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, July 04, 2016

On the Passing of Pat Summitt: A Guru Event Idea - Bring the WNBA to Knoxville

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

The Fourth of July holiday has been an appropriate date for revolutionary ideas from your Women’s Hoops Guru.

It was 40 years ago today here in America’s Bicentennial capital of Philadelphia that he was wrapping up the finishing touches on how to launch and execute a weekly Top 20 women’s collegiate basketball poll at a time when daily information to be collected to make the rankings viable was in a galaxy far far away.

A kitchen cabinet of coaches who already were or were about to become great in their own careers were part of those early conversations on what would work.

 People like Theresa Grentz, Sue Gunter, Lucille Kyvallos, Louise O’Neal, Cathy Rush, Marynell Meadors, Jody Conradt, and a young newcomer at Tennessee named Pat Head, whose name later through marriage would become Pat Summitt.

In recent years the Guru has worked his ideas behind the scenes before the finished product became public, handing off to the experts who can take the vision, run with the proposal and make it reality. Think WNBA preseason at Delaware, now an annual Elena Delle Donne homecoming event.

But this time on this specific July 4th the Guru is going to do something revolutionary in the process after achieving a better though still not great use of social media. He is coming to you direct first for your feedback or just acceptance.

In the back rooms at ESPN, the NCAA and the WBCA the thinking caps are likely already stirring on what collegiate event or events can honor Summitt, who passed away last Tuesday after her courageous battle against Alzheimer’s disease.

Perhaps the Tennessee-UConn rivalry will be once more. Or for starters a showcase doubleheader at Tennessee may have UConn and Vandy while also Tennessee vs. someone of stature, then renew rivalry following year. 

But the Guru can usually deal with less complexities at times thinking of ideas to light up the WNBA.

And so it was between all his own written tributes to Pat in the newspaper and on this blog in recent days that he began to think what way thanks the populace, especially those of you in Knoxville, who have followed the Guru, how do we create an event like the Jimmy V initiative in the winter to heighten the effort to find a cure for the disease that robbed us of Pat in an untimely manner.

How do we associate more the word life with her rather than what occurred this past week.

And then the lightening bolt struck and here it is:

June 14, also known as Flag Day, is the birthdate of Pat Summitt, the day she became a vibrant member of our planet.

So why not find a presenting sponsor, are you listening corporate America, and on that date play a WNBA Pat Summitt game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville benefitting the Pat Summitt Foundation.

Teams would rotate to participate, though obviously Los Angeles with Candace Parker and another with Tennessee DNA would be in the first one. 

If another sponsor could be found, perhaps the USBWA could move its Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award from the Women’s Final Four to a dinner or luncheon in Knoxville associated with the game,  though just as workable would be moving it to whatever collegiate event honoring Pat’s memory is determined in the winter, unless there will be a bunch like the Play for Kay games honoring the memory of Kay Yow. 

One alternative since it is around that June 14 date is either hold the game  the Thursday before or thefollowing Sunday when it could be part of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction weekend if you like that better.

In staying with the June 14th date, having seen the WNBA schedule in the past, the event could be the official league tipoff game.

Of course this game counts in the standings. Why wouldn’t it?

 The NFL goes to Europe, so has the NBA. The NHL plays the winter game outdoors. And baseball, they’ve gone to Japan and just 24 hours ago Atlanta played Miami at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

You should know that the six WNBA coaching friends the Guru could reach this weekend via dm twitter all came back with a variation of "Get It Done" in short replies.

There will probably be a chance to exchange ideas among the movers and shakers who will be in Knoxville July 14th  for the celebration of life service.

  So that’s it. 

To get the conversation going and keeping it in one place on twitter, the Guru’s twitter handle is @womhoopsguru and we will use the hashtag  #AllinforWNBAKnoxville 

Thanks for stopping by.

-- Mel

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