Guru Notebook: Staley Game To Stay in South Carolina
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.
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
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.