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, April 21, 2012

Tributes To Tennessee's Pat Summitt Continue

By Mel Greenberg

Tributes to Tennessee women's basketball head coach emeritus Pat Summitt, who acquired the new title this week after a prolific 38-year career on the sidelines, have continued to arrive at Guru headquarters and more are expected but for now, the Guru will lead with comments sent from Marianne Stanley, currently the Washington Mystics assistant coach in the WNBA but whose history in coaching goes way back to Summitt's early career.

Stanley, a former Immaculata star, as a young coach at Old Dominion helped forge one of the great rivalries in the late 1970s when the Lady Monarchs and Lady Vols competed for national titles in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and then extended their competition when the NCAA era arrived.

At some point in the next few days another former Mightly Mac, Theresa Grentz, has promised to send some remembrances because she and Summitt were also contemporary players in their day besides becoming coaching rivals in later years when Grentz left St. Joseph's University for Rutgers and then moved on to Illinois.

"We were actually roommates on a World University Games squad," Grentz recalled on the phone earlier this week. "She was `Tennessee' and I was `Pennsylvania,'" Grentz said with a laugh.

"But on a serious note, there will never be another Pat Summitt in terms of what she did for all of us and our sport."

The Guru also plans to catch up with former Mighty Macs coach and Hall of Famer Cathy Rush, who coached Summitt on a Pan American games squad prior to the first women's basketball Olympics competition that occurred in the 1976 Montreal Games.

Also, two more Ivy League coaches have communicated their thoughts with emails from Harvard's Kathy Delaney-Smith and Dartmouth's Chris Wielgus.

But first, here's what Marianne had to say:

"Words seem inadequate to convey the appreciation that I feel for all that Pat Summitt has done for women’s basketball.

"For almost 40 years, Pat Summitt has dedicated her life to the pursuit of excellence. During that time she has been our standard-bearer, advancing and elevating the game into the public consciousness.

"Her accomplishments, success and impact on our sport are unsurpassed.
" Most importantly, every life she touched as a colleague, mentor or friend has been enhanced because of her influence.

"Although we will no longer see the fierce competitor we all admire gracing the sidelines, Pat will continue to courageously give of herself and expand her incomparable legacy in new and immeasurable ways."

From Harvard, came Kathy Delaney-Smith's comment:

"Everyone around me was very saddened about the news,” the coach of the Crimson noted. “She is a true hero to anyone who knows women's basketball and a pioneer who paved the way for coaches everywhere.

"Her legacy will live on and who better to fill those shoes than Holly.”

Meanwhile, Dartmouth's Chris Wielgus offered:

"Pat set the standard for coaching. She was a pioneer, a teacher and a competitor. She did so much for our game and women's coaches. She was remarkably accessible and always giving of her time. Above all, she loved this game of basketball and it showed. She will be greatly missed."

The Coaching Carousel Continues

Turning to what has become almost the mundane news of the week in light of the Summitt-Holly Warlick Tennessee story as well as Brittney Griner's withdrawal from Olympics consideration this week so the Baylor superstar can attend to her mother, who has been ill, and school work over the summer, here in Philadelphia, while the Big Five and other area Division I schools have reached some stability, Temple's Tonya Cardoza and Drexel's Denise Dillon have some hiring to do on their staffs.

Dan Durkin is moving from Temple to Providence to work for newly-appointed Susan Robinson-Fruchtl who he coached when he was an assistant at Penn State, while James Clark is joining South Jersey's Lisa Cermingnano, a former George Washington star recently hired as head coach at Wagner.

Cermingnano hired another former Colonial on her staff in Lisa Steele, who had been at Mount St. Mary's.

The number of changes in Division I keep rising with news of the last few days that Beth Cunningham at Virginia Commonwealth is leaving as head coach of the Rams to return to her alma mater at Notre Dame to join Muffet MccGraw in succeeding Jonathan Tsipis, the new GW coach.

Michigan, which had interviewed Penn State's Coquese Washington, hired St. John's Kim Barnes Arico, creating another BCS opening in the Big East along with Georgetown, which needs a successor for Terri Williams-Flournoy, who took the Auburn job.

Barnes Arico became the all-time winningest coach of the Red Storm near the end of last season but considering that Villanova associate head coach Joe Mullaney Jr. is still very much active, perhaps he could head over to Jamaica for a brief spell near Manhattan to regain his former record that Barnes Arico surpassed.

The Guru will return later in the day, possibly, with more news if it breaks, though most of the rumors and buzz could be found down in Virginia this weekend at the annual Boo Williams tournament.

And since the question was asked, but the Guru is NOT couching this in terms of who will be the next to go among the contemporaries of Summitt from the AIAW era, but rather just to note who the long-running war horses are: Obviously, and she spoke elegantly of the transition at Tennessee, there's Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer, while at Georgia, as mentioned the other day, Georgia's Andy Landers will become the new No. 1 person on the active list -- not the all-tome list -- in terms of appearances with teams in the 36-year history of the Associated Press women's poll.

In fact, before he is done, Landers is likely to edge past some of Summitt's records involving the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournament.

There's also Jim Foster at Ohio State and Tara VanDerveer at Stanford while some others such as Pittsburgh's Agnus Berenato out of South Jersey is also close to being a contemporary of the early Summitt coaching years.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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