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.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: South Carolina Bolts to the Top

Guru's Note: This was delayed due to an email receiving glitch at the Guru's end so any of the upsets that occurred will be dealt with next time around.

By Mike Siroky

Georgia celebrated its return to the Top 25 with a major out-of-conference road win at the Big Ten's Ohio State and a home road win – for state braggin' rights –against the ACC's Georgia Tech.

All the ranked teams in the Southeastern conference of women's basketball won this past week through Monday.

South Carolina ascended to its highest ranking ever, at No. 1.

If anyone thinks that is going to last, send your bets to me.

But, still, the SEC has six rankled teams, more than any conference, and once again claims dominance in the women's game. The SEC is 49-9 against America right now.

•No. 1 SC is 3-0 once again and should not be challenged until Dec. 7 at Duke.

Their fan base is finally alive, turning out at better than 10,000 per game.

They have been consistent in this start, averaging 94.0 points on 51.8 percent shooting, including half of their 3s.

"I feel really good about what our team has been able to accomplish,'' coach Dawn Staley said. "This is not a goal that we had set, but it is a part of our journey.

"Basketball has been extremely good to me. It's the gift that keeps on giving,'' Staley said. "I try to repay my debt to basketball, but it keeps giving more in big ways. I want to be amongst the ones that have won a national championship somewhere in their career.''

On defense, they limit opponents to 39.5 points per game and force 23.5 turnovers per game.

Five Gamecocks average double figures, including two ferment, A’ja Wilson at
16.5 and Bianca Cuevas’ at 10.5.

Junior Tiffany Mitchell set the benchmark for the week with 17.5 points per game on 75.0 percent shooting including 9-of-10 on 3s. Her 6-of-6 3s against San Diego State is the best in school history.

•No. 4 Tennessee is also one of those teams that seems to reload not reconfigure.

They are 3-0 with the most-recent home wins over nondescript Winthrop (81-48) and Tennesse State (91-46).

Ariel Massengale hit her first five 3s in the romp against Winthrop.

Nia Moore posted a double-double with a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds against Tennessee State. The Lady Vols are winning by an average of 89.7 to 46.3 through three games, and their combined margin of victory over the season’s first three games (130) is the second-most in program history.

Tennessee continues to have two players averaging a double-double, including Bashaara Graves (14.3 ppg., 10.0 rpg.), who’s had a double-double in all three games thus far, matching her total for the entire past season.

Izzy Harrison has been twice injured already, but averages 12 ppg. and 10 rpg. Harrison and Graves are on the first "watch list" for both the Wooden and the Wade awards.

Against this backdrop, coach Holly Walrick says the idea is to not peak too early.

"I think our team needs to have a little bit more togetherness," the Tennessee coach said. "We have to have a little bit more discipline, a little bit more toughness. I thought (last season) we were tough at times, but not all the time. I thought sometimes when our back got against the wall, we folded a little bit."

•The fun team, No. 7 Texas A&M, is 5-0 and – except for a stutter step against Texas – is likely to not be challenged until league play starts.

Agsint Rice, Owls' coach Greg Williams said there's a single best way to guard Texas A&M guard Courtney Walker.

"Pray," Williams said.

Walker scored 18 in the 11-point win.

The Aggies closed out on a 26-15 run. A&M coach Gary Blair said he was disappointed the Aggies had to move away from their patented man defense for a time in the second half to ensure the victory.

"This team is a work in progress," Blair said, adding that his players appeared a "step slow" at times. "I hate to say we had to shift to a zone to stop them, but that's what we had to do with about 10 minutes to go. We're also not creating turnovers, not even close."

The Aggies shot 48 percent (29 of 60) from the floor compared to 30 percent (21 of 69) for the Owls, but Rice edged A&M in rebounding 42-40, including snaring 20 offensive boards compared to 11 for the Aggies.

"We have to improve that, for when we go against some of the quicker, bigger teams we play," Walker observed.

•Georgia, at Columbus, had Tiaria Griffin score 16 as one of four Lady Bulldogs in double figures.

Freshman Mackenzie Engram, in her home state, recorded her first double-digit scoring output (12), double-figure rebounding (10) for, obviously, her first double-double at Ohio State. Engram scored eight points in the final 6:57. She had approximately 20 family members and friends present, including her mom, an Ohio State grad.

Georgia improved to 4-0 against Georgia Tech, giving coach coach Andy Landers 847 wins in his 36 seasons at Georgia.

When he hits 850, he will be the third women's college coach behind Pat Head Summitt and Geno Auriemma to have 850 victories at the same Division I school.

Four coaches of men's teams have also done likewise.

Shacobia Barbee stepped up with a career-best 24 points in the Georgia Tech win. Engram recorded her second 12-point performance. Point guard Marjoie Butler was 8-of-8 at the line in the final 20 seconds against both Ohio State.

"Defensively, for the most part, we were good all night long," Landers said.

"Our kids did a terrific job defensively. They've got players who are really hard to guard, but we defended them very well, as well as you can hope to guard a group of talented athletic kids.

"In the second half, we rebounded the ball. We ended up outrebounding them by 10, which was huge. Our guards got involved. Cobi, Marjorie (Butler) and Erika (Ford) all got involved on the boards. We kind of held them on the defensive end until we could make some plays offensively."

•No. 9 Kentucky is 4-0 and will celebrate Thanksgiving in the the Paradise Jam Island Tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Kentucky played three games in six days, including, ending with a road win at last season’s MAC champion, Central Michigan.

Before that was a 91-62, 11 a.m. home win over Morehead State, its 15th straight win over MSU in Memorial Coliseum.

At Central Michigan the Kats survived a valiant comeback from the Chippewas. Despite an early 20-point first-half lead, CMU put on its defensive clamps and pulled as close as three on two occasions, the final time with 40 seconds to go. A 3 clinked away as time expired.

Jennifer O’Neill led UK's scorers with a career-best five 3s in a 19-point effort.

•Even Mississippi State made some headway, taking the women's preseason NIT 88-77 win over Western Kentucky.

It is the first preseason champ in the league since 1999.

Freshman Victoria Vivian is the SEC rookie of the week. They enter the AP Poll at No. 25.

Being home for the finale did not hurt. The 3,773 in attendance is the seventh-largest crowd – men or women – in Humphrey Coliseum history.

Defense did it, said coach Vic Schaefer.

“What a heck of a basketball game,” he said. “Western Kentucky has a competitive fire and spirit. I thought we were out-toughed and out-hustled a lot today. But in the last seven or eight minutes, our kids decided they had had enough.

“When we get in attack mode, we have a chance. There were some great defensive plays. We had enough of being out-played. Give Western Kentucky credit for that. We wore them down. We had a few more bodies and we played hard until the end.”

MSU fell down by as many as seven (at 42-35) and still trailed 42-39 at halftime.

“I am proud of the kids for sticking with it,” Schaefer said. “There were not a lot of timeouts. I tell the players we want to coach your mind, not your heart.

Finally down the stretch, we had that extra effort you have to have in a game like this.

“We are playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores. It is fun to coach this team because you are watching them grow up before your eyes.”

Tournament Most Valuable Player Vivians provided a big spark while collecting her first double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds). Chapel and Morgan William each had 17 points to lead the MSU offensive attack. Dominique Dillingham also had 10 points for MSU.

“This felt good but we feel like we have a lot more to do,” Vivians said. “We are not satisfied. We know it’s a good start but we can only get better.”

Mike Siroky has been covering women's college basketball since an undergraduate at Indiana in 1975.

He was covering the SEC when the NCAA took over the women's game from the AIAW. He and Mel Greenberg have been friends since Mel started the Associated Press poll and there were few writers interested enough in the women's game to help. Yes, they are old.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guru's College Report: Penn Has a Debutante Ball As Freshman Key Rout of New Hampshire

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Penn offered a debutante party at The Palestra Tuesday night against New Hampshire in what was quite the coming out performance by freshmen Michelle Nwokedi and Beth Brzozowski in a lopsided 74-39 non-conference win over New Hampshire that featured a 58-15 differential from the Quakers’ bench.

After producing four straight rookies of the year in the Big 5 coach Mike McLaughlin may have an in-house fight on his hands between the two in getting the streak extended to five.

The visiting Wildcats (3-0) arrived here for their first-ever meeting with the Quakers unbeaten and made the opening five minutes a closely-fought battle until the newbies got into the action.

Just as she had done last time out at Navy Saturday night, Nwokedi quickly nailed a trey, this time to tie the score, and Brzozowski followed on three field goals from senior Kara Bonenberger to score one herself and Penn (3-1) was on its way to a third-straight triumph after the season-opening loss at No. 4 Tennessee on Nov. 14.

Nwokedi, a top 100 recruit from Missouri City, Texas, had game and career highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds, more than totally collected her three previous games, while Brzozowski, who was part of three New York state high school champions at Hathaway Brown in Highland Heights, Ohio, finished with 14 points, matching the entire total of her first three games.

Sharpshooting from the outside, Nwokedi was 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts and 7-for-14 in overall field goal attempts and Brzozowski was 4-for-5 and 5-for-7 in overall field goal attempts.

For good measure while not lighting up the scoreboard statistically, Anna Ross in another start still showed a steady hand running the offense. Lauren Whitlach got in off the bench and scored a basket in seven minutes of play.

Then there was the veteran, but newly re-made Keiera Ray, slowed or sidelined the last two years by nagging leg injuries, who had her second straight productive night, shooting 4-for-6 from the field for 11 points.

“We weren’t beating them when they were shooting like that,” said New Hampshire coach Maureen Magarity, who comes from a well-known basketball family from here and whose father Bill’s eventual Patriot League champion Army team fell at the hands of the Quakers last season. “They are good.”

The Quakers, who led at the half 42-14, built a differential of 39 points, the largest of the six-year era under McLaughlin and the 35-point differential at the finish is the second largest by just a point less than a win over NJIT last season.

Sydney Stipanovich, the reigning Big 5 co-player of the week with Saint Joseph’s Natasha Cloud, and reigning Ivy co-player of the week with Princeton’s Blake Dietrick, blocked another pair of shots.

Villanova’s Alex Louin was another local winner this week earning the Big East rookie honors.

Penn dominated the boards 58-38 as well as 22-10 on the offensive end.

“I thought we could play as well as we good play with 10 in and 10 out,” McLaughlin said afterwards. “It is a little warm in here and I do want to get them in the flow, refreshed, and I think we did that, and when you defend a lot of good things happen, and we made shots and when you make shots we really felt good about ourselves.

“ We’ve been working with Michelle on the pace of the game and working as hard as she can and she’s really just starting to develop overall. Offensively, she’s getting more comfortable, she’s shooting the ball with confidence, she can shoot and she can really spread the floor and I’m really loving the way she’s developing.

“Keiera is really managing herself well, she sees an opportunity to make an impact on this team, I give her all the credit in the world.”

Said Ray, “It feels really good to get this win. Everything we’re doing at practice is really paying off.”

As for choosing Penn in light of many top national teams chasing here, Nwokedi said, “When I graduate, I want to have a job, I don’t really want to go play in the WNBA (sorry guys), and I thought Penn was the best fit,” Nwokedi said.

