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.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: South Carolina Gets to the Point and Shreds UT

By MIke Siroky


South Carolina ended the discussion for this season as to who is best in the Southeastern Conference of women's basketball with a convincing drubbing traditional power Tennessee, 62-46, Sunday afternoon in Little Rock, Arkansas.

It is SC's first-ever league tournament title.

It completes the regular-season sweep of the Lady Vols, much improved over just a week ago when they won close at home to claim a co-championship.

This win assures the Gamecocks are a No. 1 in a national seed, probably the third of the No. 1s, with UT stilI contention to be the fourth with Maryland, who held off Ohio State to join the 1999 Purdue Boilermakers as the only two conference teams in the Big Ten to go unbeaten in regular season play and the conference tournament.

UConn will undoubtedly win the American Athletic Conference Monday night and Notre Dame repeated as Atlantic Coast Conference champs and will lead the NCAA No. 1s into play.

If UT falls to a No. 2, what does it matter ? The No. 2s still have to beat the No. 1s to get to a Final Four, which has been absent an SEC team far too long.

Used to be, under the demonic reign of UT coach Pat Head Summitt, if you lasted four seasons with her, you got into at least one Final Four and started as well. Them days are gone forever.

UT and SC were each No. 1s last season and watched the title game on campus.

All the hullabaloo about a top seed is just bragging rights and copy for next season's program guidebook.

In the here and now, the Tiffany program of the league also has the best point guard in Tiffany Mitchell, the two-time player of the year in conference.

UT coach Holly Warlick won't admit it, but the former All-American point guard -- in the women's basketball Hall of Fame because of that -- needs one of those right now.

What Warlick has is senior Ariel Massengale, silent the first time against SC and quieter still on Sunday.

Against really good teams, she slips into the shadows.

She scored nothing in her 26 minutes Sunday.

Mitchell led all scorers with 17, with seven rebounds and 5-of-5 from the line, a day after scoring but five in the semifinal.

She is the tournament MVP.

That is the dfference in these teams this season.

Help plays next season in Knoxville with All-Americna transfer Diamond DeShields eligible, having had this whole season as a practice squad player to learn the system.

But the point guard legacy at Tennesee is interrupted. And the start of another team's legacy has started in its absence.

Tennessee lost its leading scorer and rebounder, Izzy Harrison, to a career-ending ACL tear.

Lady Vols forward Bashaara Graves is capable of filling the role, but Sunday played less than five minutes in the first half after two early fouls.

The Gamecocks were establishing the game as theirs then.

SC Coach Dawn Staley has always said Tennessee is the team to beat in conference.

The Lady Vols and Summitt won the first 40 tries in the series,

With 29 wins and more to come, she said, ""It feels pretty good to be where we are today, because we still feel every bit of seven years ago, six years ago, when we just trying to jumpstart the program.

"These are the times which we looked forward to, envisioned, sitting here today being SEC Tournament champions."

It was Jordan Reynolds with 17 points leading the Lady Vols' lowest point total in tournament history.

"We missed easy shots, we missed layups, we missed free throws," Warlick said. "Our margin for error against South Carolina is very small, and you've got to make shots that are around the basket, and we didn't."

After trailing by five points in the first half, South Carolina regained the lead with a 10-0 run later that started in the first half and ended in the second,

How's that for consistency.?

"It gave us a lot of confidence going into halftime, to be able to go on that run," SC senior forward Aleighsa Welch said.

"The energy was up in the locker room, there was a lot more talking and I think it fed into the second half."

Tennessee senior leader Cierra Burdick said, "I commend them for the run that they made. Once they made it, we couldn't really get it back and that's what hurt us."

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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