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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guru on the Dinner Circuit: Drexel Women Among John Wanamaker Award Nominees

By Mel Greenberg

West Philadelphia was the scene of two events within several blocks of each other Monday night with the Philadelphia Big 5 for the first time ever combining its men’s and women’s postseason basketball awards dinner, which was held at The Palestra.

Meanwhile, several blocks away up the stairs on Walnut Street the Drexel men and women held their basketball honors gala at the World Café with the Dragons women’s group also celebrating its winning the WNIT – a first ever national title for either a men’s or women’s team from the Colonial Athletic Association.

So first a quick timeout because the clock is running on the campaign that has the Drexel women competing with several other worthy candidates for this year’s John Wanamaker Award given to an individual or team which has put the City of Brotherly Love in a positive light.

To cast a vote for Drexel, the Guru suggests going over to the Drexel athletics website and click on the women’s basketball subpage and then link onto the ballot for the Wanamaker Award.

Do this on a regular laptop or desktop computer because the link using smart phones or tablets is somehow linking to the parent Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau home page and not the ballot associated with the Sports Congress.

The award began in 1961 and only three times has women’s basketball been involved and two of those feature local legend Dawn Staley, who won in 1997 with two other locals from other sports for their Olympics participation in 1996, and then Staley won it individually again in 2005 for the 2004 Games and as coach of Temple.

Staley, of course, is headed for more honors this September as a member of the next class of inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

The Villanova women’s team, the alma mater of Drexel coach Denise Dillon, was the other winner in 2003 for its advancement to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament and also the famed upset of Connecticut in the Big East title game that ended the then-NCAA women’s record streak of 70 straight games that the Huskies later surpassed with 90 wins (2008-09 to December 2011).

That business taken care of here, the Guru resumes the coverage in this blog by telling you he managed to make both events, starting in the Palestra and arriving at the back end of the Drexel dinner at the important moment when Dillon presented senior Hollie Mershon with the team MVP award that was followed by Mershon’s farewell address as part of both the men’s and women’s senior classes.

The Big 5 dinner, emceed by local sportscaster Don Tollefson, was not long but was classy as the men’s and women’s winners in each category were called together to accept their awards.

Check the Guru’s PhilahoopsW site for the previously announced Big Five honorees on the women’s side and check Drexel for all the awards at the Dragons’ postseason dinner.

Katie Lowe, the CAA assistant commissioner for women’s basketball, was a special guest at the Drexel dinner and afterwards learned that in planning for events involving the Dragons often means one needs to factor in several additional hours for post-event sociality.

This one at the restaurant establishment that is part of the Drexel athletic complex involved members of both the men’s and women’s coaching staffs.

Some nuggets from working the room at The Palestra: The Big East is about a week away or slightly more from announcing the commissioner of the group that is the breakaway contingent of the seven Catholic schools in the existing structure plus the additions of Saint Louis and Xavier from the Atlantic 10 and Creighton from the Missouri Valley Conference.

The search is being done at the presidential level and athletic directors other than hearing some of the candidate names tossed around are out of the loop, or so they say.

Once that is done with the naming of the commissioner, the conference will begin putting together the rest of its headquarters and staff in a location to be determined.

Temple, part of the former Big East football group adding all sports for next season in the newly named American Athletic Conference, in terms of the women’s squad, will play both newly-crowned NCAA champion Connecticut and runnerup Louisville in the Liacouras Center next season.

The teams in the AAC will –play home-and-home, which means Temple coach Tonya Cardoza will be going against her former boss Geno Auriemma at UConn and her good friend and former sister Huskies member Jamelle Elliott, the coach at Cincinnati.

Saint Joseph’s senior Chatilla van Grinsven, who will be going to the WNBA Connecticut Sun training camp in a few days, is looking forward to the experience and was impressed that the Guru noted her native Netherlands on Tuesday (today) is changing Queens in terms of royalty over that nation.

Villanova senior Rachel Roberts said she will head home to Connecticut after graduation and will not be playing in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Basketball Summer League that again will use the AAU Renegades’ home courts at the Kelly Bolish Gym in Willow Grove Business Park in Horsham, Pa. not far from the Route 611 exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Commissioner Dave Kessler is already working on launch plans and saying that if demand is huge once the application forms are returned he may have to add another night to the Tuesday and Thursday schedule.

The draft will be held Wednesday, May 29, and the competition gets under way Tuesday, June 18.

The Guru plans to switch summer league coverage from here over to the PhilahoopsW site because of the ability to use photos, etc.

That is all there is for now, though real soon the Guru will be part of news announcement currently in the works. Look for his tweet at @womhoopsguru and from elsewhere once the go-ahead to go public is made.

-- Mel

Friday, April 26, 2013

Get Your WNBA Transactions - Feb. 1 - April 25

By Mel Greenberg

And so those of us getting organized for the coming of WNBA trainings camps have noticed that at the .Com the daily transaction file had not been updated since early March.

Considering that at the moment between the end of the NCAA and start of camps the signings beyond the draft along with trades is the one piece of daily action worthy of keeping track.

Just when the Guru was about to start organizing the team PRs to create a central file until the league internet adjunct got back in synch he stumbled into someone actually doing the work independently.

This list is lifted from the folks at lovewomensbasketball.com who are actually keeping track. If you look at this list at their site you will be able to click on each player and get the WNBA team release on background details.

So while you might want to jump and thank the Guru for this -- agents and others have been calling here -- thank them as the Guru does for saving him some busy work and he can start assembling the carousel file of college coaching changes in the manner of last year. That will take a while and at the moment the list is not as extensive as last year but new openings keep happening.

Later when July hits and the deck chairs start re-arranging in conference affiliation the Guru will re-vamp the AP poll history database and make you aware when that is done.

But for now, here is the WNBA transaction list going back to Feb 1. Some additional signings happened Thursday that weren't in their file -- the Guru did some updates from team emails and some refinements on trades to mention the full swap -- but it appears that by Friday the entire Thursday deals should be there in terms of their links. This does not speak to the drafted players so go to team sites for that information.

-- Mel

WNBA 2013 Transactions

April 25

Phoenix Mercury sign Megan Frazee to training camp contract
Washington Mystics sign Tierra Ruffin-Pratt to training camp contract
Atlanta Dream sign Blanche Alverson to training camp contract
Los Angeles Sparks sign Alyssia Brewer, Tiffany Clarke and Lindsay Taylor to training camp contracts.