“And the coaches and team, I loved my official visit and felt Penn in the Ivy League would be the best fit for me.”

No one scored in double figures for New Hampshire, whose Elizabeth Belanger had a team-high nine points.

Penn is off a week before heading next Tuesday to Easton, Pa., and an improved Lafayette team that beat visiting Rider 66-48, Tuesday night, No. 22 Rutgers stayed unbeaten with an 81-53 win at nearby Wagner, Drexel ended a three-year losing streak to Saint Joseph’s, beating the Hawks at home, 76-63, while La Salle has won two straight, beating Manhattan at home in an afternoon kids special at the Tom Gola Arena, 61-48, while Delaware fell at home to defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham 49-44 and Penn State fell again at home to a mid-major for the third straight game, losing at the finish to Saint Bonaventure,, 56-54.

To look further at the large slate of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW games that everyone in action except Temple, Princeton, and Villanova, let’s go to the written tape.

La Salle Evens Things Up -- Michaya Owens had another strong outing, tying a career high with 23 points for the Explorers (2-2), who won their second straight 61-48 after being routed at Penn a week ago, while Ebony Wells had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Shayna Ericksen and Kayla Grimme each had 10 points for the Jaspers (1-3) and Grimme also grabbed 10 rebounds.

“We’re feeling a sense of urgency,” La Salle coach Jeff Williams said. “But we’re still not playing like we need to play. When you get handled by Penn the way we got handled – Penn is a very good team – but I felt we didn’t show up. So I think we still have a lot to clean up.

“We’re still missing Alica Cropper (leg injury), our leader – Michaya Owens had stepped up, Jasmine Alston has played well, and Ebony Wells is doing a good job – she’s getting more comfortable out on the court. But we’re still not defending, the way we need to be defending. We may get Alicia ready to play this weekend.”

La Salle will be in Long Island’s tournament in Brooklyn, playing the host team at 2 p.m. Friday and then meeting Towson Saturday in the pre-determined format for the two-day event.

Drexel Deals Saint Joseph’s -- The Dragons are off to a 3-1 start and got a key win at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center, beating the Hawks 76-63 to hand Saint Joseph’s(1-3) their second straight loss, both on the road.

Sarah Curran had a career-high 25 points for Drexel while Meghan Creighton had her first career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Dragons, who are off until playing St Bonaventure Bonaventure in the first round of the Brown tournament in Providence, R.I., Dec. 6, led by as many as 18 points at 45-27.

Curran’s total is the most by a Drexel player since former star Hollie Mershon had 28 in the semifinals of the WNIT they eventually won in 2013 in April.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick had 18 points and Ashley Robinson scored 16 for Saint Joseph’s, which next plays Saturday against Saint Francis of N.Y. at noon.

Rutgers Still Pefect -- A pair of 20-point effort spurred the No. 22 Scarlet Knights (4-0) to a win over Wagner (0-3) on Staten Island, N.Y. at the Seahawks’ Spiro Sports Center.

Betnijah Laney had 22 points and 11 rebounds while Kahleah Copper scored 20 points to ruin Wagner’s home opener. Tyler Scaife also scored in double figures, tallying 15 points while tying her career high with seven rebounds and also dealing six assists.

Jasmine Nwajei had 16 points for the Sseahawks, who are still in search for their first victory, while Lyndsay Rowe scored 13 points and Jordyn Peck had 12 points.

Rutgers next hosts Colgate at 2 p.m.. Friday.

Delaware Falls Short to Fordham -- The host Blue Hens (1-3) continue to struggle despite three players scoring in double figures as they lost their second straight 49-44.

Courtni Green missed a game-tying 3-point attempt in the last 10 seconds and the defending A-10 champion Rams got the rebound and went to the foul line to collect the game’s final two points.

Erika Brown had 14 points, Green scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds while Hannah Jardine scored 10.

Emily Tapio had 18 points for Fordham (3-2).

“We need to continue to get better,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “Do I feel encouragement because we took the Atlantic 10 champion down to the wire? Yeah, we played an older team tough, but we want to come up with a W.

“We continue to improve daily, but we need to keep clawing and fighting to win games like this.”

Delaware next goes to Vermont Saturday and visits Temple next Wednesday. Fordham will also visit Temple next month, meeting a former rival member of the Atlantic 10 now in The American on Dec. 7.

Penn State Skid Reached Three -- History was made on both sides as St. Bonaventure edged the Lady Lions (1-3) 56-54 on Nyla Rueter’s layup with 1.4 seconds left in regulation at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.

It’s the first win ever for the Bonnies (3-2) of the Atlantic 10, over Penn State in 11 attempts, including 5-1 in Happy Valley, giving them their first taste of some prominent success since winning the regular season league title in 2012 and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

On the other hand, following two other narrow losses this week at home to Albany and Seton Hall in the Pre-Season WNIT, it’s the first time Penn State, who led most of the way but was outscored 16-5 down the stretch, is 1-3 since the start of the 2006 season.

“We had a couple of empty possessions where we didn’t get any offensive rebounds,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington ticked off causes for squandering a nine-point lead. “And then (the Bonnies) did a good job of attacking the zone.

“We had a couple of breakdowns, defensively. We had a great shot at the end. Candice (Agee) had a pretty shot and didn’t follow. They get the rebound and go down and had a great shot,” she alluded to the final seconds. “Hats off to them. They made a great play at the end.

“We had a chance, didn’t make the play. They had a chance, they made the play. There you have it.”

Depending how one wants to classify Seton Hall in re-configured Big East it would be the first time the Lady Lions lost three straight to mid-majors since the terminology game into play, let alone losing all of them at home.

“You talk about the last couple of games and we’re five points away from being undefeated,” Washington said. “But again, it’s early in the season and we’ve got some they we have to shore up. And we gotta get more consistent play. But getting consistent play out of young kids, that’s a tough thing but they’re really to get back at it.”

Sierra Moore had a game and career-high 15 points for the Lady Lions, while freshman Lindsay Spann had 13 points and a fledgling career-best five assists.

Katie Healy had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bonnies, while Rueter scored 13 points and Emily Michael had 11 points.

Penn State next heads to Atlanta for Georgia State’s Thanskgiving Tournament, opening against Liberty Friday and then playing either Samford or Georgia State Sunday.

Princeton plays Wake Forest on Thursday night at the Cancun Challenge, Montana on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday.

Villanova opens Friday in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Naples, Fla., against Arizona State.

Temple next plays Harvard Sunday at the Hall of Fame Challenge at the Mohegan Sun at 5 p.m.

All PhilahoopsW teams are idle Wednesday.

That’s it for the moment.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Monday, November 24, 2014

Guru's College Report: Princeton Beats American to Stay Perfect

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Princeton was well connected on the court and off the court Sunday night to stay unbeaten with a 63-56 win over host American University in a non-conference game in the Eagles’ Bender Arena.

It was as much a tough loss for American (0-3), which has been competitive but winless against three prominent opponents, in light of denying the Tigers (4-0) a field goal over the final 10 minutes, 43 seconds.

While Princeton couldn’t connect from the field, the Tigers still found ways to get to the free throw line and make nine foul shots and also grab offensive rebounds when they missed those attempts, which cut off any chances of American to rally to a triumph.

“We’re beating good conferences, this was a really good team – balanced, tough, on the road,” Tigers coach Courtney Banghart said of American.

“Our kids battled. They were tremendous defensively and they found a way. It wasn’t our best performance, offensively, but we found a way.”

As for Princeton being well connected off the court, after the Guru realized the secret service guy in the parking garage’s elevator wasn’t there for his arrival, it was apparent something presidential was in the air.

While Delaware has hit it big at the vice presidential level in recent years because of the alumni and former state U.S. Senator connections with Joe Biden, Princeton has friends in the White House, where the Tigers took a tour after arriving in the nation’s capital on Saturday.

It all stems from freshman Leslie Robinson, who is in position to call the current residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue downtown either aunt, uncle, or in the case of Barack and Michelle Obama’s two daughters – cousin.

Although the president didn’t make it here as originally intended, though the preliminary plans were not made public, the first lady, who is a Class of 1985 Princeton alumna, appeared and gave a halftime talk in the Tigers’ locker room after they took a 36-26 lead across the first 20 minutes.

She is the younger sister of Leslie’s father Craig Robinson, the former Oregon State men’s coach who is now an ESPN analyst after being let go last season.

He is one of only two players out of Princeton to be a two-time Ivy player of the year.

“We wanted Michelle to come and say hi to the kids,” Banghart said. “So she spoke to the kids, which was very cool.”

If the Republicans want equal time with the Ivy power, they can always have New Jersey governor Chris Christie invite the Tigers over for Sunday bunch, considering he lives in a mansion in the neighborhood of Jadwin Gym, where Princeton produced four straight Ivy crowns until Penn broke up the monopoly in Jadwin on the final day of the Ivy schedule last March.

The younger Robinson had five rebounds in 11 minutes.

At one point during last season, her father was being speculated for the then-vacant Princeton athletic director’s position.

Meanwhile, back at the business at hand in Bender, Blake Dietrick scored 19 points and scored seven rebounds for Princeton, while Annie Tarakchian had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Alecx Wheatley, a past Philly summer league performer out of Council Rock South in lower Bucks County, scored seven points.

American, which has previous narrow losses to George Washington and James Madison, got 13 points from Jen Dumiak, 12 from Arron Zimmerman, and 10 from Ari Booth,while former Noth Penn star and Philly League performer Lauren Crisler came off the bench to score five points and grab two rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time.

Late in the second half, American of the Patriot League began to narrow the score but couldn’t get below a deficit of five points in the last minute because every team Princeton went to the free throw line when the Tigers missed a shot they got a rebound and went back to get the score.

Unlike a year ago when former Ivy player of the year Niveen Rasheed and several top players had graduated, this time Banghart has some familiar faces of experience to work with at the outset.

The crowd of 1, 628 was believed to be American’s largest ever, though that couldn’t be officially verified at the moment but longtime Eagles observers said it definitely was the best in about five seasons.

It is not known if the appearance was connected with the presidential celebrities since there was no advance buildup though some suspected that perhaps knowledgeable people leaked the word through social media platforms.

“I thought we competed for 40 minutes, we played hard,” said second-year coach Megan Gebbia, a former assistant with MAAC power Marist who was a strong candidate for the Maggie Dixon Award last season that goes to the top Division I newcomer in charge at the sidelines as awarded by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

“I think what it comes down to is us doing the little things, which is the rebounding, boxing out on free throws, making free throws and just making good decisions down the stretch,” Gebbia added.

“It’s frustrating for this group because they’re talented to be able to play with these better teams, bigger programs, but not being able to finish out. We need to figure out so we can do a better job.

“It is they need to settle down when they can’t hear (because of the large crowd) because they’re used to being able to hear everything.”

Alabama Overcomes Temple -- The Owls were the only other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group to play Sunday and they fell to the Crimson Tide 58-51 in the final of the initial part of the Hall of Fame Challenge in Kansas’ historic Allen Fieldhouse.

