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, November 19, 2013

Guru's College Report: UConn's Hartley Pulsates in Win at Penn State


(Guru’s note: Here is a link to the story of the game the Guru did for hoopfeed.com http://wp.me/pwd9L-7IQ )

By Mel Greenberg

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Playing with a lot of heart can carry a team a long way though not always to victory.

However, when it comes to top ranked Connecticut, playing with Bria Hartley at her best certainly increases the odds much further toward the same goal.

 And when that doesn’t happen, the unbeaten Huskies (4-0) still find ways to when, even when going through adversity with a shorthanded roster.

That was the story of the weekend for the defending NCAA champions as the two biggest obstacles immediately after the victory over powerful Stanford last Monday were overcome following the news 48 hours later that all-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis would be lost indefinitely with a bruised right elbow suffered against the Cardinal and that fonmoorward Morgan Tuck would be sidelined four-to-six weeks after knee surgery.m

In the win at No. 8 Maryland on Friday UConn pulled away in the second half and was able to overcome Hartley’s struggles from the field shooting 4-for-21 overall and 0-for-11 on three point attempts.

The drought was quelled quickly next time out on Sunday afternoon as Hartley tied a career-high 29 points and helped repulse Penn State’s second-half surge from a 23-point deficit to nine when she scored eight points on a pair of treys and a jumper and UConn pulled away to a 72-51 victory.

“I think it shows when we can come into places that get a lot of fans and have a hostile environment, we can still get it done when we want to get it done,” said sophomore Brenna Stewart, who had 14 points against the Lady Lions (2-1) and was the most outstanding player in UConn’s triumph in April at the NCAA women’s final-four to tie Tennessee with a record eight national titles.

Connecticut also survived post players such as all-American Stefanie Dolson and Stewart getting stung with foul calls under the new initiative in making more calls against physical play.

Having survived two tough road tests in 48 hours, UConn’s biggest worry will be not to  defeat itself over the next month because while the roster shortages continue the Huskies will be heavy favorites against Oregon at home Wednesday night and three more home contests this weekend against Boston University, Monmouth and St. Bonaventure on successive days.

Then after a small break in the schedule Ohio State will be on the opposing side of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame event in nearby Springfield, Mass., and then UC Davis will visit before finals.

After that break, when UConn might get lucky to get one of the players back, the Huskies visit No. 2 Duke.

“If we keep getting better,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, “then it’s going to be really hard to beat us.”

But he also sounded a note of caution against complacency for what was done while in the same breath applauding the achievement on his team on the early part of the schedule, considering the adversity.

“If we stay stagnant, don’t move forward from here, we’re setting overselves up to get beat,” Auriemma said. “The fact we beat three really good teams this week, that’s great. That’s great for the players, great for their confidence. This was a big test for them.

If it was also a big test on the other side for Penn State, which fell a spot to 14th on Monday in this week’s Associated Press women’s basketball poll following the loss to UConn.

It was also one that maybe came too early or at the right time considering the youthfulness of the Lady Lions roster that still has the firepower one more year from senior Maggie Lucas, the native of Narberth who is the reigning Big 10 player of the year.

Lucas came to life in the second half to fuel the surge with a flurry of treys that made it seem Penn State might become the fifth straight team this weekend in the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group of local Division I coverage to forge a comeback from a deep deficit.

Nittany Lions football coach Bill O’Brien and men’s coach Pat Chambers were in the house which consisted of a highly vocal crowd of 8,194 fans in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Lucas paid respect to UConn but was as defiant as the previous two teams the last seasons in saying where the game was lost for her squad.

“We got away from our offense today,” Lucas said. “The shots were there.”

If so, they had trouble falling for Dara Taylor, who was 3=for-10 from the field while Ariel Edwards was 1-for-13.

However, coach Coquese Washington was more realistic about the state of her team with one week of the season in the books.

