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, November 29, 2010

Delle Donne Update: Still Waiting

By Mel Greenberg

Delaware is still waiting to hear from doctors if sophomore star Elena Delle Donne will be given medical clearance to play with the Blue Hens (5-0) Wednesday night when they host defending Ivy champion Princeton (3-2) in a key non-conference game at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The Tigers beat Delaware in Princeton early last season when Delle Donne began her collegiate career and finished earning both top rookie and top player honors in the Colonial Athletic Association.

No one was available to the Guru for comment Monday on Delle Donne's condition, though perhaps the local Wilmington News Journal might have learned something since she removed herself six minutes into Sunday's win here in town at La Salle.

Afterwards, Blue Hens veteran coach Tina Martin said Delle Donne had been extremely tired, had been taking medication and was expected to see doctors on Monday to determine the cause of her condition.

Delle Donne, the 2008 high school player of the year out of Ursuline Academy in nearby Wilmington, Del., didn't score and looked sluggish against the Explorers.

She entered the game with a 34.2 points scoring average and though her brief appearance caused her average to plunge to 27.4 she was still the nation's leading scorer in Division I off the weekly statistics report that was transmitted Monday by The Associated Press.

With no more to report on Delle Donne's health issue, at the moment, the Guru moves to the original intent of this posting, which is the appearance of local teams and individuals in the statistical rankings with a few national mentions tossed in.

Delle Donne in the individual scoring category is just ahead of another CAA star: James Madison senior Dawn Evans, who is listed at 26.6 The duo are ahead of Connecticut senior Maya Moore (26.0), likely the national player of the year a second time and most likely the No. 1 pick in the next WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx.

There are a million ways to continue this drill so the Guru will take the easiest, which is just going category-by-category off the notes he made gleaning the AP report.

In terms of fewest team turnovers per game, Marist, which beat Villanova out on the Main Line Sunday at the Pavilion, leads the category at 9.6, ahead of UConn, the nation's No. 1 team whose women's record win streak is now at 84. The Huskies are second with 11.7 turnovers. Villanova is eighth at 13.7; Temple is 16th at 14.5; Drexel, which is in a lot of categories after a 4-0 start against Big 5 schools, is 19th at 14.8; and La Salle is also in the group at 15.0

St. Joseph's, which visits defending Patriot League champion Lehigh Tuesday at noon in Bethlehem is 14th in defending three-point shots with opponents shooting a poor .222 percent against the Hawks from beyond the arc.

North Carolina leads the nation in team scoring with a 91.9 average, while Penn State, off to a hot start in offense, is 10th with an 85.1 average.

In terms of rebounding differential, Delaware is tied for fifth with St. John's, holding a 17.0 advantage against opponents off the glass.

When it comes to fewest fouls committed, Drexel is tied for seventh with Navy at 13 per game, St. Joseph's and Rutgers are further down the category.

Villanova leads the nation in foul shooting, making 56-0f-64 for an .875 average. Drexel, which beat the Wildcats Friday at home for the first time in two meetings, is 18th, shooting 33-for-42 for a .786 average on free throw attempts.

Connecticut, no big surprise, is first in scoring defense, holding opponents to a 44.3 average. But get this, Drexel is third with a 45.8 average showing Dragons coach Denise Dillon, a former Wildcats star in the 1990s, is getting results from her preaching to the squad.

Delaware is 12th in field goal percentage defense, showing the Blue Hens are not just about scoring. They've limited opponents to a 31.6 percentage, St. Joseph's is 22nd, limiting teams to 32.7 percent from the field, and Drexel is 28th at 33.0.

When it comes to team shooting from the field, Drexel is 16th at .475, St. Joseph's is 22nd at .468, and Penn State is 24th at .463. Rutgers is also further down ranked in the category.

Turnover-assists ratio in the team rankings has UConn first at 1.93, while Villanova is 11th at 1.17. The Wildcats, where has this been heard before, lead the nation in three-point shots made per game at 10.7. Penn State is fifth at 5.90 -- anyone wonder what Suzie McConnell Serio would have done back in the day? Temple is listed further down in the group.

Incidentally, though they lost the game in Pauley Pavilion Sunday against No. 13 UCLA in Westwood, Calif., the Owls are getting kudos for competing most of the way against the Bruins. Next up is a showdown Wednesday in McGonigle Hall against Rutgers, which probably hasn't been in the building since the old Atlantic 10 wars before the Liacouras Center was built.

Penn State is second in three-point accuracy at 48.5 from beyond the arc. Drexel is sixth at 43.9, while Temple is also listed further down.

When it comes to blocking shots as a team below Brittney Griner and Baylor (8.0), Rutgers at 6.0 is tied for 12th, and Delaware and St. Joseph's, yes the Hawks, are tied at 15th with a 5.8 average.

