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, November 07, 2011

Women's College Report: Making The Preseason Rounds

(Guru’s note: There is a blog above this one commenting on the current Penn State controversy involving football and the last one involving women’s basketball.)

By Mel Greenberg

As teams prepare for their openers this Friday and the rest of the weekend, the Guru made a few stops at preseason exhibition games at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center Tuesday in College Park where the Terrapins romped over Division III Messiah, ranked No. 23 in the WBCA poll; then at State College, Pa., Saturday, where Penn State, ranked 12th in the Associated Press preseason poll as well as the choice of media and conference coaches to win the Big 10, fended a challenge at the Bryce Jordan Center from PSAC East favorite Bloomsburg in Division II, and then back here in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon to Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center where the Dragons easily handled local Division II Philadelphia University 87-42.

On Friday night, the Guru also crossed genders covering local men’s team La Salle’s exhibition game won against Carleton, the defending Canadian national champion out of Ottawa.

Carelton has a twin-brother combination in the lineup named Thomas and Phillip Scrubb out of British Columbia.

Off their first-half performance, the Guru could not contain himself over the obvious and thus opened coverage guest starring again for the Inquirer print section with the following two paragraphs:

La Salle overcame a couple of Scrubbs to beat Carleton, 74-56, Friday night in an exhibition game at the Explorers' Tom Gola Arena in preparation for Friday's season opener here against Lafayette.

Sophomore twins Phillip and Thomas Scrubb of Richmond, British Columbia, are anything but spare parts, starting for the defending Canadian national champions out of Ottawa who went 22-0 last season.

The Guru is likely to be making frequent guest appearances in both basketball genders this winter for his former place of employment and will be doing a women’s notebook for Saturday editions. The local women’s preview will run in next Sunday’s editions.

Meanwhile, back in the world here that draws you to the blog, Drexel got things done at both ends of the floor, offensively shooting 49.3 percent, while also bombing from behind the arc shooting three-pointers at 50 percent (7-for-14), and also going 12-for-15 on the foul line.

The Dragons, who were picked fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association coaches poll and open Friday night at home in a WNIT first-round game against Long Island University, got 21 points and seven assists from junior guard-forward Hollie Mershon, an Archbishop Carroll graduate who shot 7-for-11 from the field and 3-for-5 on three-point attempts.

Marisa Crane, who suffered a torn ACL at midseason, did not play but the point guard has been practicing and will see action in Friday’s opener.

Senior Kamile Nacickaite from Lithuania scored 16 points, while Nicole Jones, a junior transfer from Massachusetts, scored 10 points as did senior guard Ayana Lee, who also grabbed a game-high seven rebounds.

Rams junior Kristen Blye from Downingtown East scored 14 points, hitting 6-of-13 attempts from the field, while senior Stephanie Agger from Cape May Regional in South Jersey scored 10 points.

Most of the Philadelphia University team, which competes in the Central Atlantic College Conference, played together as a unit, allowable under NCAA rules for non-Division I teams, in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Basketball Summer League in suburban Hatboro, Pa..

Drexel also forced 20 turnovers on the defensive end while committing just seven miscues. The Dragons also blocked seven shots, though the Rams’ Christine Wooding had four individual blocked shots.

“We definitely executed,” said coach Denise Dillon. “We talked about it all week, how important it was to set screens and be selfless getting uncontested shots.

“We have to make sure we do that every day at practice this week so it carries into the game Friday night.”

Maryland Mops Up

Elsewhere Sunday another local Division II CACC member was in action, with No. 18 Holy Family getting waxed by Maryland 94-36 at the Terrapins’ Comcast Center as Terrapins sophomore Alyssa Thomas scored 23 points, including 19 in the first half.

Alicia DeVaughn had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Maryland, ranked 11th in the AP Poll and 10th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ poll.

"I thought it was a great final tuneup for us. We challenged our team to get better from last week to this week,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “From some of the areas that we focused on in film I thought we really improved on.

“I thought that we played unselfishly. We dominated inside with our post presence and did a very good job defensively of mixing up our defenses. We did a lot of things to help us prepare and get ready for our first regular season game Friday.”

The Tigers were forced into 25 turnovers while Maryland committed 13, less than the 20 they committed in Tuesday’s easy win over Messiah.

Erin Mann had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Holy Family.

Maryland senior Lynetta Kizer, who was placed on an indefinite suspension by coach Brenda Frese prior to Tuesday’s game against Messiah for breaking an unspecified team rule, again did not play.

The Terrapins open at home Friday night against Loyola of Maryland, coached by Joe Logan, a former assistant to Cindy Griffin at St. Joseph’s.

The Greyhounds, who were picked second behind perennial favorite Marist in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll, have added Keith Booth, a former Maryland All-American.

The native of Baltimore, where Loyola is located, spent the last seven seasons at his alma mater as an assistant to retired Terrapins men’s coach Gary Williams.

Maryland then hosts Georgetown Sunday, marking the 10th-ranked Hoyas (AP) returning to the scene of the crime committed in March when coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s bunch upset the Terrapins in the NCAA second round. After advancing to the Sweet 16 at Temple’s Liacouras Center, Georgetown narrowly lost to Big East rival Connecticut, which was ranked No. 1.

The Hoyas also defeated Maryland in the regular season in November at home in McDonough Arena in the nearby nation’s capital.

Penn State's Lucas Guns Down Bloomsburg

On Saturday the Guru saw Penn State sophomore Maggie Lucas, the Big 10 freshman and sixth-man of the year last season, continue to shoot the eyes out of the ball as the Germantown Academy graduate scored 35 points, fueled by connecting on 7-of-8 three-pointers in the 101-81 win over the Huskies.

During the offseason, Lucas made 100,000 shots working out to improve her shooting proficiency.

Alex Bentley, the Big 10 preseason player of the year, scored 16 points, while Mia Nixon scored 14 points, and Nikki Greene scored 12.

Bentley had eight rebounds and Greene had seven but Bloomsburg was able to extend the Lady Lions for a while and could have made things even more interesting had not the Huskies been forced into 26 turnovers while Penn State suffered just 12 miscues.

Former Villanovan Diane Decker is an assistant at Bloomsburg.

Kelsey Gallagher had 22 points and shot 4-for-5 on three point attempts, while Catherine Noack had 19 points and also was deadly beyond the perimeter shooting 5-of-6 treys.

Overall, the Huskies nailed 13-of-24 attempted three-pointers, while Penn State, which opens at home Friday night against Washington State, was 8-for-15.

Despite the eventual one-sided result, Penn State coach Coquese Washington, beginning her fifth season, was not thrilled with her team’s execution at either end.

She did expect improvement, saying that although the team played like it was Nov. 5, that the also happened to be the date on the calendar.

-- Mel


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