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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guru's WNBA Report: Jersey Girl Ackerman Picks Bruce

(Guru's note: Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw's acceptance speech at Saturday night's Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn., appears mostly in its entirety in the post sbove this one.)

By Mel Greenberg

The following is what happens when it's idle Monday in the WNBA and the schedule the rest of the week is light until Friday night. So read on at your own peril.

But first, a Guru public service alert to anyone traveling from the Western outreaches across into Washington Eastbound on Interstate 66 toward the Western part of the I-495 Beltway late nght.

Stay away and plan ahead. Apparently whatever VDOT is doing, and they are always doing something, I-66 Sunday night Eastbound was closed East of the beltway.

That's where the Guru had planned to get off anyway to circle across the top of the nation's capital on his ground return from Knoxville and induction weekend on a trip that had been going quite smoothly.

What he didn't plan was VDOT (as in Virginia Dept. of Transportation) merging four lanes into one on the approach, As a result a two-mile stretch from alongside the Vienna end-of-the-line Metro stop near Fairfax toward the actual construction point took over 1 1/2 hours or 38 songs from the Guru's Rolling Stone Magazine All-Time 500 Rock and Roll playlist on the iPad until he cleared the area.

And if anyone is guessing, the answer is six Eastbound Orange Line metro trains whizzed past.

But as long as rock and roll was mentioned, the Guru forgot in his quickie notes in Sunday morning's post to tell you the music selection by former and founding president Val Ackerman to accompany her walk to the podium to make her acceptance speech, which, at some point, will be sent to Guru Central to post here for your reading pleasure.

As some of you might recall when the Guru's induction was approaching in 2007, he noted that everyone gets to choose a selection for the symphony orchestra to play. His music committee of advisors overwhelmingly went for the natural Philly touch by recommending the theme song from the first Rocky fight movie.

Most associated with a college will pick the individual's fight song, which in the case of Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw came the appropriate and lively rendition of you know what as her group of 100 or so supporters hand clapped to the beat.

Come to think of it, the one thing the Guru didn't see this weekend was any Leprechaun mascots dancing in the lobby of the Knoxville Marriott, which is headquartered next to the WBHOF.

But the rendition played as McGraw headed to the state might be the only time ever that one could hear the Irish fight song more times than Rocky Top in Knoxville, even if it was only once.

When Ackerman went to the stage, the orchestra played something that sounded familiar but was melodic and mild.

Apparently, with her attention to detail, Ackerman noted the disguise and bit unfamiliarity to the audience. So true to her "Jersey Girl" roots growing up outside Trenton, the state capital of New Jersey, Ackerman, before beginning her formal remarks, told the near sell-out crowd in the Bijou Theatre the orchestra had just played Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen.

Of course, Ackerman never campaigned or ran for the first presidency of the WNBA, but was handpicked by NBA Commissioner David Stern, who, in his video introduction Saturday night referred to her as the number one women's sports advocate in the world.

And speaking of Knoxville, Tuesday is Flag Day, which coincides with the birthday of one Tennessee coach and Hall of Famer Pat Summitt.

And speaking of birthdays, Chicago Sky first-year coach/general manager Pokey Chatman turns 42 Saturday when the WNBA group will descend on the Mohegan Sun casino-entertainment complex to await Sunday's 1 p.m. contest against the host Connecticut Sun.

And speaking of campaigns, here's a future ticket that might reach headlines depending what is the next WNBA coaching vacancy that occurs -- Chancellor/Ciampi.

Van Chancellor, the ousted LSU coach who guided the former Houston Comets to the first four WNBA titles and the 1984 Olympic squad to a gold medal, would have interest returning to the pro league if it is workable. Former Auburn coach Joe Ciampi, who was in Knoxville to support his former all-American Ruthie Bolton, an Olympic gold medalist and one of the six inductees, was asked whether he could have interest in being an assistant if Chancellor called his way.

Ciampi, who is enjoying life away from the sidelines, just smiled.

Who's Following Who?

Though neither new @wnbaprez Laurel Richie nor @womhoopsguru are formally following each other on their respective twitter accounts, the two will cross paths twice this week because of the Guru's travels and Richie making the introductory rounds during the early phase of the WNBA schedule.

On Tuesday when only two games are on the WNBA slate, Richie will be at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., for a media availability when the New York Liberty host the defending Eastern playoffs champion Atlanta Dream, whom New York has already beaten once in its season and road opener.

The Guru is making the journey by rails for three-fold purposes: It's the closest game considering that the Tulsa Shock at the Indiana Fever is the only other one on the Tuesday bill; To check out the temporary home digs for New York the next three summers while Madison Square Garden undergoes renovations; and to introduce new Team Guru member Julia Harmon, who may have to make the trip later when the Guru is elsewhere on conflict nights.

By the way, the Liberty move, the Guru has learned from a media colleague, has resulted in a media voucher given for the concession stands -- you better be properly credentialed -- as opposed to the $8 fee, going to charity, that had been charged in the MSG press room for the pre-game feed.

On Sunday, Ritchie will come face-to-face with that force further north, which is the media crowd who covers the Connecticut Sun, which, as mentioned, will host the Chicago Sky.

The Guru already had the stop penciled in because it was the most practical of the four being played that day.

On Thursday, the Guru will be in Washington for the Mystics' game against Connecticut -- the only one on the bill that night.

And the Guru closes with this note to the Tulsa Shock, which is off to an 0-4 start after having the worst record in the league in 2010 following the move of the former three-time champion Detroit franchise under new owners: Brittany Griner of Baylor is only a junior this winter. Finishing out of the playoffs NEXT summer will have the better and same value for the overall No. 1 draft pick as was the case last summer when former UConn superstar Maya Moore was going to be a senior.

-- Mel

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