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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guru's College Report: Atlantic 10/Ivy League Announce Preseason Picks - The Guru's Cut

(Guru's note: This is the unedited longer version of a story sent to The Inquirer that needed trimming for print space. Go to philly.com to see all the picks under that story or at the league websites. The Ivy League does not do a preseason women's teleconference but Princeton is having its own media day on Halloween. Hearing coach Courtney Banghart is always a treat. It's soon time to depart to Rutgers for C. Vivian Stringer's sunrise services also known as the annual women's media day. )

By Mel Greenberg

In an expanded Atlantic 10 that has grown by two to 16 teams, Dayton was picked by the conference's women's basketball coaches to repeat as champion in the preseason selections announced Wednesday prior to the annual teleconference.

Temple was picked fifth, but with just three points less than Duquesne, while St. Joseph's was picked sixth, collecting six points less than the Owls, and La Salle was picked ninth.

It's a season of transition in A-10 competition, which will conclude in March with the three rounds of the conference tournament returning to St. Joseph's through the semifinals.

But in a twist, after the two survivors emerge from the Sunday games, they will pause until the following Saturday when they head to Brooklyn, N.Y., to be part of a tripleheader alongside the men's semifinals in the new Barclays Center to determine who will receive the automatic bid to the NCAA women's tournament.

Meanwhile over in the Ivy League while Penn has continued to climb in the preseason forecast from being picked last in coach Mike McLaughlin's first season, Princeton and Harvard remained a 1-2 punch for the fourth straight season.

The Quakers were picked fourth behind Yale by a panel of 17 writers and broadcasters who cover the Ivy women.

A-10 Rundown. "I think they're crazy," said Dayton coach Jim Jabir of his colleagues' choice of his Flyers. The squad lost four starters from the team that upset Saint Bonaventure last season in the title game on Hawk Hill at Hagan Arena.

Considering that six teams received first-place votes, the first time that so many were named on the top of the ballots, experience was a factor in the teams that landed in the first four slots.

"I don't remember six teams getting first place votes," said St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley, whose hire in 2000 tops the Hawks' Cindy Griffin by one year as the most tenured in the conference. The Bonnies were picked seventh.

His team got a first-place vote, as did Temple."I think that's because of the youth, but it's great youth," Crowley said of the overall voting.

Dayton, which received seven first place and 239 points, returns six letterwinners, including Andrea Hoover, who was the conference rookie of the year.

Temple, which is headed for the Big East next year and has gone 13-1 the last two seasons in the A-10, will be much younger. However, senior center Victoria Macaulay, the lone returning starter, landed on the conference preseason first team joined by La Salle senior Brittany Wilson.

Macaulay and Wilson were also named to the all-defensive team, while St. Joseph's senior Ashley Prim was named to the third team to round out the individual choices from the three Big Five schools in the conference.

St. Joseph's lost four seniors, including three-point ace Katie Kuester as part of 50 percent of the Hawks' scoring that has graduated, but seven letter winners return, including junior three-point ace Erin Shields.

The Hawks got an early start in August by taking a trip to Ireland.

"The trip was important because it gave us a chance to see how we jell and who are going to be our leaders," Griffin said. "The competition was very good and we were battle tested. A lot of good things emerged."

Wilson is La Salle's lone returning starter but two transfers -- Leeza Burdgess from Pittsburgh and Shanel Harrison from Virginia Tech -- were expected to help. However, Burdgess has been lost for the season with a foot injury.

"Before she went down, I thought we could be among the top three or four in the conference," said La Salle coach Jeff Williams, who begins his third season with the Explorers.

It's been a while since Temple was picked so low though the Owls have always thrived as an underdog.

"Obviously, there's no replacing Shey (Peddy), Kristen (McCarthy), and BJ (Williams), but this team has a chance to make a fresh start and really surprise a lot of people," said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, who is starting her fifth season. "We're going to have to ask a lot of our sophomores and freshmen."

Butler, which was picked 12th, has joined the A-10 from the Horizon League, while Virginia Commonwealth, the other new team and picked for 13th, was a power in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Charlotte, which was picked third with a first place vote but one less point than second-place Richmond, will be heading to Conference USA.

The league has three new coaches among the 75 nationally who filled Division I positions. Jonathan Tsipis, the former associate head coach to Muffet McGraw at two-time NCAA runnersup Notre Dame, joined George Wasington.

Lisa Stone, a past coach at Iowa, is at Saint Louis, while Marlene Stollings moved from Winthrop to VCU.

Temple opens at home November 9th hosting Montana, while on Nov. 11 La Salle will open at home against Loyola of Chicago and St. Joseph's will host Princeton.

Tigers Still Roar. Princeton continues to dominate the Ivy League, looking to land an unprecedented fourth-straight title while returning senior Niveen Rasheed, the reigning Ivy player of the year.

TheTigers, who earned a first-time ranking for an Ivy school in the Associated Press poll in the final vote of last season, received 13 of 17 first-place votes in the Ivy balloting. Harvard collected the other four.

"It's where you finish," Princeton coach Courtney Banghart tweeted from her account after the vote was announced.

Penn returns junior Alyssa Baron, runnerup in Ivy scoring with a 16.9 points per game average, and sophomore Kara Bonenberger, who joined Baron in successive seasons as the league's top rookies. The league does not offer a preseason team.

The Quakers open Nov. 9 at Norfolk State and then returns home Nov. 12 at The Palestra to host traditional Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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