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.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cal Coach Gottlieb Recalls Days on the Richmond Staff With Ginny Doyle

By Mel Greenberg

California coach Lindsay Gottlieb has sent some wonderful remembrances of Ginny Doyle, the Richmond associate head coach who died in the balloon accident Friday in Virginia along with operations director Natalie Lewis and Dan Kirk, the balloon's captain.

Gottlieb and Doyle were staff colleagues when Joanne Boyle, now at Virginia, became the Richmond coach.

A few things first, however, since writing the Guru appreciation in the post below this that went up Sunday morning.

A source close to the Doyle family told the Guru early Sunday afternoon that there would probably be services in Philadelphia and Richmond for the former Archbishop Ryan star but that plans would not be made until the third victim was found.

That occurred several hours later so the Guru will update when new information becomes available.

The tragedy has brought a somber mood to the Atlantic 10 Conference spring meetings that get under way Monday.

Richmond is a member of the conference and one of the orders of business will be figuring the basketball tournament formats in terms of some member adjustments that will occur in July.

"This is just so terrible," Saint Joseph's women's basketball coach Cindy Griffin said in a phone conversation shortly after arriving Sunday night at the A-10 conclave.

"It still is hard to believe it happened. I have known Ginny for so long. Yeah, we played against each other but when you're on the road recruiting and even if you are after the same players you really respect and become a family with other people," Griffin said.

"Ginny was Richmond in every way as a player and then a coach."

Yale assistant Lauren Thomer, a Philadelphia native who also played at Ryan years after Doyle, expressed her sadness and since the Guru reprinted some tweets from local coaches here, Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza, whose Owls left the A-10 last July, tweeted condolences for the families and Richmond program.

The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) has a link on its website to the Richmond Times Dispatch account of the accident.

Hank Kurz, the Associated Press sports reporter for Virginia and also longtime colleague of the Guru, did a follow-up Sunday talking with Boyle about those Richmond years after she was hired from a longtime stint as an aide at her alma mater at Duke.

There is a retweet link on the Guru's twitter account @womhoopsguru.

Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot in Norfolk, Va., goes way back with Doyle because of the rivalry in the state.

She posted the following on her facebook page:

"One of my best buddies Ginny Doyle who was the assistant WBB coach at Richmond for years, was one of three killed in the Hot air balloon accident in Richmond VA last night.

"I've known her since college and she was an amazing friend, coach and person !!!!

"When I took the job at ODU three years ago, I offered Ginny a position to be my assistant. We talked days and hours about it... At the last minute she decided to stay with Richmond because she was so loyal!!!!

"She was one of the best in the business!!!! I mean BEST!! Had a passion for Richmond WBB!

"I loved her smile, spirit, morals and attitude!
Lost with words right now !
"Just thinking about her and her family !!!!!!

"Keeping her and the others In thoughts and prayers!

"Please Pray for the Families !

"Thank you !

"Hugs All

Now here's a remembrance from Cal coach Gottlieb.

Some thoughts on my colleague and friend, Ginny Doyle

When Joanne first got the Richmond job and I signed on to join her, she told me she didn’t think she wanted to retain any of the assistants that were there. That was until she met Ginny Doyle. Ginny showed up to her meeting with Joanne with stacks of binders on recruiting, and more importantly, and infectious love for the University of Richmond. Joanne changed her mind, hired Ginny, and this began a 3 year run of working side by side with Ginny.

Ginny taught me what it meant to recruit. Not how to identify talent or even how to spend long hours in hot gyms over the summer; many people can do that.

But rather, how to form the relationships that are the lifeblood of recruiting. Ginny was genuine. She talked to coaches and potential student-athletes and their parents as if she truly cared about them and about Richmond – because she did.

She taught me that the best way to “sell” your school is to be authentic and genuine and real. She talked with coaches as if they were old friends because they were. She talked to recruits as if they mattered a lot because they did. I have carried what Ginny taught me about the human aspect of recruiting every day of my career.

Ginny was all about Richmond, but remained a Philly girl at heart. She opened my eyes to the heavenly gift that is the Philly Pretzel.

There was not a shooting competition that Ginny did not treat like the national championship game. Even long after the prime of her scoring prowess, you weren’t beating her.

A few casual shots before practice? She was still going to kick your ass. A playful game of one vs one with a player? You might be younger or quicker, but you weren’t going to win.

I’ll never forget the moment that our Richmond team made it into the Top 25 poll. I remember it because of the pride on Ginny’s face.

It was year 3 of our time at UR under Joanne Boyle. We had very good teams, and had begun to earn national recognition.

She walked into the Robins Center, where I was working out a few players before practice, and she said, with a huge smile, “We’re in the Top 25!” She had so much pride in her school, and took so much pride in her job.

Ginny and I spent long hours in the office together. We planned recruiting visits, wrote recruiting letters, broke down film. As hard as we worked, there was always laughter. Ginny was a great story teller. You couldn’t help but care about what she was talking about, because she cared so much. She had a wonderful sense of humor.

One time, we had just gotten beat badly at GW. Joe Mckeown was the coach, they had a talented team, but in addition, they really had our number.

We always struggled with GW. This loss was particularly ugly. I think we were down 50-15 at half (or maybe it just felt that way – I can’t remember).

Anyway, Ginny and I were standing on the court at GW after the game, looking and feeling especially down and pathetic.

We had just gotten our tails kicked. Her late father came up to us, looked us both right in the face and said (without an ounce of sympathy): “Who the hell did that scout?!? That was awful!” Ginny and I looked at one another and burst into laughter. That’s about the only comment that could have made us laugh at that point. Of course, it was my scout.

We took a foreign tour to Spain and Portugal with our Richmond team. Ginny decided not to go, because her father was ill and she wanted to spend time with him.

The players insisted they wanted Coach Doyle with us at all times, so they cut out a picture of her face and attached it to a popsicle stick. They brought her with us to every sight-seeing adventure and made sure she was in every picture!

Ginny cared deeply about people. The players she coached, the colleagues she worked with, her friends, her family. We will all miss her deeply and forever.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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