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, September 13, 2011

Guru's College Musings: Down Memory Lane From Way Back

By Mel Greenberg

Greetings. This is a short post but since there is a little down time prior to the WNBA playoffs later this week the Guru offers a few quick items.

Monday marked the official retirement sendoff of Ellen Ryan, a longtime associate athletic director and first-ever women's basketball coach of the St. Joseph's Hawks, of which one of her players was current Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.

Though her first season was a winning one, Ellen likes to talk about her first-ever game in which the Hawks were getting crushed by the local and national powerhouse of the day -- Immaculata College.

Asked the final score, she has responded by saying, "I left at the half."

The event was well done and on Oct. 7 there will be a dedication of the Hawks field hockey site named for Ellen. The St. Joseph's website probably has full coverage of Monday's afternoon festivities.

Men's coach Phil Martelli and women's coach Cindy Griffin spoke and athletic director Don DiJulia emceed the event. Many former St. Joseph's players from the era attended. Ryan's coaching hires after she gave up the sport and moved strictly into administration were Theresa Grentz, Rene Portland, Jim Foster (who hired some unknown named Geno Auriemma as an assistant), Stephanie Gaitley (who as the new coach at Fordham will be visiting Hawk Hill during the Atlantic 10 portion of the schedule), and Griffin, who also played for the Hawks.

Former Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno was on hand along with other conference representatives and many of the women's athletic directors as well as a few of the overall ADs also were on hand.

Speaking of Immaculata, hard to believe that is way back in 2007 that the Guru attended one of the filming sessions for the move about the first Mighty Macs national championship. At long last the movie is set to hit theaters on Oct. 21 but check the Immaculata website for information about advance screenings, etc.

The Guru is getting a sense that before the event plays through the Mighty Macs might draw more revenue from the project than they did at the gate back then, though crowds at their games were always large per venue size.

And, finally, during the summer the Guru had been contacted by Valerie Walker, one of current Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer's first stars at Cheyney who played in the first NCAA title game in 1982 against Louisiana Tech.

Valerie was working on her masters at Drexel and will soon graduate and is looking for a sports administration position either at the collegiate or professional level if any of you have awareness of such openings.

But the reason the Guru was contacted was for some guidance on her class project -- to produce a video on history of the women's game and the media impact on its growth.

Here is the link (the Guru hopes) to that effort -- she received an A -- which is 37 minutes in length in case you want to bookmark it and don't have time to view it all immediately.

The Guru will be back at the next sunrise.

-- Mel

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