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.

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

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In the Louisville Media Guide in the Up Close With Shimmel, in response to the question Coach Walz's favorite line: Shoni's response is " If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying".

As a long time fan of Ohio State women's basketball I fervently hope that the OSU athletic department does not try to replace a coach like Jim Foster with Jeff Walz.

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