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, August 04, 2014

Guru's WNBA Report: A Fearless Forecast of the Stretch Drive

By Mel Greenberg

In some ways, its the first weekend of August and when not paying close attention, it seems surprising that the stretch drive to the WNBA regular season finish over a period of the next two weeks has arrived.

In part, the reason is that if a move up in the overall schedule, including playoffs, was not made to accomodate the United States participation next month in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, there would be six calendar weeks or slightly less still left to complete play.

But here we are and how are they going to finish in the tightly compacted East, medocrity of won-loss records not withstanding, and who is going to finish on top in the 1-2 West race between Phoenix and WNBA defending champion Minnesota.

Welcome to the Guru's outlook where it all is laid out in fronf of you. A year ago at a similar point in the standings, in an offbeat sort of way, the Guru pretty much managed to pick the remaining won-loss result while managing to miss picking several won-loss results in the individual games.

In terms of the East, the Guru comnparisons will be in the 5-for-3 playoff race behind Atlanta, conceding first to the Dream, though some tough ones are ahead but he doesn't believe anyone can make enough of a run to upset last season's conference playoff winners.

However, the Guru will assume Atlanta invisible in this excercise with the games-behind right now reflecting placement behind the Dream.

So here goes with a bunch of extras just to be aware in case conference tie-breaks go beyond the team head-to-head first move.

One caveat. The Chicago picks are being made assuming Elena Delle Donne will be playing the rest of the way. And in that regard injuries or illness in key situations between now and then are unpredictable so if they occur and have an impact, we'll look at that factor once the final results are in.

Current East Placement

Team W-L G.B. Conf Record, Hone W-L Road W-L

Indiana 13-15 4.5 5-8 8-7 6-8
Washington 13-15 4.5 8-8 7-7 6-8
New York 12-15 5.0 7-9 8-15 4-10
Chicago 12-16 5.5 11-7 8-7 4-9
Connecticut 11-18 7.0 6-11 7-6 4-12

What Is Left

Team G.R. Home-Road East-West
Indiana 6 4-2 5-1
Washngtn 6 3-3 6-0
New York 7 4-3 5-1
Chicago 6 2-4 4-2
Conn. 5 4-1 5-0

Forecasting the East Results
R-Road, H-Home, W-Win, L-Loss

Team Forecast The Games

Ind.:4-2 Mn.-H-L, Was-H-W, NY-R-W, NY-H-W, Ch-H-L, NY-R-W
Was.: 2-4 NY-H-L, Ind-R-L, Ct-R-W, Chi-H-L, CT-R-W, NY-H-L
NY: 3-4 Was-R-W, Ct-H-W,In-H-L,Ph-H-L, In-R-L, Was-R-W, In-H-L
Chi: 5-1 Ct-R-W, Mn-R-L, Atl-H-W, Wash-R-W, In-R-W, Sa-H-W
Conn: 0-5 Chi-H-W, NY-R-L, Was-H-L, Was-H-L, Atl-H-L

Overall Finish
Chi. 17-17 2-2 series, better conference record
Ind. 17-17
NY. 15-19 -- New York wins season series with Wash.
Wash 15-19
Conn. 11-23

East Summary

Now, considering the Guru gave Indiana a sweep over New York, but the Liberty a sweep over Washington, those games are deal breakers in terms of teams going the other way.

Washington owned Connecticut in the first three games, so although giving Mike Thibault a 5-0 sweep, perhaps the Sun have something left in the tank.

And Indiana could go the other way with a win over Chicago, and likewise to Atlanta, so consider those game definite keys for the Sun to win.

The 1-2 Phoenix-Minnesota Race to the Finish

West 1-2 Standings

Team W-L G.B. Cnf W-L/H W-L/R Gm Left West East Home Road

Phoenix 23-4 -- 15-3 13-1 10-3 7 4W-3E 3-4
Minn 22-6 1.5 14-4 13-1 9-5 6 4W-2E 3-3

Remaining Games for Each

R-Road H-Home W-Win L-Loss T-Tossup

Team Opponents Forecast

Phoenix: At-H-W, SA-R-W, Mn-H-T, NY-R-W, At-R-T, LA-H-W, Sea-R-W 5-0-2

Minn: Ind-R-W, Chi-H-W, Ph-R-T, LA-H-W, SA-R-W, Tul-H-W 5-0-1


Sorry, it became too tough to take the shot. In the end, three key games are likely to determine whether Phoenix ruins Minnesota's three-year rule of the regular season.

The Lynx absolutely have to win at Phoenix and then will need some help from likely East regular-season champion Atlanta, which has a home-and-home remaining with Phoenix.

And that's how it looks but the Guru offer every few nights what happened against the picks and what worked.

Delle Donne Redux

It's great to see former Delaware All-American Elena Delle Donne return to the Chicago Sky from her latest major bout with Lyme disease.

No doubt, she will be the factor if Chicago gets to the playoffs, which, if it happens, one could make a subtle MVP case, though it wouldn't be fair because of the time missed while others such as Minnesota's Maya Moore and Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner have held their teams all summer.

If this all plays out, it will be similar to Delle Donne's sophomore season when she missed a bunch of games until working herself back into action for the remaining weeks.

Though not 100 percent, when the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs began, Delle Donne led the Blue Hens to an upset of Old Dominion in the quarterfinals -- the first time the Lady Monarchs had ever been ousted that early in the conference tourney since joining the league -- and then another upset before falling to James Madison in the championship as Delaware had played its fourth game in four days.

Then, though much more time remained than right now, Delle Donne went full metal jacket on conditioning to get ready to audition for a spot on the USA World University Squad which was to containing most of the top collegians.

Made the squad she did, and quickly she was cited as the best of the best as the United States squad captured the gold medal in China.

This time a spot with the elite USA squad looms as it prepares for the FIBA World Championship that would relieve the Americans of having to play any Olympic qualifying tournaments next year.

Training begins in Annapolis, Md., home of the U.S. Naval Academy, from Sept. 7-10.

That would be at the time the WNBA finals get under way, meaning some people would be missing until right before the team heads overseas.

Even if Chicago makes the playoffs, the Sky may not yet be finals material.

But that should delight the heart of Delaware fans because after becoming the mainstay of the sellout game in May at the Bob Carpenter Center as Chicago played Washington in a preseason game in an encore visit from Delle Donne, there is likely to be another.

Whether she is able to be on the scene or not in any capacity, which remains to be seen as events occur between now and then, the Guru has heard enough whispers that the USA team is likely to have some kind of event Sept. 11 before it heads to Bridgeport, Conn., for the friendly with the Canadian national team on Sept. 13.

In the runnup to that announcemenrt, USA coach Geno Auriemma had told his troops that a game at Delaware is likely.

In recent weeks, the Guru has heard that same news from people that would be involved in planning, though USA sources have said nothing is sealed yet.

Nevertheless, even if it were to be an intrasquad game, it would be a psuedo WNBA All-Star game considering who is on the squad.

And it would also be a homecoming for Auriemma, the UConn coach who grew up in Norristown, assistant Dawn Staley of South Carolina, and, should Minnesota get eliminated, also assistant Cheryl Reeve.

And if this is as successful as the Chicago game was you most likely would look for repeat events next year since the Sky people have said they wouldn't mind returning as did Washington coach Mike Thibault.

Next year, after the WNBA season, if there are no qualifying tournaments for USA to go to, there could be a training in the area either in Philadelphia or Delaware with a game attached to either place.

That's it for now.

Rob Knox will be by here early Monday night with his weekly WNBA notebook.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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