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, May 30, 2013

Guru Report: Delle Donne Draws an Internet Crowd and Kuester Returns to Philly Summer League

By Mel Greenberg

Based on results your Guru seems to show more productivity when he doesn't blog than when he does.

Of course just like old times at the start of her enrollment to college it doesn't hurt when former Delaware star Elena Delle Donne is in the news as she was this week with a smashing WNBA debut, scoring 22 points to lead the Chicago Sky to an opening day rout of the Phoenix Mercury on Monday afternoon in Arizona.

Hencecforth on Tuesday the Guru could not at first figure what was driving his pageviews -- granted not in the league as the big boys and girls but good enough in Guru world -- considering nothing new had gone up on the blog since late last week wirth Mike Siroky's column and the ongoing updating of the collegue coaching carousel.

Finally after looking under the hood, the Guru found a swarm of google searches on Delle Delle Donne, particularly with the world salary that served as a magnet to the Guru's national locale here considering at the time of the draft he posted the rookie scales.

Curiously, though, both former Baylor star Brittney Griner, taken overall No. 1 by Phoenix, and former Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins, taken over No. 3 behind Delle Donne by the Tulsa Shock, were also mentioned in the same blog and other blogs though maybe not as often as Elena because of locality.

When the count went onto recycle a Guru blog record 1,826 views occurred followed in the last 24 hours by another 1,400. Delle Done was also involved in high numbers at the start of her collegiate enrollment (not the basketball) when a different counting system employed also set high marks for here.

By the way you fans in Newark, not the New Jersey one where the New York Liberty play one more season for the geographically challenged, you may not have seen the last of your heroine at the Bob on campus but that topic holds for now until near the end of the summer.

Incidentally, the Guru will be at the other Newark at The Prudential Center Friday night when the Liberty hosts Tulsa, and in Washington Sunday when the Mystics host the Atlanta Dream.

Philly Summer League Draft -- Surprise - The Return of Kuester

On Wednesday night (as in last night), the draft for the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women's Basketball Summer League was held at the Kelly Bolish Gym, home of the AAU Renegades, the site once again for the competition in Hatboro, Pa.

The games, a set of doubleheaders on three separate courts, begin June 18 on Tuesday and Thursday nights (with some jiggering into several Wednesdays because of the July 4th holiday week) and ends with the final round of the playoffs the first week in August.

As it turns out longtime commissioner David Kessler, who begins his 20th summer on board despite several appeared retirements, is not the only comeback addict.

Former Saint Joseph's star Katie Kuester, who graduated a year ago and starred on successive champions in the league the last several summers, is back although it was thought it was adios in late August when she headed off to Lehigh as director of basketball operations.

"I love this league. I went through a bunch of compliance officers to make sure it was OK," Kuester grinned Wednesday night while helping to organize the teams.

As it evolves, everything is honky dory in a league that will see a slew of Hawks, many of whom helped coach Cindy Griffin capture the Atlantic 10 title in March for her first-ever and Saint Joseph's first NCAA appearance since 2000.

The Guru will have all the rosters posted next week as soon as they are all firmed up and remember it is his intent to shift coverage to his local Philahoopsw.com blog if some photographers can be found to shoot some of the action.

Demand is such that only one slot is left and the league will expand to a 13-team operation, up one more from last summer.

Look for more info next week.

The College Scene

Two vacancies still remain in D-1 coaching at St. Peter's and Sacred Heart, though some names had beeen mentioned with both jobs.

Though the re-organized Big East does not yet have an organization, commissioner, etc., it appears Chicago at the Allstate Arena, where the WNBA Chicago Sky play, will be the site of the first women's basketball tournament while as has been heavily reported the football group, phasing into the American Athletic Conference or The American, will house the first women's tournament at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun.

Temple coaches believe their recently announced class may be the best since Tonya Cardoza succeeded Dawn Staley in July 2009.

The Guru will be in Knoxville late next week for the next inductions to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, highlighted locally here with former Saint Joseph's coach Jim Foster, recently hired at Chattanooga, and former Rutgers and WNBA New York star Sue Wicks.

The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame will announce its new class on June 6 and several prominent names will be in the group from women's basketball.

Ok. Time to sign off although things the Guru's friend Courtney -- the Princeton coach -- never told him while turning her Tigers into an Ivy monopoly.

There is a backup all-night Fedex place from which this is being written right off the main highway the Guru uses approaching his return to the region from trips ranging to Connecticut, the Liberty and, of course, nearby Jadwin Gym.

Good to know.

-- Mel

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: Making The WNBA Season Opener Rosters

By Mike Siroky

The Southerastern Conference had good results with players drafted to be WNBA rookies.

The two first-rounders are no surprise in making rosters. Two more also made it. Three draftees were cut.

The first conference player picked was Kelsey Bone, perhaps the conference’s most complete player, from Texas A&M. She will be No. 3 for the New York Liberty. Right behind her is New York No. 4, Tennessee’s Kamiko Williams. They are the only two rookies kept. One of the holdover players is eight-year pro Kara Braxton of Georgia.

Bill Laimbeer is their coach. He previously won three WNBA titles as coach of the now-gone Detroit franchise. He is also the General Manager and so he made all the roster decisions.

“In the draft I think we addressed some of our weaknesses,” he said. “Kelsey Bone will add depth to our ‘bigs.’ Kelsey brings physical size and a toughness factor Kamiko Williams is an intriguing player who should learn well from veterans like Katie Smith. Kamiko is a very patient player, she sees the floor well and understands how to play basketball.”

“We are very excited about this draft class. We were able to select every player we targeted and I think they are excited to play for the New York Liberty.”

