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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Guru College Roundup: Rutgers and Temple Get Off To Winning Starts

Guru’s note: The roundup is drawn from beyond the Rutgers game through team and wire service reports.

By Mel Greenberg

Rutgers here and Temple back in Philadelphia got to claim two of the four victories in the Guru’s PhilahoopsW 10-school local lineup by default Friday night on the opening date of the NCAA Division I chase for the 2014-15 national title that will end in April in Tampa, Fla.

The duo played two others in the group with 24th-ranked Rutgers celebrating its first appearance as a member of the Big 10 by topping Saint Joseph’s 76-52 in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center while Temple went 1-0 also in the Big Five, edging La Salle 75-72.

Elsewhere, in a reunion of a former sideline rivalry from the days Saint Joseph’s squads coached by Jim Foster would match up with veteran Harry Perretta’s Villanova squads, Foster began his second year as coach of Tenn.-Chattanooga by edging the visiting Wildcats in a defensive confrontation 49-45.

The two Ivy squads in the PhilahoopsW neighborhood, who landed in a first-place forecast tie for the league crown had mixed results: Defending league champion Penn wade into treacherous waters in Knoxville and after a competitive start got overrun by No. 4 Tennessee 97-52.

Princeton, on the other hand, which had won the four previous crowns before being taken down by the Quakers on the final league game of last season, went west to Pittsburgh for one of the 11 a.m. tipoffs to get the day started and brushed aside the early wakeup call to handle the host Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference 59-43.

Penn State at home and out of the national rankings after a 49-appearance streak, turned back an afternoon challenge from Towson to land a 71-64 victory in the Bryce Jordan Center as one of the WNIT preseason openers – to differentiate from the WNIT brand that exists opposite the NCAA tournament in March.

In the other game involving a PhilahoopsW school, Delaware was upset by host Lafayette 63-52 in Easton, Pa., in a game that saw Leopards Hall of Fame assistant coach Theresa Grentz, a former Immaculata star, return to the sidelines as an assistant to Dianne Nolan.

Drexel was idle and will tip off at home Sunday afternoon in the Daskalakis Athletic Center hosting Cornell.

On Saturday, Villanova will remain in Tennessee to meet South Florida, a former conference rival from the days of the old Big East alignment.

On Sunday, Princeton remains in the Steel City, which is in contention for one of the future Women’s Final Four sites that will be announced Monday night, to visit Duquesne.

Penn State remains home for round two of the WNIT to host Albany of the America East.

Delaware returns home to Bob Carpenter Center in Newark to host traditional Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference power Marist.

That said and summarized, let’s go to the virtual video tape beginning here.

Rutgers 76, Saint Joseph’s 52 -- This game that was once part of a home-and-home series when Rutgers competed with the Hawks in the Atlantic 10 could have been called Scarlet Knights-Hawks generations though the parties involved didn’t give the poignancy much thought.

“I am a numbers person. I really wasn’t aware. You’re the one that’s good with those kind of things,” Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer smiled with a response to the Guru’s notation in the postgame press conference that game on each side featured daughters of two Philadelphia icons who once were picked to the same Kodak All-American team.

Rutgers senior Betnijah Laney is the daughter of former University City and Cheyney star Yolanda Laney, who played on the Wolves for Stringer before Stringer headed to the Big Ten the first time in taking the coaching job at Iowa.

The younger Laney finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds and was one of several players WNBA Washington Mystics assistant Marianne Stanley, the former Immaculata great, was in the house to observe with an eye to April’s draft.

Meanwhile, Saint Joseph’s freshman Adashia Franklyn, the daughter of Temple all-timer Marilyn Stephens, made her college debut in 10 minutes of action with a quiet 0-3 from the field, 0-for-2 from the foul line, and two rebounds.

Coming off last season’s WNIT championship, Rutgers delighted Stringer in defending the Hawks’ big guns, though junior Ciara Andrews broke out for 19 points and Sarah Fairbanks scored 16. But senior Natasha Cloud, who can be considered one of the frontrunners for this season’s local player of the year honors, was held to three points, though she dealt 10 assists and Ashley Robinson was held scoreless in 20 minutes of action.

“We played extremely hard and ran the floor and emphasized the things we were working on, one which was transition and we were executing the way we needed to and playing great defense and – not to take anything away from Saint Joe’s because they’re really an outstanding team – but I thought all of them distributed the ball in a great way and we did the things we needed to do.”

Stringer alluded to team chemistry and the experience gained off the closing run in the WNIT after being ousted by Connecticut in Rutgers’ final and brief stay in The American which snuffed out any hopes for an NCAA bid.

