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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tribute to Ginny Doyle III: Two More Fond Memories

Guru's note: This is a combo post that also includes what would be the normal Guru news of the day along with the ongoing tributes to Richmond associate head coach Ginny Doyle, who died in the balloon accident in Virginia over the weekend along with operations director Natalie Lewis and the balloon captain Dan Kirk.

By Mel Greenberg

Melissa Jackson, a former player of Ginny Doyle at Richmond who now is associate head coach at Akron in Ohio, sent a remembrance Monday, which is the main posting item of this blog.

As you will see in the memory, Jackson's first coaching job was under Tina Martin at Delaware in large part due to a call on Jackson's behalf from Doyle.

Another tribute just arrived to get on board here right now from Lauren Thomer, another Ryan Hall of Famer from Philadelphia who is an assistant at Yale, and there is no deadline if anyone else is contemplating. This is our way of holding our own internet tribute service.

First, some updates of related news.

The twitter @womhoops, the guru's account, has a link to the Philadelphia Daily News obituary in Monday's edition.

The Guru also saw some report but hasn't seen anything since that claimed it is possible that the balloon captain had a map that did not have the location or existence of the power lines the balloon came in contact that created the ensuing fire and explosion.

There are also retweets to links of statements from both the Lewis and Doyle families and notice of a service at Richmond Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. with a larger tribute to be held this fall.

Ginny's brother Joe and myself are in written contact and he appreciates your outpouring as evidence by the one-day Guru site record of 2,149 page views on the 24-hour cycle through 8 p.m. Monday night.

Counting from the Guru's first posting till then there were 3350 views and since 400 existed prior to the post in the previous cycle, that makes a two-day mark of 3700 and I see the number is once again way ahead of the recent paces at this hour.

"This shows just how much Ginny was loved by everybody," Lauren said Monday when the Guru was noting the interest in a conversation.

Joe will communicate what they want you to know in terms of the official memorials as a backstop through the Guru if you don't see information at other places.

Incidentally, the Guru didn't mention in the previous blog, the site of the Atlantic 10 meetings, which is at Fort Meyers, Fla.

Also, the WBCA sent a condolence note out Monday afternoon. The search will soon be underway for the successor to longtime CEO Beth Bass, who recently resigned.

Right now, applications are being taken and the search committee is being assembled with former Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno handling the oversight in terms of her consulting company being hired by the WBCA to spearhead the search.

Another UConn Grad Shipped Out by the Sun

Also, with the WNBA Connecticut Sun releasing Kalana Greene Monday to get down to roster size for this weekend's openers, this is now a franchise high of jettisoning two UConn alums in waiving Greene and executing the draft day trade that sent Tina Charles to the Liberty in her native New York.

Philly Folks Head USA Basketball Squad Coaching Staff

On two brighter notes here, the USA Basketball National women's team staff for the World Championship this fallbin Turkey is now a Philadelphia affair with one Chicagoan in the mix.

Monday's USA Basketball announcement (the Guru had them all on the short list) of Geno Auriemma's staff has South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and WNBA Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, making them the Philly trio, with Doug Bruno of DePaul returning to make him the Chicagoan in the quartet.

This also marks a change in formula with just one WNBA coach in the group instead of the 50-50 split of recent staffs.

Staley, a longtime USA star as a player, was an assistant to Anne Donovan on the 2008 Gold Medalists and Reeve makes her first appearance. If continuity is the new word of the day in Colorado Springs, unless Auriemma is back again or the current quest in the next two major international affairs fall short, you can pencil Staley or Reeve in for 2020 as frontrunners for head coach, though it is not necessarily in stone.

Delle Donne's Homecoming Night Has Arrived

Tuesday night Chicago plays Washington in a preseason game at Delaware in a sellout or should be at that hour for what is Elena Delle Donne's homecoming one year after heading off to the pros with Chicago and becoming the unanimous choice for rookie of the year.

An aside: Though the Bob Carpenter Center at Delaware seats 5,000, slightly more than that showed up in nearby Wilmington Saturday night at Blue Rocks minor league baseball game for a bobblehead doll handout of former Delaware guard Kayla Miller, who was one of the passers to Delle Donne and is currently in the summer affilated with the Blue Rocks.

As a disclaimer to the WNBA extravaganza, the Guru's only role across last summer was to get everybody talking to each other (think Kevin Spacey, House of Cards :) ) -- but it is happening because coach Pokey Chatman, the Chicago front office and owner Michael Alter, Washington coach Mike Thibault, and Delaware athletic director Eric Ziady and the Blue Hens' operations and marketing people did the heavy lifting to make an idea into reality.

How about 11 corporate partners signing on and that was without Delaware alum Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, doing any arm twisting.

In concert, credit Delaware coach Tina Martin who put together an exciting product during the Delle Donne era (and did an oustanding job after all the graduation departures before last season) that made Tuesday night an easy sell.

The Guru will be tweeting from courtside. If you want to listen on the radio, look for a link from Monday on the Guru's acount retweeting Christine Koren Motta, the former Blue Hens player and assistant who is the radio analyst during the winter and will be on the local radio broadcast from the game.

Her day job is a career counselor at Delaware.

Having said all that and getting back to the serious stuff, but in joyous celebration, in honoring Ginny Doyle's life, here's are latest remembrance from Melissa Jackson and Lauren Thomer, with more to come.

A Former Player's Memory

I was fortunate to have Coach Doyle as my college coach for four years. She recruited me out of high school and she was by far one of the best recruiters.

I really connected with her throughout the recruiting process.

Her genuine personality and strong love for everything Philly were probably the main reasons why. I was from Hazleton, a small coal mining town, on the outskirts of the Poconos in upstate Pennsylvania on the Eastern side of the state.

