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, December 27, 2011

Guru's College Report: Penn Holding The Broom These Days

(Guru's Note: It's a local lede but USBWA weekly candidates and other notes down below in a mixed local-national report. Also added Big 10 co-players updating from original post.)

By Mel Greenberg

Two seasons ago when Penn coach Mike McLaughlin made his debut, moving over from the Division II power he built at Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia, the Quakers were nearly swept off their schedule, winning just two games.

These days, however, Penn is holding the broom in varied ways for the moment, after making the pre-Christmas week one-game schedule a sweep across the board.

The 67-65 overtime win against nearby Drexel at home in The Palestra to capture the Battle of 33rd Street brought the Quakers to a 6-2 record – the best-ever start in the program’s history.

The Penn delegation quickly re-assembled after the holiday on Monday to fly out to San Diego, Calif., where they will play in San Diego State’s Surf ‘N Slam tournament meeting UNC Greensboro on Thursday at 5 p.m. EST and then the hosts on Friday at the same time.

The Quakers’ win over Drexel also enabled Penn to clean up the weekly awards. Kara Bonenberger, Penn’s sensational freshman who had 27 points and 11 rebounds against the Dragons, was named Big 5 women’s player of the week and also for the fourth time this season claimed the Ivy rookie of the week award.

That’s an honor Quakers sophomore Alyssa Baron monopolized last season. This week off her 26 points against Drexel, Baron picked up the Ivy player of the week honor.

This is a third Ivy awards sweep by Penn including two by Baron, a native of Miami, Fla., last season winning both player and rookie honor before the Ivy wonks made freshman winning the player award a no-no.

However, Baron’s performance and honor puts her in the pool for this week’s United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) new national women’s player of the week award that comes from candidates who earned the week’s conference player honor.

The USBWA award, baring any holdups on the men’s side, will be announced early Tuesday afternoon.

Two other people with Philadelphia area connections are also in the pool with a touch of irony because they met against each other in one of their games helping to produce a conference award for each.

It is the second time in two weeks a game has produced dual conference winners.

Hofstra’s thrilling win to hold off Marist at the finish and caspture its own New York Life Insurance Invitational was made possible by West Chester and Henderson High’s Shante Evans, the tournament MVP, who had 29 points and 18 rebounds in the triumph over the Red Foxes.

Coupled with an opening round win over Central Connecticut to give Evans a 20 point and 15 rebound average in the two games earned her Colonial Athletic Association honors.

Incidentally, Hofstra hosts two-time defending Ivy champ Princeton Thursday afternoon in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island in another confrontation of nationally prominent mid-major schools.

Meanwhile, Readings’ Corielle Yarde of Marist in the confrontation with Hofstra and a win in the opening round over Auburn gave her a two-game average of 17.5 points and 7.5 assists to earn Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honors.

Looking at other high performances Southeastern Conference winner Jennifer George of Florida amassed 34 points and 23 rebounds in two games to help the Hurricanes win their own tournament.

Georgetown’s Sugar Rodgers had 24 points in the Hoyas’ upset of then-No. 7 Miami at home to win the Big East player of the week.

The Big 10 selected co- players in Nebraska's Jordan Hooper with another 30-point performance and Ohio State's Tayler Hill averaging 23.3 points in three Buckeyes victories.

In a game watched by many nationally involving two Top 10 teams in the AP Poll, Stanford senior Nnemkadi Oguwmike poured 42 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a win over Tennessee before scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in 13 minutes before being rested in an easy home win over Cal State Bakersfield.

That easily earned her Pac-12 player of the week honors and also boosted her stock as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the next WNBA draft. Los Angeles owns the rights to the pick.

Morgan Frame has only been eligible for two games since transferring mid-season a year ago to New Hampshire from St. Anselm College. But in Game 2 she scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a win over Wagner in overtime to earn America East weekly player honors.

Stephen F. Austin’s Tammara Marion scored 20 points and her shot with 0.9 seconds sent the Ladyjacks into overtime and a win over Rice to earn Southland weekly honors.

The Western Athletic Conference award went to Louisiana Tech’s Whitney Frazier for a 20-point performance in a win over Tennessee Tech.

In the Philadelphia area local front not involved with the USBWA award that goes to a Division I conference winner, Stockton, near Atlantic City in south Jersey, swept the weekly New Jersey Athletic Conference honors with Lauren Alwan being named player of the week and freshman Brittany Muniz from Cherry Hill East being named the rookie winner.

AP Poll Notes

Next week Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Muffett McGraw will tie retired St. Joseph’s-Rutgers-Illinois coach Theresa Grentz, also a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer that includes her days as a star at Immaculata, for 21st on the total appearance list at 225, which is just two on the all-time list behind retired Maryland coach Chris Weller.

Tennessee, which has long led the category, reached 550 appearances in the Top 10 out of an overall total of 621 weeks.

That means only 71 times in 36 seasons have the Lady Vols not been in the upper echelon, including the only 14 times they weren’t ranked and that includes the first-ever poll in November, 1976.

Louisiana Tech is second at 373 and Connecticut, which got a very late start behind the two leaders but has been dominate for almost two decades, is third at 327, which is six Top 10 appearances ahead of fourth-place Stanford.