Moving back to individual efforts, Penn State's Alex Bentley is tied for 12th at 6.3 in assists.

Griner leads in blocks -- no surprise -- for Baylor at 5.6, but Rutgers' Monique Oliver and St. Joseph's Samira Van Grinsven from the Netherlands are tied for eighth at 3.3.

Villanova's Lindsay Kimmel, the transfer from Temple, is tied for seventh making 3.8 treys per game. Drexel senior Jasmina Rosseel from Belgium and Penn State freshman Maggie Lucas from Germantown Academy are also further down ranked in the category.

Rosseel is also second in the turnover-assist ranking at 7.0

"It's nice to Jas come along and grow during her career her. Villanova's Megan Pearson and Penn State's Bentley are also listed.

BCS Schools Dominate the AP Poll

That pseudo-BCS challenge that's been going on among six power conferences in women's basketball competition could also be called the AP Poll challenge. The six big timers, whose power stems from football configurations, own all but one slot in this week's Associated Press women's poll release Monday.

The exception is Xavier, which moved up to fourth and the Musketeers' highest ranking ever and competes in the Atlantic 10. The only A-10 schools which have done better are no longer in the A-10, which are Rutgers and Penn State.

The Nittany Lions had a No. 1 ranking in the back part of 1990-91 and finished No. 1 -- the real No. 1 team on the floor was the Dawn Staley-led Virginia Cavaliers -- but then was upset in the second round of the NCAA at home by unranked James Madison after holding a first-round bye. That actually opened the door for UConn to advance to its first Women's Final Four, which was in New Orleans.
Rutgers, with Sue Wicks, rose as high as No. 2 in the back end of 1986-87. The Scarlet Knights also got to No. 2 in the days of the AIAW when June Olkowski and the Coyle Twins -- Mary and Patty -- were doing their thing.

As for the BCS monopoly, The Big 12 has six schools -- Baylor (2), Texas A&M (7), Oklahoma (11), Texas (17th), Iowa State (19th), and Nebraska, which re-entered this week at 24th after bolting from an unranked slot to the top five last season.

The Big East five are UConn (1), West Virginia (10), Georgetown (12), Notre Dame(16), and St. John's (20).

The Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences each have four -- The ACC: Duke (5), North Carolina (14), Florida State (15), and Maryland (21); The SEC: Kentucky (9),Tennessee (10), Georgia (21) and Vanderbilt (23).

Three Big Ten schools are Ohio State (6), Iowa (18), and Michigan State (25), whlle the remaining are a Pac-10 duo of Stanford (3) and UCLA (13).

In two weeks on Dec. 13, likely heading into the Sunday that will see the UConn women tie the UCLA-men's record 88 win streak, Poll No. 600 will be released. Look for special trivia notes here once the rankings are determined.

TCU, The AP Poll and The Big East

There are almost three seasons, counting this one, before TCU, also known as Texas Christian University, becomes part of the Big East as announced Monday.

But if the Horned Frogs were already holding membership this week, the addition would not change the Big East position among conference rankings in terms of total appearances whose members have been listed in the weekly voting.

Remember, this particular configuration allows for teams that got their actual rankings when they had been in previous affiliations such as when the Big 12 for the most part was the old Southwest and Big Eight conferences.

The total would look like this:
1. Southeastern Conference 2898
2. Big 12 1998
3. Atlantic Coast 1991
4. Big Ten 1529
5. Big East 1262
plus TCU 28
6. Pac-10 1223

By Comparison Some Others
Atlantic 10 256
Big West 287
Sun Belt 222
Conf. USA 146

Now in terms of rankings earned conference teams who were members at time of ranking:

1. Southeastern Conference 2616
2. Atlantic Coast 1661
3. Big 10 1338
4. Big 12 1183
5. Big East 1091
6. Pac-10 940

Some others

Atlantic 10 452
Sun Belt 434
Southwest 343
Big 8 284

That's it for now.

-- Mel

-- Mel


Health Issue Stops Delaware's Delle Donne In Win At La Salle

By Mel Greenberg

Is Delaware sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne on the road to becoming the Stephen Strasburg of women’s basketball with injuries and health conditions impacting her career of great potential as a collegian?

In major league baseball last summer, Strasburg made a dynamic pitching debut with the Washington Nationals. However, in late August he was diagnosed with a season-ending right-elbow injury requiring surgery that could keep him off the mound until 2012.

Now it’s the Blue Hens folks’ turn to worry over a young phenom of their own, especially after Delle Donne took herself out of action six minutes into Sunday’s afternoon game here at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena.

She quickly headed to the locker room and soon thereafter her mother Joanie was observed to be rushing in the same direction.

