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 06, 2011

Guru's College Roundup: Delaware Finds Killer Instinct While Rutgers' Disappears

(Guru's note: Rutgers game in blog based on team and wire reports as sources)

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. --
Monday night was a tale of two cities in terms of teams ranked in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll understanding how to maintain a killer instinct.

Delaware, which moved up two spots to No. 22 in the latest rankings released several hours earlier, wiped away a bad taste from Sunday’s haphazard win here over Colonial Athletic Association rival William & Mary and went wire-to-wire in destroying Yale 77-45 at the Bob Carpenter Center.

“That was better,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said afterwards. “That’s called shutting the door. My message to the kids was we have to play defense, no matter what.

“Even if we get excited, offensively, deep into our bench, defense has to be there. Every day these kids work extremely hard in practice. I told them, `I know you’re going to make some mistakes because you’re nervous about getting a chance to play, but you better play defense’ and I thought we did that tonight.

“And that was the difference. We still turned it over but the kids coming off the bench played defense like they do in practice.”

Meanwhile, miles away to the South No. 11 Rutgers squandered a 16-point second-half lead with 17 minutes left in regulation at No. 9 Miami and fell in double overtime 92-81.

The Hurricanes (7-1), who dealt the Scarlet Knights (8-1) their first loss of the season, have won 28 games straight at home over nearly two seasons.

“It doesn’t matter to me if they haven’t lost here in 50 years,” Hall of Fame Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “All I want to know is here and now.

"Could we, did we, and could we have taken advantage of this? That’s all I know. When you get that kind of lead, what we’re looking for within our team is that killer instinct.”

Delaware, which won at Princeton last Thursday in a clash of top mid major programs, moved up two spots after making its national ranking debut a week ago at No. 24.

Up here the way junior sensation Elena Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer with a 29.3 points per game average, started against the Bulldogs (4-3) of the Ivy League, she seemed destined to join that rare club of basketball players who have totaled 100 points or more in a single game.

She scored 16 of the unbeaten Blue Hens’ first 18 points as Delaware (7-0), off to its best start in the history of the program, rolled to an 18-7 lead with 14 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first half.

Soon thereafter, coach Tina Martin gave Delle Donne a brief rest with the score 22-7 before returning her to action where she went on to collect 21 of her game-high 28 points by the break, which saw Delaware holding a 42-20 lead.

“I didn’t want to sit at all,” Delle Donne said. “We were all having fun and I kept saying to (associate head) coach (Jeanine) Radice, `Can I go back in? Can I go back in?

“But she was like, `Be smart. You need rest.’ Stuff like that. But it was definitely a fun game and I didn’t want to be sitting on the bench, but obviously the other players deserved to get in there and have some fun, too.”

A quirk in the schedule that couldn’t be remedied caused the back-to-back arrangement at home for Delaware, though the Blue Hens will be in the same 48-hour configuration before New Year’s when they play in No. 5 Maryland’s tournament in College Park.

Delle Donne scored 41 a year ago against in New Haven, Conn., against Yale, which went on to tie for second with Harvard behind Princeton in the Ivy League and then went to the WNIT because of a season sweep of the Crimson.

Earlier in the day Delle Donne, who only played 19 minutes, was named the CAA player of the week for the third time this season.

She was the only Delaware player in double figures, though everyone got into the game and scored except Stephanie Leon.

Yale’s Megan Vasquez was the only Bulldogs player to score in double figures, posting10 points. Delaware had a goal to hold the opposition to 45 points, which was achieved.

Several weeks ago Yale visited No. 1 Baylor losing 109-59 in Waco, Texas, as junior Brittney Griner, the preseason national player of the year, scored 31 points, shooting 13-for-16 from the field.

She also had 10 rebounds and blocked five shots.

“How many teams can say they went against the top two players in the country,” Yale coach Chris Gobrecht said with a smile before the game.

This is her 32nd season in coaching, including her seventh at Yale, with previous stops at Cal-State Fullerton, Washington, Florida State and Southern Cal.

“I’ll say this,” said Gobrecht, who coached on the West Coast when Cheryl Miller was doing her thing at USC, noted. “You know how far back I go and Delle Donne is the best offensive player I ever saw.”

