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, March 31, 2012

Guru's NCAA Report: Notables Praise USBWA's Honoring Ann Meyers Drysdale

By Mel Greenberg

DENVER -- With the announcement by the United States Basketball Writers Association on Thursday that its player of the year award would be called the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year, honoring the Hall of Famer out of UCLA who is also the current vice president of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, several notables here at the NCAA Women's Final Four reacted to the news after 11 of the 12-member Olympic team were named.

The biographical announcement can be found at the organization's website USBWA.org. Meyers Drysdale, also a longtime broadcaster for ESPN, NBC and CBS, who has bee on WNBA, collegiate and Olympic telecasts of women's games.

"That's great," said Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, whose Huskies meet Big East rival Notre Dame Sunday night in the Pepsi Center before Stanford meets Baylor in the other national semifinal. He is also the Olympic coach for the games in Londonand five of his former players will be on the squad: Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Swin Cash.

""You think back to the history of women's basketball and unfortunately people think that Connecticut and Tennessee inveted the game of women's basketball and that's certainly not the case. So when you go back and you look at the history and you look at somebody like Ann Meyers and you see the career that she had and you see the impact that she had and it's really, really important that we keep reminding people of that and I think it's a great way to do it," Auriemma continued.

"So I'm a huge supporter of that."

Renee Brown, an executive with the WNBA who is also on the Olympic selection committee has had many dealings with Meyers Drysdale over the years because of her various roles.

"Annie has contributed significantly to the women's game and is highly respected at all levels from players who played with her when she played up till now -- playing at UCLA to her being a general manager of a two-time WNBA championship team -- she's really had her handprints in the women's game.

"Whoever wins that first award named after Annie is going to be a very special young woman," Brown observed. "So whoeever wins, good luck, but that have an award named after Annie is simply amazing."

The winner will be announced at the annual USBWA Women's Awards breakfast Tuesday morning in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, headquarters for media and the NCAA operations. Meyers Drysdale will be on hand to help hand out the honor.

Addtitonally, Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick will accept the annual women's most courageous award which is being given to legendary Hall of Famer Pat Summitt.

Credentialed media are invited to attend as well as other interested parties for which some limited space is available so contact the Guru.

Making Meyers Drysdale the namesake for the national player of the year award is the first of several initiatives to put names on the other awards honoring greats of the game. One more namesake will be announced at the breakfast, which is sponsored by ESPN.

Carol Callan, who is head of the Olympic women's side of USA Basketball is also the president of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, of which Meyers Drysdale was one of the original inductees.

"Where do you begin when you think of Annie," Callan said. "I look at the 1976 picture of the women's Olympic team and there she is front and center. As a player her legend speaks for herself and I think that she's done for the game since then, as an adiminstrator,whether it be as a television talent, whether it be on the radio, WNBA Phoenix Mercury, she's given back so much to the game that I think we can ever repay her."

Rebecca Lobo, the former Connecticut all-American and Olympic player who is part of the broadcast team for ESPN at the Women's Final Four, said, "I love Annie. She represents everything that's good about women's basketball. Playing, competing with boys, playing against women, the broadcasting side of it, to be in the front office in the WNBA, I mean she's always been such a classy person that anyone who knows her and is in her company, I've never heard a person say a single thing about her other than wonderful things about her -- she's Annie. She;s the best."

OK, after a night of sociality the Guru is off to handle the full day of advance events for the national semifinals as well as related events. Tweeting will continue to occure at @womhoopsguru.

And postings will occur here and at fullcourt.com.

-- Mel

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guru's Musings: Some Final Four Trivia On The Final Four

By Mel Greenberg

Since the major opus on reaching the Final Four is over at fullcourt.com when it posts early Wednesday morning, here’s some other facts in terms of the four No. 1 teams making the Women’s Final Four in Denver.

In terms of all-time appearances in the AP women’s poll, Stanford is first among the four teams with 417 but fifth on the overall list; Connecticut is second at 386, and sixth overall; Notre Dame is third at 235 and 21st overall while Baylor is third and 26th overall at 204.

Most times No. 1, Connecticut is first in the group and first overall at 156; Baylor is second in the group and sixth overall at 26, most of which was acquired this season; Stanford is third and 13th overall at nine, while Notre Dame is fourth and 21st overall out of 22 to reach the top with a total of five.

As for being in the Top 5, Connecticut is again first in the group and second overall at 294; Stanford is third and fourth overall at 205; Baylor and Notre Dame are tied for third at 62 and 14th overall.

