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.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Guru's College Report: Villanova Does It to Butler While Princeton and Penn Grab Ivy Wins

( Guru breaking news: The Guru interrupts the report of Friday’s action to say that former WNBA great Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks, also an all-American at Southern Cal and a three-time Olympic gold medalist, will be among the induction finalists announced Saturday morning at NBA All-Star activities in New York for the next class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., according to a Guru source familiar with the candidates.

The class of 2015 to be determined by the honors committee will be named at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in March.

It is not known if any other women are in the finalist group – the women’s subcommittee is allowed to submit two candidates but at times has stayed with one – there had been strong backing for former Immaculata star Theresa Grentz to be named as an individual on the heels of last year’s team honor of the Mighty Macs’ championship era 1972-74.

Former Macs star Marianne Stanley, currently a WNBA Washington Mystics assistant coach who recruited and coached Leslie at Southern Cal, was also known to be considered last year as was Notre Dame coach and Saint Joseph’s graduate Muffet McGraw.

If Leslie, who retired after the 2009 WNBA season, makes it through the process, she would achieve a double major honor this year after being named last summer to this June’s 2015 induction class to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Guru now returns you to the Friday report.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

In sickness and in injury separated the Villanova women from some wins they might have otherwise been able to attain earlier in the season.

Those two bugaboos were back to bedeviling the Wildcats Friday night, especially in their front court, but the removal of Taylor Holeman and Kavunaa Edwards from the lineup was not enough to prevent Villanova from gaining revenge over Butler with a 63-52 victory at home in the Pavilion to maintain hold of third place in the Big East.

Caroline Coyer, herself, was not feeling all that well, but she delivered another solid performance with a game-high 21 points, shooting 8-for-16 from the field, including 4-of-6 three pointers.

Emily Leer, who missed the start of the season with back problems until mid-December, added 17 points, Caroline’s twin sister Katherine scored 11, and freshman Alex Louin from Doylestown and Mount St. Joseph’s Academy, stayed in the hunt for local rookie honors with eight points for the Wildcats (15-10, 9-4 Big East).

Villanova has won 12 of its last 15 games since regaining its health.

It was a Friday night sweep for the Guru’s complete four of 10 PhilahoopsW teams who saw action with the Ivy duo of No. 16 Princeton and Penn getting key Ivy wins while Delaware made its current win streak reach five with an avenging triumph in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Back here, Butler (12-13, 8-6), which had beaten Villanova 72-58 last month in Indianapolis, got 16 points from Lexus Murry off the bench, a team-high 13 from Blaire Langlois, and a double double effort of 10 points and 13 rebounds from Ijeoma Uchendu.

Once again the 3-ball served the Wildcats well with 11 of 27 shots from beyond the arc dropping through the net while another single-digit game in low turners – six this time – also helped from a category in which Villanova is best in NCAA Division I.

The Wildcats have had single digit turnovers in 16 games this season.

“We gutted it out – our upperclassmen gutted the game,” Villanova veteran coach Harry Perretta said afterwards. “Alex did a great job today. We needed a fifth player in the game to play today – we needed one of our younger players to step up and Alex Louin stepped up.

“The most important thing about her is she can almost play every position so we used her at point guard today – we used her at two-guard, we used her at the three. We used her at the four,” he continued.

“It’s nice to have a kid like that who can play multiple positions. It was just nice to have.”

The Wildcats get to rest one day before Xavier visits Sunday at 1 p.m., coming into town fresh off a 60-55 victory at Georgetown in the nation’s capital Friday night to improve to 15-10 overall and 7-7 in the league.

Villanova, picked for third in the preseason, has beaten every Big East team once except Seton Hall, whom the Wildcats visit Feb. 22 and Providence, who visits here Feb. 27.

Sunday’s game, which is also the annual Play-4-Kay event to raise breast cancer awareness in the memory of North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, will be preceded by the annual alumni reunion on the court at 10:30 a.m.

The Wildcats are now just one game behind DePaul (19-7, 11-3), which lost a first-place showdown at home Friday night in Chicago to Seton Hall 81-80 as the Pirates (22-3, 11-2) reclaimed the top spot.

Philadelphia’s Brittnay Hrynko connected with a three-pointer to give the host Demons an 80-79 lead in McGrath-Phillips Arena with 11 seconds left in regulation.