There was no immediate word of the cause of Delle Donne’s quick exit, which had the crowd of 693 buzzing with speculation. A member of the Delaware radio crew noted to the Guru that she had been playing all season with a back brace.

There was also some thought that perhaps she had been stricken with a stomach virus.

Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 forward, began Sunday’s action sluggishly. She had arrived with a 34.2 scoring average and nine rebounds per game. But she was scoreless in her brief appearance, missing an uncontested jump shot in one instance after she had grabbed a steal near mid-court.

However, Delle Donne was not taken to a hospital and at the end of halftime she emerged with the team still dressed in her uniform. But she went to the bench and stayed there the rest of the way as the Blue Hens (5-0) stayed unbeaten with a 59-48 win over the Explorers (2-4).

Delle Donne, who was not available to the media afterwards, didn’t seem in pain and chatted briefly with a friend or two on the way out the door with her teammates.

However, coach Tina Martin reported that her star player, who set 18 school records as a freshman and averaged 26.7 points per game, had not been feeling well. She noted that Delle Donne had struggled on Tuesday at home against St. Francis of Pa when most of her 26 points had occurred in the second half at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

“She had mononucleosis in high school and she doesn’t know if it’s that,” Martin said of Delle Donne’s senior season at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington when she missed 10 games. Despite the long absence, she still was named the 2008 national high school player of the year.

Delle Donne also missed some games last season with an ankle injury near the start and later with a foot injury caused when she stepped into a pothole on campus in the wake of a snowstorm. She also missed a half after getting hit in the elbow.

Still, Delle Donne’s exploits earned her both the rookie and player of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association. She topped Drexel senior Gabriela Marginean and James Madison junior Dawn Evans in the MVP competition. Her presence enabled the Blue Hens to finish with their best record (21-12) since they won 26 games in 2006-07.

“She’s been on some medication,” Martin continued discussing Delle Donne’s health. “She’s just been sick.”

Delle Donne began getting national coverage because of her basketball skills dating back to the seventh grade. That’s when University of North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell was so impressed, she talked to Delle Donne’s father Ernie about giving his daughter a scholarship with the Tar Heels.

Years later, when it came time to name her collegiate choice, Delle Donne chose the University of Connecticut prior to the Huskies’ two-straight unbeaten championships.

UConn beat LSU 81-51 Sunday at home on its campus in Storrs, extending its NCAA record women’s win streak to 84 games. That’s four short of the 88 achieved by the fabled UCLA men’s teams under Hall of Fame legend John Wooden, who died earlier this year.

Delle Donne’s stay at UConn was extremely short.

She left the university in the middle of the night less than 48 hours after arriving for summer school in June 2008 and ultimately enrolled at nearby Delaware, but playing volleyball in 2008-09. Delle Donne played the sport as a high school senior.

She then decided to return to basketball a year ago, saying her reason for leaving UConn was really homesickness and not basketball burnout from all the years of attention. Her move gave Martin a prized catch for simply answering Delle Donne’s knock on the office door.

Back at Sunday’s game, Martin spoke of the discussion when Delle Donne sidelined herself at La Salle.

New Explorers coach Jeff Williams had no idea of the cause but said, "I was glad to see her leave the game at the time," in terms of a reduced threat from the Blue Hens.

“She said to me, `I just can’t go,’” Martin quoted Delle Donne. “`I feel like I am running on quicksand. I am just exhausted.’

“So, I don’t know,” Martin said of conditions surrounding the unknown illness. “I don’t know if it’s the medication she’s on. I know they changed the medication. I know she going to go back to see the doctor (Monday), to see if the doctor can look at it and see what’s going on. But I really don’t know.

“I just know she’s feeling really tired and she’s feeling very much under the weather,” Martin continued.

“I said, `Can you go?’ and she said, `No, I can’t.’ She said, `I just feel I just need to lay down.’ So bottom line is, when she’s feeling that way, she can’t play the game of basketball, obviously, so she’s got to go see a doctor and he’s got to figure it out.

“And hopefully, we figure out what’s wrong with her -- whether it’s the flu, and she’s just got a bad case of it, or whether she’s just starting to get sick, I mean, obviously, I hope it’s not mono, because she did have it in high school – I’m hoping it’s not that but we have to wait and see.

“If Elena’s out, we’re going to have to adjust even more,” Martin said of a Blue Hens squad that now has former St. Joseph’s star Sarah Acker, the Big Five rookie of the year in 2008. She became eligible a week ago and on Sunday Acker had 10 points, eight rebounds and blocked six shots.

“Sarah’s starting to get her feel wet,” Martin said. “The nice thing about Sarah is she plays very, very physical and tough and she obviously can score around the basket and she also rebounds the ball well.

