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.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Crenshaw Promoted to Succeed Andy Landers at Georgia
Assistant coach Joni Crenshaw, a member of the Georgia staff for the past four seasons, including the last three as associate head coach, has been named the Lady Bulldogs' new head coach.
Her choice was likely directed by outgoing coach Andy Landers and makes sense. It helps fans buy into continuity and the players certainly know the coach who recruited them. She has seen the success and -- this past season – what a key injury can do to wreck one.
The program considered assistants at several other schools – including Final Four teams from the most-recent tournament.
"After a national search, it became evident that Joni was the perfect person to lead our program," McGarity said. "Joni brings the intangibles that parallel success – character, experience and a tireless energy to lead our program. We are confident she will do a tremendous job leading Georgia basketball into the future."
"I am extremely honored to be the next coach at Georgia," Crenshaw said. "I want to thank President Morehead, Greg and Carla for trusting me with the program.
Crenshaw sports 13 seasons of coaching experience at the Division I level, the last seven within the Southeastern Conference.
During each of those coaching stops, Crenshaw has displayed the ability to both sign premier prospects and then help those recruits develop into highly successful players.
In the Lady Bulldogs' four signing classes since Crenshaw's arrival, Georgia's 16 scholarship newcomers arrived on campus with a combined 18 high school state titles. That group also featured seven standouts ranked among the nation's top 100 prospects and included a quartet of state Player of the Year honorees.
Crenshaw helped Alabama and LSU land Top 5 individual prospects in the classes of 2010 and 2011, respectively, and also spearheaded the Crimson Tide’s recruiting class for 2010 that ranked among the nation’s top 10.
"Georgia Basketball is in great hands," Landers said. "Coach Crenshaw is a person who has deep-rooted values and morals, which are two of the cornerstones of Georgia Basketball's success.
Crenshaw herself was a highly sought after basketball prospect. She was the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year for Mississippi after leading Meridian High to a 67-7 record during her junior and senior seasons. She also won three state titles in track and field and was selected as the school’s Homecoming Queen.
At Alabama, Crenshaw was a significant contributor to four teams that reached post-season play – the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Tournaments and the 2000 and 2001 WNITs. She was a two-year starter and scored 716 points, grabbed 555 rebounds and blocked 103 shots, which is No. 4 among the Tide’s career leaders.
Crenshaw was a standout off the basketball court. She was recognized as one of the most influential African Americans on the Alabama campus in 2001, was named to the SEC’s Community Service team for women’s basketball in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and was awarded a post-graduate scholarship from the SEC for her community service record. She received her bachelor's degree in Education from Alabama in 2002.
And here’s a nice competition idea: She is engaged to marry Darius Taylor, an assistant coach for the South Carolina women's basketball team. Their wedding is Aug. 1.
She replaces, of course, the venerable Landers, who came to Georgia in 1979.
For our original report on his retirement: http://womhoops.blogspot.com/2015/03/mike-sirokys-sec-commentary-legendary.html
The other assistant coaches, Rob Mosely and Angie Johnson (each with three seasons) seem assured of remaining in staff.
Among the returning player are a freshman and sophomore class from this year which are a solid foundation.
Landers started playing more and more of them as the season deconstructed so all have plenty of playing time in the toughest conference is America.
The seniors will be Schacobia Barbee, Tiaria Griffin (11.4 points per game, started all 30 games), Merritt Hempe (7.5) and Marjorie Butler (4.8, started 27 games) and seldom-used Terryuana Godwin.
It was the loss of Barbee to a season-ending injury – a right leg bone break -- with nine games to go, that really doomed the season. The team leader averaged 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds game.
The ‘Dawgs lost all direction after that, losing eight of the last nine in the regular season after starting the year in the Top 25. She was second-team all-conference her sophomore season.
The new juniors are Hannahkohl Almire and Halle Washington.
The sophomores will be Haley Clark, Jasmine Carter, Krista Oliver and all-SEC freshman Mackenzie Engram (7.9, with 20 starts).
Non-roster players who will become eligible are 6-3 Samantha Gloddis, Sydnei McCaskill and Jasmine Carter and Nasheema Oliver
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
UConn Wins 10th Title Beating Notre Dame As Huskies Coach Auriemma Catches Wooden
Monday, April 06, 2015
NCAA Women: Notre Dame Edges South Carolina While UConn Tops Maryland To Set Up Title Rematch
Sunday, April 05, 2015
Staley Didn't Build Temple and South Carolina in a Day But Build Them She Did
TAMPA, Florida – Back in her playing days at Virginia, the future Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, reared in urban Philadelphia near Temple University, often battled with creaky knees while becoming one of the all-time point guards in the game.
While several times her knees were operated on to ease the aches and pains, her trainer Sue Foreman, talked about Staley’s resiliency.
“Everything is a challenge,” the trainer said. “One thing is you can’t do is tell Dawn she can’t do anything. You tell her she will be out ten says, she’s back in four, and lots of other things.”
That was in the early 1990s.