“It generally takes us a little bit longer (to get going) but keep in mind all of these players were a team that dealt with six games in a row (winning the WNIT), they know what it takes to win, they’re talking, there’s tremendous growth, I’m not surprised with their development but I thought everybody stepped it up in a big way so you don’t have to remind them what to do. It was a great win.”

Tyler Scaife picked up where she left off as one of the top freshmen in the nation, beginning her sophomore season scoring 23 points while Willingboro’s (N.J.) Bryona Canty scored 16 points, and Kahleah Copper scored 14 besides causing a a brief scare when she went down with a cramp.

“We didn’t take care of the basketball and a lot of what happened was our own doing,” Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin referred to the 21 turnovers against just nine by the Scarlet Knights.

“Rutgers is a very good team and they are very fast and they’ll make you pay for your mistakes. So now we have to quickly get back up on the horse.”

Saint Joseph’s next hosts Temple Tuesday night while on the same evening while Rutgers will host a Northeastern team which edged city rival Boston U. 75-74 in a game in which both coaches made their Division I debut.

Temple 75, La Salle 72 -- Sophomore Feyonda Fitgerald picked up off a sensational freshman season for the Owls by scoring a career-high 29 points and scored the go-ahead basket with 34 seconds left in the closely-fought game.

Fitzgerald also had six rebounds and topped Temple with five assists while Erica Coville shot 7-for-13 from the field and scored 17 points. Sophomore Saifya Martin grabbed 11 rebounds and senior Tyonna Williams scored nine points.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza got production from her rookies with Tanaya Atkinson scoring nine points and Alliya Butts scoring eight.

Michaya Owens scored 18 for the Explorers while Alicia Cropper scored 16 and Siobhan Breslow scored 10.

“I think our guys learned a lot in this game – a lot of ups and downs – the fact we were down late and battled back and found a way to stay together,” Cardoza said.

“It’s a sign of maturity and I know that we’re young, but I think the future is going to be bright for us,” Cardoza said.

“The last couple of years we would have found a way to lose this game. I thought we made huge plays down the stretch and it’s a confidence builder.”

Of Williams, Cardoza said, “Tonight wasn’t her night but I thought she was the best leader on the floor.”

Tennessee 97, Penn 52 -- Like they did in the first half of last season’s NCAA opener against Texas, the Quakers stayed competitive with another super power, holding a 20-17 lead with 11 minutes, five seconds left in the half before a crowd of over 9,000 before the Lady Vols flexed themselves with a 14-0 run to lead 31-20.

Another burst saw a 30-5 eruption though within the carnage shot-blocking star Sydney Stipanovich, the reigning Ivy and Big 5 rookie of the year, swatted six to put her behind former Baylor superstar Brittney Griner by one for the Thompson-Boling Arena record for an opponent.

“When we couldn’t score, I think we lost control of the game,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said.

Freshman Beth Brzozowski off the bench was the only Quaker to reach double figures, scoring 11 points while freshman Anna Ross was a starter now that all-timer Alyssa Baron has graduated.

Kara Bonenberger and Stipanovich each scored nine points and Melanie Lockett had eight for the Quakers who will host La Salle Wednesday night in a Big 5 opener at The Palestra for Penn, which will hang their Ivy championship banner.

Nia Moore scored 24 for Tennessee and grabbed 14 rebounds to help the lopsided 60-30 Lady Vol advantage on the backboards.

Alexa Middleton had 20 points, Bashaara Graves had 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Isabelle Harrison had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Jaime Nared scored 10, and Kortney Dunbar scored 15 points.

Mind you, coach Holly Warlick was also sitting out four players for breaking team rules.

She may be missing some others even after she gets the quartet back because Harrison and Jasmine Jones each left the game with undetermined injuries – Harrison to her knee while Jones collided with a Penn player head-to-head.

Lafayette 63, Delaware 52 -- A mediocre 13.8 shooting percentage in the first half helped doom the Blue Hens in their season opener, though Alecia Bell had career highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds while senior Joy Caraciolo had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Erika Brown also scored in double figures for Delaware with 13 points while Hannah Jardine grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.

Emily Holman and Jamie O’Hara each scored 16 points for Lafayette.

“For me, it all started at the defensive end,” veteran coach Tina Martin said. “We’ve been harping at our kids about defense all preseason and making stops.

“We then got ourselves in a lot of trouble after we actually played some quality defense but missed a lot of point-blank shots. At that point it started snowballing from missing a lot of layups to getting frustrated to not rotating on defense. We’ll go through some growing pains but we can and will bounce back from this.”