But in the decade beginning the first week of Janunary 2010, Connecticut is first at 49, which is perfect attendance; Stanford is second at 47; Baylor is third at 39; while Notre Dame is fourth in the group and fifth overall at 26, which is three behind Tennessee’s 29.

In Top 10 appearances, Connecticut is first in the group and third overall at 338, which is just ahead of Stanford at second in the group and fourth overall at 332; Baylor is third in the group and tied for 20th all-time with Ohio State at 132; while Notre Dame is fourth in the group and 22nd right behind at 125.

Within the decade appearing in the Top 10, Connecticut and Stanford are tied with perfect attendance at the top at 49, and are joined overall by Duke, which also has perfect Top 10 attendance in the decade; Baylor, third in the group, is fifth overall at 41 and Notre Dame is right behind in fourth but sixth overall at 38.

Turning 40

The Guru tweeted this earlier but for those of you yet to follow @womhoopsguru – appreciate the recent surge over 1,400 by the way – though there is much talk that Baylor could finish unbeaten at 40-0 becoming the first men’s or women’s team in the NCAA to get 40 wins, for those such as the Guru who thought he had seen 40 once before, technically twice, but that’s another story, it turns out it is true.

Confirmed by Guru associate Malcolm Butler at Louisiana Tech, the Techsters went 40-5 in 1979-80, though that year Old Dominion won its second straight national title under the former Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

The next year, a talented guard out of Hammond, La., began her all-American Techsters career as a freshman. Her name: Today you know her as Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.

How Many Games On The Road To Denver?

So at the beginning of the year a few weeks before the opening tip, the Guru had lunch, quite good by the way, with the Delaware coaching staff in Newark and the question was put to the Guru how many games would he see in a particular season.

The mileage covers all forms of transportation and the games count as each so a doubleheader day was two games. Not counting are several Penn men’s games to just observe and a few assigned Drexel men’s games.

Also two games not seen were the title rounds in Bridgeport, Conn., and in Kingston, R.I. Also, the Guru did not see opening day CAA, which was four games and didn’t get to quarters until the Drexel nightcap, which means three more that could have been in the count but is not.

So heading into the Denver weekend, the grand total is 114 games over a distance of 8,340 miles that include New Jersey Transit, Metro North, the NY subway system, brief as it was and green as it was on Notre Dame, er, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Long Island Railroad to Hofstra, though one trip featured the kindliness of the Wilmington News Journal’s Kevin Tresolini, who transported the Guru back to his car from Hofstra to Hamilton, N.J., above Trenton, where some of you will be at next season’s regional.

So since the Guru is still dealing on USBWA matters, some of which will become public Wednesday, time to go until the next tweets and blog posts.

-- Mel

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guru's NCAA (And WNIT) Musings: All Eyes On Baylor-Tennessee

(Guru note: Being a multi-threat Sunday here the Guru has a feature-angle story for the Inquirer print section at philly.com, a regional overall from here for fullcourt.com and what is ever left to say on anything, including the Women's NIT, down below.)

By Mel Greenberg

KINGSTON, R.I. – There is no question that the focal point out of the two regional title games Monday will be in Des Moines, Iowa, where Baylor, which is the top seed and has gone unbeaten to date and went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press women’s poll, will be meeting second-seeded Tennessee for the right to advance to Denver and the Women’s Final Four.

In the other regional Monday night in Fresno, Calif., top-seeded Stanford will meet No. 2 Duke as the higher-seeded Cardinal try to make it five straight trips to the Women’s Final Four.

But in Des Moines, two storylines are colliding head one.

Baylor is a basketball story: A year ago the Bears were upset in the same round by Big 12 rival Texas A&M, which went on to upset Stanford and Notre Dame to win a first-ever NCAA title.

Now the Bears are back to take that next step as Brittney Griner, one of the two best players in the nation, brings her shot-blocking and dunking skills to the court.

Tennessee is a story of life: In late August, legendary Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt revealed she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer type, but would continue to coach, though her staff was given increased responsibilities.

As the season wore on, however, and as Tennessee took some setbacks of all-time varieties, doubt has seeped into the coverage fabric whether Summitt might step aside following the season’s end of the Lady Vols.

But for the moment the season is still alive and an upset Monday night, which would also reverse a setback handed Tennessee by Baylor early in the season in Knoxville, moves the Lady Vols into the Women’s Final Four with a shot at a ninth championship for Summitt.

