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, April 18, 2011

Guru Report: Auriemma and Staley On Philly Hall Ballot

By Mel Greenberg

Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown and became a Hall of Famer, and Dawn Staley, who will soon be Hall of Fame eligible to join Auriemma in both the Women's Hall in Knoxville, Tenn., and Springfield, Mass., are on the ballot for the eighth induction class of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

The ballot, which also has top choices from fan participation, is broken down into two categories -- those individuals who had a majority of their career more than 50 years ago and those individuals who had a majority of their career in the last 50 years. There is also room for a third area that involves write-ins for legacy of excellence honorees who have been in the media, administration, announcers and other sports venues making contributions from beyond the playing field.

Last November veteran NBA writer Phil Jasner of the Daily News was a legacy honoree who was inducted several weeks before he succumbed to a battle against cancer.

That same class included former Immaculata star Marianne Stanley who is an assistant coach with the WNBA Washington Mystics.

Auriemma and Staley are the only women's basketball nominees, although in the first category Ora Washington, who was one of the first black female basketball greats, is listed for tennis, a sport in which she also excelled. Hold the phone. Her basketball accomplishments are also listed in the nominees' biographical section that came with the ballot.

Voters are instructed to choose five of the nominees for each category and than five more that can be chosen in either category.

There are 21 nominees on the psuedo-modern day portion and it appears that the older era of stars might go six or seven deep, which, if happens, that means the younger group, so to speak, could have eight, nine or ten inductees.

However, nominees on 70 percent of the ballots are automatically inducted while the Hall of Fame Selection Committee has the power to determine additional inductees. No, the Guru is not on the higher committee, so just pointing it out that he will have no influence on who gets named.

Former Immaculata star Theresa Grentz and Mighty Macs coach Cathy Rush are previous inductees.

Staley starred at Dobbins Tech in North Philadelphia and then went on to lead Virginia to three Women's Final Fours before winning three Olympic gold medals and earning All-Star status in both the WNBA and former American Basketball League.

In 2000- 2001 she joined the coaching profession taking Temple into the national spotlight in her eight seasons with the Owls before moving to South Carolina after the 2008 season where she recently signed a three-year extension.

Auriemma, of course, has led the Huskies to seven NCAA women's titles and next summer will be the USA Olympic coach at the 2012 London games.

In terms of eligibility, locally establish individuals are allowed even if most of their success was elsewhere.

To give one an idea who Auriemma and Staley are competing against in the recent stars category: The group includes such Phillies baseball notables as Pete Rose, Johnnie Callison, while umpire Henry "Shag" Crawford is also on the ballot; College basketball offers Maryland coach Gary Williams, who grew up across the Delaware River in South Jersey; former La Salle All-American Michael Brooks, while Wali Jones starred both for Villanova and then 76ers. Former 76ers star Moses Malone is also from the pro basketball set. Former Eagles greats Bill Bergey, Eric Allen, and Wilbert Montgomery are from the world of the pigskin as is former Ohio State star Eddie George; Hockey offer former Flyers stars Ric MacLeish and Mark Howe and also former Olympic and New York Rangers standout Mike Richter.

Recently retired Drexel wrestling coach Jack Childs was a fans choice in the modern group and soccer's Benny McLaughlin of Temple in the older category. Soccer great Bob Rigby is on the list of recent stars.

The history of past inductees and as well as notes on current activities can be found at the hall's website phillyhall.net.

Induction night will be November 10 at the Society Hill Sheraton near Penn's Landing, which was the hotel for UConn during the recent Philadelphia Regional portion of the NCAA tournament.

An announcement date for the class is not known, at least not here, but a year ago it was made in early summer.

-- Mel


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