“We just have to piece it together right now. The people who are healthy, that’s the people who we have to play with. This is the bad part of basketball season when you have kids who get sick, kids who get injured, you hope to limit it, but the game sometimes doesn’t allow that.”

Meanwhile Delaware on Wednesday hosts defending Ivy champion Princeton, which just upset Southern Cal in Vanderbilt’s tournament for the first win ever by the Tigers over a Pac-10 conference team.

Then on Sunday Princeton (3-2) took the No. 24 Commodores to the final minute before losing 74-68 in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt is 24-0 in 12 seasons hosting the event. The Tigers nearly beat Rutgers on the road two weeks ago.

“Elena’s sick,” Martin said looking ahead. “We have a couple of kids who are injured, and we have to regroup because we have a big one on Wednesday against Princeton. They’re playing great.

“We just have to take it on game at a time, one game at a time.”

Meanwhile, in Delle Donne’s situation, the wait is under way for a prognosis to determine whether her next game is coming soon and if not, why not?

-- Mel

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Drexel Suddenly Best In Philly Going 4-0 Against Big 5

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA - With a just-completed almost unheard of sweep of four Big Five schools to start the season, the Drexel women's basketball team has emerged, for now, as the best in town.

The Dragons got underway a week ago with lopsided wins at La Salle and over Penn before rallying at home for a narrow 50-47 win over St. Joseph's Tuesday night in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

They remained there Friday night and mounted a late rally to beat Villanova 56-50 for the first time in two meetings against coach Denise Dillon's alma mater and her mentor Harry Perretta.

The fabled DAC Pack student section quickly rolled out a banner proclaiming "DU Women╒s Basketball Unofficial Big 5 Champs" with the Big 5 letters painted red against a yellow background.

Drexel had already completed a first-ever three-in-one season series of triumphs after the win over the Hawks in terms of playing Big Five schools. But the win over Villanova (4-2) made it that much sweeter considering both the men's and women's teams have remained outsiders in the official City Series round robin.

Not much had been expected of Dillon's team, at least at this point, following the graduation of Gabriela Marginean, who became the all-time women's scorer at Philadelphia area colleges, no matter which classification, before finishing her senior season in March.

Drexel, which bolted to its first-ever championship of the Colonial Athletic Association and NCAA appearance in 2009, was in the hunt again12 months later as the preseason favorite before fading down the stretch and losing a first-round game at home in overtime to East Carolina in the Women╒s National Invitation Tournament.

In a coaches-only poll this time around in the conference the CAA mentors forecasted a sixth place finish for the Dragons.

"People thought when Marginean left, they were going to collapse," Perretta said after coaching his first game in the DAC and going against one his stars in the 1990s for the Wildcats. "They have three solid players. The point guard (junior Marisa Crane) is solid. Jas (senior Jasmina Rosseel) is solid. The kid from Colorado (Lithuanaian sophomore Kamile Nacickaite) is solid and now what happens is their role players - all they have to do is make open shots, which they did do today. But their other kids are creating on who we╒re helping on them (defend three players) and then 20 (Taylor Wootton) gets a wide open shot.

"But that╒s what good players do -- they make good players around them better. We don't have anybody who's doing that right now. There's nobody we can give the ball to - we tried different kids today. We took it one-on-one with Megan (Pearson), we took it one-one with Rachel (Roberts), but we don't have one kid who we can say, `Hey, here's the ball, go create offense.

"I thought our younger players did ok, but the bottom line is they still make too many errors."

After Drexel had stymied St. Joseph's Katie Kuester in the win over the Hawks, the Dragons were also effective shutting down Lindsay Kimmel, the three-point shooting ace who had made an impressive debut in Villanova╒s earlier games following her transfer from Temple a year ago.

"Lindsay Kimmel still does not understand the offense," Perretta, whose team hosts Marist, Sunday at noon at the Pavilion, said of his multiple, patient ball movement before launching shots. "She hurt us today because she didn't understand the offense. She has to learn that if she's going to get shots, she has to learn how to move without the ball, which she doesn't know how to do yet.

"So, we╒re trying to teach it to her, but it's difficult when you transfer in, you haven't played for a year, and even though she was averaging a lot of points (Drexel) knows our offense," Perretta continued.

"I told our kids before the game, that the game was going to be decided by who could make the most individual plays. Because both teams know the other team's offense so well who ever makes an individual play will win the game. And their kids made individual plays down the stretch and we didn't."

Wootton broke a 50-50 tie late in the game and then Nacickaite hit four fouls shots in the final 30 seconds.

The game had an extra local flair besides the matchup of a school from the Main Line meeting a school from just outside center city in West Philadelphia.

Six players - three on each side - had reunions against former high school teammates.

