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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

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


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