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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Guru's College Report: Delle Donne's Trifecta Keeps Delaware Intact

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. – It was win, place and show time for Delaware junior star Elena Delle Donne Thursday night as the ninth-ranked Blue Hens zipped through visiting George Mason 71-53 at the Bob Carpenter Center in their ongoing drive for perfection in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Delaware Park no longer has a monopoly in the nearby Wilmington area when it comes to humming turnstiles and nailing trifectas.

Delle Donne’s 28 points were the primary factor in Delaware’s 15th straight win as the Blue Hens (25-1, 16-0 CAA), stayed unbeaten in the conference before a near-sellout crowd of 4,824 at the Bob Carpenter Center with two games left on the regular season schedule. She also had 11 rebounds.

As for place – that would be another school record with her name attached – this one for reaching 541 career free throws eclipsing the previous mark of 535 set by Delaware assistant Tiara Malcolm from 2001-05.

As for show – Earlier in the day Capital One announced Delle Donne’s selection as the Academic All-American of the Year named in balloting by the nation’s collegiate sports information directors.

Since Thursday night was the first home game in several weeks, pre-game ceremonies marked congratulations for Delle Donne reaching her 2,000th point last week at Hofstra, setting a new combined men’s-women’s career scoring record at Drexel Sunday and the academic honor besides citing Delaware coach Tina Martin recently earning her 300th victory in 16 seasons with the Blue Hens.

The crowd included WNBA Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler, who took a detour to observe Delle Donne on the way to the Miami-Duke Atlantic Coast Conference showdown Friday night in Durham, N.C.

Seattle has the overall No. 2 pick in the draft, though Delle Donne, who is eligible to forego her senior year, has said she will play one more year near her hometown.

“There’s a lot more to me than just a basketball player,” Delle Donne said of receiving the academic honor. “That award shows that and I spent a lot of time studying and I just love my major, too. I’m interested in it. I work really hard on and off the court so it’s kind of nice to have an accolade like that.”

Delle Donne has a 3.60 cumulative grade point average majoring in early childhood and is the first Delaware student in any sport to be named Academic All-American of the Year.

On Thursday night she got 22 of her points in the first half against the Patriots (13-14, 7-9) shaking off Sunday’s last-second, low-scoring escape at Drexel when she scored a season-low 12 points, though she also hit the winning shot.

“I was in the gym working on (her shot). When you work on something, generally it gets better,” Delle Donne said. “I was happy with the results today.”

Danielle Parker added 14 points and 12 rebounds while Lauren Carra scored 11.

George Mason’s Taleia Moton scored 18 points and Joyous Tharrington scored 10.

Delaware clinched the No. 1 seed Sunday for next month’s conference tournament at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.

The Blue Hens will finish up Sunday with a Senior Day home game against Northeastern – which has been sold out in advance and then head to William & Mary on Wednesday.

“We wanted to set the tone here and get off to a good start, which we did,” Martin said of Delaware completing the stretch drive.

“This is a grind. The kids are feeling tired. A couple are not feeling well. You have to tip your hat – these are college kids and the grind starts to take a toll of them, too,” she continued.

“I thought we did what we needed to do to get a double digit win. My goal right now is to play good, focused basketball and keep these kids healthy.”

Meanwhile Drexel shook off its offensive woes in Sunday’s loss to Delaware by hitting its first 12 shots from the field on the way to a 72-43 win over William & Mary at home at the Daskalakis Athletic Center as Kamile Nacickaite scored 21 points. Taylor Wootton on her 21st birthday scored 17 points and dealt five assists.

Drexel (14-12, 10-6 CAA) moved into a three-way tie for third place with Hofstra (18-9, 10-6), which got routed by two-time defending champion and second-place James Madison (20-7, 12-4) in Harrisonburg, Va., and UNCW (17-10, 10-6), which beat visiting Towson.

Though in third place in the deadlock, Drexel would get the fourth tournament seed right now, which is still good enough for the final opening round bye.

The Dragons will finish up at Towson Sunday and then at home next Wednesday against Virginia Commonwealth.

Looking Ahead

Two-time defending Ivy champion Princeton (19-4, 9-0 Ivy) has a chance to earn the Tigers’ third title this weekend.

Princeton must sweep Harvard at home in Jadwin Gym on Friday night and Dartmouth on Saturday night, which would eliminate Harvard.

Then if Yale loses to either Columbia or Cornell this weekend Princeton would clinch.

Penn (10-13, 3-6) will host Dartmouth Friday night and then host Harvard Saturday night in The Palestra, which will also be the Quakers’ salute to its departing seniors.

On Saturday Temple will visit La Salle looking for a win over the Explorers that have the Owls finish in the Atlantic 10 race with a 13-1 record for the second straight year and also would finish runner up in the Big Five.

St. Joseph’s will host George Washington Sunday already having clinched a fifth seed for next week’s Atlantic 10 tournament they will host.

Villanova travels to St. John’s Saturday looking for a quality win in the conference to avoid being eliminated from all talk of a potential NCAA bid.

Temple Big East Bound?

In the event Temple gets into the Big East conference and women’s basketball is part of the deal, here’s an unscientific but sort of interesting look on how much stronger the quality of the opposition gets compared to the Atlantic 10.

The Owls had been in the low 40s in terms of their RPI when they had to start the A-10 schedule against the seven best teams in the conference. But except for Wednesday’s second game against St. Joseph’s, which is in the upper portion of the standngs, the bottom of the conference has dragged them into the 50s because of the poor RPIs.

This is just a comparison from Thursday’s Realtimerpi.com readout in terms of ranking strength from the two conferences showing what Temple gains on the tradeoff.

Understand, it is not known who all Temple would be beat in the Big East or who all the Owls might still play other than the Big Five rivalry of St. Joseph’s and La Salle in the Atlantic 10.

Temple would probably no longer be required to play four Mid-American Conference schools as part of the deal when football was allowed into the MAC.

Because of Big Five commitments, Temple would probably retain St. Joseph’s (64) and La Salle (152).

Here’s a look at Atlantic 10 the subtractions:

- 1 RPI Top 20 St. Bonaventure (17).

Top 21-30 None

Top 31-40 None

- 2 Top 41-50 Richmond (43), Dayton (45).

- 1 Top 51-60 None

- 1 Top 61-70 St. Joe’s (64-reatained), Duquesne (70)

- 2 Top 100-200 Charlotte (129), La Salle (152-retained), Xavier (179)

- 4 Top 201-300 Fordham (205), St. Louis (244), George Washington (248), Massachusetts (249)

- 1 Top 301-Beyond Rhode Island (320).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Big East Additions

This does not speak to others coming in or leaving Big East

+ 3 RPI Top 20 – Connecticut (3), Notre Dame (5), Rutgers (13-- retained), St. John’s (14) DePaul (19).

+2 RPI Top 30 Georgetown (22), Louisville (24).

+1 Top 30-50 – Villanova (35--retained), West Virginia (44).

Top 50-60 – None.

Top 70-80 – None

+2 Top 80-90 – Cincinnati (86), Syracuse (87)

+1 Top 90-100 – South Florida (94).

+4 Top 100-199 -- Providence (104), Seton Hall (169), Marquette (136), Pittsburgh (176)

OK. That’s it for now.

Tweeting Friday night will come from Princeton in Jadwin Gym.

-- Mel

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