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, November 15, 2012

Guru's College Musings: Would A Red-Shirt Fit Delle Donne Better Than A Uniform?

By Mel Greenberg

And so here we are with what was supposed to be the sequel to Delaware's landmark season of 2011-12 -- a fond farewell tour of senior sensation Elena Delle Donne, attack some NCAA scoring records, and then off to the WNBA and whomever gets in position to make a pick that will see her help the cause in either Phoenix, Chicago, or Tulsa.

Of course, maybe the forlorn Washington Mystics get the last laugh with the other three becoming a bit uneasy and suddenly the nation's capital has the young and super talented woman who is practically a neighbor.

Several weeks ago, Delle Donne revealed to ESPN.com's Graham Hayes that the problems caused by Lyme's Disease that forced her to miss 12 games of her sophomore season had returned and that she would be day-to-day but was determined to fight the malady as hard as she could.

Considering the way she worked her way back from the first go-round to become the top player in a star-studded cast of top collegians who wore the USA uniforms to capture the gold medal at the World University Games in the summer of 2011, there was nothing alarming at the moment Delle Donne's situation hit the internet.

Several thousand have purchased season tickets and a near equal number ponied up in advance for the first-second round set of games at Delaware the Blue Hens won through a bid to host part of the NCAA tournament.

The Associated Press Poll voters and the USA Today coaches, for that matter, all gave the Blue Hens high marks picking up where they ascended as last season ran its course.

But then Friday came along for the season opener and Delle Donne did not play.

Well, fine. The opposition was Sam Houston State and if Delaware couldn't handle that game at home in the WNIT opener with four veteran starters, what could they handle?

But next was Georgetown, a team that had been ranked last season and still contained Sugar Rodgers, who had been an all-America candidate the last several competitions.

Again. No Delle Donne on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Hens were handled by the Hoyas and by Monday morning they were dropped by the AP from 11 to 17.

Kevin Tresolini, the Wilmington News Journal beat writer who was picked to join the AP media panel this season, tweeted that he had left Delaware off his ballot -- No Delle Donne, they're not a Top 25 team without her.

Well, it's early and plenty of time to right the course. But then came Wednesday night and the consolation round and a trip to Pitsburgh where Duquesne partied like it was 2010-11 -- forcing the Blue Hens into 21 turnovers.

Delaware fought back down the stretch and almost pulled it out but this is not the Duquense doormat of yesteryear since former Penn State star Suzie McConnell-Serio became head coach in her native city.

So now next up is a Tuesday visit from Providence, whose new coach is also a former Penn State star in Susan Robinson-Fruchtl.

There's time to rest some more and then get back in synch with the rest of the lineup.

But suppose things are really a bit more serious than anyone thought.

So, try this on for size, and the Guru has had no discussion or have any inside information as to the state of things on the campus in Newark.

If it is going to be another stop-start season like two years ago, maybe Delle Donne should consider red-shirting, get plenty of rest if the prospects of returning soon is unlikely.

Of course that would throw things in a tizzy where suddenly poor Tulsa holding the No. 3 pick would be no different than Washington at No. 4.

But in 2014, with Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins already in the WNBA, a healthy Delle Donne would become the clear No. 1 pick. Washington would probably not be much better next summer, especially consider their situation where the Mystics first got dissed by the ping-pong system and falling to No. 4 dispite havng the worst record and then getting blindsided by New York, who managed to pluck Bill Laimbeer back into active duty while the Mystics were mulling to go in that direction.

Again, maybe things will get better over the next several weeks and the NCAA committee will treat Delle Donne's absence the way injured players get evaluated in terms of seeds if they show a positive impact on their team when they return.

If all eyes were on Delaware last year watching Delle Donne almost singlehandedly raising the Blue Hens to a national profile, they are turning that way now with wonderment as to what will come next.

Mom Broadcasts Shot

For those of you who haven't been aware, the Guru has recently taken his local Philly area coverage to a new site -- working with the Philahoops.com men's coverage to launch http://philahoopsW.com.

So you would have to head over there to read about a tantalizing game in town Wednesday night when Saint Joseph's rallied and beat host Drexel in a local battle when junior Erin Shields nailed a trey with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.

But while these kind of heroics are not new in the City of Brotherly Love -- you do remember Duke beating Kentucky in the NCAA men's regional title game on a long-range missile? -- Shields' shot may have created a first in NCAA annals.

Shields mother, you see, is Renie Shields, a former Hawks star and Big Five Hall of Famer who became the senior women's administrator last year at Saint Joseph's after Ellen Ryan retired.

By the way sister Kerri is a senior at Boston College.

But what Renie has also done and has continued to do after her promotion is do the color commentating on Saint Joseph's radio broadcasts of the women's games.

So there she was on press row Wednesday night in the atmospheric Daskalakis Athletic Centerat at the mike when Erin launched the game-winner.

"I didn't say anything," she said afterwards. "I just listened to him call it (play- by-play commentator Steve Wanczyk) and sat there and watched the shot drop."

Meanwhile, it's off to New York in a few hours to go to the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) where former Immaculata coach Cathy Rush will be one of four recipients of the Joe Lapchick Character Award.

Then it's back here to go to La Salle as the Explorers host Northeastern, which will then visit Temple on Saturday.

Tweeting, as always, will continue at @womhoopsguru.

-- Mel --

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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