Los Angeles took Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies in the first round and promptly gave her the No. 1 jersey. At 5-9, she is the second-shortest player on the team. She averaged a basket in each of the pre-season games.

“We are excited to add A’dia to our already talented backcourt,” said Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler. “She is an all-around talented player who can run, shoot and defend and will be a solid force off the bench for us. With our diverse and deep roster, A’dia will be able to come in and play her game while sill developing and learning from veteran guards Kristi (Toliver), Lindsey (Harding) and Alana (Beard).”

“I am very thankful to the LA Sparks organization for brining me into the WNBA,” said Mathies. “This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and it’s exciting to have it come true in Los Angeles. I am looking forward to starting a new life and basketball career with the Sparks and my new teammates.”

The L.A. center is 6-4 Candace Parker of Tennessee, a five-year pro. She is among those featured on the team poster.

Mathies welcomes Bone in for a 4th of July matchup in their first game as professionals.

Anne Marie Armstrong, 6-3, 150 pounds, out of Georgia, made it at her hometown team, Atlanta, where she will wear No. 3. she averaged two baskets per game in the pre-season.

Atlanta kept three rookies. They waived two veterans in the final cut and “suspended” a player from Russia who is playing there instead.

Georgia teammate Jasmine Hassell last until one day before final cuts, with the Indiana fever. She played in both preseason games and averaged 5 points per game. Another Georgia teammate Jasmine James (Seattle) also was cut in training camp.

Atlanta also released forward Blanche Alverson after two games.

Alverson, an undrafted rookie from Auburn, was signed to a training camp contract in April and averaged 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in two preseason games.

The WNBA regular season runs through 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. The WNBA players will arrive overseas in September.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Temple Announces Four Newcomers For Owls' First Season in the American

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA -- While Temple coach Tonya Cardoza is off at meetings at the new American Athletic Confetence, the former football chunk of the Big East with additional newcomers such as the Owls for all sports, she has announced four newcomers to join the the team in it inaugural season of competition.

Here is a copy of the Temple release. The Guru is posting here for a better presentation without photos than would appear on Philahoopsw.com but remember coverage of the competitive Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women's Summer Basketball League starting June 15 will be over there. The draft is May 29. Contact David Kessler for further information at deucedbk@comcast.net

Four incoming recruits will join Temple women's basketball for the 2013-14 season as the Owls make their debut in the American Athletic Conference. Feyonda Fitzgerald (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), Safiya Martin (Fayetteville, Ga./Sandy Creek), Taylor Robinson (St. Louis, Mo./Ladue Horton Watkins) and Mama Traore (Mali, Africa/Burlington County CC) have all committed to Temple for next season.

Fitzgerald, a 5-7 guard, recently led her Lake Taylor Titans to their second state title by setting the state tournament scoring record with 96 points in three games. The previous record belonged to Kara Lawson who went on to star at Tennesee and in the WNBA. Among many other honors she garnered in her senior season, Fitzgerald was named the VHSCA AAA Girls Hoops State Player of the Year in Virginia, the All-Tidewater Girls Basketball Player of the Year and the Virginian-Pilot Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She was also the Eastern Region Player of the Year and the Eastern District player of the year for a second time after averaging 22.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. In addition to being a standout at Lake Taylor, Fitzgerald played for the Boo Williams AAU team.

Martin, a 6-4 center, led her Sandy Creek High School team to the state tournament for a second straight year as a senior, coming up just one point shy to Columbia High School in the championship game. She was named Class AAAA Honorable Mention All-State by the Georgia Sportswriters Association as a senior, and was named to the all-conference second team as a junior. Martin also played for the Georgia Pearls AAU squad.

Also a 6-4 center, Robinson was the Suburban East Player of the Year as a junior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School after averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game. She returned to dominate once again in her senior year and led the team to a conference championship averaging 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds heading into the district playoffs. Robinson, who also played for the Midwest Elite AAU team, was nominated to play in the 2013 McDonald's All-American Games.

Traore, a native of Mali, Africa, joins the Owls after playing two years at Burlington County Community College. As a sophomore at BCC, she averaged 19.8 points, 13.4 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and shot 46 percent from the field on her way to being named to NJCAA Region 19 Player of the Year. A 6-1 center, Traore led the team to a 22-7 record and the Garden State Athletic Conference championship. Before coming to the states, Traore was a member of the under-18 and under-20 African Championship winning team in 2006. She joined the Mali senior team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as the country made its first-ever appearance in women's basketball.

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UConn's Talent Pool Reflected in USA Basketball's World University Games Squad

By Mike Siroky

Just as it was in the U19 USA Basketball team (see post below this one), UConn is represented on the World University Games team under the direction of USA Basketball.

At the same time as the U19 trials, the World University Games team was assembled at Colorado Springs.

That team will include two from UConn, 6-0 forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Leiws and 5-7 guard Bria Hartley. No other school placed two. With three on the U19 team, UConn has five players in international play this summer representing the United States.

Others on the Gamesteam: 5-7 guard Aaryn Ellenberg of Oklahoma (her coach is also the Games coach); 6-0 guard Crystal Bradford of Central Michigan; 6-2 forward Jordan Hooper of Nebraska; 6-1 guard Tricia Liston of Duke; 6-3 forward ReShanda Gray of California; 6-2 forward Cassie Harberts of UCLA; 6-1 guard Ariel Massengale of Tennessee; 6-5 forward Theresa Plaisance of LSU; 5-9 guard Shoni Schimmel of Louisville; and 5-8 guard Odyssey Sims of Baylor.

The same selection committee, chaired by the University of Chattanooga’s Jim foster, selected this team as well.

