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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guru's College Report: NCAA Official Says Temple Just Missed The Field

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – In picking up loose pieces from print coverage of Temple’s NCAA situation and being left out for the first time in nine years either as an Atlantic 10 champion with the guaranteed automatic qualifier or as one of 33 at-large teams, very late Monday night the Guru ran into the NCAA new wiggle in revealing the last four teams in and the last four teams out.

The list was in alphabetical order in each group.

“In the committee member minds, the last four teams have demonstrated this season they could beat teams selected above them,” said Greg Christopher, chair of the women’s basketball committee and Bowling Green State University athletics director. “By extension, the first four teams out did not differentiate themselves in the same way as those teams in the field, while they did have significant losses we had to consider.”

The ones that made the tournament were Florida, Kansas, Michigan and Texas.

The ones that did not were Oklahoma State, Southern Cal, Temple and Virginia.

For starters, Middle Tennessee losing close in the Sun Belt and Gonzaga losing in the West Coast, cost two spots, although that situation always occurs somewhere in the process every year.

But in looking at the final Nitty Gritty sheet over the weekend which shows the components of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) you should know that in the committee’s eyes a team going 3-9 in their last 12 games in a major BCS conference means they are more NCAA-tournament ready then a team in a Mid-Major that went 6-1 across the top of the league at the start of the conference schedule and 11-1 in its last 12 games.

And the one in the won-loss record in that stretch occurred when a layup was missed in the final seconds, though Temple coach Tonya Cardoza pointed out that the play alone was not the cause of the loss to Dayton in the Atlantic 10 semifinals but rather a bunch of breakdowns leading up to what was on the scoreboard as the final minutes were ticked off the clock.

You should know that in the past a former member of the committee who is a commissioner of a nearby conference would often be seen at games in town here either to look at the locals or the locals and their opponents when the games were major matchups.

Whoever was responsible for teams here this year decided that TV was good enough to get a feel for the competition.

Temple’s significant loss came early in the year at Northern Illinois, which happens to be a member of the committee chair’s Mid-American Conference, the one the Owls in football just abandoned to head for the Big East.

The guess here is that among the four who were first out, Temple had to be ahead of Southern Cal, Oklahoma State and Virginia.

Broadcasters who cover a bunch of leagues in which all these teams just in and just out have affiliations will tell you Temple at this point in the season is very competitive among the eight schools being compared.

Furthermore, the fact that scheduling up to compensate for being held hostage to teams within the conference whose performances are terrible, unlike the past meant nothing this time around.

But in the end, as Cardoza said, you take care of business and you avoid these problems, which, incidentally, will be greatly reduced in two seasons when the Owls start competing in the Big East, assuming there will not be any more departures and Temple can win enough to reside in the upper middle portion of the conference standings.

Incidentally, this is the first time going back to her playing days at Virginia, her 14 years as an assistant coach at Connecticut, and her four in her current job at Temple that Cardoza won’t be involved in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s time to get over it and move on,” she said with an eye to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in which Temple is capable of making a long run.

Locals in the WNIT

Because of the late hour the WNIT bracket was released, the local teams involved in the field of 64 in terms of times and pairings did not make the print editions Monday night.

As a matter of precaution in case updates didn’t occur at Philly.com, here’s the skinny on the four teams – Drexel, Temple, St. Joseph’s, and Villanova – who will play beginning Wednesday night and continuing to Thursday night in the first round.

Drexel, which finished runner up to No. 7 Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association championship Sunday, will play at Fairfield, Wednesday night.

The winner of that game in the next round will meet either Hartford or Syracuse. All games are at campus sites through the championship and the site of the game for teams who advance will be determined after their previous games have ended.

On Thursday, the other three locals will all play at the same time here in town at 7 p.m. so you general fans as opposed to specific fans will have to make some choices.

The Guru will round up all the action, at least here, if not in print, which is to be determined by others.

Temple in McGonigle Hall will host Quinnipiac, whose coach Trish Fabbri has local ties and roots and was under consideration for the La Salle job when former Explorers assistant Tom Lochner was promoted, which occurred prior to last year’s hire of Jeff Williams, the former associate head coach at Pittsburgh.

