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.
(Guru's note: Here is the rough draft of a release sent to cyber central at the USBWA website covering Tuesday's annual women's awards breakfast at the Women's Final Four. If you are in melgreenberg.com, click mel's blog on the left to read post below this, another rough release on the Most Courageous Award to Pat Summitt and future winners to receive the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award.)
DENVER -- Baylor sensation Brittney Griner received the U.S. Basketball Writers re-named Ann Meyers Drysdale Women's National Player of the Year Tuesday morning at the association's annual awards breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel, NCAA headquarters for the Women's Final Four.
Meyers Drysdale, the former UCLA four-time All-American and current vice president of the WNBA Phoenix Sun and NBA Phoenix Mercury, was at the breakfast to help make the presentation. However, because Griner and Kim Mulkey, who received the previously announced USBWA coach of the year award, were involved in preparations for Tuesday night's NCAA title showdown with Notre Dame, Julie Bennett, sports information for the Bears, accepted both awards on behalf of Griner and Mulkey.
"She's very appreciate of this award, she's appreciative of all basketball writers around the nation," Bennett said of Mulkey's reaction to the USBWA coaching award. "How you cover our sport and it seems to get better and better all the time."
Griner, a 6-foot-8 center born in Houston, Texas, went into Tuesday night's championship with a 23.2 points per game scoring average, seventh in the nation, and a 9.4 rebounding average. However, her most notable skill, besides being able to dunk, is as a fierce shot blocker. She has a nation-leading 201 rejections, almost 100 more than her closest persuer, for a 5.15 average per game.
"She thought it was pretty cool when I told her about who Ann Meyers was," Bennett said of Griner's reaction to winning the award. "Brittney appreciates that and she respects everybody so much for giving her this award."
On Saturday Griner dispensed of all speculation, saying she would return for her senior year. Because she turns 22 she has the option to forego her senior year of eligibility and enter the NBA draft latr this month.
The re-naming of the award for Meyers Drysdale was announced last week but on Tuesday morning the USBWA added another namesake on a women's award. After Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick accepted the Women's Most Courageous Award on behalf of legendary Hall of Famer Pat Summitt, who is battling early onset dementia, Alzheimer type, Mel Greenberg, the women's representative on the USBWA board of directors announced future winners would receive the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award.
Given her first chance to react to the honor and to also help make the presentation, Meyers Drsdale said, "I've been around an awfully long time. Certainly there were not a lot of awards when I was first starting up. There are many more today. This, because of the writers and the knowledge they have of all the players throughout the country, certainly sets it apart. And to be associared with it, there's no question it's such an honor for me, honestly.
"To have Brittney Griner as the first recipient of this award means so much for what she's done for the game, how she's changed the game, how she carries herself and it really means a lot to have somebody like that who is so humble in herself to be a game changer. So this is really special for me today and I know throughout the years it's going to grow and be even more recognized."