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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Guru's College Report: Rookie D-I Coaches Not Finding Life Easy As The Boss

By Mel Greenberg

Whoever wins the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year Award this season is probably going to have to earn his or her stripes in conference competition.

By the Guru’s count among the musical chairs coaching changes in the offseason 21 have become Division I head coaches for the first time making them eligible though if the award were given today the selection committee might call the whole thing off for a year.

Among the 21 to date in largely nonconference competition the ledger shows 5-20-1 meaning five have winning records, 20 have losing records and one is at .500.

Some of the hires came with backgrounds from prestigious programs in which they were either an assistant or associate head coach.

A few were elevated in the programs they were already drawing salaries.

In many situations, once the excitement of a new fresh face tempered a bit, expectations did not have to be high since many of the programs they took over had losing records.

The most prominent among the success stories of last year among the 21 were Xavier, which finished fifth in the final Associated Press poll with a 29-3 record; Charlotte at 27-10; UCLA at 28-5 and a national ranking; UC Davis, a relatively new Division I program which won the Big West and finished 24-9, Cal State Bakersfield at 22-12, UC Santa Barbara at 19-12; Elon at 20-13 for most Division I wins in program history, which was attained under Karen Barefoot, who is finding rough going at the moment at Old Dominion; and Monmouth at 23-10.

Among the notable rookie hires were Nicci Hays-Fort at Colgate off Doug Bruno’s DePaul Staff; Charlotte Smith, a former North Carolina star who played in the pros and had been an assistant at her alma mater, was chosen at Elon; Jen Hoover, who was named at High Point was an aide to former Cal coach Joanne Boyle, who is now at Virginia; Cori Close, a former associate head coach at Florida State took over UCLA; Cara Consuega, associate head coach at Marquette was named at Charlotte;

Carlene Mitchell, associated head coach at Rutgers was named at UC Santa Barbara; Bobbie Kelsey, who had been an aide at Stanford, her alma mater, under Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer, was named at Wisconsin; Bethann Shapiro Ord, who had been at Louisville was named at Weber State;

Marlene Stollings moved from Mississippi to Winthrop; Jenny Palmateer was an assistant under the late Kay Yow at North Carolina State and last year served as an aide to Anne Donovan at Seton Hall prior to her hire at Monmouth;

Former Virginia star Wendy Palmer moved from her alma mater to UNC Greensboro, while Amy Waugh moved up at her alma mater Xavier and Yvonne Sanchez did likewise at New Mexico.

Dennis Wolf, a former Boston University men’s head coach who had been on the Virginia Tech men’s staff moved down the hall to the women’s side in Hokies athletics.

JD Gravina, at Western Illinois, was a head coach at Division II Quincy in Illinois.

That said here’s each of the newbies’ record through Thursday night, Dec. 15, as most teams are on break. Since some names have been mentioned there will not be much elaboration in their respective blurbs that follow.

Jennifer Gross (Cal-Davis) Rec: 6-3; School last year: 24-9 Big West Champs. She moved up off a retirement.

Cori Close (UCLA) Rec: 5-3; School last year: 28-5. The Bruins, who are soon to make a swing here to Philly to play Temple and St. Joseph’s, were impacted by a season-ending injury to Jasmine Dixon, who previously played at Rutgers.

Cara Consuega (Charlotte) Rec: 5-4; School last year: 27-10 WNIT semifinals.

Zenarae Antonie (Texas State) 4-3: School last year: 9-20. She had been on Tom Collen’s Arkansas staff.

Jen Hoover (High Point) 4-3: School last year: 16-15.

Charlotte Smith (Elon) 4-4: School last year: 20-13.

Marlene Stollings (Winthrop) 4-5: School last year: 13-18.

Carlene Mitchell (UCSB) 3-5: School last year: 19-12.

Amy Waugh (Xavier) 3-5: School last year: 29-3. But Musketeers graduated two WNBA first round picks and a three-point shooting ace transferred to Maryland.

Oties Epps (Evansville) 3-6: School last year: 8-22. He was a Wisconsin assistant.

Dennis Wolf (Va. Tech) 3-6: School last year: 11-19

JD Gravina (W. Illinois) 3-6: School last year: 8-21.

Bobbie Kelsey (Wisconsin) 4-7: School last year: 16-15.

Yvonne Sanchez (New Mexico) 3-7: School last year: 13-18.

Jenny Palmateer (Monmouth, N.J.) 3-7: School last year: 23-10.

Wendy Palmer (UNC Greensboro) 2-6: School last year: 13-16.

Ty Margenthaler (SE Missouri) 2-8: School last year: 8-21. He was also a Wisconsin assistant.

Bethann Shapiro Ord (Weber State) 2-9: School last year: 3-21.

Greg McCall (Cal St. Bakerfield) 3-10: School last year: 22-12. He moved up.

Beth O’Boyle (Stony Brook) 1-9: School last year: 7-23. She was an aide at Canisius.

Nicci Hays-Fort (Colgate 1-10; School last year: 7-22. They just snapped 10-game opening losing streak by beating Wagner.

Delaware Still Head Of RPI Class

It may look as strange to see Delaware finally become a nationally-ranked team, though nothing strange about why the Blue Hens have caught attention in the poll, but coach Tina Martin’s bunch is still No. 1 in the Realtime RPI chart through Thursday games.

Furthermore, it doesn’t look like play in the Colonial Athletic Association will cause a steep drop when Delaware hits the conference schedule in January.

The Blue Hens’ strength of schedule slipped to No. 2 behind Tennessee.

Completing the Top 10, Notre Dame is second in RPI with an SOS of 3, Tennessee is 3 with an SOS of 1, Connecticut is fourth with an SOS of 9; No. 5 is an SOS of four, followed at 6th by Wis.-Green Bay with an SOS of 16; Baylor, top-ranked in the polls, is 7th with an SOS of 33; No. 8 is Texas A&M with an SOS of 14; followed by Rutgers at 9th with an SOS of 10 and then No. 10 Maryland with an SOS of 44.

In terms of other teams followed in the Philadelphia area: Penn State is 11th with an SOS of 20; Hofstra (local kid) is 12th with an SOS of 18; Villanova is 14th with an SOS of 22; Princeton is 21st with an SOS of 12; No. 40 is St. Joseph’s with an SOS of 32; Drexel is 74th with an SOS of 113; Temple is 104 with an SOS of 41; Penn is 112 with an SOS that includes Notre Dame of and La Salle is 234; and La Salle is 116 with an SOS of 21.

OK, That’s it for now.

-- Mel

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