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, April 03, 2011

Guru's NCAA Report: Coaching Carousel Spin Stopping Next on McGuff?

By Mel Greenberg

INDIANAPOLIS -- Several weeks ago the Guru alerted you that however the way the NCAA women's basketball tournament games led to which quartet would become the Women's Final Four for Sunday night's national semifinal games, which begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN, in Conseco Fieldhouse, the spin of the coaching carousel may become as newsworthy.

That certainly is now true after the fate of UCLA's Nikki Caldwell became officially known with the announcement by LSU that the former Tennessee star had been hired to coach the Tigers after Hall of Famer Van Chancellor was forced out late last month.

Caldwell's name throughout the Women's Basketball Coaches Convention rumor mill in the hotel lobbies here had been part of a likeness to the old Bud Light commercial concerning the Virginia vacancy that was created several weeks ago with the announced departure of Hall of Famer and longtime coach Debbie Ryan.

After South Carolina coach and former Cavaliers star Dawn Staley announced last week that she was staying with the Gamecocks and that Virginia was going in a different directon, depending on where one stood, the two leading names to fill the job were Caldwell's, who had been a Virginia assistant, and Georgetown's Terri Williams-Flournoy, who had become a sudden celebrity by leading the Hoyas to an upset of Maryland in the tournament second round and a near-upset of overall No. 1 seed Connecticut in the Philadelphia Regional semifinals at Temple.

There had been no clear flow of one over the other and in late Saturday afternoon it seemed off the buzz that Caldwell was heading for Charlottesville until LSU suddenly emerged with an announcement the Tigers made concerning Caldwell.

That seemed to leave Williams-Flournoy in the catbird seat but some sources with ties to the Virginia athletic department were indicating that she might not be the one either to lead the Cavaliers.

Former Virgnia star Wendy Palmer's name has been floating around in some circles.

Meanwhile, it seems that Xavier's Kevin McGuff has become Washington's top candidate to fill the job left by Tia Jackson, who was let go by the Huskies.

The Atlantic Ten coach had his Musketeers dominate the conference with a perfect record similar to the job done by UConn in the Big East. Xavier loses its powerful frontcourt duo components in all-Americans Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips, likely to be high first-rounders at the WNBA draft on April 11 at ESPN Studios in Bristol, Conn.

No deal had been cut as of late Saturday night but a source familiar with the negotiations said talks were continuing and were likely to land with McGuff's hire.

Temple's Tonya Cardoza, the former longtime UConn assistant who has kept the Owls moving forward the last three seasons after Staley left for South Carolina, keeps coming up at the end of speculated spins of the carousel and the dominoes effect, though she is quite happy on North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Cardoza could quickly become a coach of interest to Georgetown, if it opens, or UCLA.

If Xavier becomes open assistants Mike Neighbors and Amy Waugh could quickly become candidates to replace McGuff with either of them having an excellent chance of taking over the Musketeers.

Miami's Katie Meier, who share the Associated Press coach of the year with Connecticut's Geno Auriemma and Stanford's Tara VanDerveer, expected to be Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame bound Monday morning, was speculated to become a target of LSU to fill the vacancy. However, Meier's strong words indicating favor of Miami during her acceptance speech indicated she was staying put. She had been rumored as a target of LSU whose athletic director Joe Alleva previously worked at Duke, Meier's alma mater.

The three-way tie was a first-ever involving any sport among awards handed out annually by the Associated Press.

Matt-Bollant of Wisconsin-Green Bay is considered to be the top candidate to replace Lisa Stone at Wisconsin if the sides come to a positive agreement.

Monmouth, the school of outgoing NCAA committee chairwoman Marilyn McNeil, is open after the departure of Stephanie Gaitley, who is heading for Fordham and back to the Atlantic Ten, where she had years of success with St. Joseph's before her departure after the 2001 season.

One person who won't be involved is Villanova's Harry Perretta, who people noted would be located near Monmouth Park race track and is an excellent observer of the sport of kings.

Stay tuned.

-- Mel

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