So for the moment if that occurs, then the speculation will take a few days hiatus before it intensifies in the enhanced coverage the finals receive, though in recent years with the decline of the newspaper business there has been a different aspect of that enhancement.

It could be that if Tennessee loses Monday, it will be several weeks for all to ponder and consider the ramifications of the next move before announcing what it will be.

Or maybe it will come quickly instead of letting things fester, especially when one has to consider the recruiting aspect of the prestigious program in Knoxville.

So until events play out, the Guru will hold back on any reflective comments to be made from him other than to say undoubtedly Monday night’s game is probably the most important ever played in the history of the Tennessee women’s program unless there will be a next one and/or one after that both in Denver.

However, at some point here Sunday night in the Ryan Center on the University of Rhode Island campus while the Guru was off interviewing Penn State and UConn players, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma was asked about Summitt.

Incidentally, Connecticut became the second team Sunday night, joining Tennessee, to appear in at least 100 NCAA Women’s Tournament games.

Upon hearing that the approach to Auriemma about Summitt had occurred, the Guru thought the question was a bit jumping the gun and not respective of letting events determine the state of things at Tennessee through Monday night’s result.

But since Auriemma gave a poignant answer and since it was transcribed into the postgame quotes handouts and since a few places have already ran the response, in case you have not been linked to any of those sites, the Guru offers the comment here to the question that asked what Summitt means to the game:

“You like to have those conversations when someone’s career is over, and the fact that it’s not over, you don’t want to talk like it’s past tense or anything like that,’’ Auriemma said.

“I know their struggles professionally with their team and how they have tried to handle it all and certainly her personally and her family. I don’t know that there’s anything that I could say that would make it more meaningful what she means to the game.

“Because from the beginning of the modern era of women’s basketball, 1981 or 1982 whenever the NCAA took over the women’s tournament, those last 30 years or so, for a majority of that time and probably up until today, she has come to be recognized as the face of women’s basketball, the name that is women’s basketball.

“Year after year after year, the consistency, the always being there, and her teams always being in the conversation about winning national championships, that’s really, really, really, really hard to do.

“I think since 1985 when I got the job at Connecticut, I would say that playing Tennessee and watching her work I really started to realize that if more women’s basketball coaches took that approach I think there would be more good programs.

“A lot of programs in America would be better if they took the approach that she takes with her team and her program. I think she’s one of the few coaches in America – I can count them on my hand how many coaches in America that are coaching women’s basketball – that coached those players like they’re basketball players and they’re not girls.

“And that’s why she gets what she gets out of those kids year in and year out and decade after decade. The game could use a lot more people like that for sure. And I hope she’s around a lot longer to keep doing what she’s doing.’’

The WNIT Finals Determined

Though Philadelphia teams are no longer in the mix, the Women’s NIT has reached its semifinals and there have been some interesting results.

On Saturday, Syracuse, which ousted Temple here while Villanova was being edged at Colorado, visited defending WNIT champion Toledo and edged the Rockets 74-73 in overtime after Rachel Coffey hit a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in regulation.

On Sunday, James Madison, the regular season runnerup in the Colonial Athletic Associaton, eliminated visiting Virginia 68-59 as Kirby Burkholder had 20 points and 10 rebounds to send the Dukes into the semifinals against Syracuse on Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va.

Washington, which had a great run in Kevin McGuff’s first season as coach, fell to visiting San Diego, 58-47, to reach the semifinals on the Western side of the WNIT bracket.

Oklahoma State, which suffered the tragic loss of former coach Kurkt Budke and assistant Miranda Serena in a plane crash at the outset of the season, ousted Big 12 rival Colorado 78-70 and will host San Diego in the semifinals.

Both games will be on the CBS Sports Network.

Since the Guru needs some shuteye, that is it for now. Tweeting will continue at @womhoopsguru and extra news commentary or revelations needed here will be issued on a need to type-and-post basis.

-- Mel

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gurus' WNIT Report: Temple Handled By Syracuse; Villanova Nipped At Colorado

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – Like Drexel several nights earlier, Temple had several minutes to contemplate the end of the Owls’ season and careers of four seniors at the hands of Syracuse in an 82-68 loss to the Orange Thursday night here in McGonigle Hall in a Women’s NIT game in the Sweet 16.

