hard, she plays hard, and she has a smooth jump shot and a quick release. Her inside-out game can just absolutely get you on the boards and other facets of the game. She’s an exception player, she’s going to do very well at the next level and hopefully will grow women’s basketball.”

The two schools have only met nine times but do have an interesting history together.

When they met in Durham, N.C. at Cameron in 2003, Connecticut was ranked second and Duke No. 1.

Auriemma got the Blue Devils student body in a lather beforehand because in responding to a Duke player’s comment that she had chosen the school over the Huskies because of the degree value, he responded “I know many waiters in restaurants with Duke degrees.”

Connecticut, led by Taurasi, jumped to a big lead in front of the first-ever women’s sellout at Duke and then held off a Blue Devils rally.

Revenge came twice later in two of the three Duke wins.

Trailing by a ton at the half, Duke rallied in Hartford and Jessica Foley, an Australian, nailed a long trey at the buzzer for a 68-67 victory on January 3, 2004, that ended what had been a UConn NCAA home record win streak of 69 straight, which the Huskies eclipsed this season, and 76 consecutive wins overall.

In 2006, Duke edged Connecticut 63-61 in the regional final in Bridgeport, Conn., at Harbor Yards when Charde Houston missed an outside shot that would have sent the game into overtime.

Duke went on up the road to Boston, beat LSU in the national semifinals, and took a big lead against ACC-rival Maryland in the title game.

But the Terrapins rallied and sent the action into overtime on Kristi Toliver’s three-pointer at the buzzer and Maryland went on to win its first title.

McCallie was still at Michigan State at the time and has been with the Blue Devils for four seasons with a 114-25 record.

Bad Timing

Believe it or not, Immaculata is having a $250 black-tie, red-carpet gala at the Franklin Institute at 6 p.m. to debut at long last what is now entitled The Mighty Macs, the movie that was filmed on campus and in the suburbs in the early summer of 2007 about the school’s winning the first national title in 1972 under Cathy Rush.

That spurred the growth of the modern era, as the Mighty Macs took the torch from West Chester that had held the first all-collegiate women’s invitational in 1969 . Immaculata went on to set the future path leading to the current NCAA tournaments.

One event will not impact the other in terms of crowds, though you all know where, unfortunately, the Guru will be Tuesday night.

More details will follow on the public rollout of the movie.

- Mel

Monday, March 28, 2011

Guru Report: UConn Surge Rallies Huskies Over Georgetown

(Guru note: There is a notebook blog below this post in blogspot. If you are in melgreenberg.com, click Mel's blog to enter the entire platform.)

By Mel Greenberg

Sylvester Stallone wasn’t anywhere near Temple University’s Liacouras Center Sunday afternoon but the spirit of his underdog boxing character Rocky Balboa was alive and well inside fifth-seeded Georgetown, which took on two-time defending heavyweight women’s basketball champion Connecticut in a Philadelphia Regional semifinal game in the NCAA tournament.

Unlike the movie character, this was not a first-time one-shot opportunity for the Hoyas (24-11), who meet the Huskies (35-1) regularly in the Big East and had fallen twice to them already this season in a home game at McDonough Arena in Washington and then in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament earlier this month in Hartford, Conn.

Fresh off a second-round upset of host No. 4 Maryland, which was also a second takedown of the Terrapins this season, Georgetown came out swinging on the basketball canvas Sunday by dropping seven haymakers from three-point range by halftime and holding a 53-46 lead with 9 minutes, 36 seconds left in the game.

The implications off the moment were many if the lead would hold.

For one, a loss by the Huskies at this stage of the NCAAs, would be their first exit at Sweet 16 level since 2005 when the Women’s Final Four was also held in Indianapolis.

That marked the end of UConn’s three-season domination and produced a myriad of storylines the rest of the way with Baylor the ultimate beneficiary capturing the Bears’ first NCAA crown.

