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.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guru's Special Report: Immaculata Lauds First Inductees To Its New Athletics Hall of Fame

By Mel Greenberg

MALVERN, Pa. --
The Guru was on the scene here Saturday night in Philadelphia's western suburbs for the inaugural class induction of Immaculata University's Athletics Hall of Fame.

Some details can be found at Philly.com (try google) because the Guru advanced the event for Friday print editions in The Inquirer sports section and then was asked to provide eight inches from the ceremonies.

Ironically, on the same night the Mighty Macs were honoring their first three national championships in the former AIAW (192-74), Queens College, then a key rival of the day, was up in New York holding Hall of Fame ceremonies to induct former Coach Lucille Kyvallos (who taught IU coach Cathy Rush at West Chester) and, among others, one of her former players, Donna Orrender, who was to become the second president of the WNBA.

At the ceremony in Immaculata's Great Hall, following a pre-meal reception that was held in the Rotunda, Theresa Shank Grentz, Marianne Crawford Stanley, and Mary Scharff, who later coached at her alma mater, were singularly cited for their past status as All-Americans.

Former Mighty Macs coach Cathy Rush, who could not attend, was noted for her past induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

There was also a short video presentation, causing one to note that 40 years ago when the Mighty Macs were making history, film was still predominately in black and white.

The entire squads from the first three champions were introduced, though several have since passed away and some others such as Tina Krah, the current Director of the NCAA Division I championship, could not attend.

Banners from the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., decorated the room to honor past inductions of Stanley, Grentz and Rush.

Rene Muth Portland, the former longtime Penn State coach who did not attend last year's festivities in downtown Philadelphia celebrating the movie The Mighty Macs about the first national title, made it from Bloomington, Ind., where she now lives, to her alma mater.

The Guru taped everything in terms of the speeches but has not yet had time to transcribe them all, though some parts were slightly inaudible, so there won't be an absolute transcription of everything.

But to elaborate on the Inquirer story for Sunday -- and you can get more coverage at Immaculata's website -- the evening began with current IU president Sister R. Patricia Fadden, IHM, Ed.D. giving welcoming remarks.

Sister Cathy Nally, IHM, executive director of mision and ministry, gave the prayer prior to a meal that was quite tasty.

The current team, none were born when the glory era in the early 1970s existed, was on hand to assist the wait staff tending to the tables, causing the Guru to remark at his table, which had members of the athletic department, that now the players were getting a taste of what it's like to be the team's managers.

Back in the day the Guru had that job, though he mostly handled the stats for a Temple men'steam that was to win the postseason National Invitation Tournament title in New York when the NIT was almost the equal of a then 16-team NCAA tournament.

The Guru also chatted briefly with Stanley, who was recently let go by the WNBA Washington Mystics as an assistant coach along with Jen Gillom when Trudi Lacey was fired just before the draft lottery.

Stanley, who expressed disappointment over Washington landing the No. 4 pick out of four chances despite having the worst record, said she didn't know yet if she was going to return to Russia, where she has coached the last three winters in the offseason, but said she had some irons in the fire in terms of her next job in the 'States.

Induction emcee Stephen J. Pugliese, the university's vice president for student development and engagement, offered a brief history that related the steps leading to Immaculata's new institution.

He said he first had a discussion about the concept with current head coach and athletic director Patty Canterino back in 2003, but that the time was not yet right. Noting the fruition of the original concept, he said, "Good things come to those who wait."

Donna Smith, the Mighty Macs volleyball coach and sports sponsorship coordinator, who also was a chief organizer of the evening's activities, spoke of the selection criteria for induction, especially in the future.

Incidentally, several years ago the university became a co-ed institution, though Canterino in her closing remarks said, "We're still Mighty."

Robert Cole, the university vice president for communications, introduced the inductees, beginning with an honor for Sister Marita David Kirsch, IHM, who was a player on the 1946 mythical city champion that ended a four-year victory run of Temple with a 33-32 upset.

Kirsch told the Guru before the dinner that she could not remember the decisive score, considering the closeness of the outcome, but that the game with Temple was very exciting with leads changing throughout the contest.

Grentz, in her acceptance, told some tales of yesteryear.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who played for Grentz for two years at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia, sent a special note of congratulations, ending it with "Go Irish. Go Mighty Macs."

Another inductee and member of all three teams was Judy Marra, know today as the wife popular St. Joseph's men's coach Phil Martelli, who also attended the evening's events.

Sister Marian William Hoben, IHM, president emerita (1982-1992), introduced the teams and told a story of how a player had gone to the president back in the glory days complaining that she was worried Immaculata "was turning into a jock school."

Hoben continued and said the president then came to her office, asking, "What is a jock school?"

Canterino, who was two-years-old when the glory days existed, gave the closing remarks.

Hopefully, the Guru will have some of the remarks from everyone in the next blog.

Obviously, he is not starting out in Minneapolis for the first two games of the WNBA best-of-five championship series between the host and defending champion Lynx against the Indiana Fever, in part because of the schedule overlap caused by the Olympic break with the run-up events to start the collegiate season.

On Tuesday he will be back on Pentagon Row across the Patomac River from the nation's capital to handle men's and women's coverage of the annual media day of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), while on Thursday he will be in New York for the Big East women's media day, which is being moved this year to the New York Athletic Club.

Both events are being covered for The Inquirer, making this two-week stretch revenue-producing activities that could help get the Guru to either Game 3 or if necessary Game 4 next weekend in Indianapolis, where the WNBA championship could be decided unless it goes back to Minneapolis for Game 5.

The Guru is pleased through all this to have his composite collegiate schedule completed, as the dates and times currently exist, missing only a start time for La Salle at North Carolina, to be determined a week before the game in late November, and start times at the end of the regular season for Penn State visits to Michigan State and Nebraska, which won't be determined until early February.

The others concern in the WNIT and Delaware's involvement beyond Round 1 if the Blue Hens likely advance. A win after Round 2 then means advancement to the semifinals and possibly final while a loss will mean one more game in a consolation round.

So with that said, the Guru signs off but will be monitoring the WNBA Sunday night opener to provide commentary in the next blog, which may be a multiple one, depending on the Guru's energy when he awakens.

-- Mel


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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