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.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Guru's College Report: Princeton Powers Past Georgetown As Perfect Start Sets Ivy Mark

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Senior Blake Dietrick and junior Alex Wheatley were part of Princeton’s great run of four-straight Ivy League titles and also part of the falling-short of number five in last season’s year one of the post-Niveen Rasheed era.

Now they are part of something that didn’t happen ever during the glory run nor did it happen anywhere else involving the great programs in league history – Princeton is 8-0 after a second-half stomp job on visiting Georgetown Saturday afternoon that resulted in an 83-54 victory here in the Tigers’ Jadwin Gym.

It also removed one of the bad tastes from a year ago when the Hoyas (2-7) nipped the Tigers 66-64 in the nation’s capital.

Dietrick, likely to rack up another Ivy player of the week honor, finished with 26 points while Wheatley had 17 points and eight rebounds and Annie Tarakchian had eight points and nine rebounds.

With a trip to Michigan Tuesday next up, if Princeton hurdles the Wolverines the Tigers are likely to keep going to provide an interesting matchup when they visit Hampton Jan. 5.

That game will set up comparisons for what is to come five days later here when Penn returns to the scene of last March’s season-closing triumph by the Quakers that busted the Ivy monopoly and completed a building job by coach Mike McLaughlin.

Penn got roughed up in The Palestra by Hampton 58-43 Friday night as the Lady Pirates (1-5) grabbed 30 offensive rebounds to top the Quakers 18-2 on second chance points and the visitors also overwhelmed in the paint 34-8 to drop the Quakers to 3-3.

The Penn triumph here in March in a way unshackled the nightly A-game effort Princeton drew from opponents and has given the Tigers a different outlook this time around, according to Dietrick.

“We see ourselves as the under dog now,” Dietrick said. “We are not the Ivy League champions. So we are playing every game with a chip on our shoulder, trying to get back to that, hunting it, but we in no way think we are entitled to anything and I think that makes us play harder, we’re playing together, we’ve really committed this season to be the best season we can possibly make it.”

It says something for Princeton coach Courtney Banghart’s recruiting ability that Wheatley comes from Penn’s backyard in lower Bucks County while Dietrick comes not far from the backyard of longtime Ivy power Harvard in Wellesley, Mass.

“Wheatley is a gentle kid we’re asking to get more physical,” Banghart said. “As she does, we’ll continue to get better. ‘Blake cares about winning. That’s it. She cares about winning every drill, every practice, every possession, and she’s bringing along the team as a result.

“We’re getting great leadership from all the seniors.”

Princeton is also starting to get the national looks of the Rasheed era with votes in Associated Press women’s poll and high rankings in early RPI and other national team computer rankings.

The Tigers and Penn were co-picked to win the league in a first-ever tie in the preseason Ivy media poll, though Princeton drew more first-place votes.

If a do-over were held this weekend, a recount would probably tilt in Princeton’s favor in light of Penn’s narrow loss at Lafayette on Tuesday and then the rout handed by Hampton, whose record belies the rugged schedule the MEAC dominant team has been playing prior to the opening of conference competition.

“We don’t schedule to win – we schedule to compete,” Banghart said of the hot start. “This year we’ve gotten better defensively and we’ve played a variety of opponents. The 8-0, I look at it like we’ve won eight times. It’s hard to win.”

As for Georgetown, “We exepcted to adjust throughout the game and I think we did that. Last year we suffered a loss that still hurts, even today, because wse just got out-toughed and that doesn’t happen a lot to Princeton teams. After that game we shifted to you have to hate losing more than you like winning. You have to play with that edge and we’re doing that.”

For the second straight game, Penn made an opponent’s player look like an all-American as this time the Quakers succumbed to a 27-point performance by Malia Tate-DeFreitas while Tyler Hobgood had 17 rebounds and Ryan Jordan had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

No one on Penn scored in double figures – Melanie Lockett had a team-high seven points as the Quakers were totally out-rebounded 58-35.

“We just didn’t have control of the game after the half,” Penn’s McLaughlin said. “We can’t give up 30 offensive rebounds to anyone, anywhere at any time.”

Penn next hosts Saint Joseph’s at 5 p.m. Tuesday at The Palestra.

La Salle Rally Keeps Win Streak Alive

For two games the Explorers couldn’t do much right and then suddenly whatever still isn’t being accomplished, they are finding ways to overcome and start collecting victories with Saturday afternoon’s 78-71 triumph over William & Mary at home at Tom Gola Arena bringing the current win streak to six games, matching a previous six-game run during the 2012 season.

Trailing 45-31 at the half, the Explorers (6-2) outscored the Tribe 47-26 the rest of the way.

Alicia Cropper had 17 of her 21 points in the second half while Jasmine Alston had 11 points and nine rebounds, and freshman Amy Griffin had her best output with 12 points.

Jazzmen Boone had 19 points for William & Mary (5-3).

La Salle is now off until Dec.14 when the Explorers head to Villanova for a Big 5 game which will be the first arena game for the Wildcats this season.

Drexel Drought Dooms Dragons

Maybe it was the 11-game layoff for finals but Drexel was held to the Dragons’ lowest scoring total in their Division history and fell to St. Bonaventure 43-32 in the first round of Brown’s tournament Saturday in Providence, R.I.

Jackie Schluth’s eight points were the best Drexel (3-2) got get off the Bonnies (6-2) and will now play Sacred Heart Sunday afternoon while the Bonnies (6-2), who got points from Katie Healy will play Brown.

Also on Sunday, Saint Joseph’s hosts Villanova in a Big 5 game with both teams struggling coming into the contest.

Rutgers off a tough loss in double overtime to No. 6 North Carolina heads to No. 25 Arkansas while Temple off a home loss to Delaware will host Fordham, a former conference rival when the Owls, now in the American, were in the Atlantic 10.

Penn State tries to pull out of its six-game slide when the Lady Lions host Wagner while Delaware looks to create a streak after win at Temple

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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