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, October 31, 2011

Guru's Local College Report: La Salle's Jeff Williams and Lincoln AD Dianthia Ford-Kee Honored By Black Women In Sport Foundation

(Guru’s note: There are three posts below this –one of women’s basketball and BCS conference terminology. Another on Sue Donohue’s departure from the NCAA where she has been vice president of Division I women’s basketball. And some more information on Bill Tipp, the former AAU girls basketball executive, who recently passed away. Click Mel’s blog on the right side to get to blogspot and the full archive to get to the other posts if you are reading this in melgreenberg.com. Next up notes from Rutgers media day and we will be caught up – the Guru thinks.).

By Mel Greenberg

Early last Friday evening at the law offices of Mitchell & Titus, LLP, high atop the 29th floor of a center city office building with a magnificent panorama view, a presentation and reception was held for both second-year La Salle women’s basketball coach Jeff Williams and Lincoln University athletic director Dianthia Ford-Kee for receiving the Legends Award from the Black Women in Sport Foundation.

Tina Sloan Green, a legend herself as a former Temple field hockey and lacrosse coach who still teaches at the university, is the president and co-founder of the organization, which began in 1992 and among its many activities offers sports mentoring clinics in golf, tennis, lacrosse and fencing.

Alpha Alexander, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., is vice president, and to learn more about BWSF please go to the organization’s web site blackwomeninsport.org.

Vera Jones, who starred at Syracuse and had been a broadcaster of women’s basketball events, as well as serving as an assistant coach at Indiana and Dayton, emceed the ceremonies and most recently has become a motivational speaker and writer, authoring several books, including Basketball Lessons For The Game of Life and New Best Friend – A Little Book of Faith.

Michael G. Horsey, treasurer and member of the board of BSF, presented Williams with his honor, noting his ability to find diamonds in the rough and giving them opportunity most recently in his previous role as associate head coach to Agnus Berenato at Pittsburgh where he recruited former University City star Marcedes Walker and current WNBA star Shavonte Zellous of the Indiana Fever to give the Panthers their best success with two Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Ford-Kee is in her fourth year at Lincoln and has helped elevate the school’s athletic program to NCAA Division II status and return membership to the Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association (CIAA).

She was nominated by Lynsey Grace, softball and volleyball coach, who graduated Temple in 2005.

The Guru knew he could name drop former sports information director Rob Knox, now a member of ESPN’s statistics and research department after a previous stint at Kutztown, to the Lincoln delegation as a matter of introduction.

The La Salle delegation included athletics director Tom Brennan, Kale Beers, associate athletic director of of athletics/external affairs; associate head women’s basketball coach Ervin Monier, newly hired assistant Shayla Scott, who played at Pitt, and operations director Tenicha Gittens.

Williams’ wife Tamecia McCoy accompanied him.

Here is Williams’ acceptance speech, though some parts will be marked inaudible considering that the Guru was breaking in a new digital recorder at the event.

I just want to thank the foundation for the acknowledgement.

Anytime you acknowledge what you love to do, it is just tremendous.

I don’t consider it work. I enjoy being around young people. To me, all kids nowadays are at risk, because you never know what they encounter once they leave their homes.

Anyone of you out there could be receiving this award and I think we have to do all we can do to continue to educate, to motivate, to (inaudible) these young people who we come in contact with.

Mike (Horsey) is a guy that just has been very special in my life. He spoke when we met a number of years ago.
He didn’t tell you because he is a modest guy because how much he had to sell me on this young lady (Walker). She didn’t come with great academic credentials.

He said she was 250 (weight), she was 270 (laughter) – I saw her I was like “Wow.”

He called me every day and said you need to take a chance on this young lady. I guarantee you she will represent you will. She just needs an opportunity.

She needs to get out of Philly. She’s not in the best of situations at home. I guarantee you – and I went to see her and wow I loved her. I invited him to a game at Villanova – we actually lost by about 40 points.