Baylor would have stood to gain again this time around while ironically here on Tuesday night Joanne P. McCallie would be in better position to guide second-seeded Duke to her first Final Four since finishing second in 2005 when she was still coaching Michigan State.

For two, a loss would have also brought the first premature ending to a reigning senior collegiate superstar’s career in the women’s game since March 22nd, 1999 in Greensboro, N.C.

That was the night in the East Regional when a Duke contingent on the rise short-circuited Tennessee 69-63 ruining a potential national four-peat and closing the women’s collegiate history book on Chamique Holdsclaw.

Nancy Gay, reporting at the time for the San Francisco Chronicle described the ignominious ending of the as follows:

Her auto-pilot offense failed her, her magic never materialized, and the best player in women's college basketball could do nothing last night but bury her head into the comforting arms of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, sobbing uncontrollably as the final seconds of her brilliant career quickly ticked off the clock.

In one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, third-seeded Duke refused to bow to top- seeded Tennessee's pressure defense and glittering roster of All- America stars, limiting Holdsclaw to 11 points and holding on for a 69-63 victory in the East Regional semifinal at Greensboro Coliseum.

Flash back to the present on Sunday afternoon where Georgetown needed just one or more two whacks to fell the great wall of UConn, sending Maya Moore to a similar unanticipated finish.

Around the nation, crowds began to gather to watch the ESPN2 telecast in public areas as they speculated a champion(s) end was on the brink.

However, though Moore had performed closer to human level Sunday afternoon than in the galaxy in which she has thrived, the Georgian was in no mood for history to repeat.

Two minutes earlier, Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma and his staff already greased the wheels to kill the Rocky storyline by dropping down from heavyweight to bantamweight fighting mode.

Off the recommendations of an assistant, laboring 6-5 freshman center Stefani Dolson was substituted from a lineup that just had experienced a previous move with senior 5-4 guard Lorin Dixon inserted.

“We just changed our defense a little bit and the way Lorin came in and played changed the tone of the game – everything changed,” Auriemma said.

Dixon had been lackluster most of her career until a month ago. She and freshman guard Bria Hartley began to make things happen and Moore took care of the rest.

“Insert Lorin, never thought I’d say that,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza tweeted humorously watching the game. Until joining the Owls three seasons ago she had been an Auriemma assistant 14 years, including when Dixon was a freshman.

In fact, as UConn tiptoed into the season off losing Germantown Academy's Caroline Doty in the summer to a third season-ending knee injury, Auriemma had privately told someone -- not the Guru -- how Dixon was playing havoc with a thin rotation, though he had total praise for her Sunday.

“Hartley’s trey cut the UConn disadvantage to four points, then Dixon had two steals. She scored off her first theft and fed Hartley off the second to tie the game 53-53 with 7:11 left in regulation.

Dixon hit a jumper that got the lead back in the UConn column for good at 55-53 with 6:19 left.

“He had to take Dolson out,” Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, a former Penn State star, tried to put it diplomatically in observing the UConn roster switch. “Tia Magee was absolutely killing her. Tia was taking it to the basket and shooting the three.

“He decided to go smaller by putting Dixon in the game. And Dixon hasn’t been a big time player for him. She was their spark coming off the bench. She handled the ball, taking some of the pressure off Hartley and (Tiffany) Hayes. So now they were able to stay on the wing and get more open shots.”

Then Moore got into the act. Grabbing a defensive rebound, she missed a three-pointer but Dixon saved the possession on the offensive boards and Moore hit a jumper and then scored two more points on a pair of foul shots to make it 59-53 for a 13-0 run with 4:51 left.

“We did not hit shots,” Williams-Flournoy described the sequence when the potential happy Georgetown ending began to slip away. “Sugar (Rodgers) missed a layup. We turned the ball over twice. I told our young ladies, against a team like Connecticut, you just cannot make those mistakes.

“When we were up by seven, we had to put it up by 10, and then 12. That’s the only way you’re going to give yourself any cushion to beat Connecticut, because they are coming back at you.”

