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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guru Report: Hrynko Homecoming Peformance Powers DePaul Over Villanova

By Mel Greenberg

When it comes to the old Big East vs. the new Big East, the seven schools from the previous configuration did take along some constants besides the rights to continue the record books that were in play at the close of business almost a year ago.

So while the Villanova women's basketball team may no longer have to deal with the likes of defending NCAA champion Connecticut, NCAA runnerup Louisville, NCAA Women's Final Four participant Notre Dame, and nationally-ranked Rutgers, along with such thorns as Syracuse, South Florida, West Virginia, and at times Pittsburgh, certain tough hurdles to the NCAA tournament still exist.

DePaul has always been one of them and Tuesday night in the only game of the Guru's PhilahoopsW 10-team Division I group for local coverage that was on the schedule, the Blue Demons rode the homecoming exploits of Brittany Hrynko's 25-point and nine-rebound performance to a 71-56 victory at the Wildcats' Pavilion to complete a season-sweep.

For the moment the win moves them into first place with a half-game lead over Saint John's, whom DePaul will visit Saturday night.

DePaul (22-6, 13-3 Big East) has one more game after the Red Storm, which will be at home against Georgetown, before hosting the conference tournament on a neutral court in the suburban Chicago town of Rosemont next weekend.

The Allstate Arena is also the home of the WNBA Chicago Sky.

Villanova (20-7, 10-6) stayed in fourth but is only a half-game ahead of Marquette, which is at St. John's Wednesday night.

Marquette must still host third-place Creighton on Saturday when Villanova will visit Xavier, and then the two will wrap it up here Tuesday on senior night.

In terms of Big East tourney seeding, it is academic where Villanova and Marquette finish -- they both have a cushion over sixth right now -- since 4 vs. 5 is the pairing in the quarterfinals.

However, in the big picture, whereas many have already penciled DePaul into the NCAA field, Villanova has slipped in and out of bubble status so just getting a few more wins is what's the Wildcats' prority right now.

Of course, conquering DePaul might have gone a long way, but while Villanova held the Blue Demons to a season-low on the scoreboard, that defensive feat was moot thanks to Hrynko, the Big East preseason player of the year and graduate of Engineering & Science, who helped the game get decided quickly when DePaul jumped to a 16-3 lead.

"When you play on the road this time of year, it is not about how many points you have, it's about how many more points do you have than the other team," longtime DePaul coach Doug Bruno, an assistant Olympic coach in 2012, said of dealing with the Wildcats.

"Villanova has a great system. I believe our team can play at a slow pace. I don't believe we were ever at a fast pace, but I felt we played pretty deliberate, actually," Bruno said.

"I thought our players had good discipline on both sides of the ball. I thought in the first half we had good discipline offensively and defensively," Bruno said.

"It's always easier when a talented player like Britt is making shots. It's only fitting that she's on the (Dawn) Staley guard watch list."

A year ago the Phoenix Club here established the Dawn Staley Guard Award that went to former Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins.

“The Dawn Staley Award will allow for the consistent recognition of athletic achievement tied to one of the most decorated women’s basketball players from the Philadelphia Public League,” Michael G. Horsey, the founder of the award, said a year ago announcing the award's creation.

In 2008, the club was created to recognize outstanding male and female high school and college players from the city's Public League.

Hrynko, however, is not on the Nancy Lieberman point guard list for that award that is now handled by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

"I look at some of the players on that list and she's so much better than some of them," Bruno said."But the Staley list is about overall guard, not just point guard."

Hrynko in the first half tied a DePaul record for perfection in three-point shooting when she made all five of her attempts for the game from beyond the arc.

"It was great seeing all my family members and some of my AAU teammates," Hrynko said. "It's just a great feeling to be home."

Big East commssioner Val Ackerman was in the house and if she was on hand in a previous life as the founding president of the WNBA, she might have salivated a bit at the prospects of Hrynko as a future pro.

When asked what made her choose DePaul while still in high school, Hrynko said, "'Coach always came out to watch (former DePaul star) Keisha (Hampton) in high school and he happened to see me.

"And Chicago is just like Philadelphia and it is close to home."

The Blue Demons are now 9-2 in the series with the only two Wildcats wins coming here in 2009 and last season.

DePaul also got double digit scoring from Megan Podkowa, who collected 13 points, and Jasmine Penny, who got 12.

Devon Kane scored 19 points for Villanova and Taylor Holeman had 10 points. DePaul outrebounded the Wildcats 38-23 including 12-3 on the offensive glass.

"They're a very good team and we're just not ready to play against a team like that," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "We're too young and too inexperienced and they take advantage of us.

"They're good and it is what it is, he added. "Plus they have a very good player who can score at will."

Looking Ahead

Temple is at No. 24 Rutgers Thursday night for a key game in the American Athletic Conference with the host Scarlet Knights holding down third place and the Owls trying to finish in the top six and get a first-round bye in next weekend's conference tournament at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

The Guru will be tweeting @womhoopsguru from the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Rutgers is honoring longtime Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer with a bobblehead giveaway.

La Salle is at Duquesne in Pittsburgh in a key Atlantic 10 game for both.

On Thursday, Drexel will host UNCW is an important game for the Dragons, who need to get back to .500 overall to at least qualify for the WNIT, which they won last year, if they don't capture the Colonial Athletic Association title.

Delaware is at Hofstra in another CAA contest while Saint Joseph's will be looking to pick up a win in the Atlantic 10 when the Hawks travel to Massachusetts.

The 1-2 punch from the southern sector of the Ivy League on Friday are back in New England with Princeton, holding a one-game lead over Penn in first place, visiting Yale while the Quakers are at Brown.

The two travelers will then switch sites for Saturday.

We'll go over the rest of the Saturday slate -- some of which has been mentioned -- in a few days.

That's it for the moment.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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