I said, `There’s no way this youngster is going to come to the University of Pittsburgh.’ Mike convinced this young lady you need to be around people who are going to help you in the future.

We’re going to put you in position to be successful. He knew my track record. I had another young lady from Philadelphia who played under a legend Lurleen Jones over University High School. Her name is Denique Graves.

Kind of similar backgrounds. Denique graduated from Howard University (where he previously coached), Denique went on to play in the WNBA and became a model citizen.

And he convinced Marcedes Walker to take a chance to come to the University of Pittsburgh and leave her family.

This young lady was not only one of the all time great players at the University of Pittsburgh women’s basketball players history, but she’s also one of the great people we’ve ever had an opportunity to coach.

The community fell in love with her. At Pittsburgh, her senior year, they vote for the student athlete of the year and the student of the year, and you get your name engraved on a brick – it’s planted on the ground. So when you come on campus 50 years from now that brick with your name will be there.

Marcedes Walker’s name is embedded at the University of Pittsburgh and I think that was all because of Mike Horsey. Because he sold this kid to a lot of people and people didn’t bite. But he stayed on me and he said I guarantee you.

And to this day I think this young lady is the reason that I’m a head coach at La Salle University because she allowed me to win a lot of games – two Sweet 16s – again represented the university well.

So Mike I am forever indebted to you. I appreciate you.

Mike spoke on a historical piece on me being an African American male coach on the women’s side in the Big Five – I’m very fortunate my university – La Salle University took a chance on me.

I have to thank my president, who couldn’t be here tonight due to a prior engagement: Brother Michael McGinniss.

But more importantly, my guy. My athletic director Dr. Thomas Brennan.

He didn’t look at race. He didn’t look at gender. He just looked at who he thought could get the job done. And I really appreciate he did his research.

He said, Howard was struggling when you got at Howard and you rebuilt the program. And Georgia Tech was struggling when you got to Georgia Tech and a couple of years – NCAA tournament.

And Pittsburgh had won six games prior to you getting there. And six years you guys went to two Sweet 16. He said I’m interested in you as a builder.

Your credentials speak for themselves. I have tremendous support at that university. I know I can turn my back and my guy has my back so I’m just very happy and very fortunate to be working at the university where I have a great deal of support.
Service, community and faith – that is what the university is all about and I would be willing to bet that is what most of you guys are about.

So this is a tremendous bond that we are forming. Again, I have tremendous support here. I have my staff here. My associate head coach Ervin Monier – I have one of my assistants, she’s out working – someone has to. I have Shayla Scott who I recruited and coached at the University of Pittsburgh, I have as young lady who keeps the office running smoothly, my director of basketball ops, Tenicha Gittens.

And there are a lot of people. … They’re about helping these young people achieve, not only on the court but off the court. I think it is our responsibility that these young people have the tools to be successful and we point them in the right direction.

And finally, I have to thank my head coach, my beautiful wife.

She allows me to do what I do. She has a job, a very demanding job. She has a very demanding four-year-old. She has a very demanding 46-year-old.

But she also knows the importance of being a (inaudible). She came off a trip last week and I said, Baby we have a recruit coming in.

Would you mind cooking? She said no problem. How many? Twenty-five.

She gave me a little look but the next day the food was on the table. The tam loved it. I loved it. I think that’s what it is all about.

Both of us are graduates of Howard University. Shee grew up in an atmosphere of she knows what’s important in Black Women in Sport.

Her mother was the assistant commissioner of the MEAC conference.

So we both know what it’s about to get young people involved, keep them involved, keep them focused and using sport as a vehicle for success.

So we’re going to continue to do what we do. And I’m so happy this happened because it allowed me to cultivate some new relationships. That’s what this is all about.

So I look forward to getting to know you guys in the future and I just have to say thank you so much again for this honor. Thanks a lot.

-- Mel


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