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, February 02, 2012

Guru's College Report: Temple Maintains Rule of St. Joe's With Reign of 20s

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – Temple unwittingly resorted to some ancient history to continue its modern day mastery of St. Joseph’s Wednesday night as the Owls topped the Hawks 80-70 at Hagan Arena in the first of two annual Atlantic 10 regular meetings between the local rivals.

They will meet again later this month at Temple’s McGonigle Hall on Feb. 22 in a game that will also count in the Big Five battle for second place behind Villanova, which clinched the title last month with a 4-0 sweep.

The Hawk’s recent frustration in the long-running series with Temple continues as a result of the loss, the 12th-straight dating back to the 2005-06 season and 18th of 19th dating back to 2003-04.

The lone St. Joseph’s win came in 2006 on a shot before the final buzzer.

“It’s really disappointing,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin, a Hawks star in the late 1980s, said. “We all wanted to win. We have this monkey on our back and we wanted to get it off, it’s going to be off, but when is it going to happen? It’s just another little setback.”

Besides the next scheduled meeting the two could possibly meet in this building the first weekend in March as part of the A-10 tournament, whose title also carries an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Shey Peddy, the reigning Big Five and conference player of the week, scored 26 points, including 10-for-10 from the line for the Owls (13-8, 6-1 A-10), who moved into a tie with Dayton for second place in the conference behind St. Bonaventure (21-2, 8-0), which remained unbeaten and in first after a 58-53 win at Duquesne (15-7, 3-4) in Pittsburgh.

Kristen McCarthy had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Victoria Macaulay had a career-high 21 points as a surprise third offensive weapon in terms of her scoring output.

The last time three Temple players each scored 20 or more points in a game was in the back end of the 1988-89 season when Karen Healey scored 24, Pam Balogh had 23, and Kelly Lane scored 21 on what became Temple’s first NCAA participant.

The Temple trio Wednesday night overcame a balanced effort from the Hawks (14-7, 4-3) with Samira Van Grinsven and Ashley Prim each scoring 13 points, while Michelle Baker scored 12 and Katie Kuester scored 10.

For the moment, St. Joseph’s drops into sixth place in the conference, a half-game behind idle Richmond (17-5, 5-3) whom the Hawks will meet on the road Saturday afternoon.

They are also 1.5 games behind fourth-place Charlotte (14-8, 6-2), which grabbed an 80-58 win over visiting Massachusetts (6-16, 1-6) in North Carolina.

The top four teams of the 12 in the A-10 tournament get byes into the quarterfinals.

The Hawks will visit Charlotte Feb. 18th.

Temple, which struggled in the front part of the season on one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country, has now won six straight overall and seven of eight after playing what could be considered the entire elite competition in terms of records in the A-10.

The Owls, who still don’t have much room for error in terms of a safety valve to gain an at-large bid from the NCAA tournament committee, will be the favorite in most games the rest of the way – the exception being the second St. Joseph’s game and the visit to La Salle because of the emotions that play into local competition.

Though most of the games since Temple began dominating the Hawks have gone to the wire, this one threatened to be a runaway early with the Owls shooting 50 percent and jumping to a 21-10 lead in the first eight minutes.

The Hawks then rallied and got to within six points but Temple surged again to a 31-17 lead with 6:29 left in the half.

St. Joseph’s was able to get to the break just down 35-32 but the points allowed were more than what the Hawks had limited in an entire game when they beat visiting Penn 42-34 in a Big Five matchup here last month.

Van Grinsven’s shot with 17:32 left in the game got St. Joseph’s within a bucket but Temple would not break defensively and got the lead back to double digits halfway through the final period and was able to hold firm the rest of the way.

BJ Williams dealt nine assists for the Owls.

“This game is always tough,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “St. Joseph’s is a great team, well coached, they play so hard. Defensively, they’re smart, they don’t give up and they try to take things away.

“The fact that we were able to score that many points tonight was because we got some great performances from our players.

The fact we had three guys with 20 plus points – that was huge and we needed all those guys to step up.

“But it was a great team win on the road. We don’t want to lose the city game – it’s still the city game even if this one didn’t count in the Big Five,” Cardoza said.

“They score in different ways and that’s tough, so it was important to build that lead. We’ve been screaming the last couple of years to get a post player to score and even though (Macaulay shot) jump shots, when you get those guys it takes the pressure off Shey and Kris.

“Those guys trying to score all the points for 40 minutes, that’s tough. They can take a break and throw the ball inside and know something good is in going to happen,” Cardoza said.

“And we’re a lot bigger now,” she alluded to the addition of post player Joelle Connelly, a transfer last season from Hofstra, who has moved into the starting lineup alongside Macaulay.

“Joelle and Vic like playing together now and they give each other a boost. We had to concentrate on just getting stops against St. Joseph’s.”

Griffin dissected what went wrong this time, though there wasn’t one key error in the last minute by the Hawks while Temple maintained a lead of several possessions.

The Owls shot 49.1 percent from the field and outrebounded the Hawks 40-29 to gain a 14-4 advantage in second chance points.