A decade later, Temple officials used reverse logic to pursue her to become a coach of a program that was a doormat.
Staley, who also played for the prestigious Philadelphia Belles AAU team, had no interest in coaching and was ready to say nada for the last and final time when the late Owls athletic director Dave O’Brien then appealed to her competitive sensitives – tell her she was afraid of the challenge, she had fear of failing.
That’s all she had to hear.
Staley accepted and it seemed like all she had to do was wave a magic wand and a decade of losing came to an end and Temple was on the way to becoming nationally relevant.
Then in the Spring of 2008, she sought a new challenge, taking a moribund South Carolina program to try and make it competitive in the rugged Southeastern Conference.
Three times as a player she had been to a Final Four, and as a national player of the year in two of those, but the quest fell short and when the curtain came down it was total devastation.
Matters weren’t helped several months later when she was the last cut for the 1992 Olympic team to compete alongside the men’s Dream team.
But after becoming a coach, the disappointment replaced by international and professional success, Staley thought she would return to a Final Four and live the triumph through her players.
She is here for the first time in that role and while Connecticut is a prohibitive favorite to make it three straight, Staley is striking a balance in letting her Gamecocks enjoy the moment but not get carried away from the task at hand.
The way the tournament has played out, there is a safety valve to block thoughts of playing UConn, and that is Sunday night’s opponent in Notre Dame before the Huskies meet Maryland.
Staley talked at Saturday afternoon’s press conferences in Amalie Arena a little about what it took to get both programs back on track.
“What you had to do was change the culture,” Staley said. “You had to get your players to stop thinking about where they’re going to spend spring break besides in the gym prepping for postseason play.
“I was fortunate in that our Temple players bought into that right away, right away. Instantly, we hit the ground running, and it pretty much was a success story,” she continued.
“And then you move to a place like South Carolina where it was very similar, but the players don’t catch on. They really didn’t catch on to doing the things they needed to do to change the culture and love basketball in the way that they probably should love basketball.”
While those initial Gamecock players are long gone from the court, they’ve come to see what Staley was talking about.
“They understand what we asked them to do a lot more because they stayed around our program. They’ve been a very good support system for us, and they’ll be in town sometime this weekend to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
A year after the testy dust up between Notre Dame and Philly-bred coach Muffet McGraw and Philly-bred Geno Auriemma of Connecticut in the title game showdown battle of the unbeatens won by the Huskies, we now have a Staley vs. McGraw Philly special in the semifinals before Connecticut and Maryland play the nightcap.
Incidentally, Staley is on Auriemma’s USA Olympic staff for Brazil and was part of the contingent with La Salle grad Cheryl Reave that also had Chicago’s Doug Bruno, who also coaches DePaul.
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Thursday, April 02, 2015
Guru's Musings: Random Thoughts and Some WF4 Items
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Mike Siroky's SEC/NCAA Report: A Balanced Final Four But The End For Tennessee
With Tennessee losing an NCAA Regional for the second straight elimination season to Maryland, 58-48, on Monday night, it left the seeding committee in OK mode, all four top seeds advancing and little shown to suggest anyone can stop UConn from another title.
As we first wrote, UConn also has enough playing talent for next season as well.
Besides that, the three national conferences – Southeastern, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast – are all represented.
When all was done and said, Tennessee finished right where the national AP poll had them at the start, fifth in the nation.
They finished their Elite Game hitting one of their final 11 shots; Maryland needed only to hit free throws to put it away.
In the final game, according to coach Holly Warlick, “We just wore out Just congratulations to Maryland.”
As she exits college, senior Cierra Burdick took pride in the defense, holding a team averaging 80 to 58.
“You know, I think we did well on the defensive side of things,” she said. “They're a team that averages 80 plus points. That's something they lay their hat on is pushing the tempo and running every single possession.
“So I think we did a decent job on that end of the floor. But we couldn't get stops when we needed them in the crunch time and on the offensive end we just couldn't get in a flow. We couldn't get baskets to drop.
“ I don't know. The ball just wouldn't drop. We let the ball get stuck in our hands a couple times and I had a lot of turnovers. Just couldn't get in a flow.”
Indeed Tennessee only had 21 points at the half, the third-worst start this season.
Maryland had 22, its worst.
Despite all that, Burdick did have the last real shot of the game, an attempted 3 which would have tied it with 42 seconds left. Maryland hit 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute.
Speaking of free throws Tennessee was sent to the line just once.
A game after hitting 21-of-22 they were 0-of-1.
Warlick did the smart thing and declined to comment on that.
It is another NCAA tournament record though not one likely to make the media guide.
UT was outstandingly bad from distance. Burdick’s missed 3 left the team 4-of-22 on 3s. And there was that 1-of-11 from the field to close the game.
“I don't know what was going through my mind,” Burdick said of that final career shot. “I just knew we were down three. Looking back on it, I probably should have driven to the basket. So I didn't play well for my team tonight and if I could take it back, I would.”
