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, February 14, 2012

Guru's College Report: Delaware and Delle Donne Keep Making History

By Mel Greenberg

   Though Delaware finished its work for the week on Sunday the Blue Hens had a slew of things happen on Monday – much of which is addressed in the Guru’s weekly notebook for the Inquirer print section which should be sitting over at Philly.com.

  But to offer the highlights here, the Blue Hens were one of 16 schools selected as first and second round sites for the next season’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament – so perhaps Elena Delle Donne helped her university by recently announcing she would return next season as a senior instead of taking advantage of the opt-out to go into April’s WNBA draft.

Furthermore, Trenton’s Sun National Bank Arena, previously known as the Sovereign Bank Arena, in the state capital of New Jersey was picked as one of the four regional sites for the Sweet 16.

 The venue has been a site for regional and preliminary rounds in the past and is geographically situated to make travel easily accessible for fans of teams in the Mid-Atlantic and lower New England geographical locales that might advance.

 In the world of rankings, the upheaval of 15 teams taking hits – some to each other but many others by unranked teams – enabled the Blue Hens on the day after coach Tina Martin’s 300th victory to jump two spots from 12th and enter the Top 10 portion of the Associated Press women’s poll.

This is the first season Delaware, which visits Drexel Sunday, has been ranked thus the top 10 citation is also a first.

Also, the CAA and NBC Sports Group announced a five-year deal for football and basketball, but it is not known whether Delle Donne’s return next season offered an incentive, considering the lack of TV coverage nationally beyond those deals that exist in the BCS conferences.

 On Tuesday the Blue Hens most likely will climb to No. 1 in the weekly Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major poll since Wisconsin-Green Bay in front of them was one of the teams to suffer a major setback.

 Speaking of rankings, despite running into some Colonial Athletic Association rivals with not so gaudy records, Delaware’s RPI, buffeted by its nonconference No. 1 portion, continues to be high with a listing of seventh at one site simulating the NCAA’s official data.

Temple Past And Present

Former Owls All-American Candice Dupree, an All-Star with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, is one of 21 finalists for the 12-member Olympic team that will compete for the Gold Medal in London, England, this summer.

Dupree graduated in 2006 and was taken sixth overall by the Chicago Sky, then an expansion team, before being traded several years later in a three-way swap that landed former Rutgers all-American Cappie Pondexter with the New York Liberty.

 Pondexter, who played for Dawn Staley, is one of the 21 finalists.

Incidentally, Charlie Crème’s bracketology at ESPN projects South Carolina as a seventh seed in the field to meet Temple as a 10th seed, which, if it became a reality, would match Staley’s Gamecocks against her former team coached by her Virginia teammate and longtime friend Tonya Cardoza.

As had been expected for the past two seasons, seven former UConn players who helped bring seven NCAA titles to Huskies and Olympic coach Geno Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown, are among the group.

The seven are Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles (all with the WNBA Conn. Sun), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx). Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Swin Cash (Chicago Sky) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury).

Baylor junior sensation Brittney Griner, who trained with the Americans last year, is the lone collegian among the finalists.

AP Poll Trivia

Some interesting notes involving the poll and various categories emerged after the Guru’s historical database was updated following the release of Monday’s vote.

The re-entry of DePaul now gives the Big East six teams again – yes, if the Guru was still a voter St. John’s, off its Rutgers win, and West Virginia, off its shocker at then-No. 2 Notre Dame, would be on his ballot.

As for the rest of the conference representation, the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Big Ten each have four teams in the Top 25, The Big 12 has two, and the Pac-12, CAA, Atlantic 10, West Coast and Horizon have one team each.

Delaware becomes the 28th team this decade to reach the Top 10 – Connecticut, Duke and Stanford have been in each one – and 88th overall in the 36-year history of the rankings.

The Blue Hens match the previous high water mark for a CAA team at 10th by Old Dominion on Feb. 18, 2008.

If they rise again next week, it will be the highest since Old Dominion was fifth in the final poll of the 1998-99 season.

Next week Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer will match former Texas coach Jody Conradt for third for most rankings at one school – 396.

VanDerveer also has ranking appearances from her previous stint at Ohio State.
Tennessee legend Pat Summitt, whose teams have missed just 14 appearances, continues to be the leader overall and at one school with all 614 appearances in the 628-week history followed by Andy Landers who has picked up all 475 poll appearances at Georgia.

Auriemma at UConn is right behind VanDerveer in terms of rankings appearances at one school with 382.

Though its way down the list, Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, a former Penn State star, tied Villanova’s Harry Perretta with 44 appearances on the eve of her Hoyas visiting the Wildcats in a key Big East game Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Baylor earned its 200th ranking for 27th while Duke has tied LSU for 12th with 341 appearances right behind Vanderbilt (342) and Rutgers (344).

Maryland at ninth with 355 appearances is just behind North Carolina (356), which dropped out this week.