“We were able to put together a very diverse team and a very good shooting team,” Foster said. “They can really space the floor, spread the floor and will have the opportunity to play small at times, and I think will be able to take advantage of those attributes.

“It's a versatile team that allows Sherri (Coale) to play a lot of ways.”

Coale, the Oklahoma coach, is the Games coach, assisted by Brian Girogis of Marist and Coquese Washington of Penn State.

“Well, I was incredibly impressed with the respectful nature of the group, the way they competed, they're willingness to learn,” Coale said.

“They are tremendous college basketball players from great programs all across the country, and they were incredibly willing to take direction. Selfless play, trying to make one another better. It was a really high-energy trial and a bunch of really great kids."

Sims is the odd-on favorite to be the Player of the Year in the NCAAs next edition.

She was the last name announced and, “I was a little nervous. I thought maybe my name wasn't going to get called. I was excited. I had decided if I did make I was going to be happy, and if I didn't make I was still going to be happy.”

She had a steady trials and felt she got better as they progressed.

“I was able to make my team around me look good even when we didn't win. I tried to do the best I could. So, I am excited. I will be more excited when we come back and practice, and I get a chance to be with all of these other players, surround myself with them, learn what they do best and be able to just play with them and compete for a gold medal.”

Mosqueda-Lewis, dealing with having won the NCAA title, said she concentrated on her all-around game.

“I was a little nervous because I definitely did not shoot very well during this whole tryout, and that's kind of my job. I tried to do a lot of other stuff, like rebounding, hustling hard on defense. Luckily it worked.”

She in her fourth USA Basketball lineup.

“It's still special,” she said. “Every time is special. Now it's really cool because I will be playing with girls that I have played against in college. A lot of them, Odyssey and Tricia and a lot of them I watched before I even got to college and said, 'They're really good.' Now I get to play with them, so it's really cool.”

Massengale said it was very difficult to relax.

“I was nervous. I barely slept last night (before the announcement),” she said. “It's just nerve-wracking when you are competing against 32 other great players. Anyone here was capable of making the team, so it's just an honor.”

She used her skills as the Lady Vol leader to stand out.

“I think it was just my leadership. Being a point guard, being vocal with my teammates, not worrying about myself but trying to put them in the best position for our team to be successful.”

It is also her fourth USA Basketball assignment.

“It's very special,” she said. “The committee doesn't really look at if you made it before, because that is in the past. It depends on what you do during these try outs here. It's definitely an honor. I'm blessed. Coaches tell me, ‘You put in the work and it's going to pay off for you,’ so I'm very excited.”

The irrepressible Hooper used her rookie energy to deal with the altitude of Colorado Springs and the nerves of being a first-timer at trials. She blanked out the rest of the team announcement.

“Blank. I honestly didn’t hear anything except my name, and that was it. It was just a huge shock.

“This is pretty cool. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it, so getting called was just huge. I don’t even know what to do with myself right now.

“The first two days I didn’t really play my best, and then I just kind of stepped up and played my game, and I think that’s kind of what they saw.”

Her Cornhusker work ethic paid off.

“What I brought – my rebounding, my shooting, stuff like that. Hopefully I can work on my defense, so just whatever they need. (I will do) whatever they want me to do.

"Probably get in shape and stuff like that. I wasn’t in very good shape (laughing), so I’m definitely going to work hard on that. Just play hard and keep playing.

“There’s definitely an (altitude) difference, especially from Lincoln and what I’m used to. It’s just a whole different altitude level, no breath and all that kind of stuff.”

Hartley seemed smooth throughout, with enough doubts about the selection to play with an edge.

“I thought I played OK,” she said. “I didn't think I played my best basketball ever. I'm just really happy that the committee picked me. I'm really excited that I was good enough to make the team.

“I was a little nervous. Even though I have made the team before, you don't want to come in here thinking, 'Oh, I'm definitely going to make the team.' You have to stay humble, but you also want to be confident, thinking you could possibly make the team. You have to come out and play basketball the way you know how to.”

She stressed her overall game.

“I think it was versatility, because I am a combo-guard. I can play a little bit of the 1 and the 2 and I can make sure all of my teammates are involved. Also, just talking and encouraging, that's the main thing I like to do.”

The 2013 World University Games women’s basketball competition is scheduled for July 8-15 in Kazan, Russia.

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Two SEC Players Make USA Basketball U-19 Squad

By Mike Siroky

Seven players from the Southeastern Conference accepted invitations to the United States tryouts for FIBA U19 World Championships; 34 athletes were invited.

In the end, only Bashara Graves of Tennessee and incoming freshman Linna Harper of Kentucky made the cut from the conference.

The 6-foot-2 Graves was the 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year and a Full Court Freshman All-American. She is one of six members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that captured the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in August to secure a berth in this summer's U19 competition.

The 5-8 Harper is from Chicago. She won gold medals as a member of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team and the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship Team. She also was awarded an honorary bronze medal in the inaugural 2011 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.

She is the Wildcats’ top recruit ever, both a McDonald’s All-America and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America. She averaged 19 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game during her senior season.

UConn is the best-represented school on the team, with all three invited players making the cut. If there was a solid lock it had to be UConn’s Breanna Stewart, the MVP of the Huskies’ National Championship team.

Stewart was the MVP of the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and member of the five-member 2009 All-FIBA U19 World Championship Tournament Team.

She has helped USA squads earn gold at the 2010 U17 and 2011 U19 FIBA World Championships, as well as the 2009 U16 and 2012 U18 FIBA Americas Championships. The 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year was the lone high school athlete on the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team.

