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.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guru Report: Planning A Season of WNBA Coverage

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA --
Well, apparently after finding the blogspot site inaccessible the last several days, not that the Guru had anything earth-shattering that couldn't wait, what passes for normalcy has returned.

Secondly, the Guru Friday night attended the start of a Drexel special rowing tradition of having a social evening at the crew's headquarters on Boathouse Row, near the Museum of Art. Although the Guru was informed initially the event would be part of a barbecue, the actual aroma associated with such event was actually stemming from next door during the short walk from the parking area on Kelly Drive.

While not barbecue, per se, nevertheless the Drexel contingent kept pace with Dragons basketball events in producing a nice array of sustenance in the Bachelors Boathouse locale.

Incidentally, eight of 11 Drexel boats qualified for Saturday's final day of Dad Vail competition.

The event brought back memories of yesteryear involving one of the few things the Guru omitted in his retrospective remarks a year ago leaving The Inquirer -- that would be the fall boathouse parties complete with the newsroom house musical group -- AKA The Bing Bell Band -- consisting of a combination of photographers, reporters and a female outside ringer serving as the band's vocalist off the limited playlist.

Anyhow it was an enjoyable evening meeting all sorts of new people -- the Guru promised athletic director Eric Zillmer anonymity to all on comments made in private settings during the sociality, though several of his guests after being informed by the good AD of the Guru's area of expertise actually wanted to be publicly mentioned to the Guru's continuously expanding following but a promise is a promise.

The Guru was able to speak rowing fluently thanks to the education supplied by blogerette Erin in Boston from her days as a coxswain on Northeastern University's women's crew.

The WNBA Planning Schedule -- Phase One

Though subject to change, the Guru killed the last several days inserting the home schedules of the three teams that dominate the Guru's summer travels -- Connecticut, New York (in Newark, N.J. for the next three summers) and Washington -- into a nifty calendar apps on the IPad.

As for travel elsewhere, depending on news value and the need to conserve for playoffs depending on finals sites, it is time for the Guru's allies to come up with creative ways to increase the travel fund -- though it will be possible to see every team in the league and most likely get to San Antonio for Hughes-Fest, aka known as the All-Star game, apologies to the Guru's friend Susan Blackwood, who had her turn in 2010 hosting the NCAA Women's Final Four.

Anyhow in theory, it is possible to be on hand at 16 of the Eastern troika's 17 home games each.

But unless the Guru can be carved three ways, not in reality because some days two teams will be home the same night while once all three will conflict so choices will be made along the way as the races play out.

The Guru's annual visit to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame induction weekend (June 9-12) will occur the same time all three of the Guru's prime teams are home. The actual official events are Fri-Sat 10-11 but the Guru would advise friends and families of the inductees, particularly Notre Dame coach and St. Joe grad Muffet McGraw and former WNBA president Val Ackerman, now a consultant to the NHL, to arrive Thursday in Knoxville, Tenn., so Friday becomes more relaxing. June 12 is the return day.

Besides a certain Tennessee coach at times has been known to throw a private affair for inductees at her palatial pool house estate adjoining the main compound on Thursday night and in fact was so excited to host the Guru at his induction weekend in 2007 that she had managed to create a situation where the end of the Connecticut series became public knowledge several hours before the Guru's first official functions.

Meanwhile, back to the Guru's WNBA plans, no one plays on Mondays for the most part and on Wednesday games will be in the morning so the Guru should catch plenty of local action here in the Women's NCAA Summer League in Hatboro, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia -- competition that used to be housed by the Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation.

Looking the crossover visits from the Western Conference, the Guru will see each team at least once. The Minnesota Lynx, which doesn't come East until later in the summer, are in conflict on the Guru schedule on all three nights but he will probably defer in the Lynx direction for obvious reasons.

The defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm visit Washington un-conflicted on July 3 (fireworks weekend), will probably earn a deferreal on the July 1 visit to Connecticut over the San Antonio Silver Stars' visit to New York/Newark, and another one on the lone triple-conflict night on August 9 when the Storm visit New York, while Atlanta is in Washington and the Chicago Sky is at Connecticut.

Besides, these games are also known as Jayda Evans nights, assuming her employer remains the last daily print publication that allows travel on the WNBA local team beat. But, then, hey the Storm are the defending champs.

The Los Angeles Sparks are un-conflicted in Connecticut and Washington, though on June 26 the New York Liberty visit conflicts with the Tulsa Shock visit to Washington. Tulsa's visit to Connecticut is knocked out by the WBHOF weekend, as mentioned, though the Shock trip to New York in mid-July is un-conflicted.

The Phoenix Mercury visits are all un-conflicted, though it means having to deal with Diana Taurasi's "Who Let You In The House?" playful taunts in the Guru;s direction dating back to her rookie season.

And to think, 2000 was like yesterday when the late Joe Smith during the Women's Final Four in town here in Philly introduced the Guru to the teenage sensation, who was heading to UConn. During the finals involving her future collegiate alma mater, Taurasi discovered on the Philly trip that subway was something you either rode underground or went to dine at when desiring a hoagie/submarine sandwich depending what town you are in.

As mentioned, Minnesota's games are all conflicted but will get the nod. The alternative when the Lynx visit Connecticut is New York at Washington (will see plenty of those), when visiting Washington the option is New York at Connecticut (will see plenty of those, also), and when visiting New York the option is Washington at Connecticut (will see plenty of those, also.).

Thinking about it while looking at the chart, if anyone has some marketing savvy maybe they should call Amtrak or one company out of Greyhound, Megabus, and Bolt Bus, and see if there is interest in being a Guru blog sponsor (hope you all understand these suggestions are more late night/pre-sunrise humor than anything else).

San Antonio is clear at Washington and Connecticut.

Now as for the Eastern outsiders coming through, the Guru has Chicago twice in New York and Washington, but only one out of two at Connecticut due to the triple conflict.

Indiana is good for two at the Washington Mystics and one out of two at New York/Newark and one out of three at Connecticut with options on the two conflicts being New York at Washington and Tulsa at New York.

Chicago's three visits to New York (welcome home Jeff House) are clear while one of two to Washington (Welcome home here also Jeff House) are ok, as is one of two to Connecticut (Welcome back Jeff House -- he showed up to scout ahead for New York and Washington).

Intra among the three Guru home teams -- Washington at New York is conflicted twice but New York at Washington twice is un-conflicted.

Washington's two visits to Connecticut are un-conflicted while Connecticut at Washington is one clear and one conflicted.

Connecticut at New York is conflicted once and clear once while New York at Connecticut is clear twice, oddly one being the final day of the regular season which will fall on 9-11 the 10th anniversary of 9-11.

By team in terms of do-ables and getting the deferral option, Washington is looking like 14 out of 16 do-ables -- keep the garage door under the Verizon Center open or the bus motors running or the train standing by on the platform.

New York may only be 12 of 16 -- sorry TJ, though New Jersey transit makes it the cheapest, while Connecticut looks like either 15 or 14 for 16 depending on how the Eastern Conference race shapes up along the way.

The Guru at this hour plans to make all three home team media days and potentially the China at Connecticut exhibition next week and will hit three of four exhibitions the following week if the cheap fare to Denver to go to the USA Basketball World University/Under 19 duo team trials in Colorado Springs has gone by the boards.

Now that the Guru has shown how he puts together his on-site WNBA season coverage, it looks like all the Apps updates on the mega-huge applications have finished downloading to the IPad.

Those who stayed with this all the way through, the Guru is done till next time.

-- Mel

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