Like St. Joseph’s on Sunday, the end for Villanova (19-15) occurred in the final moments, also Thursday night, as the Wildcats fell Rocky Mountain short at Colorado losing to the Buffaloes 48-47 in a similar round of the WNIT.

With those setbacks, the women’s collegiate season in the immediate Philadelphia area came to an end for 2011-12, though many here have local interest in Penn State’s fortunes in the NCAA Sweet 16 where the fourth-seeded Lady Lions (26-6) will meet top-seeded Connecticut (31-4) Sunday afternoon at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Area in the Kingston Regional.

Two Germantown Academy graduates and former teammates will face each other as red-shirt junior Caroline Doty plays for the Huskies and sophomore Maggie Lucas plays for Penn State.

Meanwhile, after getting over the disappointment of being bypassed for an at-large pick by the NCAA women’s basketball tournament committee, Temple (23-10) made its deepest postseason run since the 1980s in getting home wins over Quinnipiac and Harvard to stay home again and meet Syracuse (21-14).

A three-pointer from senior Shey Peddy as time was expiring that seemed to be launched from downtown a mile away at City Hall had Temple in contention going into the break and trailing Syracuse 33-32.

The teams then switched leads for a bit at the outset of the final stanza before Syracuse’s inside game began to dominate. Nikki Works’ two foul shots gave the Owls a 43-42 lead with 14 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game but then the Orange went on a 14-3 run in which Works’ 3-pointer was the only Temple score in that stretch.

A rally got it back down to a six-point deficit but that would be as close as the Owls would get as Syracuse pulled away and headed into the quarterfinals where the Orange will travel to play Toledo on Saturday afternoon.

It’s the second Big East school the Rockets of the Mid-American Conference will face after ousting Cincinnati earlier.

Toledo (24-9), the defending WNIT champion, beat a Virginia Commonwealth squad 81-64 at home in Ohio that had advanced Sunday on a steal and score by Andrea Barbour of the Rams (19-15) in overtime at St. Joseph’s Sunday as time expired.

Villanova suffered a similar last-second fate at Colorado in Boulder in losing in the last seconds but in the Wildcats’ situation in regulation they expired when Devon Kane drove the lane to attempt a game-winner but her running left-handed lay-up attempt was off the rim.

Colorado (21-13), which moved to the expanded and re-named Pac-12 this season, will travel in the quarterfinals to play former Big 12 rival Oklahoma State (19-12), which advanced with a 70-57 win over Missouri State (24-9) of the Missouri Valley Conference.

In the other two games this weekend in the WNIT, Virginia, a 74-58 winner at home Thursday night over Appalachian State (27-7), will meet the winner of Friday’s night’s Sweet 16 game between host James Madison (26-7) and South Florida ((19-15) at a date and site to be determined.

The Cavaliers, another team that just missed making the NCAA field, are now 25-10.

Washington ((20-13), which had previously advanced, will host San Diego (25-8), which beat Texas Tech 60-51 to end the season of the Red Raiders (21-14).

Villanova again had to play without junior and statistical leader Laura Sweeney, the all-Big East forward who broke her hand during the Wildcats’ win at home over American a week ago in the opening round.

“It was a very good game,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said from the Denver airport before his team boarded a redeye flight to return home. “Colorado had leads, one time they were up 11 and we kept coming back.

“We had the ball with nine seconds left and called time and then Devon tried to score and the ball was off the rim in a play that was like Temple’s missed layup when the Owls lost to Dayton in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.”

Villanova’s Emily Leer tied a career-high with 16 points and was 6-for-12 from the field, getting 13 of her points in the second half, while Megan Pearson scored nine points and Lindsay Kimmel had 8 points to concluded a collegiate career with two seasons at Temple and two with the Wildcats.

Colorado’s Chucky Jefferey had 19 points and 17 rebounds.

For Villanova, the Wildcats made strides off last season and were not too many games away from being NCAA-bound out of the powerful Big East Conference.

Perretta earned his 600th victory at the start of the season in the second game after upsetting then-ranked Michigan State in Iona’s tournament to get 2011-12 under way.

Over here, however, there was an expectation that the Owls might last longer in the WNIT after the NCAA committee had revealed after the draw was announced on Selection Monday that Temple was one of the first four schools not to make the cut in the 64-team national tournament.

Senior Shey Peddy, the Atlantic 10 player of the year and defensive player of the year, had 20 points, while center Victoria Macaulay had 11 points, senior Kristen McCarthy had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Nikki Works, whose home is Syracuse, scored 10 points.