April 20

New York Liberty sign Karisma Penn to training camp contract

April 19

Connecticut Sun sign Chatilla Van Grinsven to training camp contract
Seattle Storm sign Katelan Redmon and Keisha Hampton to training camp contracts

April 18

Minnesota Lynx sign Shawnice Wilson to training camp contract

April 16

Farhiya Abdi to attend Los Angeles Sparks training camp
Washington Mystics sign Drey Mingo to training camp contract

April 15

New York Liberty trade rights to Quanitra Hollingsworth to Washington Mystics for 25th overall pick in the draft

April 12

Phoenix Mercury re-sign DeWanna Bonner to multi year contract

April 2

Chicago Sky sign D’Andra Moss
Los Angeles Sparks sign Briana Gilbreath to training camp contract

April 1

Minnesota Lynx sign Jacki Gemelos

March 27

Chicago Sky sign Michelle Campbell to training camp contract

March 18

Atlanta Dream sign Sydney Carter to training camp contract
Chicago Sky re-sign Tamera Young

March 14

San Antonio Silver Stars sign Christine Flores

March 12

New York Liberty sign Cheryl Ford
Phoenix Mercury sign Erin Thorn

March 7

San Antonio Silver Stars sign DeLisha Milton-Jones
Phoenix Mercury sign Ify Ibekwe and Jalana Childs to training camp contracts

March 5

Indiana Fever re-sign Erlana Larkins
Seattle Storm sign Alysha Clark, Chay Shegog and Cierra Bravard to training camp contracts
Chicago Sky sign Allie Quigley to training camp contract

March 4

New York Liberty re-sign Kara Braxton

March 1

Tulsa Shock acquire Candice Wiggins from Minnesota Lynx, Nicole Powell from New York Liberty

Minnesota Lynx acquire Janel McCarville rights from New York Liberty

New York Liberty acquire the rights to Deanna Nolan from Tulsa Shock

February 27

Washington Mystics acquire Kia Vaughn in a trade with New York Liberty, also gaining second round pick (17th overall) and giving up the Atlanta first round pick from Feb. 19th deal (7th overall).
Indiana Fever sign Shyra Ely to a training camp contract

February 26

Los Angeles Sparks re-sign Jenna O’Hea, sign Paola Ferrari to training camp contract

February 25

New York Liberty re-sign Essence Carson, sign Katie Smith
Connecticut Sun sign Jo Leedham to rookie contract
Indiana Fever sign Jessica Breland

February 22

Tulsa Shock sign Doneeka Lewis

February 21

Connecticut Sun sign Natasha Lacy, Ashley Walker and Latoya Williams to training camp contracts

February 20

Seattle Storm sign Nakia Sanford

February 19

Atlanta Dream acquire Jasmine Thomas in a trade with Washington Mystics, giving up 2013 first and second round picks. (7th and 19th overall).
Tulsa Shock sign Tiffany Jackson-Jones

February 18

Atlanta Dream re-sign Aneika Henry, sign Le’Coe Willingham

February 14

Chicago Sky sign Sharnee Zoll

February 13

Los Angeles Sparks re-sign Kristi Toliver
Indiana Fever sign Laura Harper

February 11

San Antonio Silver Stars re-sign Jia Perkins
Minnesota Lynx sign Rachel Jarry

February 7

Washington Mystics sign Ashley Corral and Avery Warley
Tulsa Shock re-sign Roneeka Hodges
Atlanta Dream re-sign Angel McCoughtry
Seattle Storm sign Temeka Johnson and Noelle Quinn

February 6

San Antonio Silver Stars re-sign Ziomara Morrison, sign Julie Wojta, Yvonne Turner to training camp contracts
Tulsa Shock re-sign Chante Black and Courtney Paris
Phoenix Mercury re-sign Lynetta Kizer and Krystal Thomas

February 5

Indiana Fever re-sign Briann January, Shavonte Zellous, Tamika Catchings
Los Angeles Sparks sign Lindsey Harding
Connecticut Sun re-sign Renee Montgomery

February 1

Minnesota Lynx re-sign Jessica Adair
Washington Mystics sign Ivory Latta
Tulsa Shock re-sign Amber Holt

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chicago Sky Hopes to Rise in WNBA After Making Delaware's Elena Delle Donne Overall No. 2 Pick

By Mel Greenberg

BRISTOL, Conn. –
The long-running story of Delaware women’s basketball senior sensation Elena Delle Donne entered its next phase Monday night when the Blue Hens all-American was taken second overall in the WNBA draft by the Chicago Sky here at ESPN headquarters.

The draft was broadcast live in prime time for the first time ever, given the attention focused on Delle Donne and two other highly valued stars in Baylor’s Brittney Griner, who went first to the Phoenix Mercury, and Notre Dame stellar point guard Skylar Diggins, taken third by the Tulsa Shock.

Delle Donne, who took Delaware to the NCAA Sweet 16 in her last hurrah as a collegian, is considered the key to Chicago making the playoffs for the first time in the Sky’s seven-year history, counting the coming 17th season of the 12-team WNBA.

Chicago missed the playoffs by a game to New York in the Eastern Conference last season, though coach Pokey Chatman’s team would technically need two wins since the Liberty held the tiebreaker.

“You don’t want to say where you want to go before this is all happening,” Delle Donne said at the media interview here soon after her pick. “But Chicago was definitely my pick, and I wanted to go there really, really bad.”

Delle Donne will have at least one former great from the UConn team she spurned her freshman season in Swin Cash as a teammate on the squad that also has former Rutgers great Epiphanny Prince and former LSU sensation Sylvia Fowles.

The Sky resisted the marketing motivation to go virtual hometown in its choice, which would have been the reason for taking Diggins, who is from South Bend., Ind., the home of Notre Dame’s campus.

Though Chicago is in the East, the Sky won’t hit the seaboard cities for the first time until July 7th when they visit the New York Liberty,
which will play one more summer in the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., while renovations to Madison Square Garden are completed.

There’s a little irony there in that Delaware is located in the other Newark not far from Delle Donne’s home in the Wilmington suburbs. It was her senior high school season in 2007-08 at Ursuline Academy that she was considered the top prospect in the country.

Choosing Connecticut from a final group that included Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and Villanova, Delle Donne went for the powerful Huskies, only to last less than 48 hours on campus before an attack of homesickness sent her scurrying home where at the end of the summer of August 2008 she enrolled at Delaware but opted to play only volleyball.

Several months later, however, she realized basketball was still her passion, and she approached Tina Martin about joining the Blue Hens, with whom she was able to take them to new vistas as well as re-establish herself as a prize pick for the WNBA.

Delle Donne, whose brother Gene is handling her agent matters, will be on television right from the get-go on Memorial Day weekend, appearing on a WNBA doubleheader in which the Sky will visit Phoenix and Griner on Monday, May 27.