Coach Doyle would always make comments about the town over from mine, MacAdoo.

Saying how it was so tiny it only had one traffic light and if you blinked you would miss it. Her family had a lake house near there and she would always make reference to that as well as the awesome italian water ice place that wasn't too far away.

While I was at Richmond I was part of the coaching change that took place between Bob Foley and Joanne Boyle.

I remember when the change happened and the level of uncertainty myself and my teammates had.

I also remember the joy we had when Joanne Boyle told us Coach Doyle would be staying on as an assistant coach. We were so happy! She was a great coach who had great pride for Richmond, and to have her stay gave us a level of comfort. We all had great relationships with her.

There are many memories of Coach Doyle but I will mention a few that really stand out.

I remember trips to St. Joes and LaSalle. Not so much for the wins or losses, but how after every Philly game Coach Doyle's family would have Philly Pretzels waiting for our team.

I remember my roommate/teammate, Amber Goppert, and I always challenging Coach Doyle to shooting games.

Not only did she talk a good game, but she backed it up. We would call her "Dead-Eye Doyle" a nickname she got from her FT challenge against Billy Packard.

Our favorite shooting game was "7 Up" a 3pt game that I still use with my players today.

Joanne always had great team bonding activities with teammates and even coaches.

One tradition we had was for a coach to spend some time with a player that they don't always interact with on a daily basis.

Coach Doyle was not my position coach at the time (she had the posts). So we got matched up. I remember our meeting so vividly, we went to Starbucks on an off day.

I was a senior and I was stressing out on what I was going to do after graduation.

Anyone who knew Coach Doyle would agree she was the funniest person ever! She was so sarcastic and witty, I could not stop laughing.

She had the great ability to always make you feel comfortable and make light of anything. She eased any stress I had that day and made my stomach ache from all the laughter.

Lastly, I am forever grateful to Coach Doyle for helping me land my first job in college coaching.

She was good friends with the Delaware staff and they had a position open in 2004.

It is really rare to obtain an assistant job right out of college.

But she made a call for me and it resulted in my first interview. That interview then led to four great years at Delaware. I know that if it wasn't for her I would have never had that opportunity and ultimately would not be where I am today.

Thanks Coach Doyle! Forever a Spider!

Memories From A Former Ryan Star: Lauren Thomer

Shortly after I took the position at Yale, George Deal, longtime assistant basketball coach for both the boys and girls at Archbishop Ryan High School, encouraged me to reach out and get to know Ginny Doyle.

George mentioned that Chris Mooney, Head Men's Basketball Coach at Richmond and Ginny were both Ryan grads, good friends, and great coaches down at UR.

Ginny and I were the only two Ryan grads in the Women's Division-1 coaching ranks and our paths quickly crossed on the recruiting trails.

Talented post players, especially those with strong academic profiles, are not easy to come by and I found myself sitting next to Ginny at games in the coming months.

Our friendship blossomed quickly because of our history and interests - both Philly natives with a love for country music and spending time in Virginia (I spent 2 years at UVA for graduate school).

I took to Ginny immediately and was struck by our connection, how easy she was to talk to, and her knack for recruiting.

We got to talking one time about hosting elite camps.

Her strategy one year was to have a small, intimate setting with about 15 recruits and take them through a "game day scenario."

She talked about giving the campers a scouting report, giving them a true glimpse of what a college game day would look like.

"Wow!! My first thought would be to cancel the camp. We don't have enough kids," I told her.

"Who does a camp like that? Everyone else in America does the same thing - play 50 games and stations!!!"

It was then that I realized how talented and creative she was, how she was able to "think outside the box", and take what could initially be a negative situation and turn it into an amazing experience for the young campers and a special recruiting tool for Richmond.

(She got one of the post players we wanted from that camp, by the way.)

We often kept in touch through twitter and text.

"Been to any good concerts lately?" she would ask. I would reply back with a "YES! Florida Georgia Line at a county fair - we were 20 feet from the stage - unreal! Can't wait for Nashville!"

A few weeks ago, we met up at the Final Four in Nashville at one of the parties that was hosted at the Honky Tonk Central.

Live music was playing and I was waving at her from across the bar to come over!

We spent the next few hours laughing, telling stories, trying to coordinate how we could "time it" so that we could both get back to Philly and catch a Phillies game and maybe the Jason Aldean concert out there.

I also asked her to help me get the Alumni game and the Girls Basketball Hall of Fame banquet going at Ryan. She wanted to help in anyway she could.

I had to catch an early flight the next morning out of Nashville, but Ginny and I ended up talking til 3:45 in the morning!!

She was telling her story - everything - and joked how she loved being from Philly, but would probably never move back. She loved the south too much. She loved Richmond too much!

As much as she loved and remained loyal to Richmond, she felt her Head Coaching opportunity was right around the corner.

We talked about her journey to find the right fit and that it was only a matter of time.

As we parted ways and I walked back to my hotel I said to myself, "She is FREAKING AWESOME. I could definitely see myself working for Ginny someday. I love what she stands for!"

One of the special things about coaching and the game itself is that we get to meet and cross paths with some incredible people.

Ginny was one of those people!

She had such a nice way about her, but still had a bit of the Philly grit and competitive fire that comes from growing up playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League!!

She was just SO REAL!

I looked up to Ginny, saw her as a mentor and a friend, and feel it was a blessing that Ryan, and George Deal, and both Yale and Richmond's academic standards brought us together.

Ginny truly touched my life!!!

I know her legacy and her positive spirit will live on in all of us that she touched!

May God Bless her, Natalie, and their families. We will miss you Ginny!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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It was either Greene or Faris getting cut....UConn either way.

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