Syracuse’s Kayla Alexander was an imposing force with 29 points and 10 rebounds while Carmen Tyson-Thomas, a graduate of Conwell-Egan Catholic High, had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Iasia Hemingway scored 13, and Elashier Hall had 11 points.

The Orange dominated the paint 42-26 though Temple won the overall battle of the boards by a slight 43-42 advantage.

Still, the Owls gave up 20 second-chance points while scoring 15, and, just as important was Syracuse holding a 17-9 edge in points off turnovers.

As the final minute arrived, Temple coach Tonya Cardoza pulled Peddy, who had starred here for two years after transferring from Wright State; McCarthy, and BJ Williams from the floor to a final standing ovation. Joelle Connelly, a transfer from Hofstra, did not play.

McCarthy and Williams were freshmen when Cardoza took over the program in 2008-09 after Dawn Staley left for South Carolina, where she now has the Gamecocks, who have advanced to the Sweet 16, in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.

Temple continued the five-year run existing from Staley to three straight seasons before this one in the NCAA field.

“We’re very happy to come out of here with a `W,’ Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We have a lot of respect for Temple as a basketball team.

“(Temple is) a team, I think that shouldn’t be playing here today, they should be in the NCAA tournament. Peddy’s a handful. We tried to keep her under control, which we could not do but I felt we had a lot of offense with Kayla in the paint where we overtook them inside.

“We knew we had a size advantage but Temple is still athletic enough to contest shots. We just wanted to play strong and play at the rim. I give the kids a lot of credit. We’ve been on the road a long time, playing hard and they’re competing but I just can’t say enough about Temple for the kind of team they are.”

The Orange spent the week in town, staying after beating Drexel on Monday night, making the trip more enjoyable than on Big East visits to Villanova.

“We have to get out of here,” Hillsman said. “We’ve been eating too many cheesesteaks. I know we’re eating good. It’s just fun winning in the postseason.”

The mood, as expected was glum on the Temple side because of the loss and the farewell to the seniors.

“This is a disappointing loss,” Cardoza said. “We expected to go all the way and win this thing and we came out on the losing end. Syracuse was too much to handle inside. We didn’t have an answer for their big kid (Alexander).

“We just didn’t take advantage of opportunities when we did have them. We talked about making sure we would limit them on the offensive boards and we gave them too many points off offensive rebounds and too many points off turnovers.”

Cardoza talked about it being the last game for the seniors.

“It’s always disappointing sending your seniors off on a loss,” she said. “Actually, a lot of people do it, but as a coach you never want your season to end on a sour note.

“The fact we didn’t play great makes it much harder to swallow, but I couldn’t ask for a better group. What these guys have been able to do over the number of years that they’ve been here, and more importantly, the effort and the passion they play with – it’s going to be hard to replace them. But I know there’s a brighter future down the road for all of them.”

Speaking of her final moments, Peddy said, “It’s a disappointed feeling knowing there’s nothing else you can do. This will be the last time we were a Temple jersey, so for me it hurts.”

Peddy transferred from Wright State to be near Cardoza, who grew up in the same town of Roxbury, Mass., near Boston, an athlete she idolized growing up.

“I’m going to miss coming around here every day,” Peddy said. “It hurts we couldn’t bring her a championship of some sort. I appreciate everything the rest of the coaches have done.”

McCarthy had been recruited by Staley and after initially trying to withdraw when Staley left, she changed her mind and decided to come and give Cardoza a chance.

“I don’t know how much this really hit me yet,” McCarthy said, “but I was saying as time was winding down, `I’ll never wear a Temple jersey again. I’m done with college.’ That moment you think will never really come.

“I definitely enjoyed my time here and learned so much. I took a chance coming all the way from California. But I just give nothing but thanks to the university for this opportunity, this once in a lifetime. I enjoyed it and will miss it as well.”

Asked about what next year might look like trying to replace the graduates, Cardoza said, “You cross your fingers and hope and pray.

“Obviously, we’re losing one of the best senior classes ever so it’s going to be hard to replace them. You hope the younger guys that have been here have taken something from each one of them and they’re able to now pass it on to the younger guys,” Cardoza said.

“But it’s going to be a different kind of team because you have a lot of new guys learning. It will be exciting in different ways so you’ll be able to grow together. Whereas the leadership is not going to be one true leader. It’s going to be a lot of young guys learning from each other.

