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 14, 2014

Immaculata Championship Era '72-74 Named Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee Finalist

(Guru's note: Adding quote from Patty Canterino, the Mighty Macs' athletics director and women's basketball coach. Will use this paragraph to note more changes as needed. Also cleaned up a few structural glitches that didn't affect the facts.

By Mel Greenberg

The folks who created the Mighty Macs movie several years ago may have to go back into post production to edit either a new opening or epilogue.

The Immaculata national championship era of 1972-74 has been put on a path that, if successfully concluded, would feature a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction reunion this fall in Springfield, Mass., with the Mighty Macs and their coach Cathy Rush, who was enshrined in 2008 following several unsuccessful attempts.

The groups, who won the first three Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) titles, are one of two entries submitted by the women's screening committee as finalists to join the other nominees who were announced on NBA-TV Friday afternoon from New Orleans as part of the NBA All-Star weekend activities.

"That's great. It's a reunion I hope we'll have," Rush said early Friday evening from here home in Florida.

The other women's nominee is Harley Redin, who coached the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens out of Plainview, Texas, in the 1950s and won six AAU titles and helped bring the sport to be played under modern rules.

The nominees who are named inductees to the class of 2014 will be introduced during the weekend of the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Fours in April.

Additionally the Hall has now undertaken the Nancy Lieberman point guard award which will be presented at the WBCA Awards Show in Nashville that weekend along with the Frances Pomeroy Award.

If elected by the honors committee, the Immaculata groups, which include 18 players over the span besides Rush, would become the 10th team and second women's team to be named following the Redheads selection in 2012.

Some previous groups include the 1992 US Olympic "Dream Team" that consisted of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley, among others, and coached by former NBA and Penn coach, the late Chuck Daly; the Texas Western men's team that won the 1966 NCAA title with five African-Americans in the starting lineup, and the Harlem Globetrotters entertainment squads.

Theresa Grentz, the dominate player of her time who was on the first championship that was made into a movie The Mighty Macs several years, was out celebrating Valentine's Day with her husband but was expected to return a call later. The Mighty Macs movie is now available on DVD.

Marianne Stanley is an assistant on the WNBA Washington Mystics and is currently scouting collegiate talent for the next draft.

Two other notables on the first championship team were Rene Muth Portland, who went on to coach Penn State, and Judy Marra Martelli, the wife of Saint Joseph's men's coach Phil Martelli.

"This is a great honor for the Mighty Macs and Immaculata University," said Patty Canterino, the athletics director and head basketball of the university, which in recent years became a co-ed institutiuon. "We are grateful for the contributions they made to women's basketball."

Canterino was at practice when word first came on the latest honor stemming from the championship era.

Her present day edition of the Mighty Macs is currently fighting to regain first place in the Division III Colonial States Athletics Conference.

The Immaculata contingent would continue a strong representation from the city and surrounding suburbs which follows last September's induction of Dawn Staley, the three-time Olympic gold medalist who was also a WNBA All-Star and coached Temple. She currently has South Carolina in first place in the Southeastern Conference and ranked No. 5 in the country in The Associated Press women's poll.

It's possible that Staley could get inducted again in the future with the 1996 US Women's Olympic team that helped the coming of professional women's basketball in the nation, especially the WNBA.

There have been efforts the past several seasons to get Grentz into the hall individually as a player and that could still happen in future.

In fact, among the nominees sent to the screening committee to add to those who were considered in recent seasons was Grentz's teammate Stanley, who also has strong credentials for individual enshrinement.

So it could be that rather than have Grentz and Stanley cancel each other out -- it's happened before with other contemporaries-- because the screening committee had a submission of the Immaculata era, then both could be packaged as part of the era and have a better chance with the honors committee, which makes the final decision.

The women are only allowed two, at most, nominees to move forward -- a problem since the long survival of the WNBA creates a new group who may have performed best after their collegiate careers.

Another person with Philadelphia ties who has been on the list in recent years is Muffet McGraw, the successful coach at Notre Dame, for which she would be considered rather than her playing days as a Big Five Hall of Famer at Saint Joseph's.

On the other hand, a new entry this year was Pittsburgh coach Susie McConnell-Serio for her stellar playing career at Penn State, in the Olympics, and in the WNBA.

Former UConn great Rebecca Lobo has also been on the list but it could be that with so many candidates from the Huskies in the future, the entire program may earn status. Coach Geno Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown, was inducted in 2006.

Some other names believed on the list that were considered are former Stanford star Jennifer Azzi, former Louisiana Tech and WNBA great Theresa Weatherspoon, former Techster and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey and Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith.

Here are the players who were on all or any of the teams that won the titles as supplied by Immaculata.

Players of the Immaculata Championship Era '72-74

Denise Conway Crawford – 1972, 1973, 1974 teams
Betty Ann Hoffman Quinn – 1972, 1973 teams
Marianne Crawford Stanley – 1973, 1974 (sophomore – played in 1975 and ’76 teams too – graduated ’76)
Barbara Deuble Kelly – 1974 team (graduated in 1977)
Sue Forsyth O’Grady – 1972 team
Nancy Johnston – 1973 team
Tina Krah – 1974 team (did not graduate from Immaculata)
Marie Liguori Williams – 1974 team (Marie played in ’75 and ’76 teams graduated in 1977)
Judy Marra Martelli - 1972, 1973, 1974 teams (junior – played on 1975 team too)
Maureen Mooney (deceased) – 1972, 1973 teams
Patricia Mulhern Loughran – 1974 team (she also graduated in 1977)
Rene Muth Portland – 1972, 1973, 1974 teams (junior – played on 1975 team too)
Patricia Opila Penater (deceased) – 1972 team
Janet Ruch Boltz – 1972, 1973 teams
Mary Scharff – 1974 team (played on 74-77 teams – graduating in ’77)
Theresa Shank Grentz – 1972, 1973, 1974 teams (senior in 1974)
Maureen Stuhlman – 1972, 1973 teams
Janet Young Eline – 1972, 1973, 1974 teams


-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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