Moriah Jefferson, a 5-7 guard from Glenn Heights, Texas; and Morgan Tuck, a 6-2 forward from Bolingbrook (a Chicago suburb) are the other two with UConn futures on this team. They are the only three to ever repeat as U19 teammates.

Other high schoolers to make it are A’ja Wilson, a 6-4 forward from Hopkins, S.C.; Brianna Turner, a 6-3 forward from Pearland, Texas; and Gabby Green, a 6-1 guard from Oakland, Calif. This was Wilson’s first tryout for USA Basketball. As if life for other teams was not difficult enough in UConn’s universe, she said last week – during the trials – that Storrs was a likely college destination. She flew to the trials on the same flight as the UConn trio.

With that, UConn has dropped its pursuit of Turner who has Baylor and Duke as her top two choices. Green, though, remains another UConn possibility. The hint: She played on Team Taurasi in California summer leagues.

Others with collegiate experience are 6-6 center (the tallest selectee) Candice Agee of Penn State; Alexis Jones, a 5-8 guard from Duke; Kelsey Plum, a 5-8 guard from Poway, Calif, committed to Duke; and Nia Coffey, a 6-2 forward from Minneapolis committed to Northwestern.

In addition to chairman and new Tenn.-Chattanooga coach Jim Foster, the 2013-16 USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee included NCAA appointees Melanie Balcomb (coach, Vanderbilt University), Lindsay Gottlieb (coach, University of California) and Joi Williams (coach, UCF), as well as athlete representative, WNBA player Kara Lawson, a 2008 Olympic Gold medalist who has played on nine USA Basketball teams. Lawson spoke to the group during the trials, about the responsibilities of representing their country.

“We were able to pick a U19 team that has a lot of strengths in a lot of different areas,” said Foster. “I think that bodes well for them. They have good size. They have some people who can put the ball in the basket. They’re athletic, and I think they can be good defensively. It’s a team that has a lot of potential to be very successful.

“The team has some players whose skill set is a little different than their position. Breanna Stewart, A’Ja Wilson and Brianna Turner are all 6-3 or above and are equally as comfortable putting the ball on the floor after they get a rebound and starting a fast break on their own. It’s an interesting dimension, and it makes the team that much more versatile because you could actually play some of them at wing positions and have a very, very big team on the floor. It makes for a lot of versatility.”

The coach this summer, Miami’s Katie Meier, agreed.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “The length is incredible, the talent, the diversity. Everybody brings a little something different.

“That gives us a lot of choices as coaches in a lot of different ways that we can win basketball games. (The committee) put together what I think is the team that answers any type of a question. We have speed. We have quickness. We have size. We have shooters. They really made sure that they gave us every weapon.”

Drawn into Group D, the U.S. will play its preliminary and second round games in Panevežys, and opens against Lithuania on July 18, followed by China on July 19 and caps the preliminary round against Mali on July 20.

The top three finishing teams from each first-round group will advance to the second round, held July 22-24. The 12 nations qualifying for the second round will be divided into Groups E and F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with all results of games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second-round standings.

Just as it was in the U19 USA Basketball team, UConn is represented on the World University Games team

At the same time as the U19 trials, the World University Games team will also be assembled. The U19 participants are also eligible for that team.

The 2013 World University Games women’s basketball competition is scheduled for July 8-15 in Kazan, Russia.

Numerous top athletes have represented the United States at the U19s and eight players from the first seven USA U19 squads have advanced to compete in the Olympic Games.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: SEC Offers Ingredients for USA Gold

By Mike Siroky

Two international teams representing United States women’s basketball are being put together this weekend (starting Thursday).

At least seven players from the Southeastern Conference have accepted invitations to the trials; 34 athletes were invited.

The selected team will attempt to win a fifth-consecutive gold medal for the United States at the FIBA U19 World Championships. The 2013 tournament will be hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevežys. The USA team will start training on July 1 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. USA Basketball, the nation al coordinating organization, is in charge.

The selection is under the direction of hall-of-Fame Coach Jim Foster of Chattanooga.

"This group has a nice nucleus with some former gold medal winners in the mix and some new candidates that will allow us to field a very competitive team," said Foster. This is his ninth USA Basketball assignment.

This is the team that will provide a look at the younger players on the USA Olympics team for Games to come. Certainly, the experienced professionals will make up the core of the Games teams, but these Under-19s will be the future foundation.

From the University of Tennessee, sophomore Bashaara Graves – whom coach Holly Warlick credited al season with being the glue that held together the SEC champions -- and incoming freshman Jordan Reynolds will attend.

The 6-foot-2 Graves was the 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year and a Full Court Freshman All-American. She is one of six members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that captured the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in August to secure a berth in this summer's U19 competition.

That makes her a prohibitive favorite to continue playing.

Georgia also has two invitees, both of whom started for the Lady Bulldogs as freshmen in their run to a Regional Final as an Elite Eight team.

Shacobia Barbee and Tiaria Griffin draw praise from their college coach, Andy Landers.

"I think this is an outstanding opportunity for them and a compliment to the way that they performed this season," Landers said. "This should be a very positive experience for them and I'm confident they'll each represent Georgia Basketball very well."

Barbee, a 5-10, guard/forward from Murfreesboro, Tenn., was named to the All-Spokane Regional team of the NCAA Tournament and also was on the SEC's All-Defensive and All-Freshman teams. Barbee led the Lady Bulldogs in steals with 87, the third-most ever by a Georgia freshman.

Griffin, a 5-7, guard from Monticello, Miss., connected on a team-high 46 3-point field goal attempts. Griffin scored in double figures 10 times, four of those coming in games against ranked opponents. She scored 13 points, including 10 in the second half, in the Lady Bulldogs' upset of No. 1 seed Stanford in the "Sweet 16."