The way Delle Donne handled herself in the press conference made one envision that among the three players who have been focused by ESPN all during the collegiate season, including Griner and Diggins, she may end up beating out the other two in terms of promoting the league.

That’s not to say the other two are not worthy, t hat hunch surfaced during her presentation.

Delle Donne spoke like she had already moved on to her next chapter, telling reporters she wants to “leave a legacy” in Chicago, from which she always had been an NBA Bulls fan because of Michael Jordan.

“This is a phenomenal team that I’ll be joining,” she said. “There’s a lot of players who’ll be mentors for me and really help me out along the way. I think I’m going to learn a ton from these players and also elevate my game. We definitely have a great team. I felt like I was a really good puzzle piece for this team.”

Chicago assistant coach Jeff House under former LSU coach Pokey Chatman recruited Delle Donne when she was in high school and he was an assistant at Virginia to Hall of Famer and former Cavaliers coach Debbie Ryan.

“If someone told me in five years I would be the No. 2 draft pick going to the Chicago Sky to play my professional career, I would have told you you were crazy,” Delle Donne said while also retorting about her Connecticut situation saying “I was an 18-year-old girl and now I’m a 23-year-old woman.”

The Delle Donne Eastern tour after the initial New York visit includes in order a visit to the Connecticut Sun July 12, back to New York in Newark on July 18, then on to nearby Washington July 24, back to Connecticut on Aug. 9, and then two more visits to Washington on August 20 and Sept. 8.

There’s also a chance she could be a participant at the All-Star in Connecticut July 27 and also back on the seaboard in the postseason if the Sky finally make the playoffs.

But for those Delaware fans who want to travel, unwitting good help has come from Fontier Airlines, which has cheap fares – it also flies out of Trenton – and will be opening service to Chicago from Wilmington’s airport in July.

Speaking of money, according to the CBA, which expires after this year, as a top four pick, Delle Donne will earn the rookie salary of $48,470 this summer once she makes the roster on opening day and then increasing to $49,440 next season, $54,350 in 2015, and $61,800 in 2016.

Those future figures could increase under the new cba, which it is negotiated and signed.

Chicago was at several of Delle Donne’s games this past season while she was leading Delaware to a second straight unbeaten Colonial Athletic Association title and Chatman, who spends most of winter coaching in Russia, was at St. John’s in New York the night she led the Blue Hens to a win, scoring just before overtime expired.

Locally Connected

Two Penn State seniors were also taken in Alex Bentley, who went at the top of the second round to the Atlanta Dream, 13th overall, while Nikki Greene went 26th overall and second in the third round to Phoenix.

“It’s a dream come true and I’m going to play for the Dream,” Bentley quipped.

If she makes the roster, Bentley and everyone else in the third round will start at $38,500 and increase to $49,088 in 2016, new CBA deals notwithstanding.

Greene as a third round pick starts $37,950 and increases eventually to $46,450.

Meanwhile, Saint Joseph’s Chatilla van Grinsven, who was named the Big Five player of the year on Tuesday, signed a training camp deal with the Connecticut Sun.

“Several teams called but I really like them,” van Grinsven said Tuesday night at the Hawks’ annual awards dinner, which was quite the ritzy affair this time around at Drexelbrook after winning the A-10 title and playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000.

Atlantic 10 associate commissioner Wendy Larry, the former longtime coach at Old Dominion, was the featured speaker.

The Sun’s top rookie pick is senior UConn star Kelly Faris, who went 11th but was thrilled to be staying in the state where she helped lead the Huskies to their eighth national title last week in New Orleans.

Former Temple star Shey Peddy, who was the Big Five player of the year last season, is an invitee to the Washington Mystics camp, which will be run by new coach Mike Thibault, who was head of the Connecticut Sun coaching staff for 10 seasons before being let go last winter after the team fell short by one game in the Eastern Conference finals.

Camps open May 5.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Select Seven: SEC Does Well in WNBA Draft

By Mike Siroky

The toughest women’s basketball conference in the land had seven elite seniors go in the three rounds of the WNBA draft as the Southeastern Conference was well-represented.

Kelsey Bone, perhaps the conference’s most complete player this past season, had declared her intentions to skip a final season at Texas A&M and go pro. The WNBA is the first step, though the real money will be made in either the European or Asian leagues.

She was the fifth overall selection and the first SEC players taken, headed towards New York and the Liberty.

Seven SEC women’s basketball players were taken in the three rounds of 12 picks each. The SEC has had at least one player taken in the first round of the WNBA Draft since its inception in 1997.

Bone, who played a freshman season at South Carolina, then sat out the transfer year for two seasons of play at A&M, was among the league leaders all season in both points (16.6) and rebounds (9.3). She was a junior in eligibility this year and is the only underclassman selected.

She is the daughter of parents who both were college athletes. The family knows the time limit on all players in all sports.

She continues an Aggie tradition of now six straight seasons of producing a WNBA draftee. but she is the first selected in the first round and therefore obviously the highest Aggie ever taken. She was the only conference player on the United States Basketball Writers of America All-American team.

Her college coach, Gary Blair, knew this was a pick of destiny and even Bone said she wanted all along to play in New York for famed WNBA coach Bill Laimbeer, a former WNBA championship coach while at Detroit. The fact he played at center while in the NBA was another lure for Bone.

“Kelsey knew that she had an opportunity to be selected by one of the best coaches in the league,”” Blair said. “I think this is a win-win for Kelsey to be able to use her experience working with the Liberty staff that will help her grow even more this year as a player.

“Kelsey has done a great job over the last year improving her game, I do not think anyone can find a player in the country that has improved more than Kelsey Bone. I think she will have to go learn in New York and will fit into the scene in the Big Apple which will translate to an opportunity to play overseas and become a force on the national scene.

“I entered the WNBA draft to become a member of the New York Liberty,” Bone said.

“This was what I wanted to do, it was a chance that I wanted to take and once the opportunity presented itself, I took it. Just understanding that in this league it is easy to come in and blend in and take a back seat to veterans, but going to New York I have the opportunity to play with some great players that play in the post and play for a staff full of post players.

“This is a great fit and I am so excited to go in and learn this game even more from some great people and great players.”

The Los Angeles Sparks also took Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies in the first round, as the 10th pick. She was a co-player of the year in conference

Mathies, a native of Louisville, Ky., is UK’s highest draft pick
in school history. She is the third player in school history to be chosen in the draft and the second Wildcat in the past three seasons to be selected in the first round.
She finished with an average of 16 points and a .417 field goal and .an 817 free-throw percentage this past season. She hit .447 from the 3-point range.

