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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Guru's College Report: Princeton Needs More Eyes on the Tigers to Get Ranked

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

NEWARK, Del. –
Not even a minor ankle injury sidelining lower Bucks County’s Alex Wheatley for a short while until after the holidays can derail the Princeton express these days as the Tigers stayed perfect, now at 11-0, Tuesday night with an 87-59 non-conference victory over Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center.

The host Blue Hens (4-4), who had a three-game win streak snapped, stayed competitive for a while until Princeton, which got here late due to traffic but finished early, began separation with a 45-33 halftime lead.

In the second half the only suspense was among some media types, including your Guru, impersonating the games UConn writers play, in this case waiting to see if Princeton would make it six straight games getting to a lead of 30 or more points.

It got to 29 late in the game but several chances to extend the streak didn’t succeed but nevertheless Princeton completed its day trip to return to central New Jersey and await a visit from Portland State at 5:30 p.m. Friday night in Jadwin Gym.

More and more it is beginning to look like unless Penn has something to say about it, the Tigers could eventually join the Courtney Banghart-coached edition of two seasons ago that became the first Ivy school to land in the Associated Press women’s poll, getting ranked in the final vote of the season.

Princeton is already receiving votes as was the case several times during the four-peat run to Ivy titles and creating curiosity as to how the Tigers have not managed to collect the miminum value of one vote so far in the coaches poll.

Perhaps it’s the Ivy mid-major image with some or Princeton’s schedule strength indicator not up to anyone’s liking, though compared to some of the national powers’ slates, it’s right there.

There was a time when the phrase “Eye Test” was common in terms of the NCAA tournament committee making judgements beyond the numbers of RPI and such on paper.

Well, Delaware coach Tina Martin is not any voting committee, but when it comes to the Eye Test, what she saw preparing to face Tuesday’s opponent and then dealing with them up close and personal was enough to impress the veteran who had her own prized talent not too long ago in Elena Delle Donne.

“They’re definitely a team that should be getting votes in the polls,” Martin said. “They play like juniors and seniors. They share the ball very well. They do a great job with ball screens and reading.

“They’re smacking people. They took it to us tonight on our home floor. And there are a lot of things we can get better at.”

With Princeton dominating Ivy player of the week awards this season, Annie Tarakchian became the frontrunner this week with 22 points, one short of her career-high, and 16 in the first half.

Michelle Miller scored 16, including naIling 4-of-6 three-pointers, while Blake Dietrick, the reigning Ivy player of the week, scored 12, and Vanessa Smith scored 10.

Delaware’s Courtni Green had 18 points, while Joy Caracciolo scored 14, and Hannah Jardine scored 12.

“We’re a young team and we’re having trouble communicating,” Martin said.

As much as Princeton’s four-peat Ivy run, broken up by Penn last season, was stamped by the presence of Niveen Rasheed, more and more these Tigers may achieve greatness with their variety.

“Two years ago, we had trouble scoring. Last year it was our defense. But nothing deters this group,” Banghart said.

Princeton shot 50 percent for the game.

“I love this environment,” Banghart of Delaware’s digs. “It’s always a hard place to win. It’s always loud. We’ve always had battles with them, even before Delle Donne. It’s always a good win on the road to win at Delaware.”

As the streak has the potential to keep going, perhaps eventually the eyes will have it to give Princeton its due.

Banghart, however, has bigger fish to fry, looking ultimately at getting to the postseason and getting that first NCAA win.

“Everyone is talking about 11-0. We just want to get better.”

Eye Test II: The Return of GW

Speaking of eye tests, Memphis coach Melissa McFerrrin, returning to the city she once coached American and the WNBA Washington Mystics, was impressed by George Washington, which handled her Tigers 63-44 here Monday night in a non-conference game at the Colonials’ Smith Center.

“That is going to be a very good basketball team,” she said of the past Atlantic 10 power that has gotten back on track under former Notre Dame assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis in the three years he has returned to the nation’s capital.

Jonquel Jones had 15 points and 14 rebounds for GW (8-2) while Hannah Schaible scored 12 points.

Ariel Hearn was the lone Tiger in double figures with 19 points. Memphis (4-4) will host Temple in an American Conference schedule opener on December 28 that will air on ESPNU-TV.

“We’re still finishing exams but I thought defensively there were a couple of things that stood out to me,” Tsipis said. “We kept people off the free throw line with a season low (4-for-5). We also kept them from getting easy baskets.

“It’s a great example of when your offensive isn’t full tilt and executing as I know we’re capable of, that we could really put a great effort, 1 through 15 on the defensive side and limit a very talented Memphis team that was playing great basketball coming into the game.”

Looking Ahead

Drexel will be trying to get back on the winning side ahead of Saturday’s neighborhood visit from Penn when the Dragons visit Quinnipiac Wednesday night for a first-ever mseeting with the Bobcats.

The Dragons revealed bad news on Tuesday with the announcement that Meghan Creighton suffered a knee injury and will be sidelined indefinitely but definitely not on the short term.

Temple travels to the nation’s capital on Thursday for a 5 p.m. non-conference meeting with Howard.

Delaware will try to recover from the Princeton loss on Friday when the Blue Hens spend a weekend in Cincinnati meeting Northern Kentucky and then play the host Bearcats the next night.

The visit initially involved a tournament format until one team pulled out and left Delaware just playing two games straight up.

La Salle meets Ohio U. Friday in Atlanta and then plays host Georgia State on Saturday.

Rutgers visits nearby Iona on Saturday in terms of teams in the Guru’s PhilahoopsW group while Villanova will host Sacred Heart.

On Sunday, Penn State hosts USF, picked second behind UConn in The American, Princeton visits nearby Monmouth, and Saint Joseph’s will be at No. 5 Notre Dame.

Ranking the Guru’s PhilahoopsW Group

1. Rutgers – Two losses to teams of prominence in UNC and Tenneessee mar the season to date.
2. Princeton – Perfection says it all for now.
3. Penn – Right now the most upside among the rest of the group.
4. La Salle – Basically, the 6-3 record gives the Explorers a slight now to land here.
5. Drexel – By default but imperiled from gaining traction.
6. Delaware – Being at .500 worth something for now.
7. Saint Joseph’s – Should be higher but have already been victimized by two teams above.
8. Temple – Need to get better real fast.
9. Villanova – Could soon start shooting up this list now that health has gotten better on the roster.
10. Penn State – The slew of losses to mid-majors and lack of quality wins sink the Lady Lions for now.

AP Poll Trivia

Since it took an extra day to update the Associated Press women’s poll database due to travel, here’s what we got out of a list that was stagnant due to games limited by finals:

The conference breakdown remained the same led by six from the Southeastern Conference, five each from the Atlantic Coast and Big Ten, four from the Big 12, three from the Pac-12, and one each from the Big East and American.

North Carolina became the ninth team with 400 appearances in the 39-year history of the poll. Maryland snapped a tie with Penn State and is seventh with 407 all-time appearances.

Sylvia Hatchell, coach of UNC, moved into a tie with Chattanooga’s Jim Foster in seventh all-time with 370 appearances, while they are tied for fifth on the active list.

And that is the outlook for now. The Guru may make an appearance 50-50 at Wagner for the Yale game Wednesday night.

Either way, look for more by the next sunrise barring breaking news to cause any posting sooner.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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