Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Guru's Musings: When Two Rights Make a Wrong in Geno's World

By Mel Greenberg

HARTFORD, CT. -- Call this one nitpicking the flaws inside a record of perfection.

OK, so even if Connecticut is approaching the middle phase of threatening to snap its all-time NCAA record 90-game win streak of several years ago, even if the consistent drumbeat of winning means the Huskies have a personal claim to the word “perfection,” internal or external criticism of certain flaws means that drill down far enough under the mantel of dominance and days will come when annoying things can still happen.

You may have heard the phrase “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but in UConn Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma’s world the opposite is apparently also true.

Explaining why freshman Gabby Williams didn’t get into the exhibition blowout of Post Sunday here until late in the game at the XL Center, Auriemma pointed out in so many words that there are times that two rights just happen to make a wrong.

Quoting the master about Williams, who also was a track star in high school, the lingo from Auriemma went like this:

“She had an equipment malfunction,’’ Auriemma said. “I don’t know how it is in track, but in basketball you have to have a right sneaker and a left sneaker. So maybe next time she’ll get it right.’’

“They talk about some people have two left feet,’’ Auriemma noted. “Well, today she had two right ones.

“ I wasn’t going to play her at all, but I felt bad for her so I put her in. Again, it’s typical freshman stuff. They don’t quite get it. They don’t quite understand. They expect somebody to bring their stuff. You’ve got to grow up a little bit. You’ve got to take care of your own stuff.

“ It’s like calling a plumber to come to your house. `Yo, you’ve got a leak over here.’ Well, fix it.’ `Oh, damn. I forgot my wrench.’ `Well, why the hell did you come over?’ You’re a basketball player. You showed up, `Ugh, I’ve got the wrong sneakers.’ The one thing you’ve got to bring. Ugh. Don’t get me started. Don’t get me started.’’

One thing in watching Uconn right up front on the sidelines from press row, one thing comes across that isn’t apparent on television – a medium which they dwell a bunch – is that the Huskies, especially consensus national player Breanna Stewart, look like a WNBA squad off their athleticism.

While that got magnified Sunday against Post, a Division II power, the same would be true in terms of 80 percent of the Division I teams whose path the Huskies might cross.

It all begins Friday in overall Division I and for the Huskies, who open at Cal-Davis before traveling to national rival Stanford, Monday night, as part of an ESPN extravaganza.

Stanford is the team that finally ended the last long run by Connecticut several years ago, but with Chiney Ogwumike graduated and gone to the Connecticut Sun in April as the overall top pick in the WNBA draft, the Cardinal after a run beyond a decade, are becoming a less assured pick to win their own PAC-12 conference that they have dominated.

If a new ruler emerges, all signs point to Bay rival California as the likely team to wear the crown.

Locals Heading for the Deep End of the Pool

When the season opens Friday, the Guru’s PhilahoopsW 10-team group are not wasting time heading into major nonconference competition on the front end of the schedule.

Defending Ivy champion Penn will be in Knoxville playing preseason ranked No. 4 Tennessee, which may be giving the Quakers a break since coach Holly Warlick has suspended a bunch of players for either missing class or breaking other team rules.

The Guru will mark that occasion, since Penn is the last Big Five team to play Tennessee in history, by blogging later this week a retrospective of the games played by the others against the Lady Vols.

Meanwhile, in part thanks to the way switching conferences have affected the front part of scheduling, Temple will host La Salle in the season’s first Big Five encounter at 4:30 p.m. at the Liacouras Center on the front end of a doubleheader with the Owls men’s team, who host American.

Saint Joseph’s, meanwhile, loaded with freshmen talent who starred in the Philly summer league for women, will head up to Rutgers, which will play its first game as a member of the Big 10 conference.

Once upon a team the Hawks and Scarlet Knights used to both be in the Atlantic 10 until Rutgers jumped to the Big East in 1995, then spent last season in The American following the Big East schism, and and now heads to a revitalized Big 10 that also includes newcomer Maryland.

Penn State, out of the AP poll for the first time in 49 weeks, will host Towson in one of the opening games of the WNIT, Delaware will be at Lafayette, where Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz returns to the sidelines as an assistant to South Jersey’s Dianne Nolan.

Grentz will be in Center City Thursday night, as will the Guru, when her alma mater Immaculata gets another honor with the whole team going into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, the Mighty Macs will get their rings off August’s induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Then today’s version will start its Division II season.

Princeton, picked with Penn in an unprecedented first-place tie in the Ivy media voting, opens at Pittsburgh Friday at 11 a.m., which could be the very first Division I contest of the season, which ends in Tampa, Fla, in early April.

Villanova veteran coach Harry Perretta begins his 37th season on the Main Line heading down South to go against former Saint Joseph’s coach Jim Foster’s Tennessee-Chattanooga team in a tournament that pre-designates opponents for the second night.

Thus, on Saturday the Wildcats will play South Florida, which is in the American but used to dominate Villanova in the old Big East.

In the new Big East, the Wildcats were picked third by the conference coaches behind defending champion DePaul.

On Sunday, Delaware hosts traditional MAAC frontrunner Marist, while Drexel opens at home against Cornell, and Princeton stays in Pittsburgh to vist Duquesne.

Fractured Geography

Noted on the Guru’s recent trip to Cincinnati, which he drove, to represent the United States Basketball Writers Association in giving Lauren Hill the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award:

He travel West to dine that Saturday night with Jamelle Elliott, the coach of Cincinnati, which is in the American, and then to the game at the arena of Xavier, which is in the Big East, and then in driving back, went through a piece of Big 12 power West Virginia, headed north to visit Atlantic Coast Conference member Pitt, and then back east near Rutgers, now in the Big 10.

Some other interesting national games on tap: it will be USC vs. USC as Southern Cal visits No. 2 ranked South Carolina on Saturday while UCLA will visit North Carolina on Sunday.

Baylor visits Kentucky on Monday when the next set of Women’s Final Four cities will be named at halftime on the ESPN broadcast before the Connecticut-Stanford game.

More Previews Ahead

Sometime soon, Rob Knox, who delivered all those WNBA player profiles this past summer, will preview the local Division II action.
-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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