Alexa Roche stopped the Georgetown slide with a layup but Hartley nailed a trey to make it 62-55 with 4:01 left.

The Hoyas shook loose but Moore kept countering scoring UConn’s last six points for a 68-63 victory that sent the Huskies into Tuesday night’s title game against second-seeded Duke, which held off third-seeded DePaul 70-63 in the second game.

“They are a very well coached team, and they have Maya Moore, who hit those big shots,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We hit that spot right there and it really hurt us.”

In all, Moore finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds along with three steals, two blocked shots, two steals and no turnovers.

“I think we are definitely quicker when Lorin comes in like that,” Moore said. “We feel like we have a smaller lineup so we have to just pick up the tempo a little bit. We got a lot of deflections and we did a great job getting a steal and a layup that really sparked us from that point on throughout the end of the game.”

Hartley had 17 points and Dolson had 13 rebounds.

Connecticut was able to limit Georgetown’s hot-shooting Rodgers to 11 points, but senior Monica McNutt scored 17, and Magee had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

“Unfortunately, for Georgetown University, it’s not good when Sugar does not have a good night,” Williams-Flournoy said. “She’s played so well the first two games. She’s going to garnish a lot of attention. She’s going to get the best defender on her, she’s going to get bumped and pushed. It’s a lot for her, to play so many minutes.

“Tonight we had to move her to the point, which takes the scoring away from her and puts more pressure on her having to handle the ball.”

When Duke pulled that major upset on Tennessee that night in 1999, then-coach Gail Goestenkors, who moved to Texas in 2007 and was replaced by McCallie, didn’t think the Blue Devils’ victory was that much of a shocker.

“"I don't know that we ever considered it would be a huge upset," Goestenkors said. "We honestly believed that if we played the game and we stuck to the game plan, played as well as we could, we were going to win."

After Sunday’s game, Georgetown senior McNutt spoke on a similar vein when asked if she thought there was solace in being able to contend with the nation’s top team in the rankings.

“Absolute not,” McNutt said. “In case you haven’t noticed, our program is on the rise. We are past the point of moral victories. We should be in the Elite Eight.”

Unfortunately, unlike Rocky Balboa in the movies, that moment will have to wait until next season to be made into reality.

-- Mel

Guru NCAA Notebook: Will Williams-Flournoy Be Lured From Georgetown?

(Guru Note: There is a post above this one of coverage of the Georgetown-UConn game. Read Philly.com for Duke-DePaul coverage.)

By Mel Greenberg

In the seven seasons since Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy stepped up from an assistant position in the nation’s capital the Hoyas have exchanged places with George Washington as the dominant Division I women’s program inside the District and are showing capability to take on nearby Maryland in a budding new local rivalry.

This season Georgetown was a wire-to-wire resident in the Associated Press women’s poll and had top-ranked Connecticut, the Hoyas’ Big East sister school, on the ropes Sunday afternoon in the Philadelphia Regional of the NCAA tournament until the Huskies surged at the finish to move on to the Elite Eight at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.

Williams-Flournoy, a 1991 graduate of Penn State, has a talent pipeline in being the sister of camp guru Boo Williams.

In making it to their largest stage of the tournament since their only other Sweet 16 appearance back in 1993 Georgetown turned a few heads even if President Obama forecast a quick exit at the hands of Princeton when he made his women’s bracket selections on ESPN.

In the process, Williams-Flournoy demonstrated she is able to handle the public spotlight by her demeanor at the various press conferences.

Pencil her in along with UCLA’s Nikki Caldwell, Temple’s Tonya Cardoza, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, and UNC Wilmington’s Cynthia Cooper-Dyke as part of a rising group of younger minority coaches who are catching attention.

Senior Monica McNutt, who has shown herself to be one of the more entertaining student-athlete interviewees during the Hoyas run, spoke Sunday after the loss to UConn about the dramatic growth of Georgetown since she arrived as a freshman.