“I thought it was a well-fought game,” Griffin said. “Temple got some shots early against our zone that made us make an adjustment. Them shooting 50 percent is something that really hurt us.

“We had given them too many open looks and weren’t able to recover. The disappointing thing is you work on these things (stopping offensive rebounds off missed foul shots) and then it’s game time and what’s going on?

“Temple’s a very good team, very talented, but I certainly don’t think we gave it our best today. (Macaulay) killed us,” Griffin said of the Temple post player’s big night.

“Here we are again, a third person steps up. The same thing happened in the (St. Bonaventure) game. (Doris) Ortega goes 10-for-10 from the foul line and has 20 points.

“Now exactly a week later on the same night, the same situation. We just have to learn from these experiences. We have Temple again and we have to learn to make those adjustments.”

Meanwhile, in the other game involving a Big Five squad playing in the conference on Wednesday, La Salle got a foul shot from Michea Bryant with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to give the Explorers a 56-55 win in a matinee game at Fordham (11-12, 2-6) in the Bronx, N.Y., and a season sweep of the Rams.

Nadia Duncan of the Explorers (10-12, 4-3), who are in seventh place and holding a three-game cushion ahead of the two-team cutoff for the A-10 tourney field, got 15 points as did Fordham’s Charlotte Stoddart, who hit a pair of back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game near the end of regulation with 33 seconds left on the clock.

Duncan also had a game-high seven rebounds while Brittany Wilson was also in double figures with 11 points.

Bryant was then fouled while driving to the basket and hit the first of two foul shots. Fordham grabbed the missed second attempt and tried to win at the finish but the shot was off the mark.

La Salle will be home Saturday night hosting Massachusetts at Tom Gola Arena while earlier in the day Temple will host Fordham.

Bonnies Keep Rolling

Being the top also-ran in this week’s Associated Press women’s poll, A-10 leader St. Bonaventure could finally make its debut next time around on Monday considering some teams in the lower part of the rankings are suffering losses.

The Bonnies kept their campaign going from their side in beating Duquesne and next host George Washington (10-11, 3-4) Saturday a day before the AP nationwide media panel casts the next set of ballots.

Coach Jim Crowley’s team used an 11-0 scoring run in the second half against the Dukes to gain control on the road at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Jessica Jenkins, who was the national player of the week from the United States Basketball Writers Association prior to Connecticut’s Tiffany Hayes earning the nod this time around, scored 15 points while Chelsea Bowker scored 13 off the bench and Doris Ortega scored 10 to hand Duquesne its first home loss this season and first overall since almost a year ago when St. Joseph’s won in Pittsburgh.

The Bonnies two losses are to Villanova in Monmouth’s tourney and at home to No. 12 Delaware.

Duquesne, which got 14 points from Alex Gensler before fouling out, had won 13 straight at home. Wumi Agunbiade had 11 points and Jocelyn Floyd scored 10.

Vanessa Abel, the A-10 assist leader a year ago, missed her seventh straight game for coach Suzie McConnell-Serio with an ankle injury.

Jenkins, who recently became the A-10 career three-point scoring leader, now has 306.

In another A-10 game of note two-time defending champion Xavier (5-15, 2-5) won its second straight as Tyeasha Moss scored 23 points in a 67-57 win over visiting Saint Louis (7-15, 1-6) in Cincinnati.

Around The Nation

Baylor’s Brittney Griner had 18 points and Kimetria Hayden scored 15 in a Big 12 game that saw the top-ranked Bears win at Missouri 71-41 and remain one of two unbeaten Division I teams along with 10th-ranked Wisconsin-Green Bay of the Horizon Conference, which was idle.

The Bears (22-0, 9-0 Big 12) have won all 22 games since the start of the season, including triumphs over Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Connecticut.

Destiny Williams added 10 points for Baylor and Odyssey Sims scored 12 while BreAnna Brock and Sydney Crafton each scored eight points for the host Tigers (10-10, 0-9).

In another Big 12 game of note involving AP ranked teams, No. 18 Texas A&M, the defending NCAA champion, topped No. 25 Texas Tech 67-55 on the road in Lubbock.

Sydney Carter had 17 points and Adaora Elonu scored 16 for the winning Aggies (15-6, 6-3), who are in a three-way tied for second behind Baylor with Kansas State (15-6, 6-3) and Oklahoma (14-6, 6-3).

The Red Raiders (15-6, 3-6), who have now lost six of seven games, got 14 points from Casey Morris.

Kansas State topped Texas 64-55 on the road in Austin to stay in the second place hunt at 15-6 and 6-3 while the Longhorns fell to 13-8 and 3-6.

Iowa State (12-8, 3-6) beat Oklahoma State 73-52 at home in Ames to drop the Cowgirls to 12-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12.

In the America East Hartford coach and former UConn star Jen Rizzotti picked up her 250th victory as the host Hawks beat New Hampshire 64-46.

Alex Hall had a career-high 22 points for Hartford (14-10, 5-5 AEC) while rookie Amber Bepko became the third player in the program’s history to grab eight steals.