Georgia Lady Bulldogs have a lengthy and storied history representing USA Basketball; 25 Lady Bulldogs have represented USA Basketball in more than 40 international competitions worldwide.

Most notably, Teresa Edwards is the only player – male or female – to participate in five Olympic Games and captured four gold medals. Katrina McClain represented the USA in three Olympics and won gold medals in 1988 and 1996. Edwards and McClain were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Kentucky will be represented by incoming freshman Linnae Harper of Chicago.
Harper, a 5-foot-8 guard, won gold as a member of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team and the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship Team. She also was awarded an honorary bronze medal in the inaugural 2011 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.

She is the highest-ranked recruit in UK Hoops history.

In addition to Foster, the 2013-16 USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee includes NCAA appointees Melanie Balcomb (coach, Vanderbilt University), Lindsay Gottlieb (coach, University of California) and Joi Williams (coach, UCF), as well as athlete representative, WNBA player Kara Lawson, a 2008 Olympic Gold medalist who has played on nine USA Basketball teams.

Drawn into Group D, the U.S. will play its preliminary and second round games in Panevežys, and opens against Lithuania on July 18, followed by China on July 19 and caps the preliminary round against Mali on July 20.

The top three finishing teams from each first-round group will advance to the second round, held July 22-24. The 12 nations qualifying for the second round will be divided into Groups E and F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with all results of games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second-round standings.

"I think it's a fantastic, dynamic, diverse group for international play," said USA and University of Miami coach Katie Meier.

"The committee understands the important parts of what it takes to win internationally. There's a lot of great and versatile size in this group, some really dynamic players who can do a lot of special things from 20-feet in.

“This is a really exciting, athletic group who are also very, very skilled. That's a real sign for the growth of our game throughout the country, that the U19s have this level of skill.

"This is going to be a very competitive trials. We've got a lot to play for, and the young ladies who have already won gold have already proven how competitive they are.

“But, I think there will be another sense of, absolutely, nothing is given. There's no automatic `you're going to make the team.' That's obvious. We don't even have enough slots for everyone who's won a Gold medal, and then you look at the rest of the talent who's coming in hungry for their first chance to win gold. We're going to see a very, very high level of competition and probably some of the best scrimmages we've ever seen."

Assisting Meier and the U19 squad are collegiate coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University, a former Lady Vol player and assistant, and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University. Additionally, American University head coach Matt Corkery, University of Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey and University of Tulsa head coach Matilda Mossman will serve as court coaches during the trials.

Six members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that earned the USA its 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship berth are returning to compete for a spot on the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team.

The undisputed team leader will be UConn’s Breanna Stewart, the MVP of the Huskies’ National Championship team. Two other UConn recruits have been invited.
Stewart was the MVP of the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and member of the five-member 2009 All-FIBA U19 World Championship Tournament Team.

She has helped USA squads earn gold at the 2010 U17 and 2011 U19 FIBA World Championships, as well as the 2009 U16 and 2012 U18 FIBA Americas Championships. The 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year was the lone high school athlete on the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team.

In addition to the 13 gold medalists attending the USA U19 trials, 10 others have participated in a USA Basketball trials previously.

At the same time as the U19 trials, the World University Games team will also be assembled. The U19 participants are also eligible for that team.

The 2013 World University Games women’s basketball competition is scheduled for July 8-15 in Kazan, Russia.

Numerous top athletes have represented the United States at the U19s, including Alana Beard (2001); Essence Carson (2005); Tamika Catchings (1997); Crystal Langhorne (2005); Jantel Lavender (2007); Lisa Leslie (1989); Rebecca Lobo (1993); Maya Moore (2007); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009); Vickie Orr (1985); Courtney Paris (2005); Cappie Pondexter (2001); Katie Smith (1993); Dawn Staley (1989); Breanna Stewart (2011); Diana Taurasi (2001); Abby Waner (2005); and Candice Wiggins (2005).

Additionally, eight athletes from the first seven USA U19 squads have advanced to compete in the Olympic Games, including Catchings, Leslie, Lobo, Moore, Pondexter, Smith, Staley and Taurasi.

Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men’s and women’s basketball in the United States.

As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA sponsored international basketball competitions, as well as for some national competitions.

USA teams are the current men's and women's champions in the Olympics, men’s and women’s FIBA World Championships; women’s FIBA U19 World Champions; men's and women's FIBA U17 World Champions; and the men's and women's U18 and U16 FIBA Americas champions; as well as winners of the women’s FIBA 3X3 World Championship and 3x3 U18 World Championship.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Guru's WNBA Report: Saint Joseph's Star Chatilla van Grinsven Bids to Rise With the Sun as a Rookie in Connecticut

By Mel Greenberg

Though the big tests are still ahead, former Saint Joseph’s senior star Chatilla van Grinsven is so far fitting nicely the first few days into the WNBA training camp routine of the defending regular season Eastern Conference Connecticut Sun here at the Mohegan Sun casino-entertainment complex following the completion of her collegiate career with the Hawks.

“It’s funny, I said to our coach that this is where my college career ended (in Connecticut) and this is where my next chapter starts with a pro career,” van Grinsven said with a smile at Tuesday’s media session at the Mohegan Sun Area.

“But I’m definitely excited to be here. I know this Connecticut team has a lot of history we can definitely be proud of and I’m very proud to be part of this training camp team.”

Her coach, making her first tour of duty with the Sun is Hall of Famer Anne Donovan after four previous stints at Indiana, Charlotte, Seattle, where she guided the Storm to the 2004 championship over Connecticut, and New York, whom the Sun will face Saturday night here in the first of three exhibition games.

