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.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Guru's Notebook: Donehew's WBCA Era to Begin With Much Listening

(Guru's update. Anucha Browne, vice president of women's basketball for the NCAA, has just sent a note here reacting to the hire of Danielle Donehew at the WBCA. It is at the very bottom -- easier to insert -- below the comment received earlier from Debbie Williamson, head of officials for the NCAA.)

( Guru's note: The Philly Summer League report will be slightly delayed in terms of posting Wednesday's action but the Guru will tweet when done. And, yes, he knows he copied info wrong on the fly that Pink won the game the other night and corrections will be reflected.)

By Mel Greenberg

Several hours after the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) announced American Athletic Conference women's basketball head Danielle Donehew's appointment as its new executive director, the former Georgia Tech star held a teleconference Tuesday afternoon with media representatives.

Rather than repeat everything verbatim here, give the WBCA some love and visit the website wbca.org, which has been recently redone, and you can look at all the reactionary congratulatory tweets and also hear the meeting on a link offering a tape of the question and answers.

Besides, the Guru asked a bunch of the key questions covering areas of interest involving the WBCA that he heard during the search to replace former CEO/Execticutive Director Beth Bass.

First, a little housekeeping since the Guru jumped ahead of the actual announcement with his own breaking report.

He noticed the organization is now 4,000 plus members not 3,000 -- old numbers he had been using off previous releases from the WBCA.

And, also, the WBCA said Donehew would have the title just as executive director and not CEO because it would be more reflective of the organization as a non-profit entity. The Guru made that fix on his tweeter @womhoopsguru but hadn't posted anything since the Tuesday news story.

That was the way the title existed with the late Betty F. Jaynes, founding head and former James Madison coach, who preceded Bass until 1996.

Jaynes died in February after a lengthy illness.

In summary, Donehew said she planned to do a lot of listening straight up in the first 90 days or so of her new employment, hearing from the membership what they would like to see as the WBCA moves forward.

She also talked about potential resumption of the High School All-Star game at the Women's Final Four if possible and when feasible in the wake of it being cancelled last season due to a drop in sponsorships.

Donehew was impressive in the way she handled all questions straight up without hesitation, even those that came out a bit of left field focused on one particularly area as opposed to what is the overall story here: namely she comes aboard at a time when the WBCA has been widely criticized from inside and outside the organization over its operation in recent years.

It also must be ready to navigate for its members in the rapids looming ahead when the NCAA governing structure undergoes a change later this summer.

Trust the Guru, he heard a lot of surprising comments from key administrators during the search, but considers those remarks as off-the-record talks.

But he will say that from the same quarters he heard unanimous pleasure and joy over Donehew's selection, arising from the WBCA executive committee, following the search committee's culling over what has been described as a competitive pool of candidates who applied for the position.

Interest in Donehew's selection did once again zip the Guru's page view count back above the 3,000 plateau in the previous cycle and is running strong again right now.

The Guru did have a side conversation Tuesday night with Donehew, considering how far back he goes with the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball legend named as such in 2013.

That was also an off-the-record talk, though in a general sense some topics discussed are initiatives she could carry when she begins to represent the WBCA in other organizations.

For example, the Guru has been pushing a concept of having women's winners as new inductees to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., being introduced the day of the women's NCAA semifinals instead of having to appear with all the male winners at the men's Final Four, where they are usually given scant attention from the media over there.

Technically, they could still get to the men's finals but at the women's finals their selection would get far more coverage, especially with many key media who cover the women being at the women's finals.

As for replacing her at The American, a key vacancy considering it's the conference home of two-time defending champion Connecticut, Donehew noted that comissioner Mike Aresco has been on vacation and all the conversation with him in recent days has been by email.

"But he has been simply terrific as I went through the process," she noted and said she would get at least a sounding when he returns.

No names were discussed in our conversation but there are certainly viable candidates both inside the home office as well as outside in the women's basketball world.

The Guru did receive a nice email from the NCAA's Debbie Williamson, who is head of officiating in women's basketball, and he is allowed to share it with all of you.

Incidentally, in a quick phone call Tuesday night, Williamson did hint that you all should look for major involvement from referees over the next week in the #Chlling4Charity to benefit the Kay Yow Foundation to fight breast cancer, which took the life of the North Carolina State Hall of Fame coach in 2009.

And when they begin to get doused look for them to be wearing their refereeing attire, possibly.

Here is what Williamson, a former Louisiana Tech star, had to say about Donehew:

"I am thrilled about Danielle's hire," Williamson wrote.

"She has made her mark on the women's game in several areas and we are excited about her leadership role with the WBCA.

"I have great admiration for the leadership at the WBCA and their willingness to partner with our educational efforts on rules and officiating.

"(Chief operatiing officer) Shannon Reynolds and Danielle both have played very important roles in committee work on women's basketball and officiating.

"I enjoy my time with them because we are working toward a common goal and that is breaking barriers that exist in our game.

"We are all in this together and its a pleasure to work together toward a common good.

"Danielle is a good friend and I am happy for her and know that her positive attitude and professionalism will be very evident as she collaborates with so many to continue to move our game forward."

Debbie Williamson
NCAA Women's Basketball

And a little while ago, Anucha Browne, vice president of women's basketball for the NCAA, sent the following reaction to Donehew's hire at the WBCA.

"So proud of Danielle and so happy for our game. We're privileged to have her driving the agenda on behalf of our coaches. Its a great day."

And obviously, the Guru won't be landing at the Connecticut Sun game in the WNBA with visiting Tulsa Thursday night, since it is still last night here :)

And the philly summer league roundup is almost done after this.

And there is still in the next day or so the update to the AP poll database to reflect this week's conference shifts by Maryland, Rutgers, Louisville, and Western Kentucky and maybe a few others.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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