“These girls have worked their butts off,” McNutt said trying to keep her emotions in check. “These coaches have worked their butts off. They go out, they convince kids to come to our humble little McDonough Gymnasium and put the work in.

“One of our assistant coaches told me this is where you are supposed to be, and he is absolutely right. I hope as a local kid, Maryland is not the only team kids look at in the area and I hope, for the sake of the program, nationally, some people start to give us a nod, I hope they start to get some of that credit no one was trying to give us.”

In taking the next steps, Williams-Flournoy declared, “We will never be an underdog again.”

But success as she’s achieved draws interest and so she was asked if she expects to be pursued for other jobs considering the number of BCS openings, notably at Virginia near her roots, though the school was not mentioned by name in the question.

Williams-Flournoy handled her response delicately.

“I have a great athletic director and I love Georgetown University,” she said. “It’s home and it’s close to home. I can’t really answer that question. I’m very happy where I am at right now. I’m really proud of my young ladies and what we’ve done at Georgetown. Our president has been right here behind us the whole tournament.

“There’s no reason why I should go anywhere.”

Still, there have been whispers that the NCAA run has drawn interest in her at Virginia, where Debbie Ryan’s longtime Hall-of-Fame era formally ended Saturday night when Charlotte beat the Cavaliers 79-74 in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament quarterfinals.

A Guru operative well connected to Atlantic Coast Conference operations reported that Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage, a former Penn men’s star, was supposedly here at the Liacouras Center watching the semifinals Sunday afternoon.

Of course it is still not known if the Cavaliers have attempted to get permission to talk to one of their own in Staley, who led them to three straight Final Fours in the early 1990s and was always looked at as the future heir apparent at her alma mater after she gained instant success launching a coaching career at Temple.

One well-known coach who requested anonymity said Williams-Flournoy should get involved with talks at Virginia if the Cavaliers request permission to talk to her.

Willams-Flournoy signed a contract extension at the end of last summer.

“You have to look at the resources Virginia has. Put that together with her ability to get players and the style her team developed in the Big East, she would do quite well down there and in the ACC.”

Incidentally, Williams-Flournoy’s promotion was tied to two Philadelphians when she got the Georgetown job. Kelly Greenberg, the former La Salle star, left Penn to move to Boston University and her replacement at the time was by Pat Knapp, who was a longtime coach of the Hoyas and is from this area.

LSU Vacancy

There’s some thought LSU in seeking a replacement to Van Chancellor may pursue Miami’s Katie Meier after her landmark season in which the Hurricanes tied Duke for first in the ACC in the regular season.

Meier is a former Duke player while athletic director Joe Alleva is a previous AD with the Blue Devils.

Caught By ESPN Cameras

The Guru understands through a sudden shot of texts and emails into his blackberry, among other technological devices, that his little chitchat with Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma on press row during the second half of the Duke-DePaul game was caught by ESPN2 cameras.

So what was discussed?

Well, the Huskies dined at Panorama the other night in terms of what restaurants had been selected while he is in his third NCAA tournament participation being held near where he grew up in Norristown.

Auriemma noted during a timeout DePaul coach Doug Bruno and his team took seats halfway across the court to discuss strategy as occurs at other places.

“Why do they do that? But it looks like Doug has a bigger chair than mine.”

Bruno, of course, was one of his assistants on the USA quad that won the FIBA World Championship in Czechoslovakia and is expected to rejoin Auriemma for the Olympics at the 2012 London Games.

Auriemma mentioned that somewhere back in time Duke substitute Allison Vernerey from France had been one of his campers. He had lost track and then rediscovered her and went overseas to visit on a recruiting visit.

“I go all the way over there and then I get told she’s going to go to Duke,” he laughed. “You think they could have told me that before I left.”

WNIT Semifinals

It will be three mid-majors and one BCS school when the WNIT semifinals are played Wednesday night following the weekend’s quarterfinals action.