Temple (2-3) had to play three straight games over the weekend, winning big over Georgetown Friday night but then losing likewise to host Kansas Saturday and then falling to Alabama, which won all three of its games.

The Tide are now 4-2 which for the moment looks good enough to be making progress after finally yielding to public pressure in the offseason and allowing former player Daisha Simmons to play immediately at Seton Hall following her transfer out of Alabama.

After being tied 27-27 at the half, the Tide launched a 10-2 run and never trailed again though the Owls got to within five with 4:25 left to play before being denied from rallying any further.

Temple’s Tyonna Williams scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and dealt five assists while swiping three steals, and freshman Alliya Butts had 10 points and grabbed four steals. Erica Coville grabbed 11 rebounds to go with her nine points.

Alabama’s Ashley Williams had 20 points and 11 rebounds while Hannah Cook scored 13.

The four teams who played in Kansas will be joined by four others who are playing their part of the tournament at Notre Dame, including the third-ranked Irish, to come together this Sunday in Uncasville, Connecticut, at the Mohegan Sun, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun and American Athletic Conference tournament, of which Temple is a participant.

The Owls will play Harvard at 5 p.m.

No one from the PhilahoopsW plays Monday but on Tuesday, Penn State hosts St. Bonaventure at 5:30 p.m., part of a double header with the Nittany Lion men; La Salle hosts Manhattan at noon in a traditional kids day game; Penn hosts New Hampshire in The Palestra at 7 p.m., the same time Drexel will be hosting Saint Joseph’s up the street at the Daskalakis Athletic Center; Delaware will host Fordham at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark at 7 p.m.; and No. 22 Rutgers will visit Wagner at 7 p.m. on nearby Staten Island, New York.

Princeton next plays Wake Forest on Thanksgiving Day in the opener of the Cancun Challenge followed in succession by games against Montana and Charlotte.

The Guru will mention the other games on the PhilahoopsW slate following Tuesday’s heavy slate of action.

Nationally Noted

Only one major thing to mention immediately is the anticipation of the next Associated Press women’s poll being released in late morning or early afternoon in the wake of current No. 1 Connecticut losing at No. 6 Stanford in overtime a week ago before Stanford then lost to No. 10 Texas in overtime at home.

So the question is wether the Huskies hold on at the top in a mixed vote, or No. 2 South Carolina, coached by Dawn Staley, makes the one-step move to the top for the first time ever; or No. 3 Notre Dame leaps over both by evaluation of all the teams; or Texas gets credit for its win and makes an unprecedented move all the way from No. 10 to the top, though at the very least look for the Longhorns to make some significant jump.

The Guru will have all the AP notes from the new poll in the next post to appear Tuesday morning.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guru's College Round Up: Penn Sinks Navy and La Salle Hits The Victory Board

Guru’s note: Information for games other than here in Maryland from the wires and team reports was used to compile the roundup. And your Guru apologizes for a late post but needed some shuteye after coming down here off an all-nighter from Friday working the previous post.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Can this edition of the Penn women’s basketball program possibly surpass the noteworthy one that closed the books eight months ago with the Quakers’ third Ivy championship?

It’s too early to say for sure but the signs are definitely there after Penn put together a second straight solid effort beating Navy 60-51.

The Quakers won down here Saturday night at the Naval Academy for the first time ever and the outcome from the action in Alumni Hall only looks close because of the Midshipwomen narrowed a 22-point deficit in the final nine and a half minutes with a Villanova-like barrage of three-pointers.

“After going coming off a good win over La Salle and to be able to do the same thing for us would be a good step on the road if we could do it, and we did it tonight,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said afterwards.

“I thought we defended them very well. I give them a ton of credit. They hit a ton of threes late that were heavily guarded, we had a couple of breakdowns, but we’ll learn from that.”

Keiera Ray came off the bunch to lead Penn (2-1) with 22 points off 11-for-14 from the free throw line and connecting on 4-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts.

The inside attack continued to be a force with sophomore Sydney Stipanovich getting eight points and eight rebounds and she also blocked four shots while Kara Bonenberger had eight points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Rookie Michelle Nwokedi showed more promise of what she will bring when early in the game she nailed a pair of 3-pointers as the Quakers began to put distance between themselves and Navy.

“I thought it was good that she had the confidence to take those shots,” McLaughlin said.

Kathleen Roche added nine points to the Quaker attack that is showing signs of being deeper than last year.

“I work on my shots every day so if I keep practicing I’m going to hit those shots,” Ray said. “It’s amazing to be able to come down here and win on their court.”

Navy (1-2), much younger the bunch that either won or were in connection for Patriot League titles the last several years, connected on 11 three--pointers fueed by the air attack near the end.

Chloe Stapleton was the only Navy player to score in double figures, tallying 14 points and hitting four of the triplets while Danielle Poblarp had nine points and three of the other treys.

Sarah Reilly grabbed 10 rebounds.

“A lot of things impressed me about Penn,” said Navy coach Stefanie Pemper, now in her seventh season, but prior to that was an assistant at Ivy power Harvard.

“They’re playing a couple of freshman and they lost their perimeter player (Ivy player Alyssa Baron) and point guard (Meghan McCullouch), who was very good and I’m impressed how well they kind of know roles,” she said.

“We did a decent job on their two big kids and they still had kids who went to the basket at the right time,” Pemper continued. “I think what they run is good and for being only three games into the year I’m kind of impressed how well they know their roles.”

Penn next hosts New Hampshire on Tuesday night in The Palestra.

Elsewhere, two Big 5 teams were on opposite ends of narrow finishes with La Salle (1-2) winning its first game of the year just before time expired in the Tom Gola Arena, beating Howard 65-64 while Saint Joseph’s played its second straight overtime after edging Temple on Hawk Hill Tuesday night and fell at the finish at Liberty 76-75.

Drexel, bounced back from Wednesday’s 59-43 loss at Princeton to beat Colgate 59-51 at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center to avenge last year’s road loss while Rutgers stayed unbeaten, winning a key road game at LSU 64-57, though the Tigers have been struggling since the start of the season.

Penn State was shocked for the second straight game at home, falling to Seton Hall 75-70 in a consolation final of the Preseason WNIT in what was a huge triumph for the visiting Pirates in the second straight year under Tony Bozzella.

And Temple, in the second game of the Naismith Hall of Fame Challenge, followed up Friday’s big win over Georgetown by getting routed by host Kansas 76-56. The Owls (2-2) play one more on the trip to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence meeting Alabama Sunday afternoon.

Let’s go to the written tape.

Penn State Falls Again -- Chalk this up as a milestone for the visiting Pirates of Seton Hall (2-1), whose only lost to date is a narrow one at Big 12 power West Virginia and who hosts Saint Joseph’s this weekend among several teams in an invitational holiday tournament.

And also call it another sudden setback to the youthful Lady Lions (1-2), who fell last Sunday to 54-53 to Albany in the second round of the then-winners bracket of the Preseason WNIT in the first year after the Maggie Lucas era.

That’s two losses to mid-majors by a Big 10 team for those who are keeping count.

“We’re not that far away if we can fix a few small things,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said afterwards. “I think our youth showed itself today, different possessions, different decisions. It’s tough to have a free throw with a chance to tie and not come away with it.

“Normally, we’re a good free throw shooting team but when you miss that many it hurts your chances to come back earlier.”

Ka-Deidre Simmons had a game and career--high 28 points, of which 23 came in the second half, for Seton Hall while Candice Agee had a career-high 21 points for Penn State.

However, after the Lady Lions had sliced almost all of an eight-point deficit with 1:09 left in regulation, she missed a chance to tie the game on a foul shot and the visitors connected on four straight from the charity stripe to conclude the contest.

Penn State sophomore Sierra Moore had her first career double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while freshman Lindsey Spann scored 12 points and tied a career-high with 10 rebounds.

The Lady Lions host St. Bonaventure at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as part of a double header with the PSU men, who will play Akron.

La Salle Gets Into the Victory Column -- Following a narrow loss at Temple in the season opener and a wipeout at Penn, the Explorers edged the Bisons as Amy Griffin, who finished with 11 points, scored on a fastbreak layup with nine seconds left in regulation.

Michaya Owens scored all 21 of her points in the first half where La Salle went to the break ahead 40-29.

Ebony Wells had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the home team.

Howard’s Cheyenne Brown had 24 points.

La Salle next hosts Manhattan at noon Tuesday.

Saint Joseph’s Edged on the Road -- Karly Buer connected on a second foul shot after missing the first to give the host Flames the overtime win in Lynchburg, Va., and even the series between the two teams.

Ciara Andrews had an open shot from midcourt to try to rescue the Hawks (1-2) but it hit the rim and bounced away as time expired.

The loss wasted a career effort from Natasha Cloud, who had a career-high 29 points and also q career one from Andrews, who scored 23.

Buer led four Liberty players in double figures with 15 points and a 16-4 run in the first half accounted for a major portion of the damage to the Hawks, who visit Drexel Tuesday night.

Saint Joseph’s was outrebound 53-32 but caused 20 turnovers and had 15 steals.

Drexel Tops Colgate -- The Dragons (2-1) led the all the way in this one as Sarah Curran scored 19 points, shooting 7-for-12 from the field, while Meghan Creighton scored 14 points and Rachel Pearson scored nine points.

As mentioned in the previous item directly above this one, the Dragons host Saint Joseph’s Tuesday night.

Rutgers Still Perfect -- The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (3-0) had to endure 15 lead changes and eight ties but prevailed 64-57 over the struggling Tigers (2-3).

Tyler Scaife scored 16 points for Rutgers, who next head to Wagner Tuesday night. Betnijah Laney had 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds while Rachel Hollivay and reserve Briyona Canty each scored 13 points.

Temple Pounced by Jayhawks -- The Owls (2-2) got overwhelmed at the outset as Kansas (3-1) jumped to a 15-2 lead before Temple got closer at 17-8 before the Jayhawks responded to go up 29-10 and eventually lead by as many as 30 points.

A silver lining for Temple was the freshmen in the offense as Alliya Butts score 19 points and Tanaya Atkinson scored 12 to go with six rebounds. Safiya Martin had nine carooms to lead the Owls off the boards.

Chelsea Gardner had 22 points for the hosts who finish up their end playing Georgetown Sunday. The four teams will go to the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut next Sunday to play teams in the other quad and Temple will meet Harvard at 5 p.m.

“We knew were going to have problems with Gardner, so we tried to pack it in and their guards showed up and knocked down shots,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

“I feel in the second half our approach was a little bit different, we were a little more hungry. We found ways to get out in transition, but they just scored way too much early on for us to come back. It’s a learning experience for us and I hope we’ll take something away from this.”

Nationally Noted

The Guru had time to slip into Washington, where he will return Sunday night for the American-Princeton game, and a saw a half of a good one which was tied after 20 minutes before No. 9 Maryland from nearby College Park went on to a 75-65 win over the Colonials (2-2).

GW did manage to reduce the offensive thrust Maryland (4-0) had produced prior to the game, averaging 97 points with a 52-point scoring differential advantage.

