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

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