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, November 22, 2011

Guru Report: KML Helps UConn Fly Over Stanford

By Mel Greenberg

After the University of Connecticut wrapped up an unbeaten season beating Big East rival Louisville for NCAA championship number six in 2009 Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma said it would not be fair to ask his Huskies the next time around to do it again in terms of at least winning the title unbeaten as Diana Taurasi nearly did as the only one of the illustrious starting five in the 2002 unbeaten squad who had yet to graduate and go high in the WNBA draft.

But the 2010 class with Tina Charles and then-junior Maya Moore went one better by putting together back-to-back unbeaten crowns and in terms of Moore and the yet-to-graduate group extended the winning streak to an NCAA-record 90 before Stanford stopped the Huskies last January at home in Palo Alto, Calif.

Over the past several months with Moore graduated and moved on to win rookie of the year and be part of the first-ever Minnesota Lynx’ WNBA championship contingent, Auriemma has stated it would be unreasonable to expect freshman Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis, the former overall No. 1 blue chip prospect, to do all the things Moore had done to keep UConn running at the highest level.

Monday night Mosqueda-Lewis, dubbed KML by the local media to avoid misspellings of her name on their part, showed she could not do everything Moore could do.

For example, Moore was in the house following UConn legend Rebecca Lobo, who now broadcasts women’s games, pro and collegiate, for ESPN’s conglomerate of sports cable television networks.

KML didn’t partake of that activity. She was too busy doing everything else in coming off the bench for the No. 2 Huskies (3-0) in her first big game to score 25 points, grab eight rebounds, hit three 3-pointers in eight attempts, swipe a pair of steals, and not commit one turnover as UConn topped No. 3 Stanford 68-58 before a roaring crowd of 13,771 in the XL Center.

“She may be the best player on the floor,” Auriemma, miked at halftime, responded to a question for the crowd to listen to after the rookie had already compiled 19 points in her first big game.

And just not to confuse the initials, the difference between KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and KML is the latter will fly out of Biddle on Huskies road trips as well as fly all over the court.

Appropriately coming from the backyard of Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim Hills, Calif., as soon as she stepped on the court KML basically dispensed the Tomorrowland speak of Auriemma, showing the new future is now.

Meanwhile, Bria Hartley, who year ago got her court baptism in big time games in the narrow win over Baylor, was the only other scorer in double figures for UConn, collecting 19 points.

And senior Tiffany Hayes gave a clinic on how to contribute in other ways when you’re struggling with a 3-for-15 effort from the field. She compensated by grabbing 13 rebounds in UConn’s tenacious defense and also dealt six assists.

“It was a November prize fight,” said Stanford’s Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer of the unusually early matchup of two of the nation’s top rivals. “It was very physical. The kind of game you usually see in March so it was good for us.”

Senior Nnemkadi Oguwmike scored 22 points for the Cardinal (3-1) despite being limited in the first half with two fouls and staying in the game in the second when foul number four occurred with 8:05 left in the game.

Her younger sister Chiney grabbed 12 rebounds and freshman Jasmine Camp scored 14 points.

Stanford is much younger than the team that stopped the UConn win streak at 90 and a rematch in March or April, depending on the draw, in the NCAA tournament might triple the thrill factor of Monday night.

Auriemma said that even if the score had gone the other way he would claim a win in terms of all the good things in the contest his Huskies achieved.

The poor shooting from most of the team was shrugged off as one of those nights and that on another they’ll go down.

What the outcome quickly determined here is that the 1-2 Sunday win by Baylor over Notre Dame to stay on top of the Associated Press women’s poll was yesterday’s news.

The loss by Notre Dame and the upset loss of then-No. 3 Tennessee Sunday to unranked Virginia shook up the poll and now Connecticut jumped two places to second in the rank.

So unless No. 5 Texas A&M, the defending NCAA champion, determines otherwise here on Dec. 6, another 1-2 showdown is on the horizon 12 days later when UConn visits Baylor in Waco, Texas.

Princeton Stops Marist

While a battle of the elite was waged here Monday night, further to the South Princeton continued to loom as a prime contender for ruler of the Mid-Majors.

Fresh on the heels of wins over St. Joseph’s and Villanova, the Tigers stayed unbeaten at 4-0 by topping another perennial Mid-Major power in Marist, the perennial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, at home in Jadwin Gym in central New Jersey.

The two-time defending Ivy champions pulled away down the stretch to beat the Red Foxes 68-51 just 48 hours after beating Villanova at home on Saturday.

Niveen Rasheed, continuing to show full recovery from her early season-ending knee injury, scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the host Tigers, who travel to Stanford next month and also host DePaul.

Laura Johnson scored 13 points and Lauren Polansky scored 12.

Corielle Yarde scored 15 points for Marist.

In what is becoming an informal local round-robin, Princeton will also play Delaware early next month while the Blue Hens visits Villanova Tuesday night.

-- Mel


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