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 31, 2012

Guru's College Report: A Look At The Maggie Dixon Award Chase

(Guru’s note. Highlights candidates for the weekly USBWA national player award are in the blog above this one. Also, the Guru has a print notebook in Philly.com setting up Temple-St. Joseph’s and talking to Jess Knapp, who is now back in action at Penn playing with an ACL.)

By Mel Greenberg

Back in mid-December it was noted the nonconference records were so mediocre for the most part among the newcomers to Division I head coaching jobs that conference competition might be where the winner of this year’s Maggie Dixon Award may be decided before the presentation by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association at the Women’s Final Four in Denver.

Here then is the update with the frontrunners sorted to the top.

Records are through Monday night’s games of Jan. 30.

Jen Hoover (High Point) 14-6, 9-0 1st Big South: School last year: 16-15.

Cara Consuega (Charlotte) Rec: 13-8, 5-2 fourth in Atlantic 10; School last year: 27-10 WNIT semifinals.

Jennifer Gross (Cal-Davis) Rec: 13-7, 5-3 (3-way tie for second in Big West. School last year: 24-9 Big West Champs. She moved up off a retirement.

Zenarae Antonie (Texas State) 12-7, 4-2 tied for second in Southland: School last year: 9-20. She had been on Tom Collen’s Arkansas staff.

Jenny Palmateer (Monmouth, N.J.) 12-9, 7-3 3rd NE Conference: School last year: 23-10.

Marlene Stollings (Winthrop) 11-10, 5-4 tied third Big South: School last year: 13-18.

Cori Close (UCLA) Rec: 10-10, 5-4 tied for fourth in Pac-12; School last year: 28-5. The Bruins have been hard hit by injuries, especially one to Jasmine Dixon, who previously played at Rutgers.

Charlotte Smith (Elon) 10-11, 6-6, 6th Southern : School last year: 20-13.

Carlene Mitchell (UCSB) 8-11, 3-5 7th Big West: School last year: 19-12.

Amy Waugh (Xavier) 4-15, 1-5 13th A-10: 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) 4-16, 1-8, Last place Missouri Valley. School last year: 8-22. He was a Wisconsin assistant.

Dennis Wolf (Va. Tech) 7-15, 3-6, 9th ACC: School last year: 11-19

JD Gravina (W. Illinois) 8-13, 4-6 tied 7th Summit: School last year: 8-21.

Bobbie Kelsey (Wisconsin) 8-13, 4-5 tied 7th Big Ten : School last year: 16-15.

Yvonne Sanchez (New Mexico) 6-14, 0-6 tied for seventh Mountain West: School last year: 13-18.

Wendy Palmer (UNC Greensboro) 3-17, 2-10 tied last Southern: School last year: 13-16.

Ty Margenthaler (SE Missouri) 5-17, 2-7 tied ninth Ohio Valley: School last year: 8-21. He was also a Wisconsin assistant.

Bethann Shapiro Ord (Weber State) 2-19, 0-8 last Big Sky: School last year: 3-21.

Greg McCall (Cal St. Bakerfield) 4-19 (Indp). School last year: 22-12. He moved up.

Beth O’Boyle (Stony Brook) 4-18, 1-8 last America East: School last year: 7-23. She was an aide at Canisius.

Nicci Hays-Fort (Colgate 5-17, 2-5 tied 7th Patriot; School last year: 7-22. They just snapped 10-game opening losing streak by beating Wagner.

The one element needed to be determined is that after the tragic loss of Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke in a plane crash in November, Jim Littell after being promoted to interim coach was made head coach and the Cowgirls currently are 12-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big 12. That would make him a frontrunner if he is eligible for consideration, though much basketball is still to be played.

AP Poll Notes

Wisconsin-Green Bay made its first-ever appearance in the Top 10 and is 10th with the only Division I unbeaten record besides Baylor.

Delaware’s ranking of 12th is the highest for a team out of the Colonial Athletic Association since Old Dominion was 11th in the final poll of the 2007-08 season.

If the Blue Hens get to ninth, that will be the highest for a CAA team since Old Dominion’s sixth place finish in the final poll of the 1995-96 season.

DePaul’s exit means the Big East is reduced to a tie with the Atlantic Coast Conference with five teams each in this week’s rankings. Georgia Tech moved in to gain the ACC tie. The Big 10 has four teams, the Big 12 and SEC have three each, the West Coast has two reps, and the Pac-12, CAA and Horizon have one each.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey moved into a tie for 25th with former Nebraska/Western Kentucky coach Paul Sanderford on the all-time AP list with 182 appearances and next week will tie WNBA Washington Mystics assistant Marianne Stanley at 24th.

Stanley picked up her numbers at Old Dominion, Southern Cal., and a one-year stint at Stanford when Tara VanDerveer was coaching the Olympic team in 1995-96.

St. Bonaventure just missed making its debut and now have a tough Atlantic 10 game Wednesday at Duquesne.

NCAA Outlook

With Duke losing to Connecticut Monday night at home in Durham, N.C., if the bracket were drawn today the winning Huskes, Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor would likely be the No. 1 seeds.

The only other team capable right now of getting into the mix is Kentucky depending what the Wildcats and the others do.

Delaware’s RPI continues to be amazingly strong, registering a six on the NCAA’s official weekly RPI ranking, as well as the same ranking on Jim Sukup’s RPI publication as well as RealtimeRPI.com.

Villanova is at 15 and a strength of schedule at three but while bracketologists have the Wildcats in the tournament, the reality is they will have to finish in the middle of the Big East pack, which is mathematically possible right now, but maybe not realistically so.

Looking Ahead

Seton Hall, coached by Anne Donovan visits Villanova Tuesday night but the Guru will forego that Big East game to be up the road at Rutgers for the showdown with Notre Dame in the conference.

Khadijah Rushdan suffered a mild concussion in Sunday’s loss and won’t play until possibly the Connecticut game in Storrs Saturday night if cleared.

That’s it for now until early Tuesday afternoon.

-- Mel


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