Louisville tied St. Joseph’s for 62nd in total appearances with 57.

USBWA National Player of the Week Candidates

There’s only two more weeks of the national players selections for the new United States Basketball Writers Association’s (USBWA) weekly honor derived from conference player of the week awards.

The winner will be named Tuesday afternoon.

Here are some of the conference candidates but first, in terms of additional local honors, St. Joseph’s Ashley Prim was named Big Five player of the week, while in Division II and III, Rowan’s Kate Matthews was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference rookie of the week while Philadelphia University’s Christine Wooding picked up her sixth player of the week from the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and University of Sciences’ newcomer Brianne Traub picked up another CACC rookie of the week award.

As for the DI conference honorees, here’s a sampling:

The Southeastern Conference named Georgia’s Anne Marie Armstrong who scored 23 points in a win over Vanderbilt.

Megan Van Tatenhove of St. Bonaventure was cited by the Atlantic Ten for twice scoring 17 points and hitting the game-winning shot at Dayton after the newly-ranked Bonnies trailed the Flyers by 15 points.

Louisiana Tech’s Shantale Bramble-Donaldson had a career-high 25 points to go with 14 rebounds against Idaho as part of her week to earn the Western Athletic Conference award.

Colorado State guard Kim Mestdagh had a career-high eight assists and also scored 21 points against TCU, while San Diego State point guard Chelsea Hopkins scored 12 points and had 12 assists over host UNLV to receive the Mountain West weekly award.

Jamierra Faulkner of Southern Mississippi had a career-high 28 points against SMU to become the Conference USA winner.

Megan Herbert of Central Arkansas made it three weeks of practice before being notified that the Southland made her the Southland player of the week.

The Big East rewarded West Virginia’s Asya Bussie, who had 22 points Sunday in the Mountaineers’ upset of then-No. 2 Notre Dame, which dropped to fourth in the AP poll.

Michelle Plouffe of conference-newcomer Utah averaged 18 points in wins over longtime members Arizona State and Arizona to land the PAC-12 player of the week award.

Indiana State’s Shannon Thomas averaged 18 plus points to take on the Missouri Valley Conference’s player of the week.

The Atlantic Coast Conference made Maryland forward Tianna Hawkins the player of the week after she shot over 72 percent from the field in three games against Georgia Tech, Clemson and host Miami.

The CAA turned to James Madison to give the weekly conference honor to Tarik Hislop while the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honored Loyola, Md.’s Miriam McKenzie.

Ebone Henry out of Albany picked up her first weekly honor from America East while Yale’s Megan Vasquez, who averaged 26.5 points in two wins, was given the Ivy League’s award.

Baylor’s Brittney Griner was the honoree out of the Big 12 to round out some of the contenders.

Looking Ahead

Besides Georgetown’s visit to Villanova Tuesday night, Providence visits Notre Dame, which will be attempting to bounce back from the Irish’s upset loss at home Sunday to West Virginia. Louisville will visit Pittsburgh.

In the Big 12, Texas A&M visits Missouri.

On Wednesday in the Atlantic 10, Temple will try to keep its win streak going when it hosts George Washington at noon in the Liacouras Center.

La Salle hosts Dayton while St. Joseph’s hosts Rhode Island at 7 p.m. in both places.
Richmond visits Xavier in another key A-10 game while in the Big East Rutgers visits West Virginia.

The ACC will be offering North Carolina at Florida State while Duke hosts Virginia Tech.

Boston U. will be looking to stay perfect in America East competition when the Terriers visit New Hampshire.

In the Big 12 Baylor will visit Oklahoma State, Kansas will visit Iowa State, Kansas State will visit Oklahoma, and Texas Tech will visit Texas.

Thursday night Penn State, helped by Nebraska’s loss at Minnesota on Monday can help its own cause to win the conference when the Lady Lions visit Purdue.

Ohio State, also involved in the logjam at the top, will host Indiana while Nebraska will visit Northwestern.

Over in the CAA, besides the Delaware at Hofstra and Drexel at Old Dominion games, James Madison hosts UNC Wilmington and VCU hosts William & Mary.

Maryland travels to Virginia in the ACC, which also has Georgia Tech at Wake Forest as part of its conference slate that also includes Miami at North Carolina State.

Stanford is at Oregon State and Cal is at Oregon in two key games in the PAC-12.

The SEC has a full schedule highlighted by LSU at Arkansas, Georgia at South Carolina, Florida at Vanderbilt, Kentucky at Alabama, and Tennessee at Mississippi State.

On Friday night, it’s basically the Ivies as two-time defending champion and frontrunner Princeton visits Columbia and Penn visits Cornell before the two guests switch locations for Saturday night’s games.

Dartmouth is at second-place Yale and Harvard is at Brown before those visitors also switch sites for Saturday night’s games.

That’s it for now.

-- Mel


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