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.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Rob Knox's Division III Report: Main Line Neighbors Eastern and Cabrini Are Nationally Ranked

By Rob Knox (@knoxrob1)

Two schools separated by Eagle Road in the Philadelphia western suburbs near the Main Line.

Two hidden treasures neatly tucked away in secluded areas and surrounded by lots of trees in the shadow of Philadelphia and the Big Five.

Two nationally-ranked Division III women’s basketball programs.

Eastern University (20-4 overall) and Cabrini College (22-3) are next door neighbors that are basketball goliaths in what is developing into a special season for both programs.

In the latest D3hoops.com Top 25 poll, Cabrini is ranked 22nd while Eastern is 23rd.

It’s a treat for area basketball fans in the Womhoopsguru coverage area to see these two programs enjoy this level of success.

For Eastern, the national recognition is something different and unique.

Meanwhile, for Cabrini, a veteran of consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearances, a national ranking is nothing new.

These are fun times to be a fan of Philadelphia-area small college basketball as several teams on the Division II level (University of the Sciences, Philadelphia University, West Chester and The Lincoln University) are enjoying memorable years.

In a region that is synonymous with the growth of women’s basketball, what with Immaculata winning the first three AIAW championships, Eastern and Cabrini are enjoying their status as a pair of elite programs.

“It’s really cool,” Eastern coach Nate Davis said of both teams being nationally-ranked. “We have a lot of mutual respect for each other.

"To see them having success this year and then for us to be able to join the crowd a little bit is nice.

"Growing up in Pennsylvania and knowing the tradition of the Philadelphia-area as far as basketball is concerned, we’re happy to be talked about in the same conversation and represent the area. It’s pretty neat.”

Cabrini coach Kate Pearson grew up in Springfield and played on many successful high school teams under Kim Smith before staring at the University of Scranton.

She learned the coaching ropes while working as an assistant coach under former Cabrini College coach Bobbi Morgan, who is now at Haverford College.

Pearson’s mission was to keep Cabrini among the region’s elite when she was hired as head coach six years ago. Mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, Davis inherited an Eastern program that had experienced little success before his arrival.

In five seasons under Davis, the Eagles have had four winning seasons and won 77 games.

In the 18 years prior, Eastern had two winning seasons. Davis was confident he could build the Eastern program into one that could compete for Freedom Conference championships and possibly beyond.

“It’s a really neat thing,” Pearson said. “(Davis) is a good guy. He’s done a great job and they have had a lot of success.

"This has always been a great area for basketball between high school, and small colleges.

"The Big Five is something really unique to college basketball. Sometimes it can be difficult to compete with, but I think it also helps because there’s a lot of local high school talent to go around.

"I know growing up in this area gave me an opportunity to be exposed to as a coach and it helped me as a player.”

The respective rosters of each team reflect a distinct Philadelphia-region flavor as 18 players between the two schools call the Delaware Valley home.

Like mirror images of one another, both teams have played challenging non-conference schedules including the season-opening game against each other, won by Eastern, 72-61.

Both teams have gotten the best of its opponents this season with multifaceted and unselfish offensive approaches, tenacious defense and a swagger second to none.

Both teams have more weapons at their disposal than the Department of Defense.

Cabrini opened the season with consecutive 11-point losses before finding its groove and winning 22 of its next 23 games.

The only setback was a 56-55 loss to No. 1-ranked and undefeated Thomas More.

The Cavs weren’t satisfied with coming close in that game. They exited the court believing they should have won that contest.

With a steeled resolve and belief that they can compete against anybody in the country, the Cavs haven’t lost since, winning 16 straight.

Despite losing four seniors, including three four-year starters, the Cavs have been motivated to advance deeper into the NCAA tournament after last season’s heartbreaking second round overtime loss to Montclair State.

While Amber Keys, a Phoenixville High product, is Cabrini’s only double-digit scorer at 17.9 points per game, the Cavs have gotten contributions from nearly everybody on their experienced roster this season.

Including Keys, Cabrini has seven players averaging at least six points per game: Megan Decker (9.8 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game), Dana Peterson (8.2), Erin Dodds (7.8), Kristina Startare (6.8), Tayler Holmes (6.5) and Meghan Horne (6.5).

The Cavs have excelled defensively, permitting a measly 47.7 points per game this season, which is fourth nationally.

“That’s not the way we wanted to start the season,” Keys said. “We knew could bounce back from those games because there was a lot of basketball remaining.

"'Coach' has high expectations for us and the sky is the limit. We believe we can do anything. We definitely want to get to the Sweet 16 this year and advance further. It’s definitely something we talked about in the beginning of the season.”

At the start of the season, Eastern wasn’t talking Sweet 16. The Eagles just wanted to build off of last year’s successful season.

They caught the attention of the nation when they defeated then No. 1-ranked and reigning national champion FDU-Florham in an overtime classic two weeks ago, ending the Devils 53-game winning streak.

Since then, the bar has been raised for Eastern as it has the opportunity to do something special.

Already the Eagles have set a program record for wins in a season with 20 and they are nationally-ranked for the first time ever.

"Beating FDU-Florham was good and a big win for us,” Davis said. “It was good for the ladies to get the validation of the work they put into the season so far.

"The players believed that becoming a nationally-ranked team could be done. We felt good about this year. I told the team that every year is their year to make the most of it. This is their opportunity to make it happen.”

Senior Meghan Nowak, a legit national Division III Player of the Year candidate, has 13 double-doubles this season and 43 in her storied career. Nowak also leads the Freedom Conference in scoring, averaging 20.2 points per game.

Senior Kaitlyn Dougherty just scored her 1,000th career point last weekend at Manhattanville.

Sophomore Emily Lavin turns games into her personal block parties minus the music and food. She is ninth nationally in blocked shots per game (3.26). Seniors Gina DiDomenico averages 11 points per game.

Eastern has succeeded by sharing the ball as it has recorded an assist on 66.3 percent of its baskets this season.

What unites these two programs aside from their location is the mutual respect they have for one another. Both programs play hard, graduate its student-athletes, represent their schools and the sport in the manner it deserves.

From speaking with a few of the players, it’s clear the team comes first. All egos are checked at the door when practice or a game begins.

There may have been two nationally-ranked Division III teams from the Philadelphia-area at the same time, but never like this in which fans can literally walk across the street to see two of the best young coaches, players and elite programs in the country.

Both Cabrini and Eastern could host conference playoff games next week.

That would be a great opportunity to get out and watch Eastern and Cabrini, two hidden treasures in our backyard.

“It’s amazing,” Keys said. “Eastern deserves a lot of credit on their season so far. Like us, they have worked so hard. It’s nice to be recognized outside of where our schools are located.

"It’s a great feeling to know that I have been part of something amazing here at Cabrini. We have a bunch of players who love the game so much and they will lay everything on the line.

"I’ll miss the stuff that happens off the court. I love playing with my team during practices and games. The traveling, 2.5-hour bus rides and staying in hotels, I am going to miss that the most.”

Who knows what the future holds, but if Eastern and Cabrini make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament, a bus ride may not be required for a historic rematch.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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شركة كشف تسربات المياه بجدة
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالطائف
شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض
شركة عزل اسطح بالرياض
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالخرج

2:43 AM  

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