Laurin Mincy had 23 points for the visitors, who also got 16 points and eight rebounds from Shatori Walker-Kimbrough while Lexi Brown had 14 points and five steals.

Jonquel Jones had 18 points and 10 rebounds for GWU while Caira Washington had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Colonials host Grambling at noon Monday while theTerrapins host Loyola-Maryland, whose staff is loaded with Saint Joseph’s DNA in coach Joe Logan, a former Cindy Griffin aide, and his aides Katie Kuester and Erin Shields, who are former Hawks stars.

That’s it until late Sunday night.

-- Mel

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Guru College Report: Temple Routs Georgetown; Lauren Hill Scores Again

Guru’s note: team and wire reports were used to help compile quotes and iother information for this report.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Temple roared back from its narrow overtime Big 5 setback on Tuesday night to romp over Georgetown 81-58 in the opener of the Naismith Hall of Fame Challenge Friday night at the historic Kansas Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.

In the other game the host Jayhawks fell to Alabama 85-80 and the four teams will continue in a round-robin format Saturday and Sunday before all four will head to the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., next Sunday to meet teams from the other quad with Temple slated to meet Harvard at 5 p.m.

The Owls (2-1) play Kansas (2-1) Saturday at 5 p.m. and then meet Alabama (2-2) on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The Hoyas (2-2) play Alabama Saturday and Kansas Sunday.

Temple’s Tyonna Williams, who nearly beat the Hoyas (2-2) of the Big East with one eye closed because of a poke in the other eye at practice Thursday, scored a game-high 21 points.

Two other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group also played with Villanova getting its first win of the season out west with a 50-43 win at Cal-State Fullerton while Delaware got thumped in a day game at East Carolina, 89-60.

Nationally, Lauren Hill, of Division III Mount St. Joseph’s in Cincinnati who is coping with an inoperable brain tumor, joined her teammates in tournament in Cleveland and entered the second half action to score another basket following the two field goals in her emotional season-opener on Nov. 2 at Xavier’s Cintas Center back home.

Father Judge graduate Joe McKeown of Philadelphia reached his 600th career victory win as his Northwestern Wildcats beat Kent State 72-54 with the milestone including a long run at George Washington in the nation’s capital and his first Division I head coaching job at New Mexico State.

Apparently having less trouble scheduling each other, which had been avoided because of their longtime friendship, Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw of No. 3 Notre Dame put on a rout of her former Saint Joseph’s boss Jim Foster as the Irish destroyed his Chattanooga squad 88-53 in South Bend, Ind.

Both Philly coaches are in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Former Oklahoma star Stacey Dales, a key player in the school’s rise to national prominence in the early part of the last decade, had her number 21 retired in Norman before the Sooners topped Bradley 104-55. She is is the school’s first female-athlete to have her number retired.
Dales played on the 2002 NCAA runnerup squad to Connecticut and was drafted by the Washington Mystics and also went into broadcasting, doing analysis work for ESPN right out of college.;

Host Towson edged Rider 53-51 in a Preseason WNIT consolation game.

In the Temple game, freshman Tanaya Atkinson scored 15 points, sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 13, and Erica Coville scored 10 and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Owls beat the Hoyas for the second time in their now-six game series and first time since February, 1982.

Three Georgetown players – Katie McCormack, Faith Woodard, and Dominique Vitalis each scored team-highs of 10 points, each.

When the two squads last met in Washington in January, 2013, the only current Temple players who were involved were Coville and Williams in what became down the stretch a narrow loss.

“It was big for us to rebound, we played a tough team today from a good conference, there was some bad blood between us because of some comments they made before the season,” Williams said.

“Knowing some of the stuff they said and to come out and get a big lead early and keep that lead, to put our foot on the gas, it felt good. And you definitely want a win like that coming off a loss.”

As for playing with the injury, Williams said, “Honestly, it was really hard to see out of this eye.

“It was kind of funny, though, everyone said I was going to have a good game today, since my shot has been off the last few days. It’s nothing big, obviously I was able to play and play my part, my role. It’s not going to be a big deal tomorrow, either.”

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza was pleased at her group’s resilency after the loss to the Hawks.

“It was a huge win after having such a close game with Saint Joe’s on the road. It was a big comeback from us. We’re a young team, traveling all the way to Kansas to face Georgetown,” Cardoza said.

“I thought our guys handled themselves well. I know after the game at Saint Joes’s they were bothered by that and they wanted to make sure they came out today and proved a point.”

As for Williams playing through the injury, Cardoza said, “This was a big game for T, she got poked in the eye yesterday and her eye is completely shut, so we weren’t even sure she was going to play today.

“But we had confidence that today might be that day, because she wouldn’t be focusing on shooting the basketball and she had a great night from the floor and definitely got us on the run.

“She was huge for us, she was a confidence booster for our young guys and she set the tone.”

Unlike the games in the win at home over La Salle and the Saint Joseph’s matchup, this time the Owls held a lead once they took control.

“That’s something that we talked about, when you have a team down, you have to put them away,” Cardoza said.

“And today, once that lead grew, we talked about that and made sure that it didn’t slip away, and grew that lead,” she added.

“ With a young team, sometimes that happens where you let teams back in. I told them during one of the timeouts, that this was going to be big for us, to see if we can now progress and make the lead larger,” Cardoza said.

“They responded to that. I’m proud of the effort and we also got some guys some good minutes, which is big. I thought right from the start we took it right to them and we didn’t back down. We were on the offensive boards and that’s what they’re really good at.

“They’re a pressing team and early on they couldn’t even press us, so there was some really good things that happened.”

Villanova Gets Its First Triumph

After two tough losses to host Chattanooga and South Florida in the tournament in Tennessee, the Wildcats went West on a one-game trip and third of their eight-straight road travels and used their three-ball proficiency to top Cal-State Fullerton 50-43, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

The team against the winless Titans (0-3) served as a homecoming trip for Villanova’s Taylor Holeman.

Five different Wildcats combined to nail 11 triplets, with eight of them coming in the first half to go with one regular field goal for a total of nine.

Coach Harry Perretta’s squad was back in command of its ball-control acumen, committing only six turnovers after putting up double digit miscues in both games last week. But going the other way Villanova gained 15 points from Fullerton’s mistakes.

Caroline Coyer had 15 points for Villanova and freshman Alex Louin continued her fine play with 14 points. Fullerton’s Chante Smith was the only opponent player in double figures with 14 points.

The Wildcats next head to the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament next weekend in Naples, Fla., meeting Arizona State on Saturday, Wis.-Green Bay or Georgia Tech on Saturday, and either Connecticut, Charleston, Vanderbilt or Minnesota on Sunday.

Delaware Downed at East Carolina

The Blue Hens ventured into the South Friday morning and fell to the Pirates, a newcomer this season to The American, 89-60, unable to succeed in phase of their game.

Coach Tina Martin’s team (1-2) committed 27 turnovers to help the Pirates (4-0) stay unbeaten.

East Carolina got 31 points out of the Delaware mistakes while the Pirates plundered the paint with 38 points and scored 13 second-chance points.

Courtni Green had 18 points for Delaware, Erika Brown had 10 points, and freshman Makeda Nicholas grabbed seven rebounds.

Jasmine Phillips topped four ECU players in double figures with 20 points.

“We did a lot of things fundamentally wrong today and gave up some very uncharacteristic turnovers,” Martin said afterwards. “We didn’t handle their pressure well at all and were overwhelmed physically as ECU is bigger, stronger, and quicker than us in every position.

“It’s the third game of the season.We played a better opponent and the game got away from us and snowballed, no question about it. We’ll get back home now and work on our fundamentals. We have to get better.”

It was the worst ball handling for Delaware since the 2009 season when the Blue Hens committed 27 and 29 against Hofstra.

The Blue Hens next host defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

Looking Ahead

Besides the Temple game, the action picks up elsewhere in the PhilahoopsW group with Penn visiting Navy Saturday night where the Quakers have never beaten the Midshipwomen.

The Guru plans to be there with perhaps an afternoon stop at George Washington for the Maryland game. And staying in the nation’s capital, he will make a Sunday night visit to American for the Princeton game.

No. 22 Rutgers travels to LSU for the second test of the season for the Scarlet Knights. Colgate visits Drexel at 2 p.m., the same time Saint Joseph’s will be in Virginia playing Liberty. And La Salle, looking for its first win, hosts Howard at 4 p.m.

Penn State, in a consolation WNIT game will be hosting Seton Hall in a good test for both teams at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Nationally Noted

Hill Scores Again Though reports earlier in the week suggested Division III Mount St. Joseph’s freshman Lauren Hill, who is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, might not play again, she did allow that if she felt up to it in a given situation, she could see action again.

Apparently that’s what happened Friday night when she traveled with her parents to Berea, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland to be with the Lions against Bethany College in the opener of the Baldwin Wallace Invitational.

During the game, according to Cleveland.com, she kept pestering coach Dan Benjamin to get in the game and warned him she was beginning to fade before she got inserted into the lineup and scored her third basket after the two she scored in her first game on Nov. 2, which was billed as “The Last Game,” among others because of her terminal diagnosis.

Maybe, since we now have two appearances by the 19-year-old Hill, who was given the United States Basketball Writers Association Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award at halftime of that game with Summitt herself making a special trip for the presentation, perhaps we should go back and re-edit the event as “The First Hurrah.”

Here is the link from the Cleveland Plain Dealer report of Friday’s event. http://www.cleveland.com/sports/college/index.ssf/2014/11/one_more_layup_for_lauren_hill.html

Joe McKeown of Northwestern in the Wildcats’ Welsh-Ryan Arena after victory No;. 600 and 3-0 on the season: “It’s very humbling. As a coach you’re always coaching your next game. I looked at some of the coaches on the video board (NU filmed in advance in anticipation including the Guru, which was done at Big 10 media day) that helped me over the years like (former NBA Boston Celtics coach) Red Auerbach, Gary Blair, Pat Summitt, that just really were there to help me when things were tough.

“And Cheryl Reeve, who coaches in the WNBA and was named to the Olympic team and is one of the great coaches.

“I wish we didn’t have to play Kent State (his alma mater) tonight. So go Flashes, too. It’s just a fun place to be right now.”

A Nurse for UConn's Offense. Reports out of Connecticut from the Huskies’ practice on Friday have coach Geno Auriemma saying one of his prized freshman Canadian Rachel Nurse, a niece of former Eagles quarter back Donovan McNabb, was going to start Sunday in the home opener against Creighton following Monday’s upset loss in overtime at Stanford.

If things work well, they can’t write that Nurse was just what the doctor ordered for UConn’s offense because the doctor, as the Guru reported last weekend, Tom Trojian, is now down here in Philadelphia as the head of Drexel’s sports medicine.

Incidentally, perhaps Creighton’s star player junior Maissa Janning owes UConn for being named Big East preseason player of the year by the conference coaches.

After all, since the Huskies remained with the football side of things when the old Big East broke apart a year ago, the path was cleared for Janning when the new member Blue Jays joined, since otherwise Breanna Stewart would have been blocking the path to that distinction.