Villanova's redshirt sophomore Megan Pearson and Drexel's Hollie Mershon played at Archbishop Carroll; Dragons redshirt freshman Fiona Flanagan was a high school teammate of Wildcats redshirt freshman Devon Kane at Notre Dame Academy; Dragons freshman Tory Thierolf and Wildcats sophomore Jesse Carey both were at Germantown Academy most of the same time.

However, despite the ambience of local outsider against a Big Five school, two foreigners had key moments to help Drexel complete the sweep. Incidentally, the Dragons rarely play Temple so should the Owls later win the regular round robin perhaps the two schools could play an exhibition pickup game next summer in the Dept. of Recreation League.

Besides Nacickaite's fouls shots, Rosseel, a native of Belgium, knocked down 4-of-5 three pointers in the first half and six in the game.

"They don't have the emotional investment that some of the girls in the area have," Dillon said. "So they come out really to play. It takes some time for the other players to settle in. But with the experience Jas has as a senior and with Kamile coming into her own, it╒s great to have her want the ball in the end, step up to the foul line and knock down some key shots."

Dillon noted one element off of a year ago that has now been productive in being able to rally after giving up leads.

In Friday's game Drexel led by as many as 11 points near the end of the first half, only to fall seven points behind the Wildcats near the midpoint of the second half before launching a comeback.

"I learned a lot last year as a coach, just the understanding of the never quit attitude," Dillon explained. "I could continue to tell them what needs to be done but they need to learn it and understand it and they╒ve really bought into it.

"I said to them downstairs, win or lose, you gave everything you had and thankfully we got enough stops again. Stepping up to the foul line was crucial at the end."

Rosseel expressed delight over the way her team has played to date, especially considering the start against four locals seemed to be daunting without Marginean back in uniform.

"Our season has started off great - 4-0 - against everyone in Philadelphia, but Temple," Rosseel said. "But it's definitely a confidence booster for the rest of the season and we'll try to keep it that way.

"It's my fourth year, in the summer we try to play pickup against different teams and you go to different camps and you always meet them but it's always fun to actually play them and beat them."

One of Drexel’s arch-rivals of the CAA will be in town Sunday when Delaware (4-0) visits La Salle (2-3) at 2 p.m. at the Tom Gola Arena with the high-scoring sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne and former St. Joseph’s star Sarah Acker, who recently became eligible with the Blue Hens.

It’s too soon for the Dragons to think far ahead to conference play considering visits to Virginia, Penn State, Princeton and a road trip out West to play Texas A&M will come first.

But asked if Rosseel and her teammates might stop by the sneak a peak at their longtime rival, she winked and said, “You never know, we just might.”

Penn State And Penn Flip Switches In Opposite Directions

Over the years and even to this day the Guru runs into people who sometime confuse Penn (as in University of Pennsylvania) with Penn State).

So to get it straight for this report, on Saturday Penn State recovered from Friday's loss in Mexico to Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Caribbean Challenge and beat Hartford, coached by former UConn star Jennifer Rizzotti, 71-65, to finish second. Freshman Maggie Lucas from Germantown Academy continued her hot start for the Nittany Lions (6-1), scoring seven treys and finishing with 17 points.

The Hawks, who will visit Temple next month, are struggling and fell to 1-6.

Penn (2-2), which has already matched its season total of wins of a year ago, was unable to sustain the Quaker' recent success, fell at New Jersey Technical Insitute in Newark.

Freshman Alyssa Baron, one of the impressive newcomers in the Big 5 to date, had 20 points against the Highlanders (1-4), who got their first win and shot 57 percent in the first half. Jourdan Banks scored 12 for Penn.

Rutgers Hits The Jackpot In Vegas

The Scarlet Knights had a little more success this time West of the Mississippi River than they had two weeks ago to start the season when they suffered losses at California and No. 3 Stanford.

Junior April Sykes had a game-high 18 points and Rutgers beat Oregon State 65-52 to win the Hyatt Place Lady Rebel Round-up in Las Vegas at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion Saturday night.

Sykes scored 19 points Friday night in the 71-39 triumph over Pacific (2-3 after Friday) to spur Rutgers (4-2) on to what is now a four-game win streak.

Monique Oliver had 16 points and blocked six shots against the Beavers (4-2)

Rutgers next visits Temple Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in McGonigle Hall. The Owls, who lost to Pepperdine Friday night in Malibu, Calif., will remain in Southern California Sunday to visit No. 13 UCLA, which is coached by former Tennessee assistant coach Nikki Caldwell.

Princeton After Another Milestone

The Tigers (3-1) edged Southern California, 60-59, on Friday night at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., as Niveen Rasheed scored 18 points, while Devona Allgood had 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Trojans(3-2).

It is the first time the defending Ivy champions have ever defeated a member of the Pac-10 conference. Princeton narrowly missed upsetting host Rutgers two weeks ago when they fell as Khadija Rushdan hit the game-winner with four seconds remaining.

