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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

USBWA Women's Finalists and Ballot Set

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Voting is under way as of Monday with a Sunday deadline for members to choose postseason women's honors from the United States Basketball Writers Association.

The way the ballot is set is in a new format so for the first time the player of the year will be a choice from six finalists headed by Breena Stewart of UConn., who would make USBWA women's history with a third straight Ann Meyers-Drysdale player of the year.

There are also eight finalists for freshman of the year, all of whom were their conference winners, though, unlike the weekly awards, that was not a launch requirement, it just evolved that way.

Also, a name has been put forward to the full board for approval and if it gets a positive response, that name will go on the freshman of the year award beginning next season with the naming announcement to be made at the women's awards press conference, Sunday, April 3, 3 pm in the NCAA Arena  interview room.

There are no finalists for coach of the year but spots allow for three names to be listed and a 3-2-1 point system will be used in the voting.

Unlike the men's format, the women's vote for 10 All-Americans one team is wide open and slots exist to allow for as many from each voter and all entries will be one point each so there will be no ranking order.

If it is very close at the bottom between last in and first out ala bubble teams the Guru will consult with his kitchen cabinet in the association to set the final list.

Here are the six Ann Meyers-Drysdale Women's Player of the year finalists in alphabetical order.

Rachel Banham, Minnesota
Moriah Jefferson, Connecticut
Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Breena Stewart, Connecticut
A'ja Wilson, South Carolina

Here are the eight freshman finalists in no particular order.

Sophie Cunningham, Missouri SEC 6-1 guard, Columbia, Mo.
Jessica Shepard, Nebraska Big 10 6-4 forward, Freemont, Neb.
Kristine Anigwe, California, Pac-12 forward-center 6-5 phoenix
Jessica Kovatch, Saint Francis, Pa., Northeast 5-9 guard, Phillipsburg, N.J.
Allazia Blockton, Marquette, Big East, 6-0 guard Milwaukee
Stephanie Watts, North Carolina, ACC, 5-11 Guard. Wesley Chapel, N.C.
Kitija Laksa, South Florida, American, 5-0 forward. Riga, Latvia

So far at the awards presentation either given or announced, the program calls for

The WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award -- Brenda VanLengen
The Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year -- Announced and given
The Mary Jo Haverbeck Award -- Caroline Williams, USA Basketball
The coach of the year -- Announced and given
The Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award -- Danielle O'Banion, past head coach Kent State
All-American winners will be announced in advance and re-mentioned
One or more but not many more items currently being determined.

The event is open to all WF4 credentialed media, while friends  and family and associates of the winners can get access through a special list by either sending me a note, or through your winners who will forward them over.

That's it for now.

-- Mel

Tynice Martin, West Virginia, 5-10 guard, Atlanta, Ga.