“In some ways it’s going to be exciting to see because there’s so many spots that need to be filled and competition at practice is going to be different because everybody is going to be out there trying to earn playing time.

“Obviously, with these guys, everybody knew who our leaders were and they showed it by example. Next year we’re looking forward to seeing who steps up and becomes one of those leaders.”

Cardoza said Macaulay has the most promise among the future vets given her development in the post, but she also noted, “Obviously, the one thing tonight is that she has to get better at being physically stronger to battle those posts. Obviously, in the (Atlantic 10) there’s not a lot of posts like that but I think she’ll take from this that she needs to get stronger and once she gets stronger she can dominate every single night.”

Next year will Temple’s last in the Atlantic 10 before moving to the Big East in 2013-14. Only four of the current group will still be on the roster and Syracuse, bound for the Atlantic Coast Conference, may not be there when the Owls arrive though at the moment the Orange is still being held to stay in the Big East the next two seasons.

Hillsman was asked how he felt Temple might fare, though the two teams may not be conference rivals by then.

“They’re going to be fine because Tonya’s a great coach and Tonya’s a great recruiter,” Hillsman said. “Going to the Big East will help them in recruiting and they’ll be able to touch some different kids. I think that’s the most important thing for them as they continue to do what they do.

“Tonya is not a stranger to the league nor is Way (Waynetta Veney, former Providence assistant). They’ll be fine and do well.”

There may not be a post on the blog till the weekend because of travel and other activities but tweeting will continue off the news and other events at @womhoopsguru.

-- Mel

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guru's NCAA Musings: Most Top 16 Teams In Final AP Poll Survive First Two Rounds

By Mel Greenberg

First, the Guru interrupts his blog for this very important message – Just downloaded Angry Birds Space on the iPad, for $2.99. Being up all night at time does have its advantage.

Meanwhile, the Guru was not intending to blog until after the Syracuse-Temple game in the Sweet 16 round of the WNIT Thursday night, which will be be played at the Owls’ McGonigle Hall at 7 p.m.

Villanova, on the road, will tip at 9 p.m., EST, at Colorado in Boulder.

But since traffic to this site has spiked the last two days, apparently caused by either people googling information on Elena Delle Donne of Delaware, or people looking for commentary on the recently-opened vacancy at Texas, he decided to fill the space, but not on either topic, since there is nothing new to be said at the moment.

On second thought, because Delle Donne has no more games left to play, she may want to wear dark glasses during her free time in Denver at the Women’s Final Four, where she’ll likely be collecting several postseason awards.

Skylar Diggins of Stanford, Brittney Griner of Baylor and Nneka Omguwmike of Stanford are likely to still be busy with their teams in Denver, leaving Delle Donne to be the one of the consensus top four at the mercy of autograph hounds and, if UConn advances, well, you all know who.

Actually, considering that Delle Donne is 6-5, forget the dark glasses. It might be a good idea to hang with Seton Hall coach Anne Donovan, who once was an all-everything as a 6-8 center on the Olympics and at Old Dominion. But since the Delaware coaches will be on the scene for the WBCA convention, she should have her own posse, depending how many family and friends make the trip.

Incidentally, depending on who is sighted, don’t take any WNBA coaches exchanging pleasantries with Delle Donne as a sign they expect their own teams to miss the playoffs this summer, which would then put them in next year’s draft lottery when Delle Donne will be high on the list of coveted prospects.

Sweet 16 And Rankings

When we get to this phase of the tournament, it is always fun to see who survived among the teams that were in the first 16 spots in the final AP Poll.

The count shows 11 of the 16 made it, although since a couple teams were seeded to collide at some point in the early rounds, perfect attendance would not have been possible.

An aside to a Guru friend known as Volleyball Bonnie. It looks like the basketball crowd in their bracket didn’t get hit with the regionalization that caused great controversy when the NCAA draw for the fall sport was released prior to that national tournament.

Anyhow the teams that didn’t make it were, and we’re using the poll numbers not the NCAA seeds, No. 7 Delaware, which was upset by unranked Kansas; No. 8 Miami, which lost to unranked Gonzaga, though the Zags were ranked during the season; No. 10 Wis.-Green Bay, which lost to No. 12 Kentucky, which is actually the higher NCAA seed in that pairing, No. 13 Purdue, which lost at home to No. 25 South Carolina, which was also the lower seed, but by just one spot, and No. 16 Ohio State, which fell to unranked Florida, which was a seed lower.