And that’s the report for now.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Friday, November 21, 2014

Guru's Musings: AP Women's Poll Voting Suspense Dead Ahead For Picking No. 1

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

For the first time in a long while the voting panel is going to have to do some head scratching in determining the top team, actually the order of the top five squads, for the next Associated Press women's poll to be released Monday.

And considering that the coaches' poll had an extra day off its cycle there may even be two different teams heading the top 25 lists.

That's because the coaches who dropped UConn to fourth, yeah seems outlandish to your Guru, made Stanford first and are now dealing with a different configuration to determine their next poll.

Just a little over a week ago the vote for number one all season appeared headed for cruise control because of the perceived invincibility of Connecticut in another wire-to-wire run at the top.

But then in a first full week of action still not completed the Huskies got taken down in a shocker at Stanford in overtime before three days later the Cardinal at home became the overtime victims to a revitalized Texas squad.

So what happens?

Not helpful to the panel is the timing in which some premium teams start out dining on cupcakes while a few went for the meat and potatoes.

So there is no even evaluation set up in place for comparison.

The fact that the situation exists is a key reason why the Guru is not prepared to launch a Sweet 16 poll if he does but hasnt told you yet until early January the same way the special football committees operate.

There is going to be mixed philosophies which may help UConn stay number one which has happened before to teams at the top including the Huskies.

No team has ever jumped from No. 10 to first but Texas winning on the road is going to draw attention if the Longhorns prevail at UCLA.

Some will flat out stay with UConn looking at a narrow overtime loss on the road to a team that couldn't duplicate another premium trumph in its own building.

And then there is the step ladder approach which leaves South Carolina as the team in waiting if the No. 2 Gamecocks, who have never been No. 1, emerge unscathed.

If that happens, South Carolina will be on top for the first time ever but coach Dawn Staley has been there before as a player with the then-cruise control Virginia bunch in the early '90s who last held the position on March 15, 1992 in the final poll of the season.

If she gets there, Staley will join Kim Mulkey of Baylor who played at Louisiana Tech as the only two women to play with and coach No. 1 teams in AP women's poll history.

Stay tuned.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guru's College Report: Penn Drubs La Salle While Princeton Downs Drexel

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Penn didn’t have to worry about starting out in a funk in the home opener against La Salle Wednesday night because of any lingering memories from the season-opening 97-52 drubbing at No. 4 Tennessee, Friday night.

The memories of last season of glory were put on display prior to the opening tip as the Quakers had a public reception and then watched as the banner from the Ivy championship was unveiled high on the ceiling of the fabled Palestra.

Then the business of this season resumed and Penn went on to take a 9-0 lead and make quick work of the Explorers with a 57-29 victory to go 1-0 in the Big 5 and even the overall record at 1-1.

La Salle is now 0-2 and also 0-2 in the Big 5 following the narrow season-opening loss at Temple Friday night.

Two other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW teams also went head-to-head in the only other game on the books Wednesday and Penn’s Ivy League power sister Princeton, winner of the four previous league titles, drubbed Drexel 59-43 at home in Jadwin Gym.

Yes, for those wondering, mark down Jan. 10 on your Ivy calendars when the Quakers and Tigers will play their traditional Ivy opener, this time at Princeton at 2 p.m.

But Penn coach Mike McLaughlin doesn’t like looking ahead beyond the next game, which is a visit to Navy in Annapolis, Md., Saturday night, so let’s stay in the moment and flash back to the Quakers’ third straight win over the Explorers and fourth in the last five seasons.

With Alyssa Baron missing from the lineup on the Palestra floor for the first time in five years as she plies her post-graduate pro career in Israel, Sydney Stipanovich, who became last season’s annual rookie sensation, had a double double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Incidentally, newcomer Michelle Nwokedi from Texas, a strong threat to be the fifth straight post season top rookie for McLaughlin, came into the game in the last three minutes and scored two layups and a trey for seven points.

No one else on either team scored in double figures or did anything else in double figures but Penn’s Kathleen Roche had eight points, Kara Bonenberger had six points and five rebounds, rookie guard Anna Ross scored seven, matching Nwokedi’s total.

Keiera Ray had six points off the bench and Katy Allen scored four.

La Salle, which was missing Alicia Cropper because of a foot injury, got seven points out of Siobhan Beslow.

“It was a time to celebrate last year but ‘Coach stressed that take in the moment and then move on,” Stipanovich said. “We had a game to take care of and we were prepared.”

Roche, who played in the Philly summer league in the offseason, noted, “It was awesome and great to see all the seniors from last season here, too,” said of the extra events that saw the return of Meghan McCullouch as a civilian and three others offer greetings through video messages.

As for any lingering effects from the Tennessee game, Stipanovich said, “No one likes to get beaten that way, but we took it for what it was, we wanted to play all the best teams we can play before conference play begins.

“We were excited to get back on our home court and get a win,” Roche said.

Stipanovich is from St. Louis, but it didn’t take long to understand what local success in City Series play means.

“The Big 5 is special, I found that out last year,” she said.

Penn forced La Salle into 23 turnovers and outscored the Explorers 13-5 in transition and 11-3 on second chance points.

The Quakers also held La Salle, which hosts Howard Saturday, to a 22 percent shooting effort from the floor and outrebounded the Explorers 45-35 while denying them any three-pointers in 11 attempts.

It was the fewest points Penn held an opponent in a Big 5 game since topping Temple 65-29 in January 1995 and the largest Big 5 victory since that game.

It’s the first time the Quakers have won three straight over a Big 5 rival since beating Temple 1980-82, which match the first three seasons of formal City Series competition for the women.

“They were ready to play,” McLaughlin said of his team. “They wanted to finish this night off with an exclamation point and have a great day.”

As for any lingering problems from traveling to the South, McLaughlin said, “We laid out our goals. We didn’t hide from the fact of who they were. We didn’t back down but we knew what we were in for.

“We didn’t except anything but playing our best.”

Penn is no longer a doormat as displayed Wednesday night, but McLaughlin noted, “Winning a Big 5 game is awesome but our goal is to win every night and if it is a Big 5 game, that is awesome. We won two last year and were in two others. The intensity of those games allows our kids to turn it up to another level.”

Thje Quakers are winless at Navy and 2-5 overall in terms of the series against the Midshipwomen (0-2 right now), who are coached by former Harvard assistant Stefani Pemper.

The game is free on the Patriot League streaming network.

Princeton Pounds Drexel

It’s now 0-6 for the visiting Dragons over the last six years in their series with the Tigers though this time Drexel (1-1) held its biggest leads in that span with early seven-point advantages at 9-7 and 13-6 before the Tigers rallied for a 59-43 victory to stay unbeaten at 3-0 on the heels of sweeping Pittsburgh and Duquesne in the Steel City.

Princeton in taking its home opener in Jadwin Gym in central New Jersey got 13 points and three rebounds from Alex Wheatley while Blake Dietrick scored 12 points and Annie Tarakchian’s 11 rebounds were one short of a career high.

Rachel Pearson was the only Drexel player in double figures, scoring 15 points.

Drexel next hosts Colgate on Saturday while Princeton travels to American University in Washington Sunday night.

Nationally Noted

The way the poll turns, so to speak, will be in play Thursday night in the wake of No. 6 Stanford’s narrow but impressive home win over top-ranked Connecticut on Monday.

The Cardinal, which shot to the top of the coaches’ poll, whose votes are collected a day later than the AP weekly release, will be hosting No. 10 Texas while No. 2 South Carolina has a local in-state match against Clemson.

UMBC’s 78-65 win over Coppin State makes the Terriers 3-0 for the first time since 1989-90.

A good win for The American with new member Tulane taking an in-state win at LSU, but also a tough loss with South Florida, picked second by the coaches in the conference behind UConn, losing at No. 9 Maryland 85-67.

LSU and Alabama have all four losses at two each among the entire Southeastern Conference membership while the newly-configured Conference USA group has posted 18 wins in the first six days of season action.

Georgia, in a three-way tie at No. 24, went to unranked Ohio State in Columbus and used a 22-9 run down the stretch to beat the Buckeyes 67-59.

Career roots in CoSIDA, known as the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association, is getting to be a good basis to become chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee.

The Big 12 Dru Hancock is the current chair and the Guru first met her when she worked at Minnesota more than three decades ago.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced the next chair will be Pac-12 executive Chris Dawson, who the Guru first knew when she was the media liason for Cal.

That’s it for the moment. If the Guru gets his decks cleared, with all local D-1s idle, he plans to make a surprise D-II visits to a site in which one of his immediate locals will visit Thursday niight.

-- Mel --

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Location:Guru's College Report: Drexel Drubs LaSalle While Princeton Downs Drexel

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Guru's College Report: St. Joe Tops Temple in Big 5 Thriller; Niagara Team Rescued

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

In a throwback to what the series had been between Temple and Saint Joseph’s in the last decade, the Owls and Hawks after several momentum swings battled into overtime before Saint Joseph’s prevailed 78-74 Tuesday night in a Big 5 thriller at Hagan Arena on the Hawks campus.

So now it is Saint Joseph’s, the defending Big 5 champs, carrying a streak, having won the previous two by scores of 449-41 in overtime here at Hagan and last year’s 73-53 rout at Temple.

In the only other game played Tuesday among the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group, No. 22 Rutgers broke away from Northeastern of the Colonial Athletic Association to go 2-0 on the season, both wins at home, with a 74-60 win over the Huskies.

Rutgers’ previous win was over these Hawks in the season opener for both Friday night, a 76-52 triumph. On the same night Temple edged La Salle at home in the Liacouras Center 75-72.

So the bottom line in what ios shaping up as an interesting Big 5 race this time around, the Hawks in what was their home opener are now 1-1 on the season, the same as Temple, while the Owls are also 1-1 in the City Series.

Just 24 hours later another Big 5 tilt pops up Wednesday night (tonight) when La Salle (0-1, 0-1) drops by The Palestra to visit Penn (0-1), which lost its season opener on the road in a massive wipeout at No. 4 Tennessee.

But while La Salle will try to keep from falling further behind in the local wars, Wednesday night’s home opener for Penn will be about celebrating last season’s overall success as the Quakers hang their Ivy championship banner.

Adding to the festivities, Penn will hold a public reception adjoining the Palestra at 5:15 p.m. through 6 with some eats, speeches and alumni from last season in the room.

Penn has had success beating La Salle in recent seasons since the arrival of Mike McLaughlin and last year before the Quakers’ got geared up and ended the four-year Princeton domination of the league in the Tigers’ very own Jadwin Gym on the final day of the regular season, the big story was the near miss when Penn played three straight Big 5 games in January on the road.

A perennial doormat in the city, Penn fell just short at Saint Joseph’s and Villanova before beating Temple, which made it only the second time the Quakers won two Big Five games in the same season.

A threat to win the Ivy again, the game against La Salle will show how much of a factor locally Penn can be again this year – win or lose against the Explorers.
Speaking of Princeton, the Tigers in the other PhilahoopsW game on Wednesday’s card, which involves two of the Guru’s locals, hosts Drexel, which won its season opener at home Sunday against Cornell of the Ivy League.

Meanwhile, back here, as can be expected, Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin was pleased over her team’s bounce back from Friday and in the Temple game while Owls coach Tonya Cardoza was dismayed at one that got away, though one could see a potentially bright future ahead for the Broad Street contingent.