Charlotte (27-9), an annual Atlantic 10 contender, beat Virginia 79-74 Saturday and will travel to Toledo (27-8) of the Mid-American conference, which beat Syracuse 71-68 Sunday.

Southern Cal (23-12) of the Pac-10 beat Colorado 87-70 Sunday and will travel to Illinois State (24-10), which beat Arkansas, 60-49.

Stephanie Glance, a former assistant to the late Kay Yow at N.C. State, who filled in for Yow while she battled breast cancer, coaches Illinois State.

Job Application

Georgetown’s McNutt was asked what her future plans are after graduation and she referenced to a member of her local TV media from Washington and said:

Since (inaudible on the Guru tape) mentioned this was my last game, I want to be on your side, so if anyone wans to help me out, let me know.”

Clearing The Tweet

During the Duke-DePaul game the Guru reported that none of the papers from Chicago or North Carolina in the Research Triangle Area were here to cover their local teams.

Actually, Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune was in the house and actually learned a new trick from the Guru when Hersh thought he had just accidentally lost all his copy on his laptop while writing his game story.

“Hit Control Z,” the Guru yelled out.

Sure enough, the copy dropped back on the screen.

And on that note, time to head home for a quick shuteye before heading back to Temple for the Elite Eight round preview press conferences.

-- Mel

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Auriemma After More UConn NCAA History in Hometown Philly

(Guru’s Note: A Guru notebook with items on Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, Obama’s hometown affiliations with DePaul and Georgetown, a little ESPN stuff, and coaching searches is in the post below this. At melgreenberg.com click the mel’s blog link to read the other item.
This is the raw copy, though not much changed, from the Guru feature for the printed Inquirer that is already in the advanced edition in case you can’t find it directly on philly.com. But head there anyhow for a long feature on Maya Moore by Ashley Fox that is already in the advanced edition. The later press run Saturday night will include coverage of the day’s events at Temple. And the Guru will be tweeting and blogging with his guest stars throughout the day.)

By Mel Greenberg


Homecoming visits to Philadelphia with his Connecticut Huskies are always special occasions for women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown.

Big East games against Villanova at The Pavilion on the Main Line usually draw a large group of his friends and family among the crowd eager to view one of the most dominant teams in the women’s game that Auriemma has nurtured since his hire in 1985.

Twice, previously, the Auriemma visits here have been extra special because they have involved milestone moments for UConn in NCAA tournament competition in 1991 in the East Regional and 2000 at the Women’s Final Four.

Auriemma, who turned 57 on Wednesday and is in his 26th season with the Huskies, is looking to add another pleasant NCAA memory from here on Sunday. That’s when UConn (34-1), the overall No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion, will face Big East rival Georgetown (24-10) at noon in the Philadelphia Regional semifinals at Temple’s Liacouras Center.

The fifth-seeded Hoyas pulled one of the big surprises of the tournament in the second round, beating host and fourth-seeded Maryland 79-57 as Sugar Rodgers scored a career-record 34 points.

“Whatever tickets were made available to me – and it was a lot – I’ve used them all up and it wasn’t enough,” Auriemma said Thursday prior to leaving for Philadelphia. “So that gives you an idea. I’ve never seen it as a distraction. I think it’s a fun time. I’m going to enjoy it. My only distractions down there are the great restaurants I am going to be eating at.”

If the Huskies emerge from here Tuesday and win another NCAA title next weekend in Indianapolis they will match Tennessee with eight championships. This would also be their second three-peat (2002-04), which Tennessee once achieved (1996-98).

A year ago UConn became the first women’s team to win back-to-back titles with unbeaten records and in December the Huskies set an NCAA Division I win streak record with 90, breaking the UCLA’s men mark of 88.

They then fell at Stanford and thus ended a record run of 51 straight weeks at No. 1 in the Associated Press women’s poll. But UConn returned to the top last month and hasn’t lost since.