But Seton Hall’s Ka-Diedre Simmons then scored with the final seconds ticking off the clock.

Hrynko, who finished with 29 points, took a desperation heave which bounced off the rim in the final second as DePaul’s six-game win streak came to a half.

Chanise Jenkins had 15 points and eight rebounds while Jessica January and Megan Podkowa each scored 10 points.

Daisha Simmons had 23 points for Seton Hall, while Tabitha Richardson-Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Villanova also stayed a game in front of St. John’s (17-7, 8-5), which moved back into fourth place by using a strong second half to gain a 64-52 win over Marquette (6-19, 2-12) in Milwaukee.

The Red Storm used a 16-0 run to get the job done after the half and Aliyyah Handford had a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds while dealing five assists and grabbing five steals.

Next up for St. John’s is a key visit Sunday to DePaul.

Ivies: Penn Tops Yale While Princeton (22-0) Streak Sets Record

Coach Mike McLaughlin’s group grabbed an important 61-42 victory over Yale (11-10, 5-2 Ivy) Friday night in New Haven, Conn., holding the Bulldogs to a season-low total despite having Sydney Stipanovich held to six points and the Quakers (13-7, 4-2) committing 18 turnovers.

It’s the first time since 2007-08 that the Quakers have won consecutive games at the Lee Ampitheater.

No. 16 Princeton, meanwhile, which is now two games in front of the pack in the loss column of Penn, Princeton and Cornell, prevailed at Brown 86-58.

Two weeks ago further north Penn and Princeton swept Harvard and Dartmouth on the road and the duo can make it another sweep in the lower portion of the region Saturday night when Penn heads to Providence, R.I., to visit Brown at 6 p.m. while the Tigers (22-0, 6-0), the nation’s sole remaining unbeaten Division I team, visits Yale trying to put the Bulldogs three back in the race for their fifth Ivy crown in the last six years.

Though Penn is two games behind its Ivy traveling partner, while helping Princeton put more distance in the front, the Quakers, who are defending Ivy champs, have a great chance to finish second and gain the automatic bid to a berth in the WNIT.

They may also finish with enough cache to be picked as an at-large team by the WNIT folks if they don’t finish second but high enough to be selected..

In the continuing run in the McLaughlin era of great freshmen acquisitions – the program has collected four straight Big 5 rookie of the year honors – Michelle Nwokedi, who was inserted as a starter last Saturday, had 13 points, while Kara Bonenberger had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Kathleen Roche scored 11.

The front court trio of Bonenberger, Nowkedi and Stipanovich combined to 23 of Penn’s dominating 41 rebounds compared to 31 from the Bulldogs.

Yale was led by Nyasha Sardu’s 13 points.

Meanwhile, Princeton, which drew a lot of support on Wednesday from observers when the Tigers were not named one of the Top 20 in the NCAA tournament committee’s first-ever midseason snapshot, continued to treat its Ivy rivals like a snowstorm in Boston.

The 22nd straight win for the Tigers, picked up at Brown’s Pizzitola Sports Center, is now a program record. The previous mark of 21 was set in 2010.

Princeton coach Courtney Banghart, who played at Ivy rival Dartmouth, is three wins short of tying Joan Kowalik for most program triumphs at 163.

Blake Dietrick led five starters in double figures with 18 points, while Annie Tarakchian had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the trio of Michelle Miller, Amanda Berntsten, and Marian Smith each scored 12, and Alex Wheatley had 11 points. Smith’s total was a career high.

Sophie Bykofsky led the Bears with 12. Points.

In the first half, the Tigers shot 59.3 percent in building a 51-31 lead over Brown (9-12, 3-4).

Princeton, whose overall performance at the moment is topped by only the 28-0 start of the 1970-71 Penn men in the combined history of the Ivy men and women, is in contention for one of 16 first-second round hosting sites in the NCAA tournament.

The Tigers could also grab a fifth, sixth or seventh seed, any of which would be best-ever in the Ivies’ participation in the NCAAs, and land a hosting slot if paired opposite Louisville, which was named as a committee midseason Top 20 but cannot host due to a conflict with another event in the Yum Center in Kentucky.

Arizona State was in a similar situation until Thursday when the Pac-12 moved its conference gymnastics tournament from the Sun Devils’ arena to Utah.