The winner in the next round will see either Hofstra or Harvard, and the Guru might appear at either place depending on the date, time and matchup, since he is tentatively planning to be at Bridgeport, Conn., to see the Princeton and UConn games for starters in the NCAA field.

St. Joseph’s, which has had past success in the WNIT as has Villanova, will host Boston University. The Terriers won the regular season America East and are coached by former La Salle star and Penn coach Kelly Greenberg, who last month was inducted into the Big Five Hall of Fame.

Look for a decent crowd due to the size of the Greenberg family – no relation by the way.

The winner will meet Bowling Green, how about that, or Virginia Commonwealth. A year ago the Hawks beat VCU in the first round and traveled to Boston College where then-freshman Erin Shields went against her sister Kerri for the first time before a regular season meeting here last December.

Villanova will host American University, a matchup that occurred once before in the Pavilion in the WNIT with the Wildcats winning in the final seconds and then making a deep run in the tournament.

The winner will meet Illinois State or Central Michigan in the next round.

The Atlantic 10 landed several other members in the field, as did the CAA.

Out of the A-10 group, Duquesne will travel to Cincinnati and if the host Bearcats of the Big East advance and Temple has a successful start it could be a collision down the road between Cardoza and her good friend Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott, who starred at UConn and served on the Huskies staff with Cardoza.

Also credit Elliott with keeping Cardoza under control after the NCAA field was announced, noting that only their former boss Geno Auriemma has a license to go off in public when he is unhappy with anything served by the committee.

Richmond will host Miami of Ohio with the winner meeting either Virginia or Howard in the next round while Charlotte will host Wake Forest with winner meeting either host James Madison or Davidson.

As mentioned, Hofstra of the CAA will host Harvard, and Drexel is traveling to Fairfield, and James Madison was just mentioned. UNC Wilmington will host Appalachian State with the winner meeting North Carolina State or High point.

AP Poll Trivia

With the final vote of the season released on Monday as noted previously somewhere Princeton became the first Ivy school to be ranked and conversely the Tigers are in their first final poll at the same thing.

St. Bonaventure and Delaware, who also made rankings debut this season, also are in a final poll for the first time as is St. John’s at the conclusion of the 36th season of voting.

Tennessee is the only team to be ranked in all 36 final polls and leads all schools in the farewell poll of the season over the years with 32 Top 10 and 26 Top 5 finishes. The Lady Vols are tied with Louisiana Tech for second with five No. 1 finishes behind the dominating 10 by Connecticut, though Baylor, which went wire-to-wire at the top has its first finish at No. 1.

Delaware at No. 7 and Wisconsin-Green Bay at No. 10 also landed in the top 10 for the first time in a final poll after cracking the elite group previously this season.

Speaking of wire-to-wire, Baylor led 15 schools who appeared in all 19 polls, while the Bears were joined by Stanford, Notre Dame, and Connecticut in living in both the Top 5 and by default also the Top 10 all season.

Duke also lived in the Top 10.

Eight teams in the preseason poll fell off along the way in Florida State, Oklahoma, DePaul, North Carolina, LSU, UCLA, Southern Cal and Texas, with injuries impacting some of those schools.

St. John’s, which also was hit by injuries, was in the preseason poll but after falling out returned to the rankings late in the season.

Maryland, which finished fifth, had 18 appearances in the Top 10 and eight in the Top 5. Tennessee was in the Top 10 16 times, but in the Top 5 only twice at the outset of the season.

Miami, which was in the poll all year, had 15 Top 10 appearances.

Delaware, which made its debut in late November, had a streak of 16 weeks, including five in the Top 10 shooting all the way up to No. 7.

Over the 36 years, Pat Summitt’s and Tennessee’s overall ranking appearances are now at 618, missing only 14 of the 632 rankings at the close of polling business this season.

Overall 39 teams appeared along the way. Ohio State missed the preseason vote but was voted in for the remaining 18 weeks the nationwide media panel cast ballots.

Teams not in the preseason poll but in the final were Delaware, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, St. Bonaventure, South Carolina, and Princeton, and Ohio State.

That is it until the next post. Breaking news will be handled Wednesday on twitter at @womhoopsguru.

-- Mel

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