“All of us are thrilled for A’dia,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She did so much for the Kentucky program while she as here and we had no doubt she was one of the top players in the country.”

The Liberty also took Tennessee’s Kamiko Williams in the second round as the 15th overall selection. Kelly Cain of UT is already with the Liberty. Williams would be the sixth Lady Vol to play in that franchise. Williams is the 35th UT player to be drafted into the league.

“I am so proud of Kamiko and just excited about this opportunity for her,” UT coach Holly Warlick – the national rookie Coach of the Year -- said. “She worked extremely hard and showed great maturity as a senior, and that effort helped lead to our team being successful and to her enjoying the best season of her career.”

Williams, a 5-11 guard from Clarksville, Tenn., averaged a career-best 7.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game in her final season in orange. She hit 50.5 percent from the field, including 32.6 percent on 3s and 70 percent from the free-throw line. With 88 assists compared to only 44 turnovers as a senior, UT’s most-secure ball-handler posted an impressive 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

While Williams scored in double figures a career-best 10 times in 2012-13, recording points-rebounds double-doubles on two occasions, she also enhanced her reputation as one of Tennessee’s best defenders in her final season at Rocky Top.
“I am excited, but I have to stay focused and do what I do,” Williams said. “I’m excited because the coaching staff seems awesome from the short phone conversation we’ve had, and I get to play with Kelley Cain again!”

Then came three from Georgia’s senior class, two of them the state of Tennessee, their arch-rivals.

Jasmine Hassell was the 21st pick by the defending champ Indiana Fever.
In the third round, the other Georgian Jasmine, Jasmine James, went to the Seattle Storm as the 30th selection and teammate Anne Marie Armstrong followed immediately, the 31st pick by the Atlanta Dream.

“As a coach, it always makes you feel to good to see players grow and mature,” coach Andy Landers said. “It makes you feel even better when you see them reach their goals and objectives. J.J., Anne Marie and ‘Jas’ all aspired to play at the next level and now they’ll have that opportunity.”

Sixteen Georgia players have been taken in the WNBA Draft over the past 13 years. That includes eight first-round selections.

Hassell, a 6-2, forward from Lebanon, Tenn., was named first-team All-SEC by league coaches. She averaged a team-best 12.7 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. Hassell also ranked No. 14 in the nation in field goal percentage, connecting on 53.1 percent of her shots from the floor.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid and now my dream has come true,” Hassell said. “I’ve dreamed about it, but I didn’t know if in a million years if it would come true.

“It’s just a blessing from God. You’re just sitting there waiting and then all of a sudden your name pops up and you think ‘Is that really my name that just came up?’

"I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of the coaching staff here at Georgia and so many people who have helped me since I was a little kid. So many people helped develop and motivate me, and I’m just so very, very thankful for all of them.”

James, a 5-9, guard from Memphis, Tenn., averaged 11.0 ppg as a senior and led the Lady Bulldogs in assists for the third consecutive season. She finished her career ranked among the ‘Dawgs’ career leaders in five different categories – No. 18 in points (1,434), No. 7 in assists (433), No. 7 in games started (123), No. 8 in steals (260) and No. 8 in attempts from the field (1,428).

“It’s a dream I’ve had ever since I was a little kid,” James said. “You think about it and dream about it when you’re little and now 14-15 years later, you hear your named called. I’m excited about the opportunity to go to training camp. Just to be a part of the WNBA is a great accomplishment and is really special to me.”

Armstrong, a 6-3, guard/forward from Norcross, Ga., was a consensus first-team All-SEC performer as a junior who was slowed for much of her senior year by a high ankle sprain. In stats for SEC games during her junior season, Armstrong ranked among the league’s top-10 leaders in nine of 13 categories kept.

“Growing up, I think it’s anyone’s dream who plays basketball to be able to play in college,” Armstrong said. “At the top of those dreams would be the opportunity to play professionally. To be drafted by my hometown team is something I don’t think I could have fathomed. My dreams really are coming true. Just to have a chance to try out and make the team in Atlanta, where I’ve grown up my entire life and most of my family lives, is very exciting.”

James, Hassell and Armstrong became the Lady Bulldogs’ 32nd, 33rd and 34th 1,000-point career scorers. They also became only the second trio of classmates to reach the millennium mark in the history of Georgia Basketball.

Florida’s Jennifer George – the Gators’ lone senior -- was taken by the Fever as the 33rd pick.

“I’m so excited,” George said. “(UF coach Amanda Butler) got a text from someone in the organization saying they were going to draft me so I got a moment to soak everything in but I don’t think it has.

“I just can’t believe it. It is really a dream come true. I know I have a lot of work in front of me to make the team, but this moment is one that I’m going to enjoy for a very long time. It’s a dream. Being drafted in the WNBA is a dream.”

George was a member of the All-SEC Conference Defensive Team, as well as to the All-SEC Second team by the league coaches

She ran into a bit of bad luck during her senior year, when she dislocated her right shoulder during the Jan. 6 game against LSU and reinjured it on January 13 against Tennessee. The injury hampered her but didn’t prevent the forward from being Florida’s leader in rebounding (6.8), blocks (56) and steals (66), while ranking second for field goal percentage (.447) and third in scoring (11.0). Among all SEC athletes (all games), George ranked No. 9 for rebounding, No. 3 for blocked shots, No. 13 for steals and No. 5 for defensive rebounds.

George capped her four-year Florida career in the record
book ranked No. 1 with 135 games played, No. 17 with 1,257 points, No. 7 with 915 rebounds, No. 4 with 191 blocked shots, tied for No. 8 with 28 double-doubles, No. 10 with 3,181 minutes played, No. 10 with 418 free throws attempted, No. 13 with 171 steals, No. 13 with a .514 field goal percentage and No. 16 with 511 made field goals.

“I think everybody who has ever seen her play can appreciate Jennifer’s ability on the court, not just this January and February when she was banged up, but her entire career and what she can add to an organization,” Butler said. “She worked hard her entire career for this opportunity and we’re happy for her.”

The best returning players – now that Bone is out – will be UT’s top scorer Meighan Simmons (19.3); best rebounder and shot-blocker Martha Alwal of Mississippi (10 and 2.7); best shooter Bashara Graves of UT (.552 from the field); and assists leader Cali Berna of Arkansas (6.2). Graves was a rookie, Simmons, the co-league MVP, a junior and the rest were sophomores.

The WNBA preseason begins on May 15. The regular season runs from May 24 to Sept. 15.

