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, June 06, 2012

Guru's College Report: A-10 Realignment Ends Fabled Temple-George Washington Rivalry

(Guru's note: Depending how you got here there is also a nu post directly above which is the Guru weekly WNBA review and preview.)

By Mel Greenberg

Though Temple will be making its farewell tour on the Atlantic 10 circuit this season before heading with the rest of the Owls sports programs to the Big East in 2013-14, coach Tonya Cardoza's group and George Washington have already unwittingly said adios to what had been one of the better rivalries in the conference until the Colonials' decline the last several seasons.

The A-10's quick welcome to Virginia Commonwealth from the Colonial Athletic Association and Butler from the Horizon League has temporarily ballooned menbership to 16 teams causing a change in the league schedule.

On the women's side, past regular season conference competition among the former number of 14 teams included 14 games once around the league with each school having one home-and-home rival.

Temple played St. Joseph's twice, La Salle played Fordham twice, and St. Joseph's vice versa with Temple.

Under the arrangement for next season, one A-10 rival will be missing from each team's schedule and there will be no home-and-home, meaning it will no longer be a pre-scheduling mystery when Temple and St. Joseph's play, which one also counts in the local Big Five local round robin City Series competition.

They will be one and the same this season and Temple is expected to continue to meet the two local A-10 members in La Salle and the Hawks as non-conference competition in the Big Five.

But Temple will not see the Colonials and the two wouldn't meet again unless scheduled as nonconference opponents or crossed paths in a holiday tournament or in either the NCAA or WNIT postseason affairs.

GWU, whose new coach Jonathan Tsipis had been associate head coach at two-time NCAA runnerups Notre Dame, will still make one visit here to play La Salle and will host St. Joseph's.

There were some great games with GWU in the past but in recent seasons Temple dominated to the point in 2010-11 the visit to the Smith Center in the nation's capital was so lopsided, President Obama was rumored upon hearing the score of the game to order the removal of the first U.S. president GW's portrait from the White House gallery and leading off with John Adams, the second U.S. president.

La Salle will not meet Richmond, which might be the league favorite in the wake of a bunch of graduations, while St. Joseph's will not see Xavier.

VCU, though new to the Atlantic 10, is a familiar team to local followers here because of its past membership in the CAA battling Drexel and Delaware, while visiting St. Joseph's several times in recent seasons in the WNIT.

All three schools will play the Rams with Temple hosting while La Salle and St. Joseph's will travel to Richmond.

VCU on Tuesday announced Winthrop's Marlene Stollings as its new coach.

Ironically, former VCU coach Beth Cunningham left last month for her alma mater at Notre Dame to replace Tsipis on the staff of former St. Joseph's star Muffet McGraw, who was inducted a year ago to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

Former Temple coach Dawn Staley, now at South Carolina, is one of the six inductees this weekend for her storied playing career including three Olympic gold medals, all-star stature in the WNBA and former ABL, and a national standout at Virginia, leading the Cavaliers to three straight NCAA Women's Final Fours from 1990-92.

Cardoza, a teammate of Staley's at UVA, and a good friend, said she was unable to attend the ceremonies because of a graduation involving her niece. She succeeded Staley at Temple in July 2008.

Temple senior associate athletic director Kristen Foley had been contemplating making the trip.

Back in the A-10, newcomer Butler will also see all three local teams, visiting La Salle and St. Joseph's, but hosting Temple.

As in the past, just 12 teams will advance to the A-10 conference women's basketball tournament, whose site is not yet determined. It is hopeful it may return to St. Joseph's, where it was well-received last season, especially being held on Hawk Hill for the first time since the renovation of the fieldhouse.

The A-10 announced all the matchups of each team, though the actual schedule is weeks, if not several months, away from being set.

Temple will host Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island, Richmond, VCU, St. Louis and Xavier, while traveling to Charlotte, Duquesne, Dayton (for the second straight year, though both teams have significant graduation losses), Butler, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure and St. Joseph's.

La Salle will host Butler, Charlotte, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, Rhode Island and St. Louis, while visiting Dayton, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph's, Temple, VCU, and Xavier.

St. Joseph's will host Charlotte, La Salle, Massachusetts, Richmond, St. Bonaventure and Temple and Butler, while visiting Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, Rhode Island, St. Louis, and VCU.

Also, although the Guru tweeted the announcement Monday @womhoopsguru, for those who do not follow, the league made news with the hiring of former Old Dominion legendary coach Wendy Larry as associate commissioner seeing primarily over women's basketball in the conference.

Larry left last year, though believed not all entirely on her own decision.

The A-10 several years ago moved its offices from Philadelphia to Newport News, Va., which is about 45 minutes from Larry's home in Virginia Beach, near Norfolk, where she coached the Lady Monarchs to 17 straight CAA titles before Drexel ended the reign in the semifinals of the 2009 tournament on the way to the Dragons' first title and NCAA appearance when they beat host James Madison the next day.

The Guru may see Larry in Knoxville because of the induction of former ODU star Inge Nissen but former Philadelphia Inquirer intern and longtime ODU beat writer Vicky Friendman at the Virginia Pilot before her departure has an interview at her well-read Ladyswish.com site that concentrates on Virginia schools.

In other local news La Salle has announced a second transfer, who will be able to play right away after graduating from Pittsburgh in three seasons.

She is 6-foot-5 center Leeza Burdgess, out of Miami, who played for third-year Explorers head coach Jeff Williams when he was associate head coach to South Jersey's Agnus Berenato with the Panthers.

Berenato is a sister of A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade, who hired Larry.

Following sitting out a year due to NCAA eligibility rules on transfers, 6-0 guard Shanel Harrison, who led Virginia Tech in scoring, will also be eligible to play.

Also, though not announced, it is believed that St. Joseph's Cindy Griffin and Temple's Cardoza have found assistants to fill vacancies on their staffs.

The Hawks' Chris Day left for Indiana as an assistant while Dan Durkin left the Owls to join new Providence coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl, whom he coached when he was an assistant at Penn State.

Meamwhile, for those following the coaching carousel post, which is down at May 1 on this site, Stollings' hire and the ensuing vacancy at Winthrop means as of now there will be at least 72 coaches who are brand new in the top job at Division I schools -- far exceeding the previous believed record in the mid-40s several seasons ago.

Hands have changed at 13 BCS schools, all now filled, while there will be 39 rookies, as of now, making first-time Division I appearances and becoming eligible for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association' (WBCA) Maggie Dixon rookie award, named for the former young Army coach, who guided the Black Knights in 2006 to their first Patriot League title and NCAA appearance, only to pass away suddenly several weeks later of a heart problem.

Pittsburgh men's coach Jamie Dixon is her brother.

The last update on the coaching changes leaves, as of now, seven vacancies in Division I, the most prominent one in that group being Tennessee Tech, though not in the overall group.

As mentioned in the other nu blog in the weekly WNBA update, the Guru is heading late Wednesday afternoon on the marathon drive to Knoxville for the induction ceremonies as both a past inductee (2007) and to handle tweeting, and coverage for the Guru's site as well as chronicling Staley for the alma mater Philadelphia Inquirer.

So there will be tweets over the next 24-3o hours but no posts. Fortunately, there is only one WNBA game Wednesday night and none Thursday.

So until arrival, unless breaking news forces a road stop to whip out this iPad -- one day the Guru's favorite Fedex place will get its Wifi fixed -- the next post will come from the Volunteer State.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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