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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guru's College Musings: SEC Influence Comes To Big East And UConn

By Mel Greenberg

The Big East Conference and University of Connecticut now has two former notables out of the Southeastern Conference running administrative matters on the northern side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Danielle Donehew, a former director of basketball operations for legendary Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt, has been an associate commissioner of the Big East for several years and serves primarily over women's basketball.

Though working out of the league office in Providence, R.I., she is one of the leaders running the Pat Summitt Foundation, which is raising funds to combat Alzheimer's.

In late August of a year ago, Summitt revealed she was battling early onset dementia, Azlheimer's type, and after a Hall of Fame career that extended through last season, she announced the reigns of head coach of the Lady Vols were being turned over to her longtime former associate and former player Holly Warlick.

Meanwhile, directly at UConn, itself, a reunion of sorts occured in early September between Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma and Deb Corum, who was hired by athletic director Warde Manuel as the Huskies Senior Women's Administrator as well as in charge of several other functions.

She replaces Pat Babcock, who retired last summer.

Corum, a graduate of Vanderbilt, comes directly out of a long stint in the Southeastern Conference office, and she also has been one of the athletics administrators at Louisiana State and Stanford.

"Geno now has a boss he can talk basketball to," someone on the Big East and UConn scene recently quipped when the hire was discussed.

Corum is a past member of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Committee and in 2000 when the Women's Final Four was held at the then-named First Union Center in South Philadelphia, an event that served as a special homecoming for Auriemma, Corum drew the committee asignment to be the liason with the Huskies, who went on that weekend to beat Tennessee for the second of seven national titles.

Auriemma was recently asked about Corum's arrival during the media session with him earlier this month at the annual Jimmy V dinner, run by ESPN and the V Foundation in New York at Chelsea Piers, to preview the men's and women's events.

Connecticut will be hosting Maryland early in the season in Hartford, Conn., as the women's event of Jimmy V week. A men's doubleheader will be held in Madison Square Garden in New York.

"That's one of the best things we've done in a long time, is hire Deb," Auriemma said. "She has so much experience in basketball at a lot of different levels.

"It's not every day you get somebody from Stanford, Vanderbilt, LSU, and the (SEC) conference office to come and work at our place. She's one of the most well-respected women's basketball administrators in America.

"We're really, really fortunate to have her."

AP Preseason Women's Poll

An advisory from the Associated Press on Monday informed the preseason poll will hit the wire release on Oct. 27, this Saturday.

The women's preseason all-America team will move next Tuesday.

Defending NCAA champion Baylor, which went 40-0 and wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the rankings, could be expected to continue at the top, especially with the return of senior Brittney Griner and junior Odyssey Sims.

That would be the only two times the Bears have started out No.1, athough after Kim Mulkey's squad won the 2005 title, Duke was the preseason team at the top for 2005-06.

The voters almost got that right. The Blue Devils advanced all the way to the championship game in Boston at the end of the season, only to have a lead gobbled up by Atlantic Coast Conference rival Maryland.

The Terrapins' Kristi Toliver, now with the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks, nailed a long three pointer at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime and Maryland grabbed its first and only title to date.

As of now the Guru's database history of the rankings, which begin their 37th season, shows Tennessee has the most-ever preseason No. 1s with 12 appearances at the top, followed by Connecticut, which has helped launch the rankings as the No. 1 team eight times.

Here's the complete list of preseason No. 1 teams (thru 2011-12):

1. *Tennessee, 12 times. ('78, '79, '88, '89. '90, '92, '94, '95, '98, '99, '05, '08).
2. Connecticut, 8 times. ('96, '00, '01, '02, '04, ,09, '10, '11).
3. *Louisiana Tech, 3 times. ('81, '82, '90).
4. Duke, 2 times. ('03, '06).
(tie) Texas, 2 times. ('86, '87).
(tie) Southern Cal, 2 times. ('83, '84).
(tie) Stanford, 2 times. ('93, '97).
8. Delta State, 1 time. ('77) -- the first-ever poll.
(tie) Old Dominion, 1 time. ('80).
(tie) Georgia, 1 time. ('85).
(tie) Virginia, 1 time. ('91).
(tie) Maryland, 1 time. ('07).
(tie) Baylor, 1 time. ('12).
* -- La. Tech and Tennessee tied preseason No. 1 at outset of 1989-90.

It will be interesting to see where Tennessee appears, given that a new coach, though one who is a longtime member of the program, is taking over a team depleted of last season's starters.

In two previous polls, the Lady Vols missed the first-ever preseason vote and in 1984-85, right after Pat Summitt guided USA to its first Olympic gold medal, Tennessee was ranked 14th -- the only other time the team was not listed in the preseason Top 10.

There are 60 teams that have been in preseason Top 10s thru a year ago.

Here are the frontrunners and times they have been listed.

1. Tennessee 34
2. Georgia 20
Tie. Louisiana Tech 20
Tie. Stanford 20
5. Connecticut 19
6. Texas 14
7. Duke 13
8. LSU 11
Tie North Carolina 11
Tie Old Dominion 11
11. Long Beach State 10
Tie Rutgers 10
Tie Virginia 10
Honorable mention: Purdue (9), Auburn, Maryland, Penn State (8 each).

As for Top 5, there have been 38 teams.

Here are the frontrunners:

1. Tennessee 29 out of 36.
2. Connecticut 15
Tie Louisiana Tech 15
4. Georgia 12
5. Stanford 11
6. Texas 10
7. Old Dominion 7
8. Duke 6
9. LSU 5
Tie Maryland 5
Tie Rutgers 5
Tie Southern Cal 5

In terms of the present decade, several teams such as Delaware, Princeton, and St. Bonaventure achieved their first-ever rankings during last season with Delaware shooting into the Top 10, while Princeton hit No. 24 in the final poll.

Delaware, with senior Elene Delle Donne back for one more round, is expected to land in its first-ever preseason poll considering the magazines are all listing the Blue Hens and Delle Donne was the nation's leading scorer.

Here are the frountrunners in terms of total preseason rankings:

1. Tennessee 35
2. Georgia 30
3. Texas 28
4. Louisiana Tech 26
5. Maryland 24
Tie Rutgers 24
Tie Stanford 24
8. Penn State 23
9. Connecticut 22
Tie Louisiana State 22
Tie Vanderbilt 22
12. North Carolina 20
Tie North Carolina State 20
Tie Old Dominion 20
15. Southern Cal 18
Tie Purdue 18
Tie Virginia 18
Tie Southern Cal 18
19.Duke 17
20. Auburn 16
Tie Mississippi U. 16
22. Ohio State 15
23. Iowa 14
Tie Long Beach State 14
Tie Notre Dame 14
Tie Texas Tech 14
27. Kansas 13
28. Oklahoma 12
Tie Western Kentucky 12

Current Consecutive Preseason Appearances Thru 2011-12

1. Tennessee 35 -- missed just the first-ever preseason poll
2. Connecticut 22
3. Duke 17
4. Oklahoma 12
5. Stanford 12
6. North Carolina 10
7. Texas 10
8. Baylor 9

OK, that's today's entertainment. The Guru will be back with more.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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