The No. 22 host Commodores (3-1), who will host Princeton, Sunday, have never lost their own tournament, going 23-0 in their 12-year history with the event.


Less than two weeks after bagging nationally-ranked Maryland at home, the No. 12 Georgetown Hoyas (5-1) got a landmark victory for the program, beating No. 4 Tennessee, 69-58, in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

A year ago the Hoyas also beat a No. 4 team, but that was a familiar foe in Notre Dame, a conference rival in the Big East.

The Hoyas collected 31 points off 29 turnovers by the Vols (6-1), who dropped their first game of the season.

Had Georgetown not lost to Missouri 54-45 on Friday in the tournament, the Hoyas would be looking at a potential Top 10 ranking when the next Associated Press women’s poll is released Monday.

What is likely to happen is Atlantic 10 favorite Xavier (5-0) will probably jump to No. 4, which would be an all-time high for the Musketeers.

All-America candidate Sugar Rodgers had 28 points for the Hoyas.

Meanwhile, top-ranked Connecticut (5-0) made it 83 straight with an easy 81-38 win over Lehigh (1-5), the defending Patriot League champion, hosting the second game of the World Vision Challenge at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs on campus.

Maya Moore scored 29 points for the Huskies, who meet LSU in the final game Sunday.

The Tigers are coached by Van Chancellor pitting the 2004 U.S. Olympic coach against UConn’s Geno Auriemma, the 2012 Olympic mentor.

In other years, LSU might be a threat to the UConn streak, but not right now.

-- Mel

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stanley Acceptance Speech for Philly Sports Hall of Fame

(Guru's note: Here's a catch-up promise from several weeks ago, The following is a transcription of #WNBA Washington Mystics assistant coach Marianne Stanley's acceptance speech into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 11th. Some parts were a little inaudible on the digital recorder and will be noted)

Karen told me 2-4 minutes. And I promise you I’ll try to be brief.

But there’s no way I just flew nine hours (laughter) to talk for two minutes.

I apologize right off if I forget somebody.

First of all I congratulate everybody on this stage. It is really an hour to be included in this induction class with each and every one of you. (applause).

Formal speech:

Competing in sports is about going to war. When you want to be a champion, when you want to be the best, it’s like going to battle and who you choose to have with you in your foxhole makes all the difference in the world.

I’m sitting next to a guy who is probably one of the most respected basketball coaches ever to grace the sidelines (Jim Phelan).

Jimmy Phelan and I were inducted into the Delaware County Sports Hall of Fame. So this in number two. We have enough legs in us or tread to do it a third time somewhere.

And who wouldn’t want Bobby Jones, OK?, in your foxhole (applause). The quintessential (inaudible).

I grew up watching these guys. I’m going to echo (inaudible).

He’s just a Philly guy. I happen to be here tonight because I’m just a Philly girl. (applause).

Excuse me. It’s about 3:30 (a.m.) in Madrid (laughter) and got here 3:30 this afternoon. So I’m running out of gas a little bit. So bear with me.
I have the privilege and the joy of doing something every day I love to do. I played basketball because I loved it. I coach it because I love it.

And who can look bad when you’re coaching people like Anne Donovan and Medina Dixon and Tracy Claxton at Old Dominion.

Lisa Leslie at USC. Now I just work (overseas) with some schleps like Cappie Pondexter and Candice Parker (laughter).

I mean it’s not lost on me how lucky and how fortunate I’ve been to grow up in the city that is considered the cradle of coaches.

That has just a rich tradition of basketball. I mean the people in this room – Fran Dunphy, John Chaney, Phil Martelli. I mean on, and on, and on. These are people that I admired and I know your history and followed you and to be included as a player and coach alongside such great athletes and coaches.

But in my foxhole, the most important people are my family, my friends, my high school (Archbishop Predengast) teammates and coach, my college teammates and coach, and all the players and staff people who have worked with me as a coach and helped me to do what I love to do.

I’m really fortunate tonight to have some of my former teammates here, OK.

I went to Archbishop Prendergast High School (applause). (Asks teammates to stand). There we go. Come on Theresa.

These weren’t just good teammates. They were great teammates. And you know what? We had one of the best coaches in all of the Delaware Valley in Barbara Mooney. And Barbara Mooney is here tonight. (applause and she stands).

I know this is hard to do but Barbara Mooney taught me value and self-discipline and to this day it’s something that’s important in my coaching, so thank you so very much.

Unfortunately Cathy Rush couldn’t be here today. But no one’s been more influential in my career than Cathy. It was a privilege playing for her at Immaculata College and I had a great experience there and some of my former teammates from Immaclata are here as well.