Then all of the above players will disperse to the highest bidders in the overseas pro leagues, where real money will be made.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Holly and Geno Together At Last -- Sort Of

By Mel Greenberg

It may not be happening yet on the field of hardwood but Tennessee women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick and her counterpart in Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, whose Huskies captured a record-tying eighth NCAA title Tuesday night for the program and himself, are joining forces for an event in Knoxville, Tenn., in June during the induction weekend for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Prior to the actual ceremonies for the six inductees, which include his former player in Jennifer Rizzotti, who has been coach of Hartford, Geno and Holly are listed as co-hosts for a reception that adds another $100 to the lowest $100 Rookie ticket package that covers the ceremony and post-induction celebration/silent auction.

The event with the Gala Reception is listed as part of the All-Star Package.

For the full story with some photos -- go to PhilahoopsW.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Mike Sirokey's NCAA Report: SEC Seasons End With A Final Fource Impact

By Mike Siroky

The mighty Southeastern Conference will end the 2012-2013 women’s basketball season with four top 10 teams, more than any other conference.

They will not have a National Champion.

The last time the SEC had a Final Four team, it was Tennessee in 2008, which won it all to give Candace Parker a double before she left with a year of college eligibility remaining for the WNBA.

When Texas A&M won its title, in 2011, it was a member of the Big 12.

Kentucky and Georgia fell out in the first night of the Elite Eight – though Georgia took a No. 2 to overtime. Kentucky lost to a No. 1. And Tennessee failed its promise after being set up as a No. 2 against a No. 5.

The result is the Big East had three teams in the final game competition for a Final four spot and all won. The SEC had the same and all lost. This season has a Big East flourish, though all three teams heading for New Orleans will be under different or modified banners next season.

Notre Dame will be in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Louisville and Connecticut will be in the football segment of the current Big East under a name to be determined and then the following season, Louisville will also head to the ACC.

The previous Tennessee administration of Pat Head Summitt, now coach emeritus, presented the SEC with eight NCAA championships, the only SEC team to ever win it all. UT has been in 18 Final Fours, combined more than any other university ever in the modern era (when the NCAA accepted women’s basketball for the 1981-82 season).

Georgia, mostly in the years when it was not in Tennessee’s qualifying bracket, has made it five times, but not since 1999. It has twice been national No. 2. LSU was in five straight seasons of the national semifinals, 2004-05 through 2007-08,

Imagine that, five consecutive senior classes in a Final Four. That’s is hard for any school to match or even consider. Whoops. Stanford and UConn had done it heading into this year’s playoffs and now coach Geno Auriemma’s Huskies have the new record at six straight.

Auburn, with exquisite coach Joe Ciampi, made a three-year run, 1987-88 through 1989-90 and finished national runners-up each time. Vanderbilt made the national semifinals in 1993 and Alabama in 1994.
Those are the foundation games for the SEC’s reputation.

The top national seeds this year made up last season’s Final Four. Then came the fall of two top seeds, Stanford and Baylor.

The SEC’s best, UConn and Notre Dame, made it on successive nights as the other No. 1s and meet for the fourth time this season in a national semifinal. No. 2 Cal meets Louisville, the third Big East team and a No. 5 seed.

UConn burst on the scene as the champion in 1995, a national semifinalist in 1996 and won it again in 2000. They were back in the national semis in 2001 and then won three straight titles. They also won in 2009-10. They were national semifinalists in 2008, ’11, and last season. Seven titles in 13 Final Fours. They were ranked No. 1 five times at the end of the regular season when they won it all, the most of anybody to do that.

Notre Dame rode national Player of the Year Ruth Riley and a very capable supporting staff to the 2001 title. In 1997, eventual champ Tennessee had knocked ND out in the national semifinals. They were in the past two title games, losing to a Texas team each time, A&M then Baylor.

Georgia was the first to play a No. 1 -- Stanford -- and was the first to erase a top seed. This allowed the conference to show its No. 4 team could eliminate the top team – conference champ and conference tournament champ. LSU lost in that round of that Region and there were three conference teams left in the Elite Eight. Tennessee and Kentucky joined Georgia in the Elite Eight.


•Kentucky, ranked No. 9 nationally, was up first for the SEC, against the enigma that is Elena Della Donne and Delaware, No. 16 nationally, in the Eastern Regional.

Della Donne had never carried a team this far before. She almost took it another step, including 13 straight Blue Hen points in one first-half surge. UK’s vaunted defense was unable to even contain her.

But UK was determined to at least earn a shot against top seed UConn and the No. 2 seed ’Cats did it. So her show closed on the road. Della Donne had 33 points and nine rebounds. She had more than half her team’s points.

These one-trick ponies seldom survive. She finished her career as the fifth all-time leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,039 points. She passed former college legends Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw and Maya Moore in this one. Of course, she also missed 22 games with various illnesses in her career, including six this season with recurring symptoms of Lyme Disease.

Looking at the names she surpassed, All-American Della Donne said, “I wasn’t aware of anything of that nature. That’s incredible and it's definitely humbling to be amongst those names.”

Kentucky opened swell. A nifty 10-run championed by Briana Goss starting and ending it with baskets opened the window. Jennifer O'Neill eventually scored 19 and closed the half with one of those 3s at the buzzer.

Senior leader A'dia Mathies scored16 and cleared the 2,000 career scoring mark.

A 41-27 lead was had by halftime. Delaware, sensing impending doom, rallied with a 35-28 second half. The difference may have been the seven 3s UK hit (14 attempts) to the one by Delaware (six attempts).

Kentucky was seven points below its season scoring average and allowed five more than its defensive average. UK was even outrebounded, turning over another season average.

They had won the first half rebounding by 11. The margin got as close as two in the second half. But UK had survived and coach Matt Mitchell was happy to be there, with another chance to make history.

The Wildcats played without backup center Samantha Drake who was suspended for the playoffs by Mitchell for violating team protocols several times throughout the season. She may be no longer with the team.

UConn eradicated Maryland, leading by as much as 26 in the second half. They truly looked like a No. 1 national seed.

UK has a school-record 30 wins. It was the third season in the Elite Eight for this senior class and the second Regional final against UConn, which won by 15 last year at this point.

As previously mentioned, UConn did not have to leave the state to make the Final Four and the Bridgeport crowds turned out, sold out at 8,600 per session.

A side note: This was originally scheduled for New Jersey in the capital city of Trentlon. A state law, since rescinded, had made it legal to bet on college games. The NCAA pulled the tournament from New Jersey and awarded it to the second bidder.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a Delaware grad. He wore a Blue Hen fleece at the opener, signing autographs and mugging with the team’s (and his) fans.

