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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Guru Report: Drexel, Delaware and Saint Joseph's Triumph

(Guru note: Beyond Drexel game, information and quotes for other items compiled from team and wire reports. Mike Siroky’s weekly SEC report in post above this one.)

By Mel Greenberg

It was a sweep night for the three teams of the PhilahoopsW group of the Guru’s local Division I coverage that played Thursday with Drexel, Delaware and Saint Joseph’s all getting wins.

Here in West Philadelphia Drexel snapped a three-game losing streak in the Colonial Athletic Association by beating North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW) 56-45 at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center and keep alive a shot at both a third-place finish and a potential chance to defend last season’s WNIT title if they don’t win the CAA tournament and NCAA automatic bid.

Delaware defeat host Hofstra 55-50 in Hempstead, N.Y., and moved close to a second-place finish, which, in the year one of the post-Elena Delle Donne era is no small achievement.

Saint Joseph’s had an easy time with Atlantic 10 cellar dweller Massachusetts by beating the host Minutewomen 85-51 on the road in Amherst.

Here in the Drexel game, Denise Dillon shrugged her shoulders over the performance, praising the defense that helped snapped the skid but stayed dismayed over the offense’s inability to put a bunch of points on the board.

“At this point, might as well throw them in all into the pool and see what we get,” Dillon said of the numbers from the roster that got to play. We’re 0-10 giving up 60 points and why is that? We can’t score the basketball.

“But it did help having Sarah (Curran) back,” Dillon said. “She played eight minutes and scored eight points (4-for-4 from the field). She’s somebody who could put the ball in the basket. That makes a world of different and takes the pressure off some of the others.”

Tory Thierolf had 16 points but among the starters, Meghan Creighton shot 1-for-7 from the field, Rachel Pearson shot 2-for-7, and Fiona Flanagan was 1-for-5 for Drexel (13-14, 8-6 CAA).

Kelva Atkins had 13 points as the only player in double figures for UNCW (4-25, 3-12).

Drexel is tied for third with College of Charleston (15-12, 8-6), which stunned James Madison 85-78, stopping the Dukes’ 13-win streak with a triumph at home Thursday morning in South Carolina.

JMU (23-5, 13-1) has already wrapped up the top seed but the loss hurts the Dukes’ shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA field if they fail to win the CAA title. The last two seasons Drexel tripped them up in the CAA semifinals and the two could meet there again if Drexel gets hit with the fifth or fourth seed.

Next up for Drexel in an attempt to get back to .500 overall is a trip Sunday to Hofstra (11-14, 6-8), which beat the Dragons here 68-66 on Feb. 2 at the buzzer, Dillon’s group will then wrap up the regular season Wednesday night hosting Towson when the seniors will be honored ion their last home game.

Of course a year ago, the last home game for Holly Mershon and the other seniors became several extended events on the way to the WNIT title.

Meanwhile, Delaware (18-8, 10-5) just stopped at Hofstra’s Mack Sports Complex Thursday and whereas coach Tina Martin might have had plenty to say over how the visit played out instead a tune of relief with a win was sweet enough music.

“I don’t care how ugly tonight’s game was, it was win No. 18, number 10 in the conference and we’re in second place in the CAA,” she said. “I’m just happy to get out of here with a win. That’s all that matters.”

Akeema Richards, one of the few mainstays from last season’s Sweet 16 participants who had been relegated to a substitute’s role in recent games came off the bench to shoot 6-for-8 from the field and finish with 14 points in 25 minutes of play, the most since playing 27 in the home game against Drexel on January 19.

Redshirt sophomore Joy Caracciolo matched Richards’ totals in field goal shooting and points while freshman Erika Brown had 10 points.

“Our young players are really struggling right now and Akeema Richards stepped up big time tonight as a senior,” Martin said. “She played huge – hats off to her. She gets what the word team is all about. Her minutes have gone down in recent weeks, but she kept her head up and is all for the team. Akeema’s decision making tonight was exceptional and she really paid attention to what we talked about all night.”

Richards spoke of having no problem with her new role.

“’Coach told me to be patient and my time would come,” she said. “I’m not going to take it personal or any offense to not playing. When I do play, I’m going to play my heart out.”

Delaware wraps up the regular season hosting Northeastern in the Bob Carpenter Center Sunday and paying tribute to Richards and the other Blue Hens seniors.

Saint Joseph’s Spends Few Seconds to Down Minutewomen

Natasha Cloud had a career night of sorts in the win at Massachusetts (4-25, 1-14 Atlantic 10) in the Mullins Center by the Hawks (21-7, 10-5)

The junior from Cardinal O’Hara, who spent one seasons at nationally-ranked Maryland matched a career high with 13 assists set earlier this season and reached a personal mark in rebounds on game day with 12.

Kelsey Berger scored 14 points, Sarah Fairbanks scored 13, Erin Shields scored 11, and Ciara Andrews scored 10.

In terms of the big picture for the defending conference tournament champions, though the visit to UMass will probably but a ding in Saint Joseph’s RPI, one game doesn’t do total damage and the Hawks came into the game ranked 11th with a strength of schedule at 19 according to the simulation at RealTime RPI, numbers that would be quite strong for at-large invites to teams not winning automatic bids.

The Hawks, who were involved with the only A-10 game on the schedule, are now in a third-place tie with George Washington (19-9, 10-5), whom they split on the season, and Fordham (21-7, 10-5), who they edged last season to win the conference tourney and who they host at 2 p.m.Sunday at Hagan Arena to wrap up the regular season with a salute to the seniors.

St. Bonaventure, which wraps up with a visit to La Salle, Saturday, is a game ahead in second and has the tiebreak though it is not known yet how things would play out in what could be a three-way tie for second if the Bonnies lose and the Hawks win and George Washington beats first-place Dayton at home Saturday.

That’s the report. The Guru will be tweeting @womhoopsguru Saturday night from New Haven, Conn., when Yale hosts Penn in a key Ivy game, though he may also end up there Friday night when Princeton visits.

If not, he is likely to show up at Haverford for the Centennial Conference semifinals in Division III Friday night.

Also, in setting up the small college tourney action in the last blog he forgot to mention that Immaculata, which advanced with an upset, will be at top-seed Cabrini Saturday night in Division III to play for the title of the Colonial States Athletic Conference.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Delaware plays NE in Boston, senior day was vs William and Mary.

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