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, April 11, 2012

Guru's College Report: Temple's Peddy and 'Nova's Perretta Earn Top Big Five Honors

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA -- Temple’s Shey Peddy captured the Big Five player of the year for the second straight season in the annual awards announced Tuesday while she shared the local Division I player of the year honors with Villanova’s Laura Sweeney given out by Glenn Papazian, the editor of Philly College Sports.com, in consultation with your Guru.

The Big Five vote involved the coaches involved in the City Series and your Guru, who batted 1.000 on the final result after casting his ballot from afar in Denver last week during the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

As for the Big Five individual honors, Villanova’s Harry Perretta was named coach of the year after gaining his 600th victory early in the season and also leading the Wildcats to a clean 4-0 sweep to claim the City Series title.

Temple’s Tonya Cardoza had won the coaching honor in her previous three seasons with the Owls after succeeding Dawn Staley to take charge in July, 2008.

The Owls’ Victoria Macaulay, a junior, was named the most improved player, and the Guru can tell you that on his own ballot it was a tough vote with St. Joseph’s senior Kelly Cavallo also considered a strong candidate.

Penn’s Kara Bonenberger was named Rookie of the Year, the second straight season a Quakers player captured the trophy. A year ago it was Alyssa Baron taking home the rookie prize and after leading the Ivy in scoring her first two seasons Baron also made the All-Big Five first team.

It’s the first time since Jewel Clark three-peated in 2002-04 that a Penn player made the first team in successive seasons.

Incidentally, the Quakers’ Jess Knapp took the sportsmanship award after playing the final 13 games of her career with torn ligaments in her knee.

That commendable effort also earned her Most Courageous honors at the Philly College Sports site, a special initiative by Glenn that was quickly endorsed by the Guru.

The remainder of the Big Five first team consisted of Peddy, La Salle’s Brittany Wilson, St. Joseph’s Michelle Baker, and Villanova’s Laura Sweeney, who missed the final two games of the season in the Women’s NIT after suffering a broken finger.

The Big Five second team consisted of Temple senior Kristen McCarthy and the Owls’ Macaulay, La Salle’s Alexis Scott, St. Joseph’s Cavallo, and Villanova’s Lauren Burford, a rookie who was probably runnerup to Bonenberger in what was also a tough vote.

The academic team, in which the Guru did not have a vote, consisted of Temple’s McCarthy, Penn’s Knapp, La Salle’s Jess Koci, Villanova’s Emily Suhey and St. Joseph’s Shelby Smith.

The Guru believes each school recommends a player for the academic team.

Wilson and Scott were keys in La Salle continuing to improve under second-year coach Jeff Williams, while Penn also improved again under Mike McLaughlin, finished at 13-15, the most wins since 2005.

Villanova made strides on the nonconference schedule and was more competitive, if not finishing higher up, in the rugged Big East, which was topped by Notre Dame, St. John’s, and Connecticut.

Temple did not make the NCAA for the first time in nine seasons, but won two rounds, as did Villanova, in the WNIT. NCAA Committee officials said after the bracket was announced the Owls lasted until the final cut for the 64-team field.

St. Joseph’s won the first round in the WNIT and lost before the buzzer to Virginia Commonwealth in the second round.

Winners will get their trophies at the annual Big Five postseason banquet at Drexelbrook in Delaware County and tickets can be obtained from Steve Crider of the Big Five at steve@philadelphiabig5.org.

Philly College Sports.Com Honors

Moving on to Glenn’s honors, which also includes Drexel in terms of the city, the Guru thought making Peddy and Sweeney co-players of the year was appropriate.

When judging season overall and competition limited to Big Five games, it can become difficult to name one player, depending on philosophy. Sweeney was certainly the key in Villanova wrapping up the Big Five in early January made possible by an important win at Temple before beating Penn.

But as the season continued to play out and Temple went on to a second-place regular-season finish in the Atlantic 10, Peddy, especially on defense, became more dominant and even grabbed the final national player of the week award from the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Duplicating the Big Five indidivual honors, Perretta was named coach of the year and Bonenberger was named rookie of the year.

The first team consisted of Sweeney, Peddy, Baker and Baron, the same as the Big Five, but Drexel senior Kamile Nacickaite was also made a first-team selectee.

The Dragons came on strong at the finish and advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association title game, losing to No. 7 Delaware, whose Elena Delle Donne was the nation’s leading scorer and became a consensus first team All-American.

La Salle’s Wilson made the second team with Drexel’s Hollie Mershon, McCarthy, Cavallo, and St. Joseph’s senior Katie Kuester, who deserved some postseason accolade for her career with the Hawks.

A third team is also determined at Philly College Sports and the selectees were Macaulay, Temple’s B.J. Williams, La Salle’s Scott, St. Joseph’s Ashley Prim, and Villanova’s Rachel Roberts and Burford.

With competition concluded it won’t be long before applications will become available for the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Summer League under commissioner David Kessler, which will continue to be held at the Kelly Bolish Gym, home of the AAU Renegades in Hatboro, Pa.

Organization usually begins in May.

Collegiate wise on the national level, as the Guru begins to slip into his summer WNBA pro coverage,commentary will continue with some post Final Four musings 24 hours from now as well as staying on the case for coaching changes still occurring and the re-organization inside the NCAA, which was in the news again Tuesday when Greg Shaheen was not given the top job under the NCAA presidency.

A replacement still needs to be named for former NCAA vice president for Women’s Basketball, Sue Donohoe, who resigned in November and is now head of the Kay Yow Fund, located near Raleigh, N.C.

Donohoe at the Women’s Final Four received the president’s award from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the second year a high former NCAA official was given the honor.

A year ago in Indianapolis, home of the NCAA, whose local paper, by the way, was among many not staffing the Women’s Final Four, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, then holding the president’s position in the WBCA, gave the honor to Tom Jernstedt, like Donohoe, a popular individual with the rank-and-file.

Until the next sunrise.

-- Mel

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