“I saw a lot of inexperience,” Washington said. “I saw a lot of hesitation and indecisiveness. That leads to inefficiency and indecisiveness, especially on the offensive end. But we need experience, so we like playing these kind of games because it shows us a lot about ourselves.”

It also showed the newcomers are not quite ready for primetime.

“Absolutely, big-time wide-eyed,” Washington said of her newcomers’ struggles against the relentless Huskies pressure on defense.

“We haven’t gelled yet. Our chemistry is not where it was last year when we had four starters who played together three or four years. There’s going to be fits and lurches.”

Penn State gets right back on the horse against a somewhat less challenge on Wednesday night when nearby in-state rival Bucknell of the Patriot League visits.

In the early days of the Auriemma era he wanted to play Penn State, then a longtime national power on the Eastern seaboard 200 miles in-land, but got no acceptance from former coach Rene Portland, a former Immaculata star and contemporary of his in the Philadelphia area.

But the schools finally met twice in 1999-2000 – the first in a special doubleheader at Disney Wide World of Sprts near Orlando, Fla., and then again in the Women’s Final Four in the semifinals in Philadelphia.

Both Washington and Auriemma said they’d like to continue the series after the Huskies stopped the Lady Lions’ most recent home win streak at 22.

Lucas, by the way, with her 18 points moved into past former All-American and new Pittsburgh coach Suzie McConnell-Serio into sixth place on the all-time Penn State career scoring list.

Incidentally, assistant coach Fred Chmiel, a former aide to Dawn Staley when she coached Temple, is heading for surgery Tuesday after suffering a ruptured patella tendon in his left knee during practice Thursday.

The outcome Sunday may or may not have had affected the decision of another star recruit who was in the media room for both postgame press conferences but UConn still got richer back at home Monday when Candian Kia Nurse, a 6-0 guard from Hamilton, Ontario became the fourth member of the 2014 committed class to the Huskies.

She is a niece of former Eagles quarterback great Donovan McNabb.

Princeton Takes Home Opener While Rutgers Escapes La Salle Visit

Three other PhilahoopsW teams were also in action Sunday with two playing against each other.

In Piscataway, N.J., Christ Evans’ layup with less than a second remaining enabled Rutgers to come back from a brief deficit and then snap a tie with a 59-57 victory over La Salle to stay unbeaten at 3-0.

La Salle dropped its second straight and the loss was even more of a heart break then the season and home opener a week ago Friday when Temple rallied – the first of three straight games that way – to top the Explorers at Tom Gola Arena.

Philadelphian Kahleah Copper had 12 points for the Scarlet Knights, while Briyona Canty of Willingboro, N.J., outside Philadelphia, scored 11 as did highly touted freshman Tyler Scaife. Betnijah Laney from suburban Wilmington, Del., whose mother Yolanda played for Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer at Cheyney, grabbed 12 rebounds.

Rutgers, which next plays at Massachusetts in Amherst, Wednesday, won its sixth straight in the seven-game series between the two schools.

Micahya Breslow had 21 points for the Explorers, while Alicia Cropper had 11 points, and Leeza Burdgess had 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

La Salle next travels to Manhattan Sunday and then stays on the road for a visit the following day to Fairfield in Connecticut.

Princeton, meanwhile, after losing at Rutgers a week ago Sunday in the Tigers’ season opener, as well as that for the Scarlet Knights, launched its home schedule at Jadwin Gym with an 81-58 victory over Marist, the perennial champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Contest.

Of course Princeton has become likewise in the Ivy League with four straight titles and a prediction for a fifth straight this season.

The stars of the four=for-four era returned Sunday, including two-time Ivy player of the year Niveen Rasheed, who flew in from Greece where she is playing professionally.

In Sunday’s game, Kristen Helmstetter of the Tigers led both teams with 18 points, while Vanessa Smith scored 11, as did Michelle Miller, with Blake Dietrick and Alex Wheatley each adding 10 points.

Princeton next visits nearby Rider of the MAAC Tuesday night while Delaware, the only other PhilahoopsW team in action the same time, will host Monmouth, a new addition to the MAAC.