Donovan, who also coached the Philadelphia Rage in the short-lived third and final season of the former American Basketball League in the front end of the 1998-99 third go-round, had returned to the collegiate ranks from New York to coach at Seton Hall the last two seasons.

The former Old Dominion all-American and all-time shot blocker in either the AIAW or NCAA eras also starred on the United States Olympic team winning two gold medals in 2004 and 2008.

Then in the middle of last winter the Sun surprisingly let go Mike Thibault, who had coached Connecticut all previous ten seasons after the Mohegan Indian tribe bought the franchise that used to be the Orlando Miracle.

The same group, incideentally, is one of the bidders for a casino site on Market Street in Philadelphia.

Thibault was quickly grabbed up by the folks down in Washington, seeking a major turnaround to the Mystics misfortunes the last two seasons.
The Connecticut opening came at the time the Big East was imploding with Seton Hall, Villanova and the other five Catholic members of the conference joining the exits of Rutgers, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.

With the outlook a bit murky, the approach from the Sun was too good to turn down and so Donovan and the franchise eventually came to a deal.

“With her being a post player, I take in every word she tells me and try to improve on everything she tells me in practice,” van Grinsven said of Donovan. “I definitely soak in everything she tells me and I’m happy to have her as my coach.”

A native of the Netherlands who played only one year at Saint Joseph’s following her transfer from Colorado State to join her older sister Samira, the 6-foot-3 forward finished as Big Five player of the year with team-leading averages of 14.9 points per game and 10.4 rebounds a game as she helped lead the Hawks to an Atlantic 10 title in March and first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2000.

That showing was short lived as the Hawks got edged an hour away from here by Vanderbilt in a first-round game at eventual NCAA champion Connecticut.

In another WNBA configuration at another time in the league’s 17-year history, including this summer, draft day last month could have been an exciting time for van Grinsven.

However, with expenses what they are in the pro league in recent seasons, her name was not called by the time all three rounds concluded.
The big news of the day for the locals here was the drafting of UConn star Kelly Faris, a 5-foot-11 guard forward whom the Sun took in the first round with the 11th overall pick.

But van Grinsven was not left out of the WNBA mix for long. Several teams called with training camp deals but just as Donovan jumped at the chance to be with one of the classier operations in the 12-team league, van Grinsven decided to seek her pro future here.

In a conversation with the Guru prior to media day – the Guru and Donovan go way back in time from her playing days – Donovan had said she did not see van Grinsven in person last season while coaching the Pirates.

But she was impressed with what she saw on film and noted, “I like her blue collar approach.”

Asked how the change is going from her brief one-year time on Hawk Hill, van Grinsven quickly replied, “It’s definitely a change. Everything is a lot faster, a lot stronger. But I am fully enjoying every single moment of it. I feel blessed to be here and I’m excited to compete with the best women in the world.”

Van Grinsven arrives at a time the Sun need some shoring up off the bench and maybe more with three players gone from last season’s roster.

The biggest of the losses is former UConn great Asjha Jones, a member of last year’s Olympic gold medalists who is taking a break to heal from several injuries in recent seasons.

Jessica Moore, another post player who also played at UConn, is not coming back, while Danielle McCray tore her Achilles tendon early last month and will need all summer to heal.

Kelsey Griffin, the former Nebraska star, is being counted on to do the basic filling of the void left by Jones.
Griffin said of van Grinsven’s play so far, “She’s doing good. She’s holding her own. She’s a great person to be around. She’s making the most out of her camp. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Veteran Mistie Bass, the former Duke star whose father is former Philadelphia rocker Chubby Checker of “The Twist” renown, said she was impressed with van Grinsven’s athleticism.

Of course the big name in the front court is former UConn great Tina Charles, the 2010 graduate and center who was the MVP of the league last season.

Other newcomers in the mix of overall hopefuls are forward-center Ashley Walker, a 2009 graduate of California who has impressed the local media who attend portions of practice here.

Johanna Leedham, a guard-forward who played on the English Olympic team last summer, did her college work in this state at Franklin Pierce, graduating in 2010 as the all-time scorer in Division II with 3,050 points, and fifth highest across all NCAA Divisions.

LaToya Williams signed a training camp deal as a 6-4 center, as did 5-10 guard and free agent Natasha Lacy. Recently graduated South Florida guard Andrea Smith was taken in the draft in the third round 35th overall while Leedham was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft but has never suited up for the Sun, who owned her rights.

Talking more about her experience so far, van Grinsven said she looked to her former associate head coach Susan Moran, the all-time Hawks great who has been on Cindy Griffin’s staff, for some advice off Moran’s earlier years on the New York Liberty roster after graduating as the all-time Saint Joseph’s scorer.

“She had some experience and told me what to expect, how training camp works, which is helpful, and she’s a good role model for me, especially coming from Saint Joe’s,” van Grinsven said.

“I look up to her as a coach and player and hope to learn more from her in the future.”

As for anything surprising her, the former Saint Joseph’s star said, “I knew the speed of the game was a lot faster and that’s something we have to adjust to the first five minutes in practice.

“So we have to adjust to that as rookies, but the second day the practices went a lot better and we adjusted to everything we had to adjust to. I think we’re kind of on a roll right now.”

Van Grisven is one of two recent Big Five stars in WNBA training camps.

Shey Peddy, the former Temple standout who was van Grinsven’s predecessor for Big Five honors a year ago and was the final cut of the Chicago Sky, the home of recently drafted overall No. 2 pick Elena Delle Donne out of Delaware, is on the camp roster in Washington.

