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, January 17, 2012

Guru College Report: Delle Donne Leg Injury "Just A Strain"

(Guru's Note: Updating to refine and correct nature of Delle Donne injury being a strain of a tendon in her calf, not her knee. Also correcting the Mountain West home to be in Colorado Springs, not Denver. Also be patient with type faces in posts here. There's been some change in the program and the Guru's wonks aren't around to tell him how to correct the problem.)

By Mel Greenberg

Delaware fans can sort of breathe a sign of relief concerning junior sensation Elena Delle Donne, who missed most of the first half of Sunday’s win over Northeastern in a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) game in Boston because of an injury in her left leg.

The former high school national player of the year out of Ursuline Academy in nearby Wilmington still managed to finish with 22 points after entering late in the first half to transform a closely fought contest with the Huskies into a lopsided win.

Though Delle Donne’s nation-leading scoring average got nicked a bit, falling to 29.3 points per game, the Blue Hens (14-1, 4-0 CAA) used the win to catapult from No. 21 to 16 in The Associated Press women’s poll announced Monday afternoon.

Delaware has now been in the rankings for the eight straight weeks since making its debut this season.

Penn State, incidentally, re-entered at No. 22 after dropping out last week for the first time this season, and Rutgers moved to seventh while Dawn Staley’s South Carolina team lasted just a week because of two losses.

Meanwhile, according to a person familiar with tests on Delle Donne’s leg, she has a strain of a tendon, not a ligament, as noted in the previous post, that starts in her calf and is more in her calf than her knee.

It is just a strain and she will be rehabbing and strengthening the source of the difficulty.

Delle Donne did not think she got hurt in Thursday’s win at home at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark – she did not fall or suffer any major collisions – but after she got home her leg began to hurt and she initially had doubts she could play on it Sunday at Northeastern.

But as noted she did come to the Blue Hens’ rescue and her chances of playing at Towson will be mentioned here when it is known.

Delaware has already beaten the Tigers once but the Blue Hens head to a Towson team that is 7-0 at home.

In another note, Delaware’s RPI remains strong after wading into the CAA waters, though it has dipped to eighth on the NCAA’s official weekly tabulation after having been No. 1 until the Blue Hens’ start of conference play.

Princeton, which had been around 11-14, fell to 22 because of weak numbers from two of the Tigers’ three Ivy rivals played to date.

Strong Field Contends For National Player Honors

Two former winners of the United States Basketball Writers Association’s (USBWA) new weekly women’s national player honor are in the hunt for a second honor and are joined by the sister of another previous winner.

The pool of candidates is formed from the weekly conference player and co-player honors in all 31 leagues, of which the Guru here makes some of the performances highlighted prior to Tuesday afternoon’s weekly announcement.

Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies, who was the first-ever USBWA winner six weeks ago, picked up another citation from the Southeastern Conference for averaging 21.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocked shots in two games, including a career-high 34 points and the last-second winning shot over Tennessee.

The Big 12 named Brittney Griner of Baylor, another previous winner, again after averaging 30.0 points per game and 12 rebounds in two wins by top-ranked Baylor, which; along with Wis.-Green Bay are the only two remaining unbeaten teams in Division I.

Stanford’s Nnemkadi Oguwmike is not contending for another honor this week but her sister Chinney, who also plays for the fourth-ranked Cardinal, is in the hunt after averaging 15.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in two games on the road beating new Pac-12 opponents Utah, formerly of the Mountain West Conference, and Colorado, who left the Big 12.

In the Big East DePaul’s Anna Martin played in just one game but her 29-points against Pittsburgh in Chicago enabled her to join previous Blue Demons honorees from the conference.

Philadelphia-area athletes earned honors from several conferences to become USBWA nominees.

Drexel’s Hollie Mershon, who averaged 21.5 points in two games, including a first-ever Dragons win in regular season play at James Madison, shared the CAA award with Virginia Commonwealth’s Courtney Hurt, who averaged 25.0 points and 15.5 rebounds in two games.

Princeton’s Niveen Rasheed, who averaged 15.5 points and 10 rebounds in two wins by the two-time defending league champions, added to her collection of awards from the Ivy League.