Connecticut, Duke, Stanford and Tennessee are the only teams ranked in the Top 10 in all 38 weeks since the decade arrived with the first poll of January 2010.

They’re followed by defending champion Texas A&M (32), top-ranked Baylor (30) and Notre Dame this week with 27 tied Xavier – remember the Musketeers?

Connecticut is also the only team to be in the Top 5 all 38 weeks this decade followed by Stanford (36), Tennessee (29) and Baylor (28).

Coaching Changes Part II – Hires Of Experience

A few posts ago in discussing a struggling field for the WBCA’s Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach Of The Year, the Guru gave you records of the newbies as of that point in time.

With the last few days being quiet, here’s how new coaches with previous Division I experiences are doing – last job in parenthesis with “not directly” meaning in past year or more was an assistant or coaching high school or on the sidelines.

Joanne Boyle (California) Virginia 10-2 Last Year overall 19-16

Kevin McGuff (Xavier) Washington 8-2 Last Year overall 11-17

Lindsay Gottlieb (UC Santa Barbara) California 9-3 Last Year overall 18-16

Nikki Caldwell (UCLA) LSU 8-3 Last Year overall Last year overall 19-13

Stephanie Gaitley (Monmouth, N.J.) Fordham 7-4 Last year overall 12-19

Regina Miller (UNLV – not directly) Ill.-Chicago 7-4 Last yr overall 14-16

Anthony Levrets (Interim promoted) Utah 6-4 Last year overall 18-17

Karen Aston (Charlotte) North Texas 7-6 Last year overall 5-25

Mark Trakh (USC – not directly) New Mexico St 2-9 Last yr overall 18-14

Tim La Kose (CS Bakersfiield – DI Idp) San Jose St 3-9 Last Yr ovrall 2-27

Richard Barron (Princeton – not directly) Maine 3-9 Last Year overall 4-25

Matilda Mossman (Arkansas – not directly) Tulsa 3-6 Last Yr overall 5-20

The Week Ahead

Locally in the DI world, it is a big week once action resumes on Wednesday, which is when Dawn Staley makes her second homecoming bringing South Carolina (10-2) to visit Drexel at 5 p.m. on the first game of a doubleheader with the Dragons men’s team.

The former Temple coach, of course, is a basketball legend from her playing days from Dobbins High, through college at the University of Virginia, with the ABL (Richmond-Philadelphia Rage) and WNBA (Charlotte-Houston), and, of course, internationally with three Olympic Gold Medals.

The Gamecocks recently had a stunning lopsided win over nationally-ranked North Carolina while Drexel suffered the tough loss to Penn.

Delaware, 19th-ranked, opens in No. 5 Maryland’s tournament on Wednesday against East Carolina and a win will most likely put the Blue Hens on Thursday night against the Terrapins (they open with Lafayette) in a game with NCAA implications on it as well as potentially even enhancing more the statue of Blue Hens junior Elena Delle Donne.

Incidentally, Delaware is having an advance-ticket only $1 Ladies Night special for its CAA game next week on Jan. 5 against Townson. Check the Delaware website for details.

Also on Thursday, besides the Princeton-Hofstra game on Long Island and the Delaware game, Boston College visits St. Joseph’s at 7 p.m. in a game pitting the Shields sisters (Sophomore Erin on the Hawks, senior Kerri on the visiting Eagles) for the second time in less than a year.

The Archbishop Carroll grads met last spring in a game won by B.C. in Chestnut Hill, Mass., in the second round of the WNIT.

Thursday’s game was already on the books. The Shields’ mom Renie is a former Hawks star now associate athletic director at her alma mater replacing the retired Ellen Ryan.

La Salle will be in Dartmouth’s tournament playing the host Big Green on Thursday and Vermont on Friday in Hanover, N.H.

No. 15 Georgetown is the other visitor but La Salle, which gave the Hoyas a scare in Washington a year ago, will not meet them.

Penn has already been noted way above this item.

Villanova, which has been on a tear, on Thursday, meets another red-hot team in St. Bonaventure in the first round of Monmouth’s tournament.

Friday the Wildcats meet either the hosts or Norfolk State.

On Friday also No. 7 Duke visits Temple in McGonigle Hall at 7 p.m. in the Owls’ last chance to get a signature nonconference win prior to Atlantic 10 conference play.

New Big 10 member Nebraska is welcomed to conference play by No. 16 Penn State the same night.

No. 11 Rutgers on Friday visits George Washington.

On New Year’s Eve Saturday, there’s just one game but it’s a dandy with Princeton visiting Drexel in another key game for both schools prior to conference play.

Nationally, but not previously addressed through local competition, in Pac-12 openers heavily-favored Stanford will visit Southern Cal Thursday and UCLA on Saturday.

Three SEC games on Sunday are also strongly expected to go to AP ranked teams – No. 6 Kentucky is at Florida; No. 7 Tennessee is at Auburn – the Lady Vols host Old Dominion Wednesday several days before; and No. 17 Georgia is at Arkansas.

It would be major shocks if any of the ranked teams lose to schools that are on the schedule but not mentioned here – including Fairfield visiting No. 2 Connecticut on Thursday.

-- Mel


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