Morgan Frame had 13 points for New Hampshire (12-10, 5-5).

Boston U. (16-6, 9-0) stayed unbeaten in the AEC beating Vermont 72-64 for a home win over the Catamounts (9-14, 3-7).

In a Colonial Athletic Association game between rivals in the state of Virginia, two-time defending champion James Madison edged host Old Dominion in Norfolk 57-55 as Tarik Hislop scored with 3.7 seconds left for the Dukes.

Tia Lewis’s shot with 44 seconds left tied the score in the Ted Constant Center for the Lady Monarchs (7-15, 4-6), who now have suffered the second most losses in CAA play since becoming a member in the 1990s.

Lewis had 17 points and 10 rebounds for ODU while Kirby Burkholder had 20 points for the Dukes (16-5, 7-3), who were outrebounded 59-38.

ODU Sunday travels to second-place Hofstra, which will host William & Mary Thursday night. When the two met last month, Hofstra won a record shootout 100-97.

In other CAA games Thursday night the Guru will be at Drexel, which will be hosting George Mason. No. 12 Delaware, which has a two-game lead in the conference and whose only loss was at ACC-Maryland, will be going for a season sweep in North Carolina visiting UNCW.

In Atlantic Coast action Thursday, Maryland plays for the first time since the upset loss a week ago at home to Virginia Tech and will host Boston College while No. 5 Duke in its first game since Monday’s nonconference rout at home by No. 3 Connecticut will host Wake Forest.

No. 24 Georgia Tech, which entered the poll for the first time this season this week, will host North Carolina State.

In the Southeastern Conference No. 6 Kentucky, still potentially in the hunt for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, will host Mississippi while South Carolina, looking to get back in the rankings, visits No. 8 Tennessee.

In the Big Ten, No. 19 Penn State hosts Indiana while No. 16 Nebraska visits No. 15 Purdue as the Cornhuskers seek to move into a first-place tie with the Boilermakers.

Elena’s Efficiency

The Guru’s friends at Ladyswish.blogspot.com who chronicle all things Virginia basketball as well as paying attention to respective conferences such as the CAA, ACC, Big South, and MEAC, to name a few, posted an efficiency rating this week ranking players in the CAA.

But with Elena Delle Donne of Delaware, the nation’s leading scorer, also the top efficiency leader, here is some of what they said.

The Guru in the ranking only noted the top two in the CAA because of the wide distance between Delle Donne and the next person.

Go to the site, they could use the clicks, for the full details but here is an explanation of the chart along with other matters by the co-authors.

Who have been the most efficient players through the first half of the Colonial Athletic Association season?

Efficiency is a way of wrapping up a player's statistical contributions in one number.

The idea is to give a player credit for positive stats (points, assists, steals, etc.) and deduct for not-so-good numbers (missed shots, turnovers).

There are various methods of calculating it, but we'll use the NBA/WNBA formula, which is as follows:

((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field Goals Att. – Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. – Free Throws Made) + Turnovers))

In the same way the RPI shouldn't be used as the end-all guide for how teams rank, efficiency scores don't tell the whole story on how players rank.

For example, as is the case with any other stat we've seen in women's basketball, the ability to lock someone down defensively isn't measured (sorry, Nikki Newman).

Still, it is a good way to sum up a player's boxscore contributions, and let's face it, points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks are all anyone writes about in game stories anyway.

And if it's good enough for the NBA and WNBA, we figure it won't hurt for us to give it a whirl.

With that in mind, here are the Top 50 average player efficiency scores through nine CAA games:

1. Elena Delle Donne, Delaware - 30.4

NOTE: Delle Donne's average efficiency score for the whole season is 31.5. By comparison, Baylor's Brittney Griner is at 28.4, Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike checks in at 24.3 and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins is at 19.2. So if anyone wants to make a case for Delle Donne as the national player of the year, this would be a great place to start.

2. Tia Lewis, Old Dominion - 19.1

And with that said, the Guru has heard some prominent CAA stars are running a campaign to have a coaches’ game after the annual banquet next month that launches the conference tournament.

The Guru suggested it be a North-South game with the North represented by Northeastern, Drexel, Delaware, Towson, George Mason and Hofstra.

The North would be loaded, especially off the Drexel staff, with the likes of former Villanova star Denise Dillon and assistants Amy Mallon (St. Joes) and Melissa Dunne (Temple).

Hofstra’s Krista Kilburn-Stevesky starred at North Carolina State.

Whether Delaware’s Tina Martin could be coaxed remains to be seen – EDD could threaten to jump immediately to the WNBA after the season – but assistants Tiara Malcom and Janine Radice are worthy participants.

In other news, Connecticut reportedly has about 500 seats remaining for Saturday night’s Big East visit from Rutgers, whose senior leader Khadijah Rushdan may still be sidelined with a concussion suffered in Sunday’s loss at Georgetown.

It is not known if the score from Tuesday’s rout at home by Notre Dame over the Scarlet Knights has been censored to prevent the fan base from losing interest.

And that’s the end for the next 24 hours.

- Mel


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