It was the first season-opening loss for the Hens since losing to Richmond in 2003.

Penn State 71, Towson 64 -- The Lady Lions went with four new starters in the post-Maggie Lucas era and rallied from a nine-point deficit to take their WNIT opener.

They will stay at the Bryce Jordan Center to play Sunday against Albany, which dispatched Saint Francis of New York.

The last time Towson and Penn State met was in the EAIAW Mid-Atlantic Tournament in 1975, a meeting won by the Tigers.

Freshman Lindsey Spann had a team-high 17 points while transfer Sierra Moore scored 12 points and keyed a 22-9 run to bring Penn State back from the deficit.

Senior Tori Waldner had 11 points and tied her career high with 11 rebounds. On the boards Candice Agee also tied a career high with nine rebounds.

The Towson loss wasted an explosive effort from Dominque Johnson, who scored 32 points.

Tenn.-Chattanooga 49, Villanova 45 -- Lauren Burford had a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats who fell just short after trailing the Mocs by as many as 16 points..

Coach Harry Perretta’s normally sure- handed bunch, who led the nation with fewest turnovers (8.8) last season, committed 13 miscues in the first half before settling down.

Villanova cut the 16-point deficit to three in just five minutes late in the game but UTC went back up eight before the Wildcats moved within a basket.
After getting within a buck though holding the Mocs scoreless for just over two minutes, Villanova couldn’t take advantage.

The Wildcats in the UTC Tip-Off Classic meet South Florida Saturday and continue on a season-opening eight-game road trip before playing their first game in the Pavilion on Dec. 14 against La Salle.

Katherine Coyer had 10 rebounds.

UTC’s Jasmine Joyner had 16 points and 20 rebounds while Moses Johnson scored 13.

Princeton 59, Pittsburgh 43 -- A 16-0 run at the start of the second half helped carry the Tigers over the Panthers at the Petersen Events Center.

Michelle Miller had a game-high 16 points for Princeton while Blake Dietrck scored 14.

Brianna Kiesel had 14 points for Pittsburgh while Stasha Carey grabbed 11 rebounds.

National Highlights

Uconn Equals Itself -- And the win meter resumed to start this season with victory No. 47 in a row as the two-time defending NCAA champion Huskies routed host UC Davis 102-43 in a deluge of three-pointers.

Toss out all those early doubts on Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who tied Maya Moore’s school mark and set her own career record with 10 treys and finished with 30 points.

In all, Uconn nailed 18 treys to tie the team mark and at one point went on a 39-0 run, which AP says it is believed to be one of the longest in a game in Huskies history.

Consensus preseason player of the year Breanna Stewart, the reigning top player from last season, scored 15 points and dealt a career-high seven assists.

Upset Specials -- Washington State topped No. 22 Dayton in the Northwest 76-60 while host James Madison scored at the end of regulation and beat No. 23 UCLA 91-87 in overtime.

Welcome -- On the floor big debuts by Brianna Turner with a rookie first-game school record 29 points for No. 3 Notre Dame in a 105-51 rout at home of Mass.-Lowell 105-51. Meanwhile, rookie Kelsey Plum poured in school-record 45 points for Washington in a 90-80 loss at Oklahoma that resulted in Sooners coach Sherri Coale gaining her 400th victory, all at Oklahoma. And a welcome on the sidelines to North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell returned from a year’s absence fighting breast cancer as the No. 13 Tar Heels beat Howard 83-49.

Richmond Remembrances -- A poignant ceremony was held by the Spiders in their season-opening 75-59 win over visiting Providence to recall operations director Natalie Lewis and longtime associate head coach and former Spiders star Ginny Doyle, who were killed in the horrific balloon accident on May 9 nearby in Virginia.

Swashbuckling Pirates -- Host Seton Hall topped Rider 66-47 in a WNIT opener as Tabatha Richardson-Smith scored 19 points. Daisha Simmons, who gained her transfer eligibility after the controversy leaving Alabama, had three points in 31 minutes.

Shortcut for Stewart -- Some backroom joking involving the compilation of the early honors watch lists for the season for top player suggests that writing Breanna Stewart’s name 30 times on the first ballot could save a lot of unnecessary voting and hunting for candidates and then ending with the same result.

OK that’s it for today. The Guru needs some shuteye and still not home from Rutgers – stopped at an all-night Fedex on way home in Princeton to file this report – but only a half-hour away.

Early wake up to go to Immaculata ring ceremony honoring the Naismith Hall of Fame inductees.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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