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.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Guru's College Report: Princeton Still Ivy Perfect

By Mel Greenberg

 Princeton took care business Friday night at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., in the opening set of what many say is the most difficult road swing in the Ivy League and now the Tigers head back down south to try to make sure they don’t run into a repeat of history Saturday night from last season when they visit Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.

 Penn began with the Harvard part of the same road trip Friday before heading to Dartmouth and the Quakers suffered another setback with a 66-52 loss to the Crimson in a game that had 10 lead changes before Harvard took control in the second half.

 The Quakers (8-12, 1-5 Ivy) suffered several narrow losses to Harvard (12-8, 5-1) since Mike McLaughlin became Penn’s coach three seasons ago.

 In this one the Crimson’s Brogan Berry had a game-high 26 points while Emma Golen scored 13 and Victoria Lippert scored 12.

 Penn’s Alyssa Baron had 18 points and Kara Bonenberger scored 10. Senior Jess Knapp, who suffered a torn ACL in late December on the road trip to San Diego State’s tournament, made her first start since returning to action late last month and scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and dealt two assists in 24 minutes of playing time.

 Princeton will be looking to open a two-game lead over Harvard when the Tigers, two-time defending Ivy champions, visit the Crimson outside Boston Saturday night.

 Coach Courtney Banghart’s team (16-4, 6-0) after beating Dartmouth 72-41 is now 33-1 in league play spanning three seasons and the one occurred a year ago at Harvard.

 “They beat us at their place last year,” Banghart said.

 “Our goal is to separate ourselves, but the key is to take it one game at a time.

 Tonight we were able to win because of our second team and the goal tomorrow (Saturday) is to come out stronger.”

 Princeton’s reserves played an important role against the Big Green (3-17, 1-6) to extend the Tigers’ current win streak to nine straight.

 A rugged nonconference schedule saw three of four Tigers losses coming against ranked teams – No. 12 Delaware and then-nationally-ranked DePaul at home in Jadwin Gym and at No. 4 Stanford.

The other loss was at defending Patriot League champion Navy. Junior Niveen Rasheed, who this week was one of 20 persons named to the midseason national watch list of the United States Basketball Writers Association, scored 15 points for Princeton while Lauren Edwards and Nicole Hung each scored 11 points.

 Megan Bowen scored six straight points off the bench in a run that boosted Princeton’s lead to 54-33. She finished with nine point but Hung’s points came off the bench, also, as did seven from Blake Dietrick and four from Mariah Smith.

 “I thought our second group was key tonight,” Banghart said. “I thought they gave us great energy, attacked the basket, pushed the ball hard in transition and played with more energy than our first group. So thankfully we are a team and we are able to rely on multiple players.”

 Sasha Dosenko had 15 points for Dartmouth and 12 rebounds, while Milica Toskovic and Faziah Steen each scored 10 points.

 Though there is a strong case for Princeton to be taken by the NCAA tournament committee as an at-large team if the Tigers don’t win the Ivies, it is doubtful that would occur so every game is important since the league is the only one of the 31 conferences without a tournament to determine who automatically gets into the NCAA field.

 Looking Ahead

 The remainder of the weekend has a slew of key contests as conference races come down the stretch to determine seeding for their postseason action to claim titles and automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.

 In the Atlantic 10, St. Bonaventure sporting its new No. 25 ranking and first-ever appearance in the Associated Press poll visits Dayton, a pre-season co-favorite with Temple by the conference coaches.

 A Bonnies win, which would set more program records, should put them on a path for the No. 1 seed in the tourney, which will be held at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia.

 However, if Dayton wins the two teams become deadlock while later Temple hosts Massachusetts and if the Owls win they join as a three-way tie for first if the Flyers upset St. Bonaventure.

 In other A-10 games, two-time defending champion Xavier, in a desperate fight to make the field – the bottom two conference teams stay home – will visit Fordham while George Washington, part of the lower logjam, has a tough one hosting Richmond.

 La Salle is at Rhode Island where a win would put the visiting Explorers in the conference tourney for the second straight year after they had missed several seasons.

 Charlotte is at Duquesne and both teams are trying to land in the top four to get a first-round bye. St. Joseph’s Sunday hosts Saint Louis.