Honors

Temple hit a double in the weekly awards following the Owls’ pulsating rally from a 16-point second-half deficit to top Auburn Saturday night in a nonconference home game at McGonigle Hall.

Freshman Feyonda Fitzgerald, who had 12 points and the game-winner, was named rookie of the week in the new American conference the Owls joined this season while Tyonna Williams was named the Big Five women’s player of the week.

Meanwhile, Elena Delle Donne may have graduated from Delaware after a sensational career but the Blue Hens still can attract awards out of the Colonial Athletic Association, which named Kelsey Buchanan, the co-player of the week.

Drexel can also cash in despite the graduation of Hollie Mershon with Alexis Smith landing the CAA freshman award after scoring 17 points in the Dragons’ comeback from an early 17-point deficit at home against Providence on Friday night.

Rutgers’ Copper made the honor roll of the American while Villanova’s Emily Leer, who steered the comeback Thursday for the Wildcats in the overtime win at Lehigh, made the honor roll of the new Big East, which got its first team into the AP poll Monday as conference favorite DePaul landed at No. 25.

In the same poll, Notre Dame moved up to fifth for the ranking the Irish will carry to Philadelphia this weekend when they travel to The Palestra for a 3 p.m. game against Penn.

Having soon to finally get home from Penn State, the Guru is still deciding whether on Tuesday to go to eitherthe Princeton or Delaware games or one near the nation’s capital where George Washington, fresh off its upset at home of then-No. 10 California, will travel to nearby Maryland at the Comcast Center

Baskets and Boards

With the PhilahoopsW site still under construction, before the season moves further, here is the first list of Baskets and Boards showing players with individual game performances of 20 or more points  or likewise with 10 or more rebounds.

Hoops

33 pts.: Maggie Lucas, Penn State, W, vs. St. Francis, Pa., 11/8

29 pts.: Tyonna Williams, Temple, W, vs. Auburn, 11/16

26 pts.: Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, W., @ Northeastern, 11/13

24 pts.: Emily Leer, Villanova, W-OT, @ Lehigh, 11/14

23 pts.: Ariel Edwards, Penn State, W, vs. St. Francis, Pa., 11/8

23 pts.: Maggie Lucas, Penn State, W, vs. Fordham, 11/10

23 pts.: Erin Shields, Saint Joseph’s, L, @ LSU-WNIT-2, 11/10

22 pts.: Kelsey Buchanan, Delaware, W, vs. Wake Forest, 11/15

21 pts.: Micahya Owens, La Salle, L, @ Rutgers, 11/17

20 pts.: Blake Dietrick, Princeton, L, @ Rutgers, 11/10

 Boards

 13 rebs.: Courtni Green, Delaware, @ Rhode Island, 11/8

13 rebs.: Natasha Thames, Temple, @ La Salle, 11/8

13 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, @Northeastern, 11/13

13 rebs.: Fiona Flanagan, Drexel, W, vs. Providence, 11/15

12 rebs.: Siobhan Beslow, La Salle, L, vs. Temple, 11/8

12 rebs.: Shanice Johnson, Delaware, L, vs. Temple, 11/12

12 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, vs. La Salle, 11/17

11 rebs.: Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, W, @ Northeastern, 11/12

11 rebs.: Natasha Cloud, Saint Joseph’s, W, @Wichita State-WNIT Cons, 11/15

11 rebs.: Leeza Burdgess, La Salle, L, @ Rutgers, 11/17

10 rebs.: Alex Wheatley, Princeton, L, @ Rutgers, 11/10

10 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, vs. Princeton, 11/10

10 rebs.: Alex Harris, Penn State, W, vs. Fordham, 11/10

10 rebs.: Kelsey Buchanan, Delaware, L, vs. Temple, 11/12

10 rebs.: Talia East, Penn State, L, vs. Connecticut, 11/17

 

Having caught up, that is it for now.

Mel

 

       

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