But the former star of Ursuline Academy in nearby Wilmington who was the 2008 national high school player of the year is doing more than just hitting shots and grabbing rebounds this time around.

Delle Donne has become a vocal leader and after Sunday’s ragged second half against the Tribe, she asked Martin if she could speak to the team alone after the game before the coaches went to the locker room.

She said Monday night her new leadership skills as she has moved up the class ladder away from the newbie role with the Blue Hens are something she acquired last summer when she was the top player on the USA Basketball gold medalists that won the World University Games in China.

“Playing with (Notre Dame’s) Skyler Diggins and (Stanford’s) Nnemkadi Oguwmike, they’re two phenomenal leaders,” Delle Donne explained. “I was able to learn a lot just by watching them. They’re incredible players but I was even more impressed with their leadership skills.

“So I was able to watch, learn, see how they talk to the players, things like that and take some of that back here,” Delle Donne said.

In the Rutgers game, Miami coach Katie Meier knew her team was in deep trouble with the deficit considering the reputation the Scarlet Knights have on the defensive end.

“You’ve got to be really cocky and have some really confident kids to think you’re coming back from that one,” Meier said. “You really do. Especially when you look over on the other bench and it’s Rutgers, one of the best defensive teams in the history of women’s basketball.”

In terms of reacting to the Miami rally, Stringer said, “I don’t think we played scared at all. I don’t think we played very smart.”
Rutgers has not allowed 90 points in a game since Jan. 2, 2003.

Riquana Williams of Miami had a career high 36 points, while Shenise Johnson scored 25 and grabbed 12 rebounds.

April Sykes had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Rutgers, while Erica Wheeler scored 13, and senior Khadijah Rushdan, who played for St. Elizabeth High in Wilmington against Delle Donne, scored 10 points.

“We’ve got to learn how to not take prisoners,” Stringer said. “We’ve got to learn how to consider every possession that important, not to slow it down, continue to attack, play our game. This is all a learning process. Hopefully, we’ll hold each other accountable and hold each other responsible, because not one person … are exempt. We’ve got to accept responsibility.”

Delaware is off until Sunday when the Blue Hens visit Wake Forest. Rutgers next comes home to host Fordham Thursday night.

Awards Winners

Several other local players besides Delle Donne were on the receiving end of weekly awards announced Monday.
Villanova’s Laura Sweeney was named the Big Five player of the week and Temple’s Shey Peddy was named the Atlantic 10 player of the week, while Penn’s Kara Bonenberger was named Ivy rookie of the week the second straight time.

Noteworthy

As expected No. 2 Connecticut, which hosts No. 8 Texas A&M, the defending national champion, Tuesday night, in Hartford’s XL center, moved into sole possession of second place fort most Top 5 ranking appearances in AP poll history with 280 – one more than Louisiana Tech and behind Tennessee’s 445 appearances.

The Aggies are meeting UConn after being upset at Purdue on Sunday.

Connecticut, Duke, Stanford and Tennessee are the only teams in each Top 10 since the start of the decade, for these purposes, in January, 2010, with 35 appearances each.

Rutgers’ Stringer needs three more poll appearances via Scarlet Knights to reach 396 to move into fourth place past retired Texas coach Jody Conradt.

Ohio State’s Jim Foster, who has had three different teams in the poll – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, and the Buckeyes – made his 350th appearance Monday.

Texas’ Gail Goestenkors, who also coached at Duke, moved ahead of retired Auburn coach Joe Ciampi into 13th place with 291 appearances.

Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw needs five more appearances to move into 21st with 226 ahead of her former St. Joseph’s coach Theresa Grentz, who retired from Illinois and also coached Rutgers.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, 13th on the active list at 174 is behind Sherri Coale of Oklahoma (198) and ahead of Duke’s Joanne P. McCallie, whose total of 152 includes Michigan State.

-- Mel

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephanie Leon had 2 pts. Chelsea Craig didn't score, but she had 2 rebounds and a steal in the 3 minutes she played.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with coach Gobrecht on facing the top players in the country this year, but comparing Del Donne to Cheryl Miller, is out of the question. Cheryl Miller was THE BEST ever to play this game.

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