 In the Big East, which is like an NCAA tournament without the NCAA tournament name, No. 3 Connecticut will be hosting No. 14 Georgetown in the first meeting between the two since the Hoyas almost upset the Huskies in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament at the Philadelphia Regional at Temple.

 No. 20 Louisville hosts Syracuse while Villanova, seeking to land in the middle of the standings to have a shot at the NCAA field, will be visiting South Florida.

 Pittsburgh is visiting Cincinnati while Seton Hall visits Providence.

 On Sunday No. 17 Rutgers will be home trying to avoid being swept on the season by St. John’s. The Scarlet Knights have lost three straight to Georgetown, No. 2 Notre Dame and Connecticut.

 In the Big 12, in the first meeting since the favored Baylor Bears were upset in the NCAA regional final by the ultimate national champion Texas A&M, the top-ranked Bears will be seeking to remain as the last unbeaten team in the nation when hosting the No. 15 Aggies on Saturday.

 Texas hosts Oklahoma State in a game in which both teams need wins to stay in the NCAA at-large picture.

 Oklahoma will be hosting Missouri in the other Big 12 game on Saturday.

 Other teams also fighting for recognition out of the Big 12 meet Sunday with Kansas State hosting Kansas and Texas Tech, bounced out of the AP Poll last week, hosting Iowa State.

 On Saturday in the PAC-12, California, seeking to finish at least second and remain NCAA worthy, will be hosting Southern Cal.

 In other games Washington hosts Oregon State while Washington State hosts Oregon. Conference newcomer Colorado will host Arizona State and newcomer Utah will host Arizona. On Sunday No. 4 Stanford, looking to wrap up another regular season title, will be hosting UCLA.

 In a major Big Ten game on Sunday, which is the day most conference teams out of the Big Ten meet, No. 10 Ohio State, off a one-point loss at Illinois, will be hosting No. 16 Purdue in the leadership fight near the top of the standings while No. 18 Penn State visits Northwestern.

 The Monday night game this week involves No. 13 Nebraska, which also lost last time out, visiting Minnesota.

 On Sunday in the Southeastern Conference Vanderbilt, fresh off its upset of No. 11 Tennessee, will be visiting No. 21 Georgia seeking to earn a return to the poll a second time in recent weeks and also enhancing the Commodores’ NCAA resume.

 No. 24 South Carolina, which was shocked at Arkansas after the Gamecocks’ previous upset of Tennessee, will be hosting Florida.

 LSU, seeking to move in the NCAA picture will visit Alabama. Arkansas, which has won seven straight SEC games, visits Auburn.

 On Monday Tennessee will be seeking to avoid a season sweep by No. 7 Kentucky, which is looking to approach the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

 Sunday’s Atlantic Coast action has No. 6 Miami at No. 8 Maryland while No. 22 North Carolina, on the verge of dropping out of the poll, will be hosting No. 22 Georgia Tech, which is tied with the Tar Heels in the poll and also in danger of dropping out.

 No. 5 Duke, still unbeaten in conference play, visits Florida State, while Virginia will host Clemson and N.C. State will host Wake Forest.

 In Conference USA. UTEP, with one of the nation’s top records and perfection the conference race, will be hosting Tulane on Sunday.

 In the Colonial Athletic Association, the Thursday losses of No. 9 Wisconsin-Green Bay, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 11 Tennessee gives No. 12 Delaware, in it is first year in the poll, a chance to zip into the Top 10 if the Blue Hens, unbeaten in league play, win at Georgia State Sunday.

 The Wisconsin-Green Bay loss also gives Delaware a shot at taking No. 1 in the College Insider Mid-Major poll.

 Tina Martin, who has been at Delaware 16 seasons, will be after her 300th win.

 Drexel, fighting for a top four spot in the standngs and a first-round bye in the CAA tourney, will be at William & Mary.

James Madison, holding second three games behind Delaware, will visit VCU, which is in the top four fights, while Hofstra, holding third, will be at George Mason.

 In the America East on Saturday Boston U. which is unbeaten in the conference, will be hosting Stony Brook.

 Elsewhere on Saturday, No. 9 Wisconsin-Green Bay will be looking to recover from its upset loss to Detroit when it hosts Wright State in a Horizon League game.

 No. 19 Gonzaga, fresh off a loss to BYU in the West Coast Conference, will visit San Francisco.

 And that’s the news but will be tweeting on @womhoopsguru from Temple.

  --  Mel

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