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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guru Roundup: Delle Donne; Debbie Ryan and NCAA Bubbles Over

(Guru's note: Three posts are under this showing a recap of all the conference championship games; The Sunday schedule of what's left and a complete conference tracker excepting the championship lines to be decided in the Big South, CAA, Horizon, Missouri Valley, and Northeast conferences.)

By Mel Greenberg

Well, thanks to the change to daylight savings the Guru lost time while calculating data but he knows you all are interested in what is percolating after several No. 1 seeds in one-bid perceived conferences went down.

He has also been out of touch in what is written but quick thoughts about the news.

The No. 1 story was the resignation of Debbie Ryan, the longtime Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach at Virginia.

The timing by the university was curious from several fronts some of which was observed to the Guru from colleagues on the beat.

The Cavaliers chose to put the word out on a day the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament was still going on and thus none of the immediate reporters covering UVA were on hand, while several others were at the CAA tournament near Washington.

It also comes right in front of an expectation that state conference rival Virginia Tech may announce a vacancy in the next 48 hours. That's been a buzz in recent days.

So first the Guru would like to say Debbie, who hails from near Philadelphia outside Trenton, N.J., has been a pioneer of the game, doing innovative things way back in the day ahead of many others.

He watched the Cavaliers program grow and take off when Dawn Staley arrived from Philadelphia as one of the top high school prospects in the nation and quickly Virginia zoomed up in the poll and on to three Women's Final Fours, tough the last two of them were tough defeats to swallow.

But Debbie handled it with grace and in later years proved to be a tough battler in the fight against cancer.

Ryan's departure makes her the last of the original crowd of ACC coaches to exit from back when the conference of eight at the time began women's events -- even though it seems Sylvia Hatchell has been there forever, she was not hired by North Carolina until 1986.

As for a successor, there was a time that Staley was considered the heir apparent off her instant start at Temple, which she built into a nationally-recognized program.

But with Staley now at South Carolina, money issues in terms of contracts could be a barrier, though one would think Cavaliers would offer the courtesy to an alum of determining her availability and what the buyout costs are at South Carolina.

If the school is willing to pay big money except officials to take a shot at UConn's Geno Auriemma, though that effort may last 10 minutes. There are others, though, in the same salary range with ACC coaching experience that might be pried loose.

Some other names being thrown about are another alum right here in Philadelphia -- that would be Temple's Tonya Cardoza who came down from UConn and kept the Owls moving on the national path Staley established.

Cardoza did not want to comment off the news citing the immediacy of the announcement and her anticipation of getting Temple ready for another NCAA run.

A couple of other possibilities would be Jenny Boucek, an alum who has had coaching success in the WNBA and is currently an assistant on the league champion Seattle Storm; UCLA's Nikki Caldwell, who spent a stint as an assistant to Ryan, though her work with the Bruins may keep her in place on the West Coast.

Virginia might target James Madison's Kenny Brooks, who is being buzzed as a possible target by Virginia Tech if the vacancy comes about. With Dawn Evan graduating, the time could ber right for a move.

In the same vein, many believe that some places with potential openings will seek Xavier's Kevin McGuff, who loses his two stud post players in Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips.

Delle Donne And Delaware A Step Away

Several weeks ago when Delaware's bid to land a bye for the Colonial Athletic Association was extinguished, it was noted to coach Tina Martin that there was enough time to just use the rest of the season to get the Blue Hens tournament ready with an eye that sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne may then be recovered enough from her fight with Lyme disease to restore Delaware to preseason expectations.

Sure enough the 2008 national high school player of the year out of Wilmington's Ursuline Academy has been a force for the seventh-seeded Blue Hens who have at least a 65 chance or better of upsetting top-seeded James Madison after knocking out No. 2 Old Dominion and No. 3 UNC Wilmington following an opening win over Northeastern.

No team in the CAA has ever won the title without a bye -- in part because Old Dominion won 17 of them -- though one other seventh seed -- UNC Wilmington -- got to the championship round in the CAA.

But the Guru has been saying for a month that the seeds in the middle of the CAA were much better than their identity number and Delaware's run proves the point given all the injuries Martin dealt with even before the curtain went up in November.

At worst, Delaware should land in the WNIT, which it could use to build the squad for bigger things next season.

But if the Blue Hens win Sunday, all you scenario dreamers can forget the possibilities of seeing Delaware and Connecticut on a collision path -- the numbers can't work although with all the mediocrity that has found its way into the tournament field -- 12 teams through the automatic qualifying route have RPIs of 100 or worse, in fact many much worse -- the potential won't be off the mark by much.

