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, December 13, 2012

Guru's College and WNBA Report: Laimbeer Talks Tweety andFord; Stringer Talks Conference Shift

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru has been busy on the local circuit, which of course is now over in http://philahoopsw.com instead of all in one place over here so as long as you visit both you are not missing anything.

But in playing catch-up here on the Guru's national collegiate/WNBA longtime channel, there are some things worthy to play catch up.

The Guru begins with Sunday's annual Maggie Dixon Classic doubleheader in New York, but on the WNBA side of things where new coach/general manager Bill Laimbeer, who had guided the former Detroit Shock to three league titles, had a brief session with the media prior to the opening tip of the first game between Rutgers and Louisiana Tech.

Much of what he said has been reported, but not everything.

Laimbeer in speaking of being hired in New York noted that he had already held strong considerations of returning to the WNBA before the Liberty came along, delicately saying one can read between the lines.

So let's put on the bifocals and look a little closer at the fine print.

If one gets to late August, it would have seem quite likely that Laimbeer would have surmised Washington, which went on to finish with the worst record, was going to have an opening that, if he got involved, would probably cover both coach and general manager jobs since Trudi Lacey held both positions.

The only other spot that wasn't official going into next year was in terms of Atlanta and the dual positions with the Dream.

But the ownership did what was expected in giving Fred Williams power to continue the dual roles he was given in mid-August when Marynell Meadors was cut by the ownership in the controversy involving All-Star and Olympian Angel McCoughtry.

Then back in New York, or New Jersey in terms of the temporary home in the Prudential Center, Steve O'Neil, who hired most of the Liberty front office two years ago, abruptly left MSG Sports, resulting in a change in terms of who oversees the Liberty representing the Madison Square Garden family.

Since several are longtime associates of Laimbeer, a conversation probably began quick enough and voila the Bad Boy was back in the WNBA.

Since Laimbeer also made it clear that the Rutgers alumni association, except for All-Star Cappie Pondexter, is no longer on safe grounds -- he didn't say it that way but did say that what the roster becomes for 2013 will be determined when he puts his system into play in training camp.

And since Laimbeeer can wheel and deal with the best of them, the No. 5 pick in the draft, the intangibles Essence Carson brings to defense, the desire to potentially change his posts thus meaning Kia Vaughn, if she doesn't fill Laimbeeer's bill, to use a turn of phrase, are all tradeable commodities.

Of course, many have speculated that Laimbeer might be ready to bring Shock stalwarts Tweety Nolan and Cheryl Ford from the glory days to help the Liberty get the title they have unsuccessfully pursued since the inaugural summer of 1997.

Well, baring some smoke screen or change of situation, those two things won't happpen based on Laimbeer's response to the Guru's question concerning both.

"I have not had any discussion with Cheryl Ford," Laimbeer said. "She's overseas playing right now. From what I understand, she had the knee surgeries and it's difficult for her to play 12 months out of the year and overseas she's making a good salary so I guess ...

"Tweety is also one sitting out there, but she's property of Tulsa (the former Shock). She's also overseas and has not come back to the WNBA for a few years and I think she has language in her contracting prohibiting her from coming back."

And for the few of you who might have missed it, the draft, which will be held the same day income tax filing is due on April 15, will air from ESPN headquarters for the third straight year, but in prime time at 8 p.m.

So hopefully, the temperature won't cause foggy conditions in Bristol when we all stumble out of there in the middle of the night.

Stringer Talks More On Rutgers' Move to the Big Ten

Since the New York media had their first chance to ask Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer her viewpoint on the Scarlet Knight's recent announcement on leaving the Big East for the Big Ten, she did respond beyond the talking points she made on the day the conference shift announcement became official.

"Want to hear the company line?" Stringer began. "To me, I'm losing friends, it's not just coaches, it's people, colleagues, and we'ved been proud of the Big East, I continue to be proud of the Big East ...

"I don't think a lot of people realize what it means, personally, because of your colleagues. I coached in the Big Ten for 12 years (at Iowa). It was good to have the welcome back -- I don't know what to say.

"We'll enjoy our time in the Big East, but I promise you we'll continue to play the best teams that are here in the East, so, in a way, we have the best of all worlds, we're still here in New Jersey, New York, we will play in the Big Ten and we'll play the teams that are around here."

In Praise of Maryland

Since Division I games are hard to find during finals and a light schedule, on Tuesday the Guru zipped down to Baltimore where Towson of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) hosted nearby Maryland, which allowed several opportunities along with the basketball.

One, the Guru had some driving distant to test part of his new 200 plus playlist of hits that have been added to the iPad for those traveling situations.

It was a chance to renew ties with the crew running a well-know Italian restaurant open late nights -- they actually had been concerned since the Guru hadn't been in the area since the end of the WNBA because of the break from making the Washington trips and the current season in traveling to Maryland in College Park and George Washington, to name a few.

Which reminds, the Guru expects to be visiting the Colonials at the Smith Center when they play Saturday afternoon.

But it was also a chance to take a look at the injury-riddled Terrapins who continue to thrive in spite of a reduced roster.

That didn't stop the carnage Maryland delivered on yet another CAA school to the point that the Terrappins and Princeton could make good replacements for the banished Old Dominion and Georgia State squads in nexst March's tournament.

That aside, Towson coach Joe Matthews had compliments to toss in Maryland's direction after the whipping:

"Give (coach) Brenda (Frese) a lot of credit. They're one of the better teams in the country regardless of their injury situation.

"Sometimes, though they lost some great players, it just forces some of the other kids -- they shoot it reallly well, they play well together, they're hungry, they're relentless -- a lot of respect for them. they play like an elite team," Matthew continued.

"Other than St. Joe's (a loss last month in Philadelphia), they've beaten every other mid-major team, the average score is 90-45 and tonight was no different from that standpoint. They're a good represenstation for women's basketball.

"I still think they're a Final Four threat. First thing you notice is they've got only eight kids and how deep a run can you make with just eight kids in ACC tournament play in back-to-back nights," Matthews observed.

"But, hey, they're relentless. They have to have a lot of luck in terms of health. They're an ankle sprain away from a lot of trouble.

"But the thing about Brenda Frese that never ceases to amaze me, and Brenda and I have been close friends for a long time, I think Brenda coac her individuals as well as anybody out there.

"And what I mean by that is she gets her kids -- the definition about overachieving is getting more out of that talent, no matter who it is and Brenda does that consistently. She doesn't have a kid on the roster who doesn't believe that they're absolutely the best kid on the floor.

"And give her credit for that. I think they can be very special."

After the finals break, Maryland travels to Delaware next Thursday in a game that would normally be intriguing in light of the Terrapins were the only team to beat the Blue Hens in the regular season in a closely fought contest.

But Delaware had sensation Elena Delle Donne, who because of recurring effects of Lyme disease that knocked her out of 12 games her sophomore season, she has appeared once this time around and that was last month in a game she still scored 22 points.

Delaware is a CAA sister school of Towson.

If Delle Donne were to play against Maryland, Matthews observed, "I remember calling Brenda last year after that game and was talking about Elena and she told me they felt like they defended their butts off and defernded her as well as they could and she got 33 (points).

"With someone of Elena's stature you always have a chance. That kid could erupt for 50 in a given night and keep you in the ball game. It would be a good matchup and be real, real interesting to see."

Next up on this side of the fence -- an early look at the 43 contenders for the WBCA's Maggie Dixon rookie coach of the year award and their progress to date.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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