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.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Chamique Holdsclaw, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson and Camden’s Val Still Named Among WBHOF Class of 2018 Finalists

By Mel Greenberg (@womhoopsguru)

Past Olympic gold medalists Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw, Ohio State’s Katie Smith, Texas’ Tina Thompson and Russia’s Yelena Baranova, along with two more former U.S. collegiate stars in Kentucky’s Val Still, who played at Cherry Hill East in suburban Philadelphia, and Auburn’s Vickie Orr, a member of the 1992 Olympic bronze medalists, compromise six of the ten-member group of finalists for the 2018 induction class to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.

Thompson, Smith and Holdsclaw are finalists in their first year of eligibility.

Baranova was on the then-Unified Team after the breakup of the Soviet Union that upset Orr’s USA squad in the 1992 semi finals in Barcelona, Spain, on the way to a gold medal. The USA team has won every Olympics since then. 

Additionally, former Colorado and Kentucky coach Ceal Barry is the coaching category entry while in a new category listed as assistant coach/contributors are longtime Connecticut aide Chris Dailey to Geno Auriemma, and LSU assistant Mickie DeMoss, who served long stints at Tennessee under the late Pat Summitt and assisted several other programs including the WNBA Indiana Fever while also holding head coaching positions at Florida and Kentucky.

The other entry under the veteran/contributor category is longtime high school coach Rose Marie Battaglia, who had as one of her players at Paramus Catholic in North Jersey, Hall of Famer Anne Donovan. She also coached Bergen Community to four NJCAA Final Fours in her 38 years of coaching.

Baranova and Battaglia were also finalists a year ago when the WBHOF made its first-ever finalists announcement. The current group were announced Thursday night at halftime during ESPN’s Atlantic Coast Conference and national showdown telecast between No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Louisville.

Of the six players, all but Orr played in the WNBA and Smith is the new coach of the New York Liberty, which had Baranova on their inaugural roster in 1997 when the pro league began. Thompson and Smith were also on WNBA championship squads.

The class will be announced February 12 along with this year’s trailblazer honoree team, then brought to the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, with the induction to be held June 9 in Knoxville.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Hall.

A source familiar with the election process by the board, which names the finalists and eventual inductees, said that a range of 4-7 individuals could make the final cut from the ten announced candidates.

The source said the assistant coaching category was new and created to honor those individuals who served long stints either through their entire careers or a large portion of their careers in coaching.

Still had was born in Camden, N.J., and currently lives in nearby Palmyra, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia and is the first female to have her number retired at Kentucky, where she was an All-American in 1982 and 1983.

She also played on the two championship teams of the Columbus Quest in the short-lived existence of the American Basketball League.

Holdsclaw is the all time leading scorer and rebounder at Tennessee, being part of three NCAA championships, and was the number one overall draft pick of the Washington Mystics in 1999.

Smith led Ohio State as a freshman to the NCAA semifinals.

Dailey, who played at Rutgers, is part of a record NCAA championships having been hired by Auriemma when he became head coach.

Barry’s overall coaching record is 510-284 in 26 seasons with 12 NCAA appearances, three at the Elite Eight level of the tournament and three more to make six at the Sweet 16.




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