NCAA Bubbles

OK, so since the Guru's last go-round some No. 1 seeds in conference tournaments got shocked, especially among the perceived one-bid bunch. James Madison, with a loss to Delaware, would join the crowd, while Wisconsin-Green Bay still has yet to become the official winner in the Horizon until Sunday's game determines a winner.

So having lost an hour's worth of work as noted, here is a quick look at the names of 25 perceived at-large locks. That leaves eight more to be determined to the Guru who has 15 in the mix -- there may be a few more -- derived from using Jerry Palm's numbers, though they were 24 hours old. The list includes the Houston's and Middle Tennessee's, and then some data off the nitty gritty so you can see how this group compares to itself.

The Guru will be back by the next sunrise with much more but he knows you are all anxious, so here are the lists. He will be available to be found Sunday through email or texting or whatever since he had to leave the CAAs late Friday night to attend a family event and can't get back fast enough for the championship.

Here's the two lists with the locks group showing won-loss record and RPI ranking:

ACC – 5
Miami 27-4 12
Florida State 23-7 14
Maryland 23-7 13
Georgia Tech 23-10 18
North Carolina 258 19
A-Ten 2
Temple 23-8 35
Dayton 21-11 46
B-Twelve - 5
Texas A&M 27-5 5
Kansas State 21-10 37
Oklahoma 21-11 21
Iowa State 22-10 34
Texas Tech 22-10 24
Big East -- 7
DePaul 27-6 11
Notre Dame 36-7 10
Rutgers 19-12 22
Marquette 23-8 27
Louisville 20-12 38
Georgetown 22-10 20
St. John’s 21-10 32
Big Ten -- 3
Michigan State 26-5 16
Penn State 24-9 30
Iowa 22-8 17
SEC – 3
Kentucky 24-8 15
Georgia 21-10 33
Vanderbilt 20-11 29
Total 25 Locks – Need 8

This is the group of the rest with the addition of teams drawing interest that were considered strong favorites to go the automatic qualify route. If the locks list is accurate, you only need to eliminate five in this comparison.

Duquesne 22-8 RPI 52; SOS 93; L10 (5-5); T25 (1-1); T50 (2-5); T100 (7-8)
Texas 19-13 RPI 36; SOS 12; L10 (4-6); T25 (2-10); T50 (3-11); T100 (6-13)
West Va. 23-9 RPI 28; SOS 46; L10 (4-6); T25 (0-5); T50 (2-8); T100 (9-6)
Syracuse 22-9 RPI 54; SOS 85; L10 (6-4); T25 (1-8); T50 (4-9); T100 (6-9)
Michigan 17-12 RPI 53; SOS; 30 L10 (5-5); T25 (3-4); T50 (4-8); T100 (9-8)
Additionally Michigan is 7-4 against 101-200.

Purdue 20-11 RPI 49; SOS 48; L10 (6-4); T25 (2-6); T50 (4-7); T100 (8-11)
*-JMU 25-7 RPI; 31; SOS 76; L10 (*8-2); T25 (0-2); T50 (0-3); T100 (10-6).
*-If lose in CAA title game.
Houston 26-5 RPI 26: SOS 90; L10 (9-1) T25 (1-1); T50 (2-2); T100 (6-5)
*-WGB 31-1 RPI 23; SOS 169 L-10 (*9-1); T25 (0-1); T50 (1-1); T100 (3-1)
*-If lose Horizon title game

TCU 23-10 RPI 63: SOS 97; L10 (7-3); T25 (1-1); T50 (2-5); T100 (5-7)
Additionally TCU is 9-1 next 100 and 8-1 beyond.
Ariz, St. 20-10 RPI 40; SOS 40; L10 (7-3); T25 (1-6); T50 (3-6); T100 (5-9)
USC 19-12 RPI 43; SOS 26; L10 (6-4); T25 (0-6); T50 (2-8); T100 (11-6)
LSU (19-13); RPI 48; SOS 25; L10 (5-5); T25 (2-6); T50 (4-7); T100 (7-13)
MTSU 23-7; RPI 45; SOS 92; L10 (7-3); T25 (0-3); T50 (0-5); T100 (3-4)
La. Tech 24-7; RPI 25; SOS 75; L10 (8-2); T25 (0-0); T25 (1-4); T100 (5-6)

-- Mel


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