Asked how van Grinsven’s first few days have gone, Donovan responded, “Chatilla’s played great her, though we’ve only had two practices.
“She’s got great size, got great versatility, she’s able to bang inside, she’s able to step outside and knock down a jump shot. Incredibly hunger and eager, which is a quality you want to have when you come into this league as a rookie,” Donovan added.

“She’s got a shot. She really does.”

-- Mel

Friday, May 03, 2013

Guru's College Report: The Guru's 2013-14 Coaching Carousel Roll Call

By Mel Greenberg

And the Guru updates more spinning just before the season tpioff, Thursday, November 7th, with the Xavier vacancy filled, which follows the last update of the creation of vcancies at XXavier and Georgetown and before that the San Jose State hire of Sacramento State coach Jamie Craighead, meaning another D-1 opening needs to be filled there as well.

The opening comments after this note will reflect all the changes as will the boxscores as of the moment with the latest update.

The Guru after initially catching up now updates again the running edition of the Coaching Carousel spins for 2013-14.

The Guru breaks it down into special categories to establish the rookie contenders for Maggie Dixon honors -- the Guru called the last one as soon as the carousel finished its final spin for 2012-13 -- the BCS hires and the other D-1 hires with boxscore breakdowns on the movement.

Playing catch up, initially, the Guru culled the WBCA and ESPN lists -- some apppear on one and not the other -- so if someone vacancy or hire is missing or filled but not listed, feel free to notify the base here.

Though there was a crush early in March, the switches are still running far behind the massive 75 of last season, including 40-some rookies. In fact, the filled vacancy on Thursday at Xavier, means the overall Dixon contenders will reach only a total of 28.

Overall, the total when newly-created vacancy at Georgetown and previous and still existing vacancy at Sacramento State is filled will be 52, now almost comprable to the number of some 50 plus schools which underwent new conference identities July 1.

Three names repeat because Mississippi's Matt Insell, Washington's Mike Neighbors, and Xavier's Brian Neal are BCS hires and rookie candidate. With Xavier now in the new Big East and Georgetown in the same spot the question may have to be resolved if the Big East can still be considered BCS after the breakup but for now it will remain as was until some determination is made. The current Carousel will stay in spin mode until some point early in the 2013-14 seaason.

Jamie Craighead, obviously, is not a rookie, and furthermore Barb Smith is not listed as a rookie because of a previous stint in her life as a D-1 coach and same for Cindy Stein and Candi Whitaker and Pat Coyle.

The purest rookie is Sheryl Swoopes, one of the all-time greats, who in the manner of the fabled Dawn Staley back in 2000, is becoming a head coach at Loyola, Chicago, without ever serving over or on the staff of another program.

This is updated through November 8 but kept here in the original posting date. So here we go.

Rookies in D-1 Hires

Alabama-Birmingham, Randy Norton from BCS-Missouri associate head coach

American, Megan Gebbia from MM-Marist assistant.

Belmont, Cameron Newbauer from BCS-Louisville assistant

California State-Fullerton, Deron Park from BCS-Southern California assistant

Coastal Carolina, Jaida Williams from BCS-Wake Forest assistant

Dartmouth, Belle Koclanes from MM-American University assistant

Duquesne, Dan Burt, promoted from MM-Duquesne assistant

Eastern Illinois, Debbie Black, from BCS-Ohio State assistant

Howard, Tennille Adams, from BCS-Northwestern assistant

Houston Baptist, Donna Finnie, promoted to head coach

Iona, Billie Godsey from BCS-Virginia Tech assistant

Jacksonville University, Yolett McPhee-McCuin from BCS-Clemson assistant

Lamar, Robin Harmony from D2/NAIA-St. Thomas (Miami, Fla.)

Loyola-Chicago, Sheryl Swoopes from WNBA playing experience

Miami (Ohio) University, Cleve Wright from D2-Gannon

BCS-Mississippi, Matt Insell from BCS-Kentucky assistant

Oakland, Jeff Tungate from Oakland men's assistant.

Pepperdine, Ryan Weisenberg promoted from MM-Pepperdine assistant

Radford, Mike McGuire from MM-Richmond assistant

Sacred Heart, Jessica Mannetti, from Hofstra assistant

San Diego State, Stacie Terry, from BCS-LSU assistant

South Alabama, Terry Fowler from D2-North Alabama

Texas-Arlington, Krista Gerlich from D2-West Texas A&M

Texas San Antonio, Lubomyr Lichonczak promoted from associate head coach

Texas Southern, Johnetta Hayes-Perry promoted from MM-Texas Southern assistant

Youngstown State, John Barnes from MM-Wis.-Green Bay associate head coach

BCS-Washington, Mike Neighbors promoted from BCS-Washington assistant head coach

BCS-Xavier, Brian Neal promoted from assistant coach

Boxscore Total (as of November 7th): 28 hires. 14 Male, 14 Female. 12 from BCS staffs, 10 from MM-staffs, 1 from D2/NAIA head coach, 3 From D2 head coach, 1 from men's side at Oakland and 1 gets first coaching job.

BCS Hires

Alabama,Kristy Curry hired from BCS Texas Tech head coach

Clemson, Audra Smith from MM-Alabama-Birmingham

Georgetown, interim in place so still vacant.

@-Missisippi, Matt Insell from assistant at BCS-Kentucky

North Carolina State, Wes Moore from MM-Chattanooga

Ohio State, Kevin McGuff from BCS-Washington

Pittsburgh, Suzie McConnell-Serio from MM-Duquesne

&&-Seton Hall, Tony Bozella from MM-Iona

Southern California, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke from MM-Texas Southern

Texas Tech, Candi Whitaker from BCS-Oklahoma State associate head coach who at one time had been head coach at UMKC

@-Washington, Mike Neighbors promoted from BCS-assistant head coach

@-Xavier, Brian Neal from assisstant coach.

