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.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Guru Report II: Sims Accepts Staley Award While DeShields Bolts North Carolina

By Mel Greenberg

Though a final buzzer is sounded and champions are declared, the news doesn't seem to take much of a break this days in the world of women's basketball.

Yes, this is the time the coaching carousel continues to do most of its spinning but that has become the norm over the years, though when a big name crops up either by retirement, or move to another vacancy, or by termination, the action becomes the headline of the moment.

On Thursday three major events occurred, one that was previous announced and two others that came out of nowhere.

Two of the three will be addressed in this blog and the third is actually in front of this post directly above.

The day began here with a trip to the Union League in center city -- a first-ever experience for the Guru to one of those places of exclusive membership in town such as one that was portrayed years ago in the Eddie Murphy et al early in the movie Trading Places.

The occasion was the second annual Dawn Staley Award that goes to an outstanding guard in the nation and is sponsored by the Phoenix Club, which was founded by Michael G. Horsey, CPA, in 2008.

The original mission was to honor outstanding male and female high school and collegiate players from the city's Public League.

Staley, the legend out of North Philadelphia who later went on to success coaching Temple and who now is coaching South Carolina, is one of the all-time greats in the city and overall region.

This year's honor went to Baylor senior Odyssey Sims of Irving, Texas, who earlier in the week was drafted second overall by the WNBA Tulsa Shock, which makes her a teammate of last year's Staley winner, Skylar Diggins out of Notre Dame.

Lurleen Jones, the retired legendary girls coach of University High, introduced as the event emcee Vera Jones, now an analyst for the Big Ten Network who also was an assistant at Dayton, Indiana and Florida Atlantic, and has written several books and also graduated from Syracuse.

The first honor given was the legends award to Donald Hunt, longtime sportswriter for the Philadelphia Tribune, who has chronicled African Americans in the city and beyond.

Staley, one day removed from learning South Carolina native A'ja Wilson, the top high school prospect in the nation, had committed to playing with the Gamecocks, introduced Sims, who was then very gracious in her remarks.

In attendance were Sims' mom, Pamela Thompson who said she was going to see as many WNBA games on the Tulsa schedule as possible, and Baylor assistant Toyelle Wilson, who just finished her first season under head coach Kim Mulkey.

Previously, Wilson coached Prarie View to three straight Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and ensuing NCAA Appearances.

She is a native of Voorhees, across the Delaware River from here in South Jersey.

The La Salle coaching staff also attended. Head coach Jeff Williams is a previous recipient of a legends honor from the Black Women in Sports organization.

The Wilson declaration to South Carolina adds to what already was a top five freshman class harvested by Staley, who can expect to find her program not more than a few notches if that many below two-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut when the preseason polls start showing up in magazines in the late summer before the rankings of the Associated Press media panel and the USAToday/ESPN coaches vote follow in late fall.

When it was noted to Staley the generation she is acquiring is quite different than her day she shot back with a smile, "It works two ways," meaning they will have to deal with her.

Staley already has a busy summer ahead since she will be coaching the U-18 for USA Basketball in the FIBA Americas championships and could still land on Auriemma's staff for the FIBA World Championship in the fall that features the top players on the planet.

Wilson picked South Carolina over Connecticut, Tennessee and North Carolina, making it an extra tough week for the latter when it was learned Thursday while we were lunching that UNC's Diamond DeShields, the nation's top freshman, was leaving the Tar Heels for parts yet to be determined or announced.

DeShields' team upset Staley's Gamecocks, the number one seed in the Stanford regional, before losing to the host Cardinal in the Elite Eight.

Shields, who won nearly every freshman honor, is the first person to leave a program after having won the award from the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

However, and ironically, Kelsey Bone, who this week was traded from the WNBA New York Liberty to the Connecticut Sun as part of the mega-deal involving Sun center and former UConn star Tina Charles, was considered minimally a top five pick when she chose South Carolina as a freshman and then left for Texas A&M.

Back in time Michelle Marciniak, the famed "Spinderella" star out of Allentown, Pa., left Notre Dame after one season for Tennessee, where she later led the Lady Vols to a national title.

Rutgers, in recent seasons, has lost highly regarded high school all-Americans after a season.

DeShields could end up at Tennessee, one of her last options at the time of her selection, or she could end up back home at Georgia.

Stay tuned.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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