Delaware Keeps Rolling

The Blue Hens avenged a game Friday night that got away in their earlier meeting with William & Mary, beating the Tribe 61-56 in a Colonial Athletic Association game in Williamsburg, Va.

It was the fifth-straight win and eighth out of the last 10 games for Delaware (13-11, 8-5 CAA), which had suffered a 59-48 collapse last month to the Tribe (11-13, 5-8) at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The Blue Hens got 22 points from Erika Brown on 8-of-16 points from the field.

Courtni Green added 10 points to the Delaware total, while Hannah Jardine and Makeda Nicholas each scored nine points while Nicholas also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Stephanie Leon, who played in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer League, tied two career marks with nine rebounds and five blocked shots.

William & Mary’s Marlena Tremba scored 19 points and Kyla Kerstetter scored 14.

“This is a huge win,” said veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin, who had been frustrated recently about the inconsistent nature of her players, dominated by a young roster.

“I think we’ve really grown up in the past few weeks. We’ve won five straight and that certainly wouldn’t have happened in the beginning of the year. Kids have stepped up and come to play.”

Leon, a senior who has seen more playing time in recent weeks, said, “I’m becoming more comfortable and confident being able to play this much and being able to to get into the rhythm of what the team is doing.

“I’ve been able to take what I’m seeing on the bench and reacting with that on the floor.”

Jodi Salyer, a red-shirt sophomore, left the game easrly with symptoms of a concussion.

Delaware’s streak will be put to the test Sunday as the Blue Hens visit league-leading James Madison, which is unbeaten in CAA play, at 1 p.m. The game will air on the American Sports Network.

Looking Ahead

In terms of games not already mentioned, on Saturday the Philadelphia W group will celebrate Valentine’s Day with La Salle visiting Richmond in a 4 p.m. game in Atlantic 10 action in Virginia.

The Ivies have been mentioned. Purdue will visit Rutgers at noon in a Big 10 game in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center as the Scarlet Knights seek to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss at No. 5 Maryland, which is unbeaten in the conference.

Temple, having just lost two on the road at Tulane and Tulsa, will try to get a win over Houston in an American Athletic Conference game at 5 p.m. in the Liacouras Center in a game following the red hot Temple men as part of a doubleheader.

The Guru in the afternoon is coming back out to these parts to see a game at Harcum College, a junior college, to fulfill an invite from the coaches before he heads downtown for the Temple game.

On Sunday, Minnesota visits Penn State at 2 p.m. in a Big Ten matchup.

Drexel visits Towson in a CAA game at 2 p.m. in Maryland, while Saint Joseph’s, coming off its first loss to Rhode Island in a decade, hooks up at second-place Dayton at noon in an Atlantic 10 game in Ohio.

A major national game Sunday in the Southeastern Conference has Tennessee hosting Kentucky at 3 p.m.

It’s a light week with no local teams playing Monday. Nationally, in the Big Ten, Maryland visits Michigan State while Duke travels to Notre Dame.

On Tuesday Temple hosts Tulane at 7 p.m. in an American game in McGonigle Hall on ESPN3 while Illinois visits Rutgers at 7 p.m. in the Big Ten.

Wednesday sees an A-10 matchup on Hawk Hill between Saint Joseph’s and George Mason at 7 p.m.

In another A-10 game Thursday Rhode Island visits La Salle at 7 p.m. while Drexel travels to Charleston at 7 p.m. l,ooking for a CAA sweep in the series.

On Friday as the second half of the Ivy schedule kicks into play, Harvard visits Penn on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Palestra while Dartmouth is at Princeton the same time in Jadwin Gym to start the Ivy two-night marathon.

Villanova has a major Big East visit to St. John’s at 7 p.m. looking for a sweep of the Red Storm.

On Saturday besides the flip-flop of Princeton hosting Harvard at 6 p.m. and Penn hosting Dartmouth at 7 p.m., Richmond visits Saint Joseph’s at 2 p.m.

In that Atlantic 10 visit, as was the occurrence when the Spiders visited Penn here last month in a non-conference game, Saint Joseph’s will offer a tribute to Richmond associate head coach Ginny Doyle, a former Arch Bishop Ryan star in Northeast Philadelphia who also starred at Richmond, and operations director Natalie Lewis, who died in the tragic balloon accident that happened near Richmond on May 9 last spring.

And that is the report for now.

The Guru will be back to offer the love on Saturday.

-- Mel.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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