Denise Conway. Theresa Grentz is also an inductee. Denise the smartest thing you ever did was marry my brother. (laughter and applause.).

Like I said, the most important people in my foxhole are my family – my parents who have passed on would love tonight. My mom was a great Phillies fan. My dad loved the Eagles – you know die hard Phillies fans all the way.

I know they would have loved this and they are smiling up in heaven right now. But the guy who got me started in basketball when I was six was my uncle Jack – my father’s twin brother. Uncle Jack and my aunt Cass are here tonight (loud applause).

I never told them this but I have to share this now – it would be fun.

I was so little at (age) six that I couldn’t reach the basket except by shooting underhanded. OK. So he taught me how to shoot free throws underhanded and later on in life when I had a chance to meet Rick Barry, a Hall of Fame who actually shot the thing from the foul line like that, we reminisced and talked about that story and just loved it.

Thank you for getting me started on a love affair that’s lasted – I’m 56 – 50 years now.

Finally the rest of my family – I have six brothers and sisters – four of them are here tonight – Jim, Richard, Paul and Midge and I love you.

Thank you for your support and helping me to meet every challenge that came my way.

Finally, I wouldn’t be here today without the support and love of my partner for 25 years – Barbara Thaxton. She’s been by my side as a coach, a friend, and any success that I had in the last 25 years she’s shared with me.

I want to thank everybody.

Ending applause.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Outsider Drexel Beats 3rd Straight Big Five School

By Mel Greenberg

Drexel is one win away from becoming the first to make the fastest early season 4-0 blitz of Big Five opponents since the women’s City Series round robin began three decades ago.

Actually a 3-0 start is probably worth something in itself.

The Dragons (3-0) have begun their schedule with a steady diet of Big Five opponents and on Tuesday night in one week’s time they made St. Joseph’s join La Salle and Penn on the victims list after Drexel beat the Hawks 50-47 in a tightly-fought game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center in West Philadelphia.

Kamile Nacickaite, a native of Lithuania who had a career high 26 points in the season opener at La Salle a week ago in the 86-55 win over the Explorers, had 19 points and 10 rebounds against the Hawks (3-1).

“It’s exciting to win against Big Five teams because we’re not part of the Big Five,” she said.

Her parents, incidentally, back across the Atlantic can look on their computers in the middle of the night and watch Nacickaite play because of Drexel’s ability to video stream men’s and women’s games, as many other schools are now doing.

Drexel will remain home Friday at 5 p.m. to meet Villanova, the alma mater of Dragons coach Denise Dillon. It will be the first time Wildcats coach Harry Perretta will be on the sidelines in the DAC, though he has attended many games to watch his former star player guide the Dragons.

It just happened that way,” Dillon said of the local opponents on the front of the schedule. “With scheduling, it’s always difficult, putting people where you need them.

“We knew our girls would be up for these games. They’re going against girls they’re used to playing against. The competition is always intense. So we knew they would be up for these games and it’s just important for our team to prepare early in the season,” Dillon said.

“They were ready to roll tonight. It was just a little more of an aggressive battle than both teams might have thought it would be, but the refs allowed them to play. Finally, we got into the flow of things into the second half.

“I love people are saying we’re playing good team defense where I think we’re playing good team offense, also. We are going to continue to get better on the floor each day. We’re playing every possession like it’s a tie game no matter what the score is for the other team or us.”

Within the Big Five Villanova has been the regular early bird champion when the Wildcats have gone 4-0 because of the necessity to get nonconference games out of the way before competing in the Big East Conference.

But there would be a degree of smugness among the fan base if the Drexel women could complete the sweep. However, some asterisk would have to be applied to note that they do not play Temple, the alma mater of assistant coach Melissa Dunne, this season.

The Dragons gained one level of satisfaction last season when their own former senior Gabriela Marginean became the all-time women’s scorer among all classifications – Divisions I, II, and III – in the Philadelphia area. Former Penn star Diana Caramanico owns the Big Five women's record.

With Marginean graduated, so far the Drexel has done anything but level off.

“I proud of how we played in the past and how ‘Gabby played for us and everyone contributed in their own way,” Dillon said after Tuesday’s game. “We had a lot of young players and now it’s their turn.

“You have girls who started as sophomores last year who are now juniors. When you move into your junior year I think your game expands – your understanding of the game becomes easier so your game becomes better,” Dillon explained.

“’Jassy (Belgium’s Jasmina Rosseel) as a senior is playing significant minutes so now it’s their turn. With Gabby, yeah she was a dominant player from early in her career but we didn’t have the success we had her junior and senior year when she became a smarter, more confident player in what we were doing.

“So now it’s just more players than just that one, so it helps.”

Taylor Wootton, a sophomore, had 12 points for Drexel, while Marissa Crane, a junior from Emmaus, Pa., hit a pair of foul shots down the stretch to keep the Dragons ahead.