Warlick said her four graduating seniors – everyone who plays four years at UT graduates – are “. . . Just outstanding young women. Their academics are, don't have to worry about them academically. They do a lot in the community. So, they're just solid kids. They're the type of kids we want at Tennessee.
“They were thrown into situations when they were very young, and they had to deal with a lot of things. And I think they have just handled everything that's been thrown at them.
"And they have got great character outside of being great basketball players.
“So, gosh, from that standpoint, I know we'll miss their athletic being on the basketball team, but just what they stand for off the court.”
“ It was a physical game and we had our chances.
“And this team, I mean, we just had to overcome a lot of obstacles and this team has really hung together and they're a very close knit team and just really, really proud of them.
“You got to go back to work and you got to go back to work we'll take some time off and then we'll go back to work.
“That's what you do. There's only going to be one team, one set of players, one set of coaches that are going to be happy next week. Just one.
“So, we're not going to stop saying that's our goal, because it is. We're just going to continue to try to get better and just try to keep pushing forward and try to stay healthy and reach our goal as I think we can.”
We were the only reporting group in America to pick UT to win the regular-season in the Southeastern Conference. They tied with South Carolina in the old-school race, the entirety of the season, then SC broke the tie in the regular season escape.
The same will happen in the coming season. UT and SC were the only conference teams to go undefeated at home. The rematch in the next regular season is at UT.
So UT was back to a No. 2 and got the best draw by being scheduled against the last of the No. 1s.
A late-season career-ending ACL tear to team leader in scoring and heart, Izzy Harrison realistically doomed any chance of a national title.
It would also have been a tough go by being in the bracket opposite UConn in the national semifinals.
Warlick has brought her first three teams to the Sweet 16 and this one to the Elite Eight.
As a measure of respect, simply by inheriting a team from a legend and being in the most-competitive conference in the land, those accomplishments are merely the expected ones.
In any other conference, there would be more institution support and pay raises.
Instead, she is in a firestorm waiting for Pat Head Summitt’s long shadow to extend as she finishes her battle against early-onset Alzheimer’s and a university which will end the Lady Vol brand (already for basketball only) when that happens.
In case anyone doubts Lady Vols could last past Summitt’s existence, remember the first person to wear a Lady Vol uniform was a lone track NCAA middle distance runner and the first women’s team to win an NCAA national title was outdoor track and field.
So it is not even historically tied into hoops.
The tradition does cut both ways. Already on campus and working with the team all season is 6-1 All-American point guard transfer Diamond Deshield and 6-6 redshirt center Mercedes Russell.
Tennessee is the only university to list these redshirts on their NCAA playoff roster this season, even though they obviously would not play.
They might have made a difference in the finale.
Russell endeared herself to her teammates in this playoff run when her family hosted the team at Spokane. They are from Springfield, Oregon.
She had corrective surgery in both feet.
As a rookie, she played in every game and was the fourth-leading rebounder (5.0.) and seventh-best scorer (6.3), averaging 18.5 minutes.
She hit double figures nine times and had 10 or more rebounds twice, while making 60 percent of her shots in the first 18 games. She was 6-of-8 from the field against Georgia Tech, and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.
In the Lady Vols’ SEC tournament over Texas A&M, she was 4-of-4 from the field and 3-of-3 from the line, with six rebounds and matched that against Missouri.
Once the NCAA playoffs began, she led UT in the opener scoring, 5-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. She shot 77.8 percent from the field in that NCAA run.
DeShields averaged 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game as the national consensus freshmen player of the year, the first time a UConn rookie did not win in several seasons.
She was an honorable mention All-American by AP and the WBCA.
It is not clear if she qualifies for league rookie of the year competition.
For comparison’s sake, any player in his first year of Major League Baseball is eligible irregardless of age or play in another country’s game.
Her freshman records in the original conference include All-ACC First Team and All-Freshman Team after setting four ACC freshman marks, including most points (648), field goals (248), field goals attempted (582) and double-figure scoring games (32).
She shot 42.6 percent from the field and 77.6 percent from the line.
Her lineage includes the accomplishments of her mom, Tisha a track & field All-American in the heptathlon as a freshman at Tennessee in 1991. Her dad, Delino, spent 13 seasons playing Major League Baseball and now manages Pensacola's minor league team, while her brother, Delino Jr. was selected by the Houston Astros with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft and is working his way through the minor leagues.
She had No. 10 all to herself his season at Tennessee, but will inherit No. 11 now that Cierra Burdick is done with it.
Her UT lineage includes playing on world age-group championship teams for Basketball USA while being coached both times by Lady Vol Hall of Famer Jill Rankin (Schneider).
This article concludes the focus on SEC women’s basketball until summer excursions and the start of next season.
Mel Greenberg will take us through the Final Four.
The same top teams – South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State – will be the upper tier of next season, with Ole Miss likely to ascend to the second tier of the SEC.
It has been a fun year.
Thanks for reading.
" Dulcius ex aspirus"
It's a nice day to read
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