As for the Regional final, it looked like a superlative team against a very good one. UConn used UK to set an NCAA record of six straight Final Fours with a 30-point blowout. At least they have to leave the state to play for the national title.

Kentucky hung around for a little while. They had a 23-22 lead then UConn decided to really play and went on a 26-3 run to close the half with a 48-26 advantage. A demoralized UK team had nothing left.

A freshman shooter – the Regional’s Most Outstanding Player – Breanna Stewart with 21 points and three blocks, dominated them.

Kentucky liked to hype its own “40 Minutes of Dread” defense, but UConn showed them the real deal, no hype, with that first-half close.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is one of the Huskies that knows it is wise to listen to her coach, Geno Auriemma.

She said the simple analogy is to strike an opponent when it is trembling, to be, as he says, like “sharks” and that’s what they do.

“When there's blood in the water, you smell it and you go after it,” she said. “We’re just going to keep going after it, it’s like a domino effect, once we get one steal, we'll get another and another.” She also did well on offense, with 17 points.

Kentucky missed 13 of its final 14 shots in the half. The lead got as high as 36 in the second half.

Maybe it was because Baylor was gone (a video of their loss played on the scoreboard at the UConn party). Auriemma actually spoke with optimism by saying his team had a “great chance” now to win it all.

One of his seniors, Kelly Faris, is the third class to end all four years in a Final Four. It is unlikely that will happen anywhere else ever again.

“It definitely doesn’t get old,” she said. “Each year is different, special in its own way. This is out last go-round and we want to go out with a bang. I am fortunate to be part of this program where we make it every year. We are never satisfied until we get to that final game.”

Mathies, a second team All-American, scored 14 to lead Kentucky. But a 14-point leader will seldom do in an elite team. She is second all-time in scoring (2,014), 3-point field goals made (177), field goal attempts (1,587) field goals made (712) and attempted (1,587), free throws made (413) and attempted and is the all-time leader in steals (320) games played (139) and games started (139).

As seniors, Mathies and Brittany Henderson leave as the winningest class in UK women’s basketball history with a 111-30 record (.787).

In the end, though, UConn doubled its margin of victory over the same opponent at the same stage last year. It is hard to put a measuring device on teams, year to year, but programs are often compared.

Is it possible UConn got that much better?

•Georgia had drawn Stanford. As usual, the Cardinal were the No. 1 team in the West, at Spokane. They were the first No. 1 to fall.

Stanford, No 4 nationally had All-American Chiney Ogwumike score 18 (8-of-9 from the field) and grab six rebounds in leading her side to a seven-point advantage at halftime. Steady Jasmine James had 10 for the ’Dawgs.

Stanford started on a 13-4 run in the first eight minutes.

Georgia rallied to cut it to one but had used all its effort in doing so. They only hit one basket – a jumper by James -- in the final six-plus minutes.

Slowly the ’Dawgs carved themselves back into it.

They cut the deficit. They hung with the Cardinal, trading 3 for 3, jumper for jumper, free throws for free throws. Coach Andy Landers was orchestrating a marvelous run. When there were just 65 seconds left, Jasmine Hassel hit a jumper and finally Georgia was ahead, by one. The 6,146 in attendance were on their feet.

James hit two free throws at the 23-second mark after a Stanford time out. They were up by four. Another Stanford time out. Joslyn Tinkle – Stanford’s only senior -- hit a 3 for Stanford. Another Stanford time out, with one second left.

Stanford’s Sara James fouled freshman Shacobia Barbee.

This is no ordinary freshman. She clanked the first one, hit the second and Georgia had pulled the upset, 61-59.

Hassell and Griffin each scored 13; James led them all with 16. Ogwumike scored just eight after intermission.

The meeting in the middle of the stats line was Georgia had averaged 66.6 and given up an average of 53.4, second-best in conference.

They have a school-record 30 wins and had matched last season’s Elite Eight appearance. This team was built for this battle, with three other seniors besides the Jasmines.

Stanford had a 33-3 final record that is appreciated. They had the one senior. So they will be much-anticipated as a top seed next season again. But, don’t forget, this gave the SEC another win against a conference and conference tournament champ by its No. 4 team.

Both Stanford and Georgia were in their 20th Sweet 16. Stanford’s Tara Vanderveer paid Landers the ultimate compliment by saying she liked what he did with his teams, that she was studying them to steal some ideas for next season. She has all summer to study.

“As we came down the stretch, our players, I think figured out that they could make some plays and really did a nice job,” Landers said. “I think the thing that's so good about the comeback and going ahead is that each one of those five players did something that was really significant as we did that. And they did something really significant on each end of the floor.

“We play good defense and we don’t have too many droughts. We can hang around until someone hits a shot. That’s what I think happened.”

Georgia, with its sub-Regional and Regional both in Spokane, just stayed the days in-between. Landers got off a great line when joking his players spent the extra time in Eastern Washington getting registered to vote and taking up residency.

Skipping cross-country travel again was the right thing to do. Surely, the NCAA has an explanation for this after failing to seed anyone close to Ohio for the sub-Regional there.

Having eliminated the best of the Pac 12, Georgia now had to take on a close second in California, playing in its first Elite Eight.

The Bulldogs showed well, getting it to overtime but fell two points shy.

A big loss was senior point guard Hassell. She fouled out with 2:30 to go and obviously missed all of the extra period.

Barbee led Georgia with 14. They forced overtime despite having one field goal in the final 7:45.

"I think, for the most part, this was a game that played out somewhat the way we thought it would,” was Landers’ summation

“We felt it was very important to get back in transition, that it was very important to keep the ball out of the lane, and to rebound the ball defensively and when we were doing those things well, we were in a good position.

“When we broke down defensively and allowed that penetration and allowed them to rebound the ball on offense, we got in trouble. They're a very good basketball team.

Georgia finished 28-7 and loses six seniors, all obviously mainstays of the past four seasons.

•LSU drew No. 2 seed California in the West, for another SEC vs. Pac 12 semifinal, with Cal No. 6 nationally. It followed Stanford’s loss, so both sides knew the Regional was suddenly up for grabs.

It took LSU three minutes to even score, but they were never far behind as each side went minutes without scoring. The half ended 26-all with no one in double figures.

So it was a one-half season of elimination. And no one wanted it. California went two minutes without a score and three without a basket to the 13-minute mark and still only trailed by one.

LSU seemed frozen. When Cal made a basket, a 3 and two free throws and another free throw, answered only by a LSU free throw, it was suddenly a seven-point game with less than nine minutes left.