The Hawks had gotten closer on a long three-pointer by freshman Erin Shields, a graduate of Archbishop Carroll, whose mother Renie Shields is a former Hawks star who now works in St. Joseph’s as a compliance director.

Kelly Cavallo had 12 points for St. Joseph’s and Michelle Baker scored 10. Junior Katie Kuester, the daughter of NBA Detroit Piston coach John Kuester, was limited to five points and fouled out near the end of the game.

In the first half, Drexel bolted to a 10-3 lead but the Hawks rallied and went into the halftime break ahead 21-16.

Kuester’s trey at the start of the final period made it 24-16 and the lead later grew to nine on a layup by Cavallo.

But then Drexel struck back with Nacickaite’s six-point eruption putting the Dragons ahead 35-32 with 7:16 left in the game.

A trey by Nacickaite broke a 39-39 deadlock with 4:43 left in the game and her ensuing layup extended the advantage to five points.

With Drexel ahead 47-44, the Hawks were called for a shot clock violation with 11 seconds remaining. Rosseel hit a pair of foul shots to keep the Dragons ahead before Shields’ trey made it 49-47. Crane then hit her foul shot for the final score.

“It was very much a defense game,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. “We were happy where the score was from that end. But from the offensive end we had no value for the basketball and no court awareness. And that comes from being young in a lot of ways but certainly it would have helped given us a little more of a chance at the end if we had valued the possession of the basketball.

“We’re young in so many ways. We’re 3-1, we’re in as good place. We want to win the games that we should and can win. We just don’t want these games to come back and haunt us later on.”

St. Joseph’s next travels to Patriot champion Lehigh for a noon game Tuesday in Bethlehem, Pa.

Delaware Bulking Up

Since last season, most Delaware stories have also been Elena Delle Donne tales as the former 2008 national high school player of the year out of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy made her college debut and quickly took her place alongside the nation’s scoring leaders.

On Tuesday night, however, someone else joined Delle Donne in the spotlight as Delaware (4-0) beat Northeast Conference tournament champion St. Francis of Pa. 68-52.

Sarah Acker, a transfer from St. Joseph’s who was Big Five player of the year several seasons ago before being injured and having other difficulties, in her second game for the Blues Hens had 13 points and 12 rebounds in her home debut at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del.

Delle Donne struggled early but finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Blue Hens dominated the boards against the Red Flashes (1-4)

Daniel Parker matched a career high with 12 rebounds and Delaware dominated the boards 56-37 and blocked 10 shots.

Delaware next makes the first of two Philadelphia visits Sunday when the Blue Hens travel to La Salle at 2 p.m. They later play at Drexel on January 9th as part of competition in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Owls Back on Course

Temple (2-2) won its second straight, beating Northern Illinois 79-56 in McGonigle Hall as newcomer Shey Peddy scored 23 points. The Huskies – not those Huskies – fell to 3-2 out of the Mid-American Conference.

BJ Williams added 13 points off the bench and now Temple heads West for a Friday game at Pepperdine and a Sunday date at No. 13 UCLA, which is experiencing a renaissance under former Tennessee assistant Nikki Caldwell.

A sweep would go a long way to bury the effects of Tuesday’s loss at Seton Hall.

‘Nova Holds Off LehighFormer Temple star Lindsey Kimmel, the Big Five player of the week who transferred to the Wildcats two seasons ago, continues to bring value in her debut on the Main Line.

The native of Binghamton, N.Y. scored 16 points as did Rachel Roberts, tying a career mark, and Villanova (4-1) held off the Patriot League champions 69-68 in overtime.

Jesse Carey had 12 points for the Wildcats and Laura Sweeney scored 10.

Roberts’ layup with 40 seconds remaining forced the game into overtime.

Villanova held a 69-61 lead in the extra period with 2:13 left after Kimmel’s trey, but the Mountain Hawks scored seven straight points only to miss a pair in the final seconds to let Villanova escape.

Emily Gratch had 22 points for Lehigh (1-4), while Erica Prosser scored 19 and Courtney Dentler scored 13.

Penn Matches Last Year’s Win Total

Every win will be an improvement over coach Mike McLaughlin’s first season the rest of the way after Penn (2-1) traveled to Lawrenceville, N.J. Tuesday night and beat host Rider 60-45 as freshman Meghan McCullough, a native of Havertown from the Academy of Notre Dame, scored 17 points and was 4-for-4 on three point attempts.

A year ago the Quakers’ first win came on New Year’s Eve and the second occurred in the second to final game, beating Ivy rival Dartmouth on the road. The night before, Penn nearly upset Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.

Penn also showed resiliency against Rider (0-4) bouncing back off of Friday’s 62-31 loss at Drexel