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, January 21, 2014

Guru's Notebook: Small Field of Maggie Dixon Rookie Contenders

By Mel Greenberg

Over the midway point of the road to March Madness, the Guru went back to his offseason carousel roll call of coaching changes and the 28 hires who appeared eligible for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Maggie Dixon that goes to a Division I newcomer.

There are some waggles off of standings that were pulled on Saturday based on records through Friday.

The Guru is not on the committee but did serve in the past the year a winner came out of nowhere with a major upset of Tennessee in the first round.

And that school won a close game in the title showdown of a conference tournament but had it lost, it likely would not have been in the NCAA field and someone else would have likely won.

So while the Guru will tell he sees on six or seven decent records to date much can still happen. Also when the committee meets next month part of the deliberations will focus on what talent existed on the team and coach in question versus maybe a team at .500 but that record could be a major improvement from the year before.

So here we go just in terms of eyeballing the numbers and remember, some of these have already changed since games have been played since the standings that were used were pulled.

The clear won-loss leader is Iona coach Billie Godsey a former Virginia Tech assistant who stood going into the weekend at 13-2 overall with a big upset of perennial MAAC champion Marist.

Speaking of the Red Foxes, former assistant Megan Gebbia is in the hunt with American University at 11-5.

Randy Norton, a former Missouri associate head coach is 10-6 at Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), while former Duquesne assistant Dan Burt who moved up after Suzie McConnell-Serio hightailed it across town to fill the Pittsburgh vacancy is 12-6.

Texas San Antonio's Lubomyr Lichonczak, who was promoted from associated head coach and goes way back to some storied programs in his time such as Old Dominion, is 10-6.

Two BCS hires, former Kentucky assistant Matt Insell is 9-9 at Mississippi, while Mike Neighbors, who moved up at Washington is 9-7 -- again at the time the set of standings used was pulled.

And that is basically it -- everyone else is just under .500 or much worse.

The Guru will take another look at the end of the month.

Historic Milestones

Once upon a time Bentley's longtime coach Barb Stevens in a brief stint at Massachusetts coached in the Atlantic 10 against Jim Foster, when he was at Saint Joseph's.

Both coaches are in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee and on Saturday each can reach a magic number in terms of career wins.

Foster, who landed at Chattanooga when he departed Ohio State after last season, can claim win number 800 while if Bentley wins against New Haven on Wednesday, Stevens can reach 900.

Weekly Honors

On the heels of Saint Joseph's taking the women's Philadelphia Big 5 title Natasha Cloud was named the Big 5 player of the week.

Rutgers Tyler Scaife, one of the few who performed well in the face of another UConn onslaught Sunday, won the American Athletic Conference rookie of the week award a second straight time, while Drexel's Sarah Curran won similar honors from the Colonial Athletic Association.

A DePaul's Brittany Hyrnko, who was the Big East preseason player of the year and hails from Philadelphia, took the conference's weekly award.

The USBWA weekly national award will be announced late Tuesday morning or early afternoon.

Marching to Madness

Here's how the local 10-team PhilahoopsW group in the Guru's local Division I coverage are doing on the latest RPI issued Monday by the NCAA.

Saint Joseph's 11 same as last week
Penn State 31 same as last week
Villanova 34 same
Temple 42 same
Princeton 46 same
Rutgers 55 same
Penn 61 same
Drexel 83
Delaware 137
La Salle 178

And from Realtime RPI the ranking and schedule strength ranking.

Temple iin the American Conference is third best RPI at 41 behind Connecticut (3) and Louisville (4) but ahead of Rutgers (55). The Owls schedule strength is 13 just behind UConn, whose SOS is 12 and ahead of Rutgers, which stands at 103

Saint Joseph's has one of the better RPIs ever seen at this stage for a local team. The Hawks 12 is tops in the Atlantic 10 as is the schedule at 18.
La Salle is 178 on the RPI and 218 on the schedule.

In the Ivy League, Princeton's 52 RPI is tops while Penn is second at 65 but the Quakers have the toughest schedule at 47 and Princeton is second best at 79.

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Drexel's 84 is second best to James Madison at 42 and both are way ahead of Delaware, which ia fourth at 139 and a CAA second worst 241 in terma of schedule.

Viillanova in the Big East is second to St. John's 18-34 while the Wildcats schedule of 62 is fifth.

Penn State in the Big 10 is third at 31 behind Purdue at 9 and Ohio State at 30 but the schedle at 29 is good but still behind Ohio State (1), Purdue (4), Minnesota (16), and Michigan State at 22.

Looking Ahead

None of the locals played Monday nor will they play Tuesday, a quirk in the schedule that leaves them and the Guru free of the havoc predicted off Tuesday's pending snowstorm.

On Wednesday, Saint Joseph's will be looking for revenge playing George Washington in a morning game at the Smith Center.

Penn is at Temple Wednesday night to wrap up the Big Five slate while Rutgers is on the road in an AAC game in Orlando, Fla., against UCF, Penn State hosts Indiana in the Big Ten and Villanova will host Saint John's in the Big East.

On Thursday, Drexel travels to James Madison in a matchup of CAA unbeatens.

That's it for now.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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