“What a great game, what a great Big 5 city game in November, couldn’t get better than this – an overtime game – of course, winning is always fun,” Griffin said in the postgame press conference.

“We were kind of fighting from behind in the first half and then we came back at the end of the first half and we showed what we were made of and we were able to hold on throughout the second half,” Griffin said.

“There were a lot of ebbs and flows and (the Hawks) fought and fought and they believed.”

Before Temple jumped to The American last season, this game would be much later in the season and also counting in the Atlantic 10 standings with a second game also played since the teams were scheduling partners in the old A-10 setup.

Now that pairing is between Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

Sarah Fairbanks had a big night for Saint Joseph’s with a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds while Ciara Andrews and Kathleen Fitzpatrick each scored 14 points and Ashley Robinson scored 11.

Senior leader Natasha Cloud had to cope with foul trouble and scored just nine points but made some critical baskets with the game on the line.

“I think for us, we rely on our grit and our resiliency. Today was a good team win because we came together at the end because we wanted it more,” Cloud said.

Temple was in solid control at 28-17 with 6 minutes, three seconds left in the half before the Hawks stirred with a 15-0 run before Safiya Martin plugged the Owls’ drought with a layup with 41 seconds left in the half.

Andrews then hit a layup for Saint Joseph’s while freshman guard Alliya Butts nailed a trey with seven seconds left and the Hawks went to the break with a 34-33 lead.

In the second half, Saint Joseph’s was up by eight 59-51 with 5:29 left in regulation and then Temple surged with a 5-0 spurt and went on to take the lead 63-62 with with 50 seconds left, though Martin missed her other foul shot opportunity.

Andrews hit a layup but Butts went 1-2 from the line with 22 seconds left and the Hawks were unable to win at the finish before regulation expired.

Freshman Tanaya Atkinson tied it for Temple with a layup 68-68 in overtime with 2:59 left but then Fairbanks made a three-point play for the Hawks.

Feyonda Fitzgerald, the reigning Big 5 women’s player of the week, got Temple with a point on two free throws and then the teams exchanged points on two Cloud foul shots and a jump shot by Butts to make it 73-72 with 1:53 left.

Cloud scored for a three-point lead with 28 seconds left and Temple countered on Fitzgerald’s shot with 20 seconds left.

Fitzpatrick hit two foul shots, Butts then missed a 3-point attempt, and Jordan Strode hit one of two foul shooting opportunities for the Hawks with six seconds left for the game’s final points.

“We felt like this is one we let slip away,” Cardoza said. “You don’t come into someone’s home court and have them on the ropes and let them get back in the game.

“In the first half, we’re up by double figures and we have their best player (Cloud) on the bench with fouls and I felt we just got careless and reckless and didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.

“And then of the defensive end they just exploited that we’re a small team. They’re smart and know how to pick someone to focus on. More importantly, what we take from this game is that when we show up for practice and that we’re disciplined and pay attention on the defensive end.”

Butts had a career-high 22 points in her second career game for the Owls, while Fitzgerald scored 18 points, Atkinson scored 17 points and Martin had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Temple travels to Kansas this weekend to play three straight games Friday-Saturday-Sunday in the Naismith Hall of Fame tourney against Georgetown, the host Jayhawks, and then Alabama.

“We’re going to just worry about our next game and not look ahead,” Cardoza said.

The Owls finish the Hall of Fame event the following weekend playing Harvard at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the home of The American tournament. They are back on Broad Street, February 3 against Delaware.

Saint Joseph’s travels to Liberty Saturday and then visits Drexel on Tuesday and then travels to Seton Hall’s tourney meeting Saint Francis of New York on Saturday and then either St. Peter’s coached by Griffin’s former Loyola, Md., boss, Pat Coyle, or the host Pirates.

The Hawks return to Hagan against Lehigh Dec. 4.

Rutgers Tops Northeastern The Scarlet Knights produced an array of double digits in the 74-60 win over the Huskies (1-1) in a game that saw Rutgers bolt from a 10-point halftime lead into double that over the final 20 minutes.

Sophomore Tyler Scaife had 15 points, while double double performances consisted of Betnijah Laney with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Briyona Canty with 12 points and 10 assists for the home team.

Additionally, Kahleah Copper and Rachel Hollivay each scored 10 points.

Tiffany Montagne led the Northeastern attack with 22 points.

Rutgers now wades into competitive waters on the road visiting LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

Niagara Team Rescued

Here is the front part of Doug Feinberg’s AP Story After Staying on the Case for us throughout the night.

Stranded on the highway for more than a day, the Niagara women's basketball team is finally making its journey home.

The team was stuck on its bus for nearly 30 hours because of a huge storm that dumped 4 feet of snow around Buffalo and was blamed for at least six deaths.

Niagara was coming back late Monday night from a loss at Pittsburgh when the squad was marooned on the New York State Thruway. Early on Wednesday morning, players at last tweeted photos of a plow starting to clear the road.

A few hours later, state troopers picked them up and brought them to a nearby police station where another bus was waiting to take them back to campus, Niagara guard Tiffany Corselli said.

"It started to get bad fast at about 2 a.m. (Tuesday morning) and we came to a dead stop and haven't moved since," Niagara coach Kendra Faustin told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday night. "It was a rough weekend for us on the court and it just won't end."

The coach, who took over at Niagara in 2007, said everyone was OK and the team was in good spirits. Players had been running low on food, but local officials dropped off snacks and drinks. There were 25 players and coaches aboard the bus as well as Faustin's 1-year-old son.

"We have snacks, some granola bars and pretzels," Faustin said. "We found six bottles of water and have been rationing it. We thought we'd be here for a couple hours and a couple of hours turned into 12 hours. It's now 24 hours."

Before the supplies arrived, the team actually turned some of the snow into water. Faustin described snow drifts higher than 6 feet that covered cars. Other motorists came aboard the bus seeking shelter and bonded with the team.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mike Siroky's SEC Notebook: Kentucky Paces League Opening Domination

By Mike Siroky

With No. 13 Kentucky's 74-66 win over No. 8 Baylor on Monday, the Southeastern Conference finished an overall 22-2 vs. America in the start of women's basketball.

The league has five in the Top 25 again as good as the ACC this week and just behind the six from the Big 10 that saw Purdue become part of a three way tie with Georgia and Gonzaga.

At Lexingon, discounted tickets made this an early "Pack the House" event.

Last year, UK played host to No. 2 Duke in the downtown Rupp Arena (they usually play in their own Memorial Auditorium) and set a single-season attendance record of 23,706, the largest crowd ever to see a college women’s hoops game in the Commonwealth and in the Top 10 largest regular-season attendance in NCAA history.

They drew 22,075 this time.

UK was down by 14 points (40-26) with 18:31 to play. It's the 10th-best comeback in UK history and the second-largest in the Matthew Mitchell era.

It was all about Jennifer O'Neill. She missed seven of her eight shots in the first half then scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half. Kentucky overcame the deficit a 21-7 run that tied it 47.

She scoffed the next five and UK was in cruise control.

Effervescent Baylor coach Kim Mulkey skipped her opening post-game statement, saying, "Y'all never write those anyway."

UK coach Mitchell said: "Well, that's a great win for us. We have a long way to go as a basketball team, but we learned a lot tonight and we have a lot of room for improvement. It's great to get into an atmosphere like this. I'm so appreciative of the fans for showing up tonight. It was an incredible atmosphere.

"I'm just really proud of our players. It was a very, very poor start to the game, and we came back and really played a tough 20 minutes there in the second half, and I'm very proud of them. We have a lot to learn, but this is a fun game to play in, and it was a great atmosphere. We're just so tickled that we were able to win."

•Tennessee was overburdened by the distraction of the joined athletic departments finally pulling the trigger on eliminating the Lady Vol brand.

Only basketball will carry it this season with a decision to drop it altogether only seasons away. Holly Warlick's team will enjoy it while they can and her lifetime (ever since high school in Knoxville with a few years off) association with it will make her the person with the longest link to it.

It has been explained to Pat Head Summitt – by Warlick and others – that basketball is the last to carry the logo.

Fighting early advanced Alzheimer's, she was recently seen in Cincinnati helping to present the United States Basketball Writer's Association's Most Courageous Award in her name to freshman Lauren Hill of Division III Mount St. Joseph's who is suffering from terminal brain cancer but achieved her goal to play in her collegiate opener, though Summitt did not speak during the halftime ceremonies.

At least one national writer, Christine Brennan, is in agreement with the move.

She thinks adding "Lady" in front of a team is demeaning. She says UT chickened out by leaving the basketball team alone for now.

Tennessee opened with a 97-52 victory over Penn, its largest margin of victory in an opener since 2005-06.

The Lady Vols had six in double figures and set a program record with four double-doubles in the same game.

Junior Nia Moore had a career-high 24 points and 14 rebounds (12-of-16 from the field), followed by junior Bashaara Graves (16 pts./10 rebs.), Isabelle Harrison (12 pts./10 rebs.) off the bench and freshman Alexa Middleton (20 pts./11 assts.).

Moore seems to be the designated scorer this season as she had 19 in the only exhibition, against nearby Carson-Newman, which is just across the Tennessee river from the Knoxville campus.

Middleton’s double-double by a guard was the first in UT’s history by a freshman.

Oral Roberts fell to the No. 4 Lady Vols on Monday night.

The win was a Big Orange Ticket Promotion, which meant everyone in attendance got a free ticket to another game with the win.

The team was without several suspended players –all for violation of team rules.

Before this, Moore had been injured and averaging one basket per game.

"[Nia] has had that capability," Warlick said. "I think just floor experience, just getting out there and playing [helped her]. I think Nia is capable of putting up good numbers every night.

"She got hurt, she got behind. She came in late, she got behind," Warlick said. "I think, this year, you're seeing a healthy Nia Moore who has been through the summer working out, and, now, you see the result of her putting in the extra time and work."

And so it continued in Game 3.

Moore led the No. 4 Lady Vols to a 91-39 win Monday night over Oral Roberts with 20 points (9-of-15 from the field), nine rebounds and four blocks.

Ariel Massengale scored 21 for Tennessee to end a long layoff.

She missed the final 16 games of the 2013-14 season with a head injury and was suspended before the start of this one for missing class.

Cierra Burdick served the final half of a two-game suspension for missing curfew. But now Harrison is out for an indefinite time with an undisclosed leg injury. Previously, she had been coming off the bench after being flushed by the flu.

Their absences didn't matter.

Oral Roberts (0-2) shot 25 percent overall, 1-of-16 from 3-point range. Tennessee also forced 30 turnovers in the game.

The Lady Vols started on a 10-0 run and ran that advantage to a 25-6 lead midway through the first half after Graves sparked a 9-2 spurt with consecutive mid-range jumpers. She had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Moore spurred a 16-2 close to the first half with eight points in that span, including a steal and transition layup with eight seconds left in the half.

Oral Roberts hadn't recorded its 10th point until 8:27 remained in the first half.

