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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guru's WNBA Report: Joe Ciampi Lands "Dream" Job

(Guru’s note: The college report is in the post above this one.)

By Mel Greenberg

At first it had been thought former rival Southeastern Conference coaches Van Chancellor (Mississippi, LSU) and Joe Ciampi (Auburn) might get into the WNBA for this summer as running mates on the same staff.

Ciampi has been trying to get into the women’s pro league affiliated with the NBA for some time while Chancellor had been interested in either what became vacancies with the Tulsa Shock and Los Angeles Sparks after his ouster at LSU following the end of last season.

Chancellor, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, who coached the former Houston Rockets to the first four WNBA titles and the United States squad to the 2004 Olympic gold medal at the Athens Games in Greece, was not given interest from either Western Conference franchise.

Tulsa, which had the worst record, hired former WNBA Indiana Fever assistant Gary Kloppenburg, who served under Lin Dunn, and Los Angeles hired Atlanta Dream assistant Carol Ross, who played for Chancellor at Mississippi and once served on Ciampi’s staff at Auburn.

Dunn, incidentally, was on Chancellor's staff in Houston prior to landing in Indiana.

Ironically, though, Ciampi, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, now has a dream job or rather a job with the Dream.

Atlanta announced his hire Wednesday to fill the vacancy by Ross on Marynell Meadors’ staff.

Ross, by the way, had been considered a strong candidate for the New York Liberty vacancy after the 2010 season upon Anne Donovan’s return to the college ranks at nearby Seton Hall and before longtime vice president and basketball legend Carol Blazejowski was let go.

The new Liberty management team then hired John Whisenant for both general manager and coaching positions after he had been on the sidelines following the demise of the former Sacramento Monarchs where he held both coaching and general manager positions.

As for Ciampi, who still lives in Auburn not far from Atlanta, he coached the Tigers for 25 seasons after having coached the Army women.

He led the Tigers to three straight NCAA title game appearances in 1988-90 losing to Louisiana Tech, Tennessee, and Stanford.

Ciampi’s record following his departure after 2004 was 607-213.

"I am really excited to add someone of Joe's caliber and experience to our staff," Meadors said in a statement. "Joe has a winning legacy and he has coached some tremendous teams. His value is not only as a strategist but also in the rapport he establishes with his players. Joe loves to teach the game and I think that his success is a reflection of that passion."

Ciampi, whose roots are in upstate Pennsylvania, serves a consultant to several NCAA Division I teams and also does color commentating for Comcast Sports South, on SEC women’s basketball broadcasts.

Chancellor, who is still on the LSU payroll in Baton Rouge, La., has also done broadcasts and has interest in any openings in the field.

"I had the chance to work with Marynell from a player development perspective two years ago and really enjoyed the team and the coaching staff," Ciampi said. "Hopefully I can help us keep growing as a team and knock down that final barrier to win a championship."

Atlanta was an expansion entry in 2008, then made the playoffs the next three summers advancing as the Eastern Conference playoff champion to the league championship series in 2010 and last summer.

The Dream were swept 3-0 by the West winner each time, losing to Seattle in 2010 and Minnesota last summer though Atlanta was competitive in all six games.

Philly Sports Writers Honor Minnesota Lynx Coach

Speaking of Minnesota, it was mentioned in the previous days post that Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve is going to be honored by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association at the annual banquet.

Here is the brief bio the Guru was asked to write for the awards program:

When the Minnesota Lynx began training camp for the WNBA season, the team that had never won a playoff game was ready to make some history.

“There was just something special about the way practice went,” said Lynx second-year coach Cheryl Reeve, the former La Salle point guard who helped lead the Explorers to a national ranking as a senior in 1988.

Four months later, Reeve’s Lynx that included former UConn sensation Maya Moore as the overall No. 1 draft pick finished on top of the WNBA. Minnesota had a league-best 27-7 record before going 7-1 in the playoffs to bring joy to the Twin Cities.

Reeve, a native of Washington Township in South Jersey who is being honored tonight by the PSWA for special achievement, also won WNBA coach of the year.

Speedy Morris recruited Reeve at La Salle and she also played for and assisted John Miller, Speedy’s successor. She also helped Father Judge grad Joe McKeown, when he coached George Washington in the Atlantic 10.

Joining the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting as an assistant to Anne Donovan in 2001 she helped guide a team from a 1-10 start to the finals.

Philly legend Dawn Staley, who played on that team, said, “Cheryl is a great x and o coach. She’s a player’s coach. There’s not much practice time in the WNBA. When Cheryl goes over a game plan, players get it the first time.”

Donovan, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer who now coaches Seton Hall, recalled hiring Reeve on the Sting 2001.

“I hired Cheryl as an assistant on my staff with the Charlotte Sting,” she said. “Although it was her first foray into the professional game, it was quickly evident that Cheryl had a terrific basketball mind.

“She had a consistent track record of success as an assistant. It was no surprise that when the right opportunity came, her full talents would shine.”

Reeve was also an aide to former NBA great Bill Laimbeer on two WNBA champions with the former Detroit Shock.

-- Mel


Bold

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