But the Buckeyes would not likely have gotten past the second round considering the opponent would have been top-ranked Baylor.

The surviving poll teams within the four regions are grouped as follows:

In the Kingston (R.I.) semifinals, No. 11 Penn State will meet No. 3 Connecticut; unranked Gonzaga meets No. 12 Kentucky.

In the Raleigh (N.C.) semifinals, No. 4 Notre Dame meets No. 21 St. Bonaventure; No. 5 Maryland meets No. 22 Texas A&M.

In the Des Moines (Iowa) semifinals, No. 1 Baylor meets No. 15 Georgia Tech; No. 9 Tennessee meets unranked Kansas.

In the Fresno (Calif.) semifinals, No. 2 Stanford meets No. 25 South Carolina and No. 6 Duke meets No. 14 St. John’s.

If the chalk holds, the first six should make the Elite Eight as should No. 9 Tennessee, the next highest surviving ranked team; and No. 12 Kentucky. No. 11 Penn State is in a big underdog situation facing UConn.

Teams in the poll that went down early, though some by matchup where doomed: No. 17 Georgetown lost in the second round to No. 15 Georgia Tech; No. 17 Nebraska lost in the first round to unranked Kansas; No. 19 Louisville lost in the second round to No. 5 Maryland; No. 20 Georgia lost to unranked Marist in the first round; No. 23 Rutgers lost in the first round to unranked Gonzaga, which made the Scarlet Knights the only Big East team to lose an opener in either the NCAA or WNIT; No. 24 Princeton lost to unranked Kansas State, though the Wildcats would have been a slight favorite in some circles.

Huskies and Lady Lions To Continue To Dance

Besides Sunday’s matchup UConn announced Wednesday it will play Penn State home and home the next two seasons beginning in Connecticut this winter.

Make of it what you will, if anything, if the Guru’s beliefs are correct, the two-year home-and-home between Delaware and Penn State is concluded, so one could say the Lady Lions replaced the Blue Hens with UConn.

The Guru is ready to stand correct if his Newark followers claim that Penn State, whom Delaware beat at home early in the season, is still on the schedule.

Ironically, years ago when UConn was just getting its act together Huskies coach Geno Auriemma had trouble getting former Penn State coach Rene Portland to agree to a schedule, though both have common Philadelphia basketball roots.

Years later the shoe of complaints went to the other foot when the Huskies became a national power, though the two teams met as part of a special doubleheader in the winter of 1999-2000 at Disney World in Florida and then in the national semifinals that season when the Women’s Final Four was held in Philadelphia at what is now called the Wells Fargo Center.

They also met in Hartford in 2004 in the Regional Final, the last time Penn State advanced to the Sweet 16, and also at a neutral site event in Dec. 2008 when UConn was marching on the first of two back-to-back unbeaten seasons that helped establish a new NCAA win streak record at 90, breaking the 88-game run held by the UCLA men’s team.

USBWA Awards

The United States Basketball Writers Association will begin announcing its women’s awards over the next week, beginning in a few days. The list includes the 10-member All-America team, coach of the year, player of the year, and freshman of the year.

Look for a special announcement ahead of the player of the year announcing a famous women’s star of the past to be associated by name with the player of the year award in a scaled down, for now, version of the Oscar Robertson trophy that goes to the men’s top player.

Though coach of the year honors had been given out previously on the women’s side, the All-America balloting began in 1996-97. UConn has had nine different individuals selected through last season, some of which were multiple winners. Maya Moore is the only four-time honoree. Duke and Stanford have each had six different winners prior to this season’s announcement.

The awards will be presented in Denver, the Tuesday morning of the championship at the annual USBWA morning nibble – how’s that for honesty – but there’s no charge on this side of the fence unlike the elaborate affair at the men’s final four.

The event is open to all credentialed media at the women’s final four but there is room for other interested parties so give the Guru an email heads up if you wish to attend and are not covering the event.

Additionally, it’s already been announced that Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has won the USBWA most courageous award on the women’s side. Details of the presentation are on hold while the Lady Vols remain still in play in the Sweet 16 with a chance to advance to Denver.

There will be a special announcement to be made in Denver associated with the annual award Summitt is being given.

OK. Now that you have had some new material to read, it’s time to take care of some non-basketball affairs of state prior to Temple’s WNIT game.

Tweeting from the game, as well as news when warranted, originates from @womhoopsguru.

-- Mel