"It was great to see Massengale and Andraya Carter back. So, they're just adding depth and strength to our lineup," Warlick said. "Happy for the win, still can work a lot on a couple things. We tried to work on our zone today and it was average, but we just hadn't really been working on it but pleased with how we attacked on the offensive end."

•No. 5 Texas A&M, which went furthermost in last season's NCAAs, enlarged their Chicago-area recruiting scope by coming to No. 18 DePaul and winning, 78-68 and then talking out New Mexico, 66-53.

With a home win over UT-Pan American, they are the 3-0, the eighth time in the most-recent nine seasons.

"After that performance for three games we're overrated," said coach Gary Blair. "We've got a lot of basketball IQ problems that we need to improve on.

"Courtney Walker finally started moving and penetrating and getting some looks. She started directing traffic, but she's got to (also) do it in the first half."

Rookie Khaalia Hillsman, starting in her hometown of Chicago, scored 10. Guard Walker, the SEC's best, averaged 20.7 points per game over the opening weekend. With 10 more, she'll have scored 1,000.

•South Carolina, the efending league champion, welcomed the other SC and the Pac 12 started off 0-1 vs. ranked teams. The real SC will raise the conference champion banner and NCAA Sweet 16 banner this week in the home opener.

Against the Women of Troy, South Carolina eased to a 70-61 victory over Southern Cal, backed by their first 10,000 fans of the season.

South Carolina’s veterans took over with a 14-0 run towards the close, then All-America Tiffany Mitchell hit four straight free throws to hold it.

Alaina Coates started her second season with 18 points on 6-of-8 from the field, 6-of-6 from the line and 13 rebounds. Junior Tina Roy at point guard came off the bench with hit 3-of-5 on 3s in 25 minutes, with six assists three steals.

"It was a great game for us," said coach Dawn Staley. "Winning by 75 points, you don't learn a whole lot of lessons from it. When we beat a team like Southern Cal, it opens your eyes.

"I hope that our young players understand that when you take this leap to the next level, it is very important that you play every possession. It's important that you pay attention to detail and that you're aware of what is going on out there. It'll take them some time to make that adjustment.

"Fortunately for us, we've got some players that have been in situations like this, and when we need them, we'll call their number and they will come through for us.

•The Wildcats of Kentucky had opened the season with a win over over Appalachian State. Senior guard Jennifer O’Neill led seven players in double figures with 20 points, while also recording eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. She now needs five points to reach 1,000 for her career.

Sophomores Linnae Harper, 17 points, and Makayla Epps, provided bench strength.

Senior Azia Bishop scored 14 and had a team-high nine rebounds and sophomore Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, who sat out last season, scored 11, with six rebounds and a team-high four blocks.

•Georgia, always-dangerous (and back in the poll at No. 24) was also at home but Morgan State (68-46) and TCU (62-53) were merely Bulldog chew toys.

This week's games at always improving Big Ten Ohio State and instate NCAA rival Georgia Tech of the ACC will be a real test.

Andy Landers needs but five wins to move his longevity record to 850 at Athens.

"I thought we opened the game reasonably well and we faltered midway through the half," Landers said. "We just made too many turnovers and misconnected on passes and catches that would have led to lay ups.

"And as we did that, as it often does, the offense affects the defense. They got done what they wanted to get done."

Tiaria Griffin scored a game-high 20 against Morgan State. Krista Donald and Shacobia Barbee both posted double-doubles in the TCU game.

•LSU kept their schizophrenic team results of last season in progress, playing at home against Arkansas Little Rock and then Sam Houston State and splitting. The Lady Tigers won, 71-45, over Sam Houston State and lost by a similar margin, 70-54, to Arkansas-Little Rock.

Through two games, LSU has outrebounded the foes by a plus-13 margin. Raigyne Moncrief, an All-SEC Freshman team performer last season, picked right up with 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, including 11-of-15 from the line.

Losing in opening play were 1-1 Alabama, by 50, to No. 7 Duke and 1-1 LSU.

Also winning two were Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State. Winning their openers are Auburn, Florida, Missouri.

Mike Siroky has been covering women's college basketball since an undergraduate at Indiana in 1975.

He was covering the SEC when the NCAA took over the women's game from the AIAW.

He and Mel Greenberg have been friends since Mel started the Associated Press poll and there were few writers interested enough in the women's game to help. Yes, they are old.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Guru's Musings: Will Stanford's Suspense-Filled Win Over UConn Lead to Likewise on the Season?

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

And so quickly following Stanford’s overtime upset of Connecticut Monday night an infrequent visitor returned to hang around awhile again for the season to the delight of those who at times get bored of the ongoing Huskies domination.

The name of the individual is Doubt, not as in the doubt at practice that can drive coaches crazy because of its affect on chemistry and confidence.

But rather doubt as to how will the season end when the final buzzer goes off in Tampa, Fla., as the 2015 NCAA champion is crowned.

Suddenly there are a few inches of extra space for those on the Uconn media beat since they will no longer have to keep running a streak counter.

It went this way for a while several years ago when Stanford upset Baylor.

Playing this sort of game early can be good for the underdog who doesn’t have much film to supply showing changes in strategy from past seasons.

Of course all this could quickly become a footnote.

While Stanford could leap to No. 1 in the polls as of this moment, there’s no slam dunk yet for the Cardinal with an experienced Texas team coming to visit later this week.

And if the Longhorns win that one, then Dawn Staley and her South Carolina team could rise to the top which would be a first for the Gamecocks and first time for Staley since her senior season at Virginia back in 1992.

Then there’s the chance that UConn off a mixed vote could stay if Stanford gets beaten, reasoning as occurred in the past that a narrow overtime loss on the road to a power squad may not be worthy of punishment if there is no clear successor to replace the Huskies at the top.

The worst Uconn could do off that philosophy is drop to No. 2 and then move forward but instead of another unbeaten crown it could of the And-One variety liked the outfit that won the Final Four in Philly in 2000 with the only stain being a one-pointer in Storrs that would have not have gone that way of Svetlana Abrosimova’s shot at the buzzer had made it a sweep that season on Tennessee.

But considering the next real challenge is not until the Jimmy V to Notre Dame, there could be a mini-buildup to that one in a smaller scale of the one that naturally led to last April’s perfect finish over the Irish in Nashville.

Speaking of Final Four Cities …

So the rotation for 2017-20 was announced during the Baylor-Kentucky game for Women’s Final Four hosting cities, proclaiming the four out of seven finalists that got the winning bids.

The also rans were Houston – once Dallas was in play it didn’t seem that two Texas cities would get into a four-year mix – Pittsburgh and Nashville.

The Music City losing out was the biggest surprise in losing out after everyone seemed to give Nashville high marks for the hosting job it did last April and perhaps since Tampa is on deck this time around, the return might be too short of time.

Dallas probably made a substantial bid and perhaps Columbus brought more to the table than Pittsburgh. As for New Orleans, well, it’s New Orleans.

Meanwhile, coming up Thursday are the winners to host the next set of Sweet 16 games not yet on the books. Stay tuned.

AP Poll Trivia

So here are some notes off this week’s vote that producted a triple tie for third for the last spot – always loves with that does to the database during the input process.

The extra slot with Purdue saw the Big 10 soar to the conference top with six teams while the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast are right behind with five each, followed by the Big 12 with four and the Pac-12 with three after UCLA fell out.

The Big East with DePaul and American with UConn stayed in single-represented mode and with Gonzaga moving in off a win over the ranked and A-10 favorite Dayton enabled the West Coast Conference to be the Mid-Major replacements for the Easteerners.

With Gonzaga’s re-entry, now that Kelly Graves has become the only Kelly of Oregon – the former one is down here with an NFL team of sourts – Lisa Fortier makes her poll debut.

Notre Dame has reached 100 appearances in the Top 5 and Texas A&M’s Gary Blair hit 300 appearances off a combo of his Aggies and past efforts at Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin.

Stanford moved into a third-place tie with Louisiana Tech with 373 appearances in the top 10 while Tennessee has retired as the leader with an uncatchable 587 ahead of UConn’s 380 though maybe Mo’ne Davis will be at the helm when the Huskies finally catch up to the Lady Vols in that category.

Kim Mulkey with number 230 at Baylor moves her up to 14th for getting them all at one school, ahead of the Gail Goestenkors era at Duke.
And Doug Bruno with No. 143 at DePaul moves into 32nd ahead of Ceal Barry’s work at Colorado and elsewhere.

Local Congrats

Temple’s Feyonda Fitzgerald won Big Five women’s player of the week honors, Delaware’s Chastity Taylor took Colonial Athletic Association rookie honors – showing the Blue Hens still can collect them long after Elena Delle Done had a monopoly her freshman season – and Princeton’s Michelle Miller is the Ivy player of the week in terms of who got cited in the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group.

Big Five Showdown

It’s the defending City Series champs and the Temple Owls on Hawk Hill at Saint Joseph’s Tuesday night (tonight) at 7 p.m. in a key game this early in the season.

Back in the days when Temple was still in the A-10 this game came much later but the move to The American changed the scheduling dynamics.

Saint Joseph’s is coming off a season-opening drubbing last Friday night at then-No. 24 Rutgers, which moved up to 22 this week, while Temple held off La Salle is a closely fought game at home in the Liacouras Center.

A Temple win makes the Owls 2-0 in the Big Five, halfway there, while also staying perfect out of the games, while a Saint Joe win gets one major hurdle out of the way.

There will be one interesting dynamic since Saint Joseph’s promising rookie Adashia Franklyn is the daughter of all-time Temple great Marilyn Stephens.

Asked this past summer during Philly League activity how the choice went – Franklyn was one of the bright new faces by the way –Stephens responded, “I’m a mom and that’s where she wanted to go and I let it be her choice.”

The only other local action at Division I has Rutgers hosting Northeastern.

Wednesday night, Drexel travels to Princeton while Penn hosts La Salle in a Big Five and home opener. So technically that’s four of the Guru’s group.

The Quakers have all kinds of plans for the night including a special public reception – check the website – beforehand and then since it’s the home opener following the daring trip to Tennessee, the Quakers will be hanging a banner in The Palestra to signify their Ivy championship.

On Friday, Temple plays Georgetown at Kansas in the first of three games in Jayhawks land this weekend that also includes games against the host and Alabama as part of the Naismith Hall of Fame Tourney. Next Sunday a week away Temple will be at the Mohegan Sun, site of The American tournament, to play Harvard in the final.

Villanova travels to Cal State-Fullerton and Delaware has a morning game at East Carolina.

On Saturday night Penn is at Navy – of course the Guru will be in Annapolis, the city of good Hardshells – he may even catch the front end of Maryland at GW in the afternoon while Rutgers is at LSU, Colgate is at Drexel, Saint Joseph’s is at Liberty, and La Salle hosts Howard.

Princeton is at American.

That’s it for the moment.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Guru's College Roundup: Drexel Wins Opener While Penn State Upset by Albany

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

After unbuckling her virtual seat belt from a bumpy ride, Drexel coach Denise Dillon proclaimed: “One down 28 to go” following the Dragons’ season-opening 62-53 win over visiting Cornell Sunday afternoon in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

In control with a 36-23 lead at the half, the Drexel offense slowed to a crawl and Cornell (0-2) narrowed the gap to four points before the Dragons got consecutive baskets from red-shirt senior Jamila Thompson on a fastbreak and freshman Megan Marecic to secure the triumph.