The lead expanded to a dozen when Cal’s Brittany Boyd hit a 3.

With under five minutes left, LSU missed on two possessions and Boyd hit another basket. The best team from California, still playing in California, finally had control.

Their four seniors began to make the tempo a familiar one for the time zone.

Their upward drift kept on without delay. It was 15 with under four minutes left. LSU was out of gas. All seven players had played, but leading scorer Theresa Plaisance was 4-of-16 from the floor. Cal only used eight players, so it was not attrition by the numbers.

Adrienne Webb, one of two LSU seniors, who had rallied her team all season, had but 10 points. Her basket, at the 2:27 mark, was the first for LSU since 8:34. They had done their job on defense, holding the line where it usually was, but were 20 points down on their average offense.

It was over, mercifully. Webb hit a 3-pointer to close her career in double figures (it was the 168th 3 of her career, fifth-best ever at LSU) and leading the team with 15. Another basket in mop-up time from someone else kept it a 10-point loss.
“It stings, but I have had one great career at LSU,” said Webb. “We have really fought through everything, through injuries and through numbers. We have really dug deep and believed in each other and pulled through. I really couldn’t ask for a better group of players and coaches to have for this last senior season.”

Cal senior Layshia Clarendon scored 19 and junior forward Gennifer Brandon 14.

Georgia coaches could throw away the SEC script and concentrate on a whole new foe.

A 22-13 final LSU record will only be a building block if they keep building. It does not look so swell standing alone. They have not won away from home in the tournament. As they have hosted two straight, they will be all on the road next year if they make it.

•Tennessee also won its sub-Regional at home. Their road experience was disillusioning as they truly faltered against an inferior seed.

First, on the road at Oklahoma City, playing as the No. 2 seed against No 8 seed Oklahoma, a team in its home state, they were the last SEC play-in game of the Sweet 16. UT was ranked No. 9 nationally. Oklahoma was unranked.

Holly Warlick, still coaching like the national Coach of the Year, walloped a veteran coach in Sherri Coale.

“They kind of punched us right the beginning,” said Coale of the 17-point halftime edge Tennessee built.

By the numbers, Tennessee had topped its conference by averaging 77.7 and only giving up 63.4, basically a 14.3 differential. The 74-59 final showed whose game was played. In their first two rounds, the Lady Vols won by 21 and then 16.

This time, they won by 15.

Cierra Burdick brought 13 off the bench with six rebounds. Isabelle Harrison had a third straight strong game in rehab, 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, also as a reserve.

Kamiko Williams brought the whole show, 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals.

As one of two seniors, she was playing like elimination was not an option. She set the defensive pace, starting the game with a steal from the opposite guard, Aaryn Ellenberg. She flustered her into a 5-of-21 day.

“I mean, she smiled at me, so I knew I had to get low,” Williams said of the opponent. “She swings the ball in front of her, I happened to stick my hand in there. I just kind of reacted to the ball.”

Warlick said Williams was doing what a senior should be doing.

“We're asking her to lock down the opponents’ best offensive player, then we want her to make plays on the offensive end as well.

“She has stepped up. She has a maturity about her. She's just taken this team. She's wrapped her arms around this team and said, ‘Let's go!’

“I will tell you, at the beginning of the year, if I had to say Kamiko was going to be our leader, I would say no. But our players love her. She's done a heck of a job on and off the floor being a leader for them.

“She has exceeded my expectations. I knew what Kamiko could do. It was just a matter if she was going to commit to do it, and I think she has. She and Izzy (Harrison) both have stepped up and played big for us. She's done a heck of a job.”

Williams had been challenged, but all of Tennessee reached back to the traditions of the program.

“Well, I think obviously everyone knows Tennessee is defense and rebounding,” said Spani, the other Lady Vol senior. “We’ve stressed that from Day 1. I think Holly's style is she really wanted full-court pressure or get into the ball and pressure them.”

Harrison, the tallest player on UT, was slowly coming back to starter status after a season of starts and stops and knee strains which caused her to miss 11 games and the SEC post-season tournament.

“I felt really good,”Harrison said. “I was doing a lot of rehab on this trip. Me and my roommates, I can talk to them when I’m hurting. I'm glad I can get out there and do the best I can.”

Tennessee lost to Notre Dame in the same spot the last tumultuous season. They have been in 31 Sweet 16s, the Elite Eight 26 times of the 32 tournaments. They drew 9,162, best of any site.

When Baylor lost to Louisville in the second game at Oklahoma City, UT suddenly had a chance to return to the Final Four.

Brittney Griner the all-everything Player of the Year joins a group of NCAA superstars who didn’t win in their senior seasons. Chamique Holdsclaw and Tennessee did not make the Final Four after three straight titles. Cheryl Miler at Southern Cal did not win her senior season and neither was she the national Player of the Year.

Tennessee had to deal with a No. 5 seed in Louisville. These Cardinals held Griner without a first-half basket. They built a 17-point lead only to hold on by one at the end. Louisville made 16 of 25 3s (an NCAA tournament record) to do so. They were bruising on defense and had three starters foul out.

But they won.

As it turned out, Tennessee was the last SEC team standing by sheer luck of scheduling.

The conference regular-season champs bombed against the Big East No. 3, in the same spot to the same conference as they had been eliminated last season.

Louisville’s 28-8 record is truly one game better than Tennessee’s 27-8.

Louisville (which also won a sub-Regional at home) was the hot team and showed it. They built a 15-point halftime lead. That proved insurmountable.

Schoni Schimmel (18 points) and Bria Smith (13) led the Cards. Schimmel finished with 24. Meighan Simmons, UT’s co-SEC Player of the Year, just didn’t show up for the Sweet 16. She had only a 3 to show with 7:37 left and an eight-point deficit to overcome. Louisville had already surpassed the UT season defensive average of allowing 63. Tennessee cut it to five in the closing minutes and no closer. UT did hit their season average of 77.7 (with 78) which was the best in the SEC.

So maybe, on offense, the Lady Vols did all they could.

But the defense allowed 86 points, 23 more than average.

Louisville takes its three seniors to a great school experience and a second Final Four for their class. Exuberant coach Jeff Walz, in his sixth season, has all but assured his job for another decade, with a class he recruited making this move. He took the Cards to the national title game in 2009, in his second season.

“We ruined the entire party,” Walz said. “We're the ugly ducklings that ruined the party. No one gave us a chance and we shocked everybody. It’s a journey and we're going to continue.”

This the 10th NCAA tourney with both the men’s and women’s teams in the Final Four.