And La Salle’s Brittany Wilson averaged 29.5 points in two Explorers wins to get both the Atlantic 10 award, which puts her in the USBWA pool, and the Big Five’s weekly women’s award in Philadelphia which just gets the winner a mention here and elsewhere.

Another local honoree, but not in Division I, was Richard Stockton College’s Kelsey Brown, who picked up the player of the week honor from the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

Back in Division I, Georgia Tech’s Sasha Goodlett averaged 21.7 points and 10.3 rebounds across three games to pick up the weekly award from the Atlantic Coast Conference’s blue ribbon media panel.

The Big 10, because of a TV game on Monday night the rest of he way, will not name a winner until Tuesday morning, which is still time to get consideration for the USBWA honor.

But the Guru suspects Purdue’s Brittany Rayburn will be at least a co-winner after tying an NCAA record with 12 three-pointers in one game and then scoring 14 Sunday, including the last-second block to preserve the Boilermakers’ win and keep them alone at the top and undefeated in Big 10 play.

If the Big 10 goes a different direction, well, Brittany, at least you know your effort was noticed here.

In the America East, Vermont’s Lauren Buschmann averaged 18.5 points and 13 rebounds in two games while in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Fairfield’s Taryn Johnson averaged 18.7 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Denver is not only the home of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four, it is also the headquarters of the Western Athletic Conference and not far from the Mountain West Conference located to the south in Colorado Springs.

In the Mountain West, Boise State’s Lauren Lenhardt’s 26.0 average in two games brought a shared award with San Diego State’s Chelsea Hopkins, who averaged 14.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

Over in the WAC, San Jose State’s Brittany Johnson had 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in a win over Hawaii.

Sequeena Thomas of Sam Houston averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds to pick up the Southland player of the week while in the Missouri Valley Conference; Drake’s Rachel Hackbarth averaged 23.0 points and 14.5 rebounds in two wins.

Finally Akil Simpson of SMU in two games averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds to receive player of the week honors from Conference USA.

On The Road Again – Briefly

This report is originating halfway between College Park, Md., and back in the hometown because, hey the nice hotel is cheap enough, much cheaper in fact, than the train still known as Amtrak.

Knowing all this had to be written, it makes sense to establish mobile headquarters unless using the fantastic I-95 rest stop near the University of Delaware exit.

The Guru was at the Comcast Center for Maryland’s ACC battle with Virginia and unlike the other nationally-ranked – the Guru doesn’t know why – ACC team getting mixed up in the state of Connecticut that reduced Tobacco Road to an alleyway resided by Duke, the Terrapins-Cavaliers contest was competitive.

There is no game report here because there’s nothing the Guru would have said that isn’t already deftly handled by the Associated Press and Washington Post.

The Guru did get nostalgic remembering a time in Cole Fieldhouse that print media vastly outnumbered photographers – videographers and all others did not exist yet.

Also, the Guru noticed the headline in his weekly notebook for the printed alma mater on North Broad St. reads Early A-10 Tests May Hurt Temple.

The Guru does not write the headlines for print – he occasionally makes them but that’s another story, and does write them here.

But before he arrives at the Liacouras Center Wednesday afternoon for the Duquesne game and gets pounced by certain friends on the Temple coaching staff, which enjoys dispensing grief, the Guru will pretend he is an SID and spin it the other way.

The original point was to say that it is a rough diet with no margin of error in terms of losses to stay strongly in the hunt for an NCAA at-large bid.

But, as was the case several years ago when Temple blitzed the four other top conference teams down the stretch, including upsetting Xavier, which was nationally-ranked, surely if the Owls could beat these teams – all with strong winning records – the at-large shot gets stronger as long as they don’t trip up after they get to the less arduous part of the conference slate, which still will have a second St. Joe game and a La Salle game.

And to you RPI junkies, this will be part of the next blog or after-next blog, the Guru noticed that the rankings are not all that far apart between the official NCAA weekly release and the daily one shown at Realtime RPI.

OK. The Guru will be on the scene at Villanova Tuesday night for the Penn game that could bring the host Wildcats the Big Five title with a win.

He will be tweeting from @womhoopsguru.

-- Mel

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