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.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Immaculata Champions Are Naismith Hall of Fame Bound

(This is the longer raw Guru's cut of the original sent to the Inquirer)

By Mel Greenberg

Six years after former Immaculata coach Cathy Rush was inducted in 2008 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the three Mighty Macs squads she guided to AIAW national titles in 1972-73-74 will be joining her as part of the Class of 2014 honorees on the weekend of August 7-9 in Springfield, Mass.

Several sources confirmed Sunday that the Mighty Macs' championship era will be among the inductees introduced when the official announcement of this year's class is made Monday morning at the NCAA men's Final Four at a Dallas Hotel not far from in Arlington, Texas, where the title game will be played Monday night between Connecticut and Kentucky at AT&T Stadium.

The sources asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the Hall or Immaculata and the announcement was not yet official.

Judy Marra Martelli will represent the team at the press conference in Dallas, where her husband Saint Joseph's men's coach Phil Martelli is also in town for the men's finals.

Several persons here at the women's finals were aware of the Immaculata honor but people have declined to speak until after Monday's press conference.

"They deserve to get inducted," said Hall of Fame Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma of the reports here at the Women's Final Four prior to guiding his unbeaten Huskies (38-0) against Stanford (33-3) in the national semifinal game Sunday night at the Bridgestone Arena.

If Auriemma's Huskies leave here with a trophy following last year's triumph, he would break a tie with former Hall of Fame Tennessee coach Pat Summitt to earn a ninth NCAA title.

On the other side of the Sunday doubleheader unbeaten Notre Dame (37-0), coached by Saint Joseph's graduate Muffet McGraw, crushed Maryland 87-61 to conclude life in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Terrapins at 28-7.

The Irish, newcomers to the ACC, played Maryland once in the regular season and now Brenda Frese's squad is on its way to the Big 10 on July 1.

It is still a big weekend for the Terrapins because the Washington Post reported that Collingswood's Gary Williams, who coached the Maryland, has earned induction as part of the class that includes Immaculata.

Auriemma, growing up in Norristown and attending Bishop Kenrick High, watched such stars on the Immaculata combined roster of 19 players in the era as Theresa Grentz and Marianne Stanley, who each are also individually worthy of one day earning induction.

Two of the 19 -- Maureen Mooney and Patricia Opilar Penetar -- are now deceased.

Grentz went on to coach at Saint Joseph's, Rutgers and Illinois while Stanley, now an assistant with the WNBA Washington Mystics, coached Old Dominion out of Norfolk, Va., to national titles in 1979, 1980 and 1985.

The first two ODU national tles occurred under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), which was the women's governing body prior to the NCAA beginning women's competition in 1981-82 in most sports.

Rene Portland, who also played in the era, went on to coach Penn State to national prominence.

Both Grentz and Stanley reached the women's screening committee last winter as nominees to advance as finalists to the 24 honors voters.

McGraw and former Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo were also under consideration along with several others.

The women's committee is allowed only two candidates to move forward.

It appears that rather risk Stanley or Grentz falling short, the women's committee likely thought that submitting the entire Mighty Macs group in the Team category had a better chance to pick up the necessary 18 honors votes needed for finalists to land in the Hall of Fame.

Several years ago a movie The Mighty Macs about the first of the three championship teams reached theaters and is now available on DVD.

The women's committee also nominated Harley Redin, who coached the famed Wayland Baptist Flying Queens out of Plainview, Texas, who won six AAU titles in the 1950s, but it was not known if he also passed the final hurdle to Springfield.

The Hall also has taken over sponsorship of the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award and the winner announced Sunday here is Baylor senior Odyssey Sims.

The 5-8 Sims has already claimed the Hall's Frances Pomeroy Naismith trophy which she'll receive at Monday's award show of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). It goes to men's and women's players less than average size who excel in the sport.

Immaculata, which went 60-2 in the three-year championship era, is the second women's team to earn induction, following the Redheads touring team which was enshrined in 2012.

Overall 10 teams have earned induction such as the Harlem Globetrotters entertainment squad, the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team" that had NBA greats Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Charles Barkley, and coached by former NBA and Penn coach, the late Chuck Daly; and the Texas Western men's team that won the 1966 NCAA title with five African-Americans in the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, former Temple star Guy Rodgers was previously announced a direct elect receipient out of the veterans committee while recently retired NBA commissioner David Stern earned direct elect status as a contributor.

Immaculata's honor follows a strong Philadelphia women's representation in the hall that includes Dawn Staley, inducted last year; Rush, Auriemma, and Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, who on Saturday guided the Scarlet Knights to the Women's NIT title following Drexel's championship last season.

Rutgers is also bound for the Big 10 after spending one season in The American conference with Temple, Connecticut and Louisville, which will replace Maryland in the ACC.

More to come

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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