Boxscore total (as of November 8) 12 positions, 1 vacant. (Running count minus 3 because Neighbors, Insell,and Neal also listed in rookie list. 6 males, 5 females.)

&&-Designation may change out of BCS because of Big East breakup.
2 from BCS-head coach, 4 from BCS-staff-2 promotion, 5 from MM-head coach

Other D-1 Hires

Alabama A&M, Semeka Randall, former MM-Ohio U. head coach before let go

Chattanooga, Jim Foster had been BCS Ohio State head coach before let go

Columbia, Stephanie Glance from MM Illinois State

East Tennessee State, Brittney Ezell, from MM-Belmont

George Mason, Nyla Mileson from MM-Missouri State

Illinois State, Barb Smith from MM Saint Louis assistant

Missouri State, Kellie Harper from BCS-North Carolina State before let go.

Ohio University, Bob Bolden from MM-Youngstown State

Sacramento State, vacancy as of Sept. 16.

Saint Peter’s, Pat Coyle from former BCS-Pittsburgh staff and a previous HC.

San Jose State, Jamie Craighead from Sacramento State head coach.

Southern Illinois, Cindy Stein who had been at one time BCS-Missouri head coach

Texas-Pan American, Larry Tidwell from MM-Lamar

Towson, Niki Geckeler from MM-Howard

William & Mary, Ed Swanson hired from MM-Sacred Heart

Boxscore (as of November 8). 15 positions, 1 vacant. 4 males, 10 females. 2 from BCS head coach, 1 former BCS head coach, 9 from MM-head coach, 1 from MM assistant, 1 former BCS assistant, and 1 current vacancy.

Total Boxscore to date (as of November 8). 52 positions. 21 males, 29 females. 2 current vacancies, 5 BCS head coach, 14 MM head coach, 14 BCS staff. 

-- Mel

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Guru Adds to Hall of Fame Collection: Summer League Countdown to Launch

By Mel Greenberg

Since the tease at the end of the previous post was written,and for those not connected on twitter @womhoopsguru, facebook or LinkedIn, the Guru was cleared to go public to say that on Oct. 19, though he was never enrolled at the university, he will become a honorary Catholic woman when he becomes part of the second induction class of the Immaculata Athletics Hall of Fame.

The letter cited support of the university and pioneering coverage of women's basketball.

When Immaculata finishes receiving acceptances from other inductees, the university will then make official announcement about the dinner. For those keeping count (chuckle), this is No. 7 (he thinks) for the Guru counting Temple as a member of the NIT men's champion team back in the day. But this one is a special one and the Guru will be making a more formal reaction down the road.

Moving on, Dave Kessler has begun mailing the application registration and letter for the 2013 season of the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women's Summer League Basketball League.

The Guru will reprint the letter below and adds that transfer students going to a new school do not count against the two-player limit in the same manner as freshman.

So St. Joe for example, could have two activies per teams in the league but also on any particular team could also have incoming freshmen and transfer students.

And as mentioned the Guru will cover the league at his PhilahoopsW site instead of here for a better presentation. The link is in a previous post but he will post and tweet it when actual coverage begins with the May 29th draft.

David will always mention the site in the newsletter but may take a bit until he changes his mental gears on the reference (wink). but will tweet and also note here when things are posted so you won't miss anything.

Here's the letter. If you haven't played and are not on his list you can either email the Guru poll416@gmail.com and he'll forward back the attachments or contact David directly -- all his information is in the letter below but while you are here the email for him is deucedbk@comcast.net.

-- Mel



Site: Kelly Bolish Gymnasium (home of the AAU “Renegades”)
2950 Turnpike Drive
Hatboro, Pa. 19040
Site has 3 gyms, snack bar, ample parking, and is near the Pa. Turnpike

(Guru note: Snack bar very good and cheap and parking also exists around back which is useful on a rainy night.)

Playing dates: Tuesday and Thursday evenings beginning Tuesday June 18. Depending on the number of teams, there may be 1 or 2 Wednesday dates. as well. Game times are 7:00 & 8:15 P.M.

There is space for 13 teams of 10-12 players per team.


Fee: $130.00 per player (includes shirt with name and number on back, number on front along with league logo imprinted over the heart. Fee also includes officials, score/timekeepers, awards, site rental, and league expenses – insurance, balls, books, copying, etc.)

This is a draft league. Players can form teams, but cannot come into the league with a full squad. The league needs the flexibility to assign players to each team.

This is done for parity and because NCAA regulations prohibit Division I players from playing with more than one college teammate (this does not include incoming freshmen, who are not yet officially enrolled in school.)

Division I players (except incoming freshmen) are required to submit a letter of permission from their Athletic Director to the League Director or they will not be permitted to play. Letters can be submitted:

by e-maill, through regular mail, or delivered in person.


The league will be certified by the NCAA in the month of May. Status can be checked online (ncaa.org)

(Guru note: The Guru will also mention when annual approval is made).


Thursday April 25 --- application for 2013 NCAA certification is e-mailed
Tuesday April 30 --- information letter e-mailed to prospective players


Wednesday May 29: Player draft (coaches only) teams are formed at Kelly Bolish Gymnasium-730: p.m.
Monday June 3: Shirts are ordered
Sunday June 9: Rosters and schedules are e-mailed to players and coaches
Tuesday June 18: Shirts distributed, league begins

Depending on the number of teams, playoffs should begin the last week of July and end the first or second week of August







PHILADELPHIA, PA. 19116-1046