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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

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


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