“The winning streak feels like it happened in a different season,” Auriemma said. “The way this year played out, that’s almost gotten lost. We are so much about what we are trying to accomplish and some of the obstacles we have that there hasn’t been time to reflect.

“I think that might happen at some point down the road but I don’t think there is anyone who has given any thought to that or what effect it had on us. It’s almost like we kind of passed through that fog and now we are on to something else.”

Auriemma, who is 7-0 in NCAA title games, leads active women’s coaches with a 769-123 record for a .862 winning percentage. His Huskies have just won their 17th Big East tournament title.

Personal accolades include inductions to the Women’s and Naismith Basketball Halls of Fame and his new role coaching the United States Olympic squad next year at the 2012 London Games.

Senior sensation Maya Moore and many of his former stars including Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird are expected to be on the squad. Overall, Auriemma has developed 13 first-team all-Americans, each with multiple appearances; and 11 first round WNBA draft picks. Next month Moore is a prohibitive favorite to follow Bird (2002), Taurasi (2004), and Tina Charles (2010) as the overall No. 1 pick.

This weekend’s Philadelphia visit is the 20th anniversary of UConn’s first splash on the national scene in terms of NCAA advancement.

In 1991, the games at The Palestra became a launching pad for the Huskies’ future domination when they moved on to the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans after their first Sweet 16 appearance.

“The thing I remember most about that weekend at The Palestra is the novelty of it all,” Auriemma recalled. “Our kids and fans found out what it felt like to be at the regionals for the very first time.

“I was pretty fortunate that our first time ever in a regional, it’s being held in Philadelphia at a place I think so highly of, with a group of kids on the team where most of them have Philadelphia roots. It was just perfect.”

One of the stars was Central Bucks East’s Meghan (nee Pattyson) Cuomo.

Connecticut beat Atlantic Coast Conference powers North Carolina State (82-71) and Clemson (60-57) but fell in the national semifinals to Virginia.

But Auriemma, always quick with a quip, became an instant media magnet in the manner of such fellow Italian coaches on the men’s side as Rick Pitino and John Calipari with his wisecracking remarks.

Years ago when the Kentucky women’s job was rumored to become open and Pitino was with the Wildcats men’s team, Geno jested about landing the opening, saying, “It’ll be great – Geno and Pitino.”

He once was heard to remark to TV reporters among the large UConn media contingent: “Do you know how difficult it is for me to be me?”

After UConn broke the win-streak record in December, Auriemma chided President Obama for interupting the postgame press conference with a congratulatory phone call.

He started in the women’s game as a one-year assistant to his friend Jim Foster (now at Ohio State) at St. Joseph’s. Auriemma then assisted future Hawks men’s coach Phil Martelli at Bishop Kenrick High before becoming an aide to Virginia women’s coach Debbie Ryan.

UConn was almost short-circuited in the 1991 NCAA’s earlier round at home in Storrs. However, a last-second foul was ruled to be too late and the Huskies survived Toledo, 81-80.

“(Referee) Dee (Kantner) came over checked with the timer, who’d I already shown pictures of my uncles and cousins in Philly, so when Dee said `Did time expire before the foul?’ he just went like this (Auriemma gestured nodding his head).”

The 1991 breakthrough enabled Auriemma to gain a prized recruit in future All-American Rebecca Lobo, who now does TV sideline work for ESPN’s women’s coverage. In ensuing years, point guard Jennifer Rizzotti (now coach of Hartford) and center Kara Wolters arrived.

That talent flux by 1995 brought the Huskies their first NCAA title at 35-0 in a season that also included two wins over Tennessee, including the championship game, in the first pair of meetings ever with the Lady Vols.

However, Connecticut did not experience the ultimate NCAA thrill again until 2000. That was when Auriemma’s group was back in Philadelphia for the Women’s Final Four at the then-named First Union Center. The Huskies demolished Tennessee 71-52 in the championship after beating Penn State in the national semifinals.

