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, January 11, 2015

Guru's College Report: Princeton Plows Penn in Ivy Opener to Stay Perfect

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Ten months after breaking up Princeton’s four-year monopoly of Ivy women’s basketball titles Penn returned to the scene of the Quakers’ triumph Saturday afternoon to discover a group of Tigers perhaps more ferocious than any of the previous ones that have grazed in Jadwin Gym.

With a score nearly similar to last season’s Ivy curtain-raiser at Penn’s Palestra in Philadelphia, Princeton made quick work of the Tigers’ visitors on the way to an 83-54 blowout in the current drive to outdo their own history as well as almost any previous history of women’s or men’s Ivy combatants.

Unlike a year ago, Penn (7-5, 0-1 Ivy) certainly saw this one coming.

Princeton (17-0, 1-0), which was the only Ivy women’s program previously ever to earn a national ranking, landing at No. 24 in the final Associated Press media poll of the 2012 season, returned to the fold this week at No. 22 and also crashed the USAToday coaches poll for the first time.

Furthermore Princeton, which actually was co-picked with Penn – a first-ever tie at the top – to win the league in the preseason media poll, has now made the best start of any previous Ivy men’s or women’s squad except the 1970-71 Penn men, who went 28-0.

Senior Blake Dietrick, the reigning national player of the week of the United States Basketball Wrtiers Association, scored 25 points of which one made her the 22nd player in Princeton women’s history to reach a career total of 1,000.

The native of Wellesley, Mass., was 5-for-6 on three-point attempts, a statistic at team level saw the Tigers overall shoot 9-for-18 while Penn, whose prolific shooter Alyssa Baron graduated, was 3-for-10.

Annie Tarakchian grabbed 17 rebounds, while Michelle Miller scored 15 points and Alex Wheatley of lower Bucks County scored 13 and defensed Penn sophomore post star Sydney Stipanovich into a 1-for-11 night on the shooting range.

The one bright note for Penn was senior Kara Bonenberger, who scored 21 points.

Despite the loss the world did not end for the Quakers, who will still be defending champions until Princeton can work the math to make that claim no longer possible.

Optimists around the Quakers quickly looked to last year when Penn shook off the Palestra drubbing to win their third-ever Ivy crown.

Several factors, however, would need to occur again, but considering Princeton is a much better defensive unit, that’s not likely to happen, but hold that thought a minute.

Ideally, it would be fun for Penn to win all its league games the rest of the way so when the return game occurs at the Palestra in March at the end of the schedule the Quakers could be only one game behind and Princeton would arrive off the short trip with a 29-0 record and the focus on an entire women’s basketball world.

As for those factors, the next three weeks are going to be key for both squads. Princeton now goes into its annual hiatus due to academic work and when the tigers emerge, their first stop on resuming the Ivy chase will be at Harvard, the wild card with its own designs.

A year ago, in a similar situation, Princeton came out of the break and got upended here by the Crimson, who the next night were routed at Penn.

That set up a tight race the rest of the way with both Penn (to Dartmouth) and Princeton (to Brown) each taking a tumble to stay deadlocked going into the final Ivy game here to decide who moves on to the NCAA tournament.

The Ivy League is the only conference that doesn’t have a postseason tournament.

While Princeton is idle, Penn will have some non-conference work all at home remaining to keep occupied with Richmond visiting Wednesday, Villanova visiting on Jan. 21 with a chance to claim the Big Five title outright, and then a trip to NJIT.

Unlike a year ago, which was Princeton’s first season in the wake of the graduation of Niveen Rasheed, one of the Ivy’s all-timers, don’t expect the Tigers to lose focus.

With a national ranking and unbeaten record Princeton will seek to perform in its league the way a certain two-time defending national champion performs in the non-Ivy world.

Winning the league but also hearing a very high seed for the NCAA tournament provides much motivation but there is also this potential carrot hanging out there:

Louisville, likely to be a top 16 seed, can’t be a host for the early rounds because of an arena conflict, so should Princeton land in The Cardinal’s quad the right way, the Tigers could end up hosting early rounds, assuming the NCAA won’t be bureaucratically pistol-whipping schools in New Jersey again the way they did several years ago in the ongoing fight with the state government that seeks to legalize sports gambling.

And speaking of that dispute, you should know that a certain governor of New Jersey whose mansion is several blocks from here and who will be in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sunday for his beloved Dallas Cowboys’ appearance in the NFL playoffs, has yet to do anything saluting the Princeton women since their rise from obscurity.

Rutgers Routs Penn State

With the No. 24 Scarlet Knights’ inaugural season in the Big 10, the first of two meetings with Penn State, a former rival from the days when both were in the Atlantic 10, occurred Saturday up in University Park.

Rutgers dominated 71-51 over a squad of Lady Lions (3-13, 0-5) who have yet to win a game in a conference they finished first in the regular season.

Though the two played in yesteryear, it was the first time Rutgers (12-4, 3-2) played in the Lady Lions’ Bryce Jordan Center, built after Penn State left for the Big Ten.

Lindsey Spann had 18 points for Penn State while Sierra Moore scored 12.and Candice Agee scored 10 points.

Syessence Davis stole the show for Rutgers with her 10 swipes tying a school record. She dealt eight assists.

Kahleah Copper scored 23 points while Betnijah Laney had 18 points and nine rebounds and Tyler Scaife scored 14 points.

Next up, Rutgers hosts No. 12 Maryland, the preseason pick and other new league arrival Thursday at 9 p.m. while Penn State travels to Nebraska the same night.

Saint Joes Woes Continue

Penn State isn’t the only of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group with problems.

Saint Joseph’s, reduced to eight healthy players by injuries, fell at home in Hagan Arena to Massachusetts 65-47 in Atlantic Ten action.

Natasha Cloud’s individual performance keeps her in the running for postseason honors and on Saturday she had 20 points, seven assists and four steals for the Hawks (5-10, 1-2 A-10), while Chelsea Woods had 14 points.

Cierra Dillard scored 18 points for Massachusetts (7-8, 1-2).

The Hawks next go to Fordham Thursday.

Division II: USP Maintains First

University of the Sciences of Philadelphia felled a key rival in beating Philadelphia University 86-52 at home in Bobby Morgan Arena in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Game.

The Devils snapped the Rams’ seven-game win streak in improving to 10-4 overall and holding down first in the South Division at 7-1. The Rams fell to 11-2 overall and 5-2 in the CACC South.

Brianne Traub had 20 points and seven rebounds for USP while Laura Tisch had a career-high 17 points and Isabella Ross had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Jessica Sylvester had 14 points while Colleen Walsh had 10 points.

USP next plays Holy Family, another key conference rival, Tuesday in northeast Philadelphia.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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