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 18, 2014

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


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