“The whole weekend in 2000 was kind of a magical experience,” Auriemma recalled. “When you win a national championship, you feel unbelievably fortunate. To be put in position to win another one, not many coaches get the opportunity to do that.

“On top of that, the fact we had a chance to do that in front of our family and friends and people we grew up with and to play the way we did made it feel like a storybook.”

For Auriemma and the UConn women, it’s been open-ended that way ever since.

-- Mel

Guru's NCAA Notebook: Mulkey Better Than Maya?

(Guru’s Note: A post above here is the raw copy on a Geno Auriemma feature for the Sunday print paper if it is difficult to find at Philly.com. There is not much change in the final product but you should go there anyhow because in the advanced early edition is a long profile of Maya Moore by Ashley Fox.)

By Mel Greenberg

Some quick thoughts, observations, and other Guru musings heading into Saturday’s press conferences here at Temple’s Liacouras Center with an eye to news coming from elsewhere including Sweet 16 regional semifinal rounds in Dayton, Ohio and Spokane, Washington as well as WNIT quarterfinals play this weekend.

While the final collegiate exploits of Connecticut senior Maya Moore shift into overdrive this weekend as she nears however the final chapter will read, a question put to the Guru while handling some United States Basketball Writers’ women’s business behind the scenes, resulted into some fascinating research.

No question, Moore has achieved unbelievable success to date with only three collegiate losses in her UConn career.

But someone wanted to know if anyone has ever won more from the start of her high school career through everything else, including Olympics and coaching, than Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, the former All-American at Louisiana Tech.

Maybe there is someone who tops Mulkey’s stats but it is hard to see who after putting Mulkey’s biography at the Baylor website under the magnifying glass.

And, yes, feel free to offer other names to the Guru if any come to mind.

But get a glance at the Mulkey track record.

At Hammond High in Louisiana, Mulkey’s four-year playing career produced a won-loss record of 136-5, four state titles and a national high school record of 4,025 points.

Then at Louisiana Tech where she earned all-American honors, the Techsters were 130-6, held a 36-week record of being No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, since eclipsed by UConn in the Moore era, won two national titles (one was AIAW), finished national runner up and made another Final Four appearance.

Mulkey, who will turn 49 in May, won Olympic, Pan American and Olympic Festival gold medals.

In 15 years at her alma mater as an assistant and then associate head coach, the Techsters were 430-68.

A few days after the 2000 Women’s Final Four ended with a UConn title in Philadelphia, Mulkey was hired to take over a Baylor program that had just finished at 7-20.

Since then, the Bears have had 11 straight 20-plus winning seasons and in 2005 won the NCAA title making her the first individual -- man or women -- to win national collegiate titles as a player, coach, and assistant coach.

When Baylor moved ahead of UConn before the Huskies returned to the top of the AP poll, Mulkey became the first to play with and coach an Associated Press No. 1 ranked women’s team.

Not Really The Obama Hometown Regional

The regional here has been able to draw many nicknames beyond its official geographical NCAA designation, but it could also be called the Presidential Hometown Regional in terms of two of the participating teams.

It may not have been noticed but DePaul out of Chicago and Georgetown out of the nation’s capital represent the two presidential residential affiliations of Barack Obama.

Though Washington is a sort-of-quick trip away from the Liacouras Center on North Broad Street, Karen Aurebach, Temple’s women’s basketball media liaison and assistant media host of the Philadelphia Regional, said all has been quiet in terms of advance checks from the Secret Service preceding a presidential visit.

Actually, though the nation’s business may have Obama necessarily preoccupied, there hasn’t been a lot of love from the commander-in-chief for either the Hoyas or Blue Demons in filling out his women’s tournament bracket for ESPN.

He picked Georgetown to go out quickly to Princeton, which sparked a little extra motivation for the Hoyas to advance here by dispatching the Ivy League champions and then shocking host Maryland Tuesday night at the Terrapins’ Comcast Center.

Obama did allow DePaul to advance here but stopped there with a prediction of Duke to stop Doug Bruno’s squad.

On the other hand, UConn, which has been an ongoing visitor to the White House the last two seasons to mark the previous two NCAA titles, is his choice to win it all a third straight time.

By the way, there will be divided loyalties from the host Temple contingent.

The Owls’ staff has a strong dose in UConn DNA in head coach Tonya Cardoza, who was a 14-year assistant to Geno Auriemma, while one of her aides, Willnet Crockett played for the Huskies, and operations director Stacey Nasser, was a manager.

On the other hand, Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw, who is a graduate of La Salle here in town, was previously in a similar capacity at DePaul.

“I hired Doug Bruno, what else could I say?” Bradshaw quipped.

Enhancing The Student, Disrupting The Coaching?

The Guru has learned that during the ESPN telecasts the basketball committee has made it mandatory for a student athlete from participating teams to be made available for quick TV interviews pregame and at the half.

How do the coaches feel about this?

They may not say for the record but the Guru’s thermometer will be dipped into the activity here to get a reading.

Coaching Searches

If the phrase continues to be used by school athletic officials that they can’t yet chase candidates to fill vacancies at such places as Virginia because of targeting teams still in the tournament, let’s look at what the roll call reveals.

The first question is does “still in the tournament” also mean the WNIT?

Well, actually Virginia is still in the tournament, meeting Charlotte in the WNIT quarterfinals, making Debbie Ryan extend her active career several weeks after she announced her departure from her longtime place on the Cavaliers sidelines.

So, who is still in the tournament?

Well, WNIT-wise, Charlotte has Karen Aston, a former Texas and Baylor assistant, who has made the 49ers a challenger in Atlantic 10 title races.

Toledo’s Tricia Cullop, who was a previous Evansville head coach and Xavier assistant (prior to the McGuff era), has made toe Rockets into a frontrunner in the Mid-American Conference.

However, she signed a contract extension last September through 2017-18.

Forget Syracuse, Arkansas and Southern Cal, while Colorado (Linda Lappe) and Illinois State (Stephanie Glance) have rookie coach contenders for the WBCA’s annual award named for Maggie Dixon.

One wonders if the world would have been different previously at Colorado, whether former Buffaloes coach Kathy McConnell-Miller’s name would be in the Virginia speculation mix as a former player.

On the NCAA group of 16, eliminate Baylor, Texas A&M, Georgia, Ohio State, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Duke, Connecticut, DePaul, Stanford, and North Carolina.

There is speculation that LSU in replacing Van Chancellor may chase Louisville’s Jeff Walz, whom Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva would have familiarity from Alleva’s days at Duke and Walz’s as an assistant to Maryland’s Brenda Frese, which includes the 2006 NCAA title in his resume.

Possibly, Washington could pursue neighboring Kelly Graves for his work at Gonzaga, while local success could lead Wisconsin to Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Matt Bollant.

That leaves Georgetown’s Terri Williams-Flournoy, especially off her impressive building the Hoyas to their success this season in both residing the distance in the AP Poll as well as Tuesday’s second win of the season over Maryland.

But she signed an extension at the end of last summer so it might be difficult for Virginia, unless it’s ready to spend the dollars, to pry her loose.

Several buzzes from Charlottesville have said the Cavaliers took a run at UCLA’s Nikki Caldwell, a former UVA assistant, and struck out.

So then the question lingering is whether a pursuit of all-time UVA star Dawn Staley at South Carolina is alive or whether her Gamecocks deal is a barrier or whether it won’t start, although athletic director Craig Littlepage has always kept track of Staley.

Williams-Flournoy and Virginia however certainly know what each other is about.

Stay tuned from the press conferences. Time to head home for some quick shuteye and a haircut – in case another out-of-bounds play heading towards the Guru on press row also is captured by the TV cameras.

-- Mel