For Dillon fans, the victory also meant five to go before she reaches her 200th in what is now 12 seasons here in West Philadelphia for the former Villanova star.

“It just shows we’re going to have to concentrate on what we always do – our defense,” said Dillon. “Of course Sarah Curran leaving with a hip pointer didn’t help.”

The sophomore forward from Archbishop Carroll had all 12 points in the first half but suffered the injury at the outset of the second half.

Cornell, whose coach Dayna Smith is in her 13th season since moving from the Penn staff, was coming into the game off a tough season and home opening 48-46 loss to Hartford on Friday night.

The Big Red are now 0-6 lifetime against Drexel and the first of as many as possibly four opponents this season from the Ivy League.

Next up is the ongoing series with Ivy power Princeton on the road Wednesday. The Tigers (2-0), who are also part of the Guru’s PhilahoopsW group, got off to a terrific start this weekend, winning at Pittsburgh in the Steel City Friday morning and then remaining in town to romp over host Duquesne 79-62 Sunday afternoon.

Later this season, the traditional neighborhood battle with defending Ivy champion Penn is here Dec. 20 and then the possibility of a game against Brown exists depending what the host Bears do against Sacred Heart and what Drexel does against St. Bonaventure in the opener of Brown’s tournament Dec. 6 in Rhode Island.

In the game here, Drexel’s Curran had the team high with 12 points while Thompson scored a career-high 11 points to go with her four rebounds and a block and a steal, while Meghan Creighton scored 11, and Marecic had nine in her rookie debut, including seven down the stretch. Veterans Rachel Pearson and Jackie Schluth had 7 and 6 points, respectively.

Nia Marshall had a game-high 13 points for Cornell, while Megan LeDuc scored 12 and Christine Kline scored 10 points.

Incidentally, another person with a UConn background is now in the local mix though this individual wasn't snared by Temple coach Tonya Cardoza the way she has had others gravitate to join her with the Owls.

Drexel's Dillon now has someone with eight NCAA championship rings.

Dr. Thomas Trojian is the new head of sports medicine at Drexel after being the team doctor for Geno Auriemma's troops, among other UConn squads the past 19 years.

So considering that Rachel Nurse of the Canadian National Team is one of Auriemma's prized freshmen this season who heads to Monday's late night West Coast game at Stanford, one could say that Auriemma at the moment is up one Nurse and down one doctorf.

Meanwhile, two other squads besides Princeton in the 10-team PhiahoopsW group played with the shocker being Penn State losing at home in the final seconds to Albany 54-53 in the preseason WNIT.

Delaware bounced back from Friday night’s road loss at Lafayette to win the Blue Hens’ home opener in the Bob Carpenter Center over perennial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference power Marist 70-60.

Also, in the lone result from the local group on Saturday night, Villanova, picked third in the Big East, fell short in the three-team UTC Tip-Off Classic to USF 57-56 in Tennessee.

The Bulls, who are the hospitality hosts for this season’s NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla., were picked second behind two-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut in The American Conference.

With everyone mentioned, let’s go to the written tape:

Albany 54, Penn State 53 -- The Lady Lions and defending regular season Big 10 champions may be out of the rankings in a rebuilding season, but nether the less to lose to the Great Danes at home in the Bryce Jordan Center in the second round of the preseason WNIT to fall t0 1-1 is a surprise, all respect to the reigning America East champions.

The loss sends PSU into the consolation final Saturday at home 7 p.m. against the loser of the game between Western Kentucky and Colorado so scratch the previous scheduled affair in the winner’s bracket for Thursday night.

There were 10 ties and 11 lead changes in the closely fought contest, the last deadlock coming off a trey from Jenny DeGraaf with 1:28 left in regulation for PSU before Sarah Royals hit one of two foul shot opportunities with 8.4 left.

A chance to steal the game back expired as Penn State’s last shot bounced off the rim.

DeGraaf had a career-high 12 points for the day, all coming off four three-pointers.

Lady Lion freshman Lindsey Spann had a team-high 14 points and is the first newcomer to lead the squad in back-to-back games since recently graduated all-American Maggie Lucas of Narberth did so in the 2010-11 season.

Albany’s Shereesha Richards was unstoppable with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Imani Tate and Tiana-Jo Carter each grabbed 15 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Penn State senior Tori Waldner’s four blocked shots could not help stem the opposition.

The home team ripped off a 7-0 lead to open the game before Albany whittled that off and back into contention.
Afterwards, Penn State coach Coquese Washington said of her squad, “We just don’t have the upper class leadership,” alluding to the departed graduates who had much of the game-on-the-line responsibility in the past.”

She said “the competitor in us” makes the loss tough but “as coaches we understand” the learning experiences we will get in these kind of situations.

Princeton 79, Duquesne 62 -- The Tigers completed a sweep of the Steel City in Pittsburgh, following Friday’s win at Pitt with a lop-sided triumph Sunday to ruin Duquesne’s season opener, though April Robinson had 19 points.

Michelle Miller had 20 points for the pre-season Ivy co-favorites, who were tied in the media poll by defending league champion Penn. Amanda Berntsen tied a career-high at Princeton with 14 points.

Annie Tarakchian set a career-high for the second straigdht game with six assists.

The Tigers next host Drexel, earlier than the two have played the ongoing nonconference series in recent seasons around New Year’s Eve.

Delaware 70, Marist 60 – The Blue Hens evened their season record at 1-1 and grabbed their home opener with an impressive win over the perennial MAAC champion Red Foxes at the Bob Carpenter Center, though the triumph was tempered by an undetermined left leg injury to junior Alecia Bell, who was taken off the court on a stretcher late in the first half.

Bell will be out indefinitely, the university said in a statement.

Delaware led 23-16 when Bell was injured and went on to a 37-24 halftime lead and held control the rest of the way.

Courtni Green sealed the win with a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the game.

Sophomore Erika Brown had 21 points for the Blue Hens while Green scored 13, freshman Chastity Taylor scored 12 points, and senior Joy Caracciolo scored eight points in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds.

The Red Foxes’ Madeline Blais had a game-high 26 points while Sydney Coffey scored 11 in the Marist season-opening loss.

“Our first thoughts are with Alecia Bell and her family,” veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin said at the outset of her postgame remarks. “ She is one of our captains, so everyone respects her and I think it was hard for them to see her in so much pain. I just told them to keep their composure and that Alecia needs for us to win for her.

“This was a bounce back day for us,” Martin of her players shaking off Friday’s opening setback at Lafayette. “The kids played really well and I thought they followed the defensive game plan, which I’ve been harping on.

“We did a great job of keeping Marist in front of us, which is really important. We needed this win. This is a very young team we’ve got here and I was happy to see individuals step up and play much better.”
Brown noted, “We have to keep reminding ourselves that we can actually play defense and get stops because we can definitely score.”

Alluding to Bell’s departure, Brown said, “It was a terrible injury to witness and I knew we had to win for her.”

USF 57, Villanova 56 -- In the Wildcats’ second and final outing Saturday night in the season-opening three-team UTC Tipoff Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., they missed several opportunities in the closing seconds against the Bulls (1-0) and fell to their former rivals of the old Big East who are picked second behind Connecticut in The American.

Villanova is picked third in the new Big East, which is in its second season of existence.

The Wildcats have two challenges with injuries and schedule to overcome – senior Emily Leer is out with back problems and won’t return until January, if then. Samantha Wilkes, still rehabbing from a knee injury, won’t be back until next month, at best.

Villanova is also playing its first eight games away from the Pavilion, where they won’t debut for the season until hosting La Salle in a Big 5 tilt.

Next up is a single-game trip to Cal State-Fullerton Friday and then a three-game appearance over Thanksgiving Weekend in the Gulf Coast Classic, opening with Arizona State, then meeting either Georgia Tech or Wisconsin-Green Bay and if they go through the winners bracket – OK, it could happen mathematically the other way, yeah sure – it’s a potential date with their former Big East tormentor UConn.

Then there’s the Big East opener at Providence on Dec. 3 and a key Big Five visit in their City Series opener at Saint Joseph’s, Dec. 7.

In Saturday’s game, Courtney Williams had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who had a 49-36 domination on the backboards while Alisia Jenkins had 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Caroline Coyer scored 15 points for Villanova while freshman Alex Louin had 11 points and Lauren Burford scored 10.

USF then lived on the edge again Sunday escaping UTC 59-57 yo go 2-0.

Nationally Noteworthy

More NCAA Generations -- No. 2 South Carolina’s home win over Southern Cal on Saturday night, a rare USC vs. USC matchup, had two coaches who were olympic teammates in the host Gamecock’s Dawn Staley and Southern Cal’s Cynthia Cooper Dyke, and also WNBA rival players with Cooper playing for the former Houston Comets and Staley on the former Charlotte Sting.

30 More Decades Minimally to Catch Mom -- Tyler Summitt had his first coaching victory this weekend as Louisiana Tech topped Stephen F. Austin, a matchup years ago that would have been a Top 10 attraction.

Summitt is the son of Tennessee Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt, who gained over 900 wins before her long career in Knoxville was cut short battling early onset Alzheimer’s type.

Richmond Wins Again -- The Spiders completed an emotion-filled weekend at home with a 2-0 sweep by beating Georgetown 65-57 Sunday after ousting Providence Friday night, which also made them 2-0 over Big East schools.

Genevieve Okoro of Gibbsboro, N.J. (Eastern Regional High) and Janelle Hubbard each had 17 points Sunday for Richmond against the Hoyas.

This is the first time the school has had to take the floor since the tragic balloon accident last May claimed the lives of longtime associate head coach and former Spiders star Ginny Doyle of Philadelphia and operations director Natalie Lewis, a former star swimmer at Richmond.

JMU Poll-Bound? -- There was no letdown Sunday as Colonial Athletic Conference favorite James Madison routed St. Bonaventure 76-43 at home in the JMU Convocation Center following Friday’s opening upset of nationally-ranked UCLA at home in Harrisonburg, Va.

Precious Hall had 19 points over the Bonnies (1-1).

With the Bruins of UCLA also losing at nationally-ranked North Carolina, though not an upset loss, and No. 22 Dayton getting swept out west by Washington State and nationally-regarded Gonzaga 75-65 Sunday, it appears two vacancies are available.

And The Winners Are … Monday night at halftime of the Baylor-Kentucky game on the ESPN Networks four lucky cities (and four unlucky newspapers, which may have to provide host coverage) will be named as the Women’s Final Four hosts for the championship semifinals and fouls from 2017-2020.

Seven are in contention: Dallas, Houston, Nashville (which hosted last spring), Tampa (which is hosting this year, Columbus, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh, the only northeast city in the group.

Dallas, Houston, Columbus and Pittsburgh have never hosted, though there had been regionals in some of them.

On Thursday nine cities bidding for regionals will be named though how many is undetermined because the committee is considering multiple years for some, which could be as many as all three in the cycle.

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