“No one wanted to see us beat Baylor and Tennessee and we did both of those and now we're going to the Final Four,” Schimmel said. She was the only player to compete the entire 40 minutes.

UT used to have a record of having every senior class play in it at least one Final Four. That fell away last season. This makes two in a row. Yes, Louisville can say they have been there more often now.

Warlick said they never thought they would lose this one

“We talked a lot about not giving up,” she said of in-game huddles. “And that’s been the mode of this team this year.

“That’s just the nature of our program and our expectations, whether you’re Pat Summitt or myself, I’s just what we’re all about. It’s in our blood. It’s in our makeup.We thought we had a good year.

“But we didn't have a great year.”

She praised the eliminators.

“They had just a heck of a tournament. You've gotta do something right if you knock off Baylor, because Baylor’s an unbelievable team. And so to knock them off and then to come in here and play the way they did, they had a great tournament.

“I think they'll be competitive. I’m sure they’ll be ready to play in the Final Four.”
Tennessee loses two senior starters. They have one junior. So the young Lady Vols will have to grow up quickly to preserve traditions.

But that seems so far away right now.


•As soon as Kentucky was done, associate coach Matt Insell changed his focus within conference to the woeful program at Ole Miss. The Rebels were so bad this season they disqualified themselves from the SEC tournament.

He has been selected as their next coach.

He had been UK’s recruiting guy during is five years there and brought in four consecutive classes ranked in the top 15 nationally. One of his incoming recruits, 5-10 guard Makayala Epps, has just been named Miss Basketball of Kentucky

Mitchell said the program would be “forever grateful” for his contributions.
Ole Miss has good news: Only one senior. Ole Miss has bad news: Two wins in conference.

•Tyler Summitt, son of RB and Pat Summitt, has been invited to apply for the position at Coastal Carolina, He was an assistant at Marquette this season. If he gets that job, at age 22, he will start at the same age as his mother did at UT.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Guru's Musings:Upset of Baylor Creates a Myriad of Storylines

By Mel Greenberg

Suddenly, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins is the only one of the three standout seniors, including Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, whose collegiate career is still on the active list besides being the survivor of the trio who has the last shot at going out with a blaze of glory.

Suddenly Diggins’ Irish are the new favorite, even though the race for the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Title might also be considered wide open instead of a closed deal with Baylor Repeat written all over it.

All this the result of Louisville’s stunning one-point upset of the defending NCAA champion Baylor Bears in the Oklahoma City Regional Sweet 16 semifinal round Sunday night.

And also let us not forget the first stunner on Saturday night when Georgia ousted top-seeded Stanford.

Griner’s exit on a night in which she was not exactly her stellar self wire-to-wire immediately recalled that night in 1999 when an up-and-coming Duke team playing in its home state took down the powerful Tennessee squad in the Elite Eight round helped by Lady Vols all-time great Chamique Holdsclaw suddenly unable to make a shot.

San Jose was hosting the Women’s Final Four that year and not soon after the final buzzer the contingent of Bay Area media members who were putting all their eggs in a grand Tennessee finale as part of coverage from the host city could be seen with their heads buried in their arms and heard to be muttering “What do we do now? Who knows anything about Duke?”

Times are different now and one reason there isn’t a lot of local media panic from New Orleans, where the Women’s Final Four returns this weekend for the first time since former UConn star Diana Taurasi closed out college on a joyous note, is that in these times and state of the industry there isn’t a lot of local media left in the Big Easy to get worked up.

ESPN? Yeah, there are probably a lot Baylor features that may never see the light of its many platforms in print and on the internet.

On the other hand, since Griner and Delle Donne already had a bye to New Orleans in civilian roles to collect a bunch of postseason accolades, they will have a lot of time of their hands to be accessible, especially as ESPN ramps up the road to the WNBA draft on April 15 when the talented collegiate trio are expected to go 1-2-3 to Phoenix, Chicago and Tulsa, which are holding the picks.

Sometimes the Guru gets weird innate feelings about things and last year in Denver after Baylor completed the first 40-0 run to a title, as Kim Mulkey alluded coming back 12 months later to party in her hometown, the Guru wondered whether things may not go as expected.

NCAA Tourney Women's Upsets of Yesteryear

It’s happened before: In 1978 Maryland upset Tennessee in the old AIAW world and deprived the Lady Vols of participasting in the first Final
Four format in the former women’s governing organization.

Tennessee fell to a Dawn Staley-led Virginia squad in 1990, reducing the Lady Vols to spectators in their own relatively new arena, which was expected to sell out and set an attendance record.

In 1985 Western Kentucky shocked a high-quality Texas squad making things dicey for the Women’s Final Four in Austin, though the Longhorns were able to still get a decent attendance at the event, as Tennessee did after its 1990 demise.

Though the Baylor storyline is gone, a plethora of new comes crop up as the Elite Eight round gets under way Monday night in Bridgeport, Conn., and Spokane, Wash., followed on Tuesday by the Oklahoma City and Norfolk (Va.) finals to determine which four will be glowing this weekend.

First, here’s the deck of matchups:

-- Bridgeport (Mon.) Connecticut vs. Kentucky
-- Spokane (Mon): Georgia vs. California
-- Norfolk (Tue): Duke vs. Notre Dame
-- Oklahoma City (Tue): Louisville vs. Tennessee

Pick Your Storyline

By the time the smoke clear Tuesday night, we could be looking at such varied things as:

The SEC re-do: Duke or Notre Dame surrounded by Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia

The Big East adios: Connecticut (going to a re-name of the football portion), Louisville (likewise but then after a year on to the ACC), Notre Dame (ACC bound this summer) and then either Georgia or California to round out the group.

The Individual Set: Tennessee and head coach in her own right Holly Warlick advance where Pat Summitt was unable to have a glorious finish prior to stepping down as part of the battle against early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Kentucky takes that big step to arrive in a similar world where the Wildcat men have dwelt in the past.

California makes it a Cinderella special for the Golden Bears and coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

Notre Dame getting that one more win than the last two seasons to become national champion.

Connecticut picking up trophy No. 8 to tie the past work of Summitt at Tennessee.

Georgia longtime coach Andy Landers gets the one missing accomplishment in a distinguished career.

Louisville staying in step with the Cardinals men and Jeff Walz taking that one more win approach to the 2009 loss in the title game to UConn.

Duke shaking off the injuries and getting that long-sought title from the Blue Devils’ perspective.

Together Again: A Tennessee-UConn showdown in the championship.

Familiarity: A UConn-Notre Dame matchup in the semifinals again.

The men’s bracket: Georgia vs. Louisville (Landers vs. Walz)

That’s enough for now. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

-- Mel