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.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Saint Joseph’s Avery Marz Is the USBWA 2018 Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award Recipient

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

This is the text making the announcement on Hawk Hill in Philadelphia of recovered stroke victim Avery Marz, a Saint Joseph’s senior, as the 2018 United States Basketball Writers Association Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award recipient to be presented at the Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio. Full release later tonight and believe we will have vidseo at some point. 

You first read about her in AP National Women’s Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg’s story last month.

Thank you and thanks to everyone here for poviding a venue to take care of business right here in town and not have  to do it elsewhere.

As many of you know, this game and my involvement with it over time has resulted in wearing several hats — some of which you know one being at the Inquirer from the time that typewriters came to an end and continuing through many technologies — some of which had their share of nightmares.

And most of the Hawks know as a benefit of my escape to independence in 2010, it enabled me to ramp up and begin covering many of you in the summer league and I think commissioner david kessler is here and if not now was intending to come.

And there is a national hat being women’s rep and coordinator of the United States Basketball Writers Association — meaning i get to organize and emcee our awards press conference at the Women’s Final Four, this year in Columbus, O., but also the whole process which also includes our ongoing national players and freshmen of the week.

While it is true many of our awards don’t come into focus until March since they are based on season performance, we have others many of which we began putting names on such as the Ann Meyers Drysdale national player of the year, the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, which speaks for itself, and the Mary Jo Haverbeck Award, which goes to someone in collegiate dept. publications helpful to the membership.

And there are others that come along such as community service — and certainly St. Joseph’s, Drexel and everyone in this area has done their share to garner special attention.

And while you all see the end game, since i have a reputation for springing surprises with the announcement part, you have no idea how many hoops, pardon the expression, must be jumped behind the scenes.

I think part of this comes from ways Coach Summitt loved nailing me with surprises during our long relationship.

But doing this requires a lot of moving parts, for example several years ago it involved picking the right moment to break the word to USA Basketball media liaison Caroline Williams and what we did was at a USA Olympic practice she was overseeing, the team was called into a circle, I started to talking like i was about to name a player and then I switched to Caroline to break it to her she was our winner.

Many of you saw the TV coverage when coach Summitt made a surprise appearance to help  give the award to the late Lauren Hill.

And last year I lost three weeks of my life which i’ll never see again trying to surprise Appalachian State coach Angel Elderkin through a skype presentation, citing her battle with cancer while continuing to coach, and also dealing with ESPN to break the news to Holly Rowe, who also has been battling the disease.

I think at one point I looked up and said to the sky — Yo, can you make this easy one year. And sure enough I got an answer, which has already been shared with most but not everyone of you.

And so to spring the latest surprise and for the first time a local mix for me out of the Philadelphia Belles, the Atlantic 10, the Big 5, and most importantly, in this room, for her act of courage to embrace her love of the game, recovering from the stroke that sidelined her for two seasons, I’m pleased to announce the 2018 USBWA Pat Summitt Most Courageous winner, give it up for Saint Joseph’s Avery Marz.

Now Avery this is just the announcement so you only need to say a few sentences if you want to react and you have until the end of March to prepare your acceptance speech. And we can take some pictures. 

And while the media covering the championship gets instant access thru their credential, the NCAA allows me to compile a list of friends, family, teammates, to get a special pass to the press conference.

Right now we are looking at 3 p.m. the Friday several hours before the national semifinals in the arena and we have time before nailing down the precise moments since dealing with the NCAA always involves flex.

Last year i had to tear up half the script ten minutes before we began to re-shuffle the order of who to call up first but  for now understand this is the most prestigious of all our awards.

And I can tell you that after the national AP story on Avery from my friend Doug Feinberg got out there, I quickly began receiving emails from around the country, are you considering  ... and replied already on the case. 

 Now I know there’s a game to be played so back to you all and the normal business at hand.