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.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Guru's National College Musings: Does Upset Have Tennessee Heading For Poll Extinction?

(Guru's note: Comprehensive coverage of Friday night's area action is now posted on the Guru Local new site PhilahoopsW at the url http://philahoopsw.com. The Guru handled Temple's opening win over Montana while Drexel and Delaware's wins and Penn's loss is also spoken to).

By Mel Greenberg

The departure of legendary Hall of Fame Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt last April to coach emeritus status as part of her way to deal with her ongoing battle against early onset dementia, Alzheimer type, meant her longtime run at the top of the active list of coaches with teams in the Associated Press women's poll had ended.

Summitt still stays at the top of the companion career chart and it is doubtful that anyone will be able to catch her.

But just as Summitt's place on the active chart is no more, the next domino might be ready to fall when the AP media panel goes to the voting both Sunday night.

What had been unthinkable for a long, long time, occurred Friday night when Holly Warlick, Summitt's former star player and eternal associate head coach, made her official debut with the title Summitt once held and got quite the rookie hazing when UT-Chattanooga upset the Lady Vols 80-71 in the season opener for both teams.

The home team had not beaten its esteemed neighbor to the north since 1973, about the same year that Immaculata had just tucked away its second national tournament title in the fledgling AIAW.

Furthermore the Lady Vols had not dropped a season opener since 1999 when an eventual national runnerup Purdue squad, ranked fifth in the preseason poll, grabbed the win over the top-ranked Tennessee group and leapfrogged to the Boilermakers' first-ever No. 1 ranking.

But that wasn't so terrible since both teams lived in the high-rent district of the weekly rankings.

But on the heels of the 2009 first-round exit of the NCAA tournament when Ball State did the unthinkable, now Tennessee, with a virtual worst-ever preseason spot at No. 20 and a loss to a team that got barely a sniff by the rankings folks, could find itself on the outside looking in if No. 22 Georgia Tech, which is hosting the Lady Vols Sunday, also delivers a roundhouse.

A win by the Yellowjackets would propel MaChelle Joseph's group ahead of Tennessee. Then it is doubtful whether the others in the danger zone will suffer any setbacks -- No. 21 Purdue, No. 23 Oklahoma State, No. 24 Miami, or No. 25 DePaul.

So as they say among the battleground teams in that section of the poll: Do the math.

Any of the also-rans in the preseason vote who didn't miss by much, could be in position to squeeze past Tennessee and if that occurs, the Lady Vols, who graduated all five starters from last year's NCAA Sweet 16 squad, could be unranked in the AP vote for the first time since miday through the 1984-85 season -- a period of 27 plus years.

Warlick is one of 43 coaches eligible for the Maggie Dixon Award from the WBCA. In her postgame press conference Friday night, she said that if the team learns from its performance, it will be OK.

Unfortunately, though, with poll extinction possible unless the team turns around quickly in Sunday's visit to Atlanta, things will get worse before the point of OK is reached.

And if the plunge happens, say hello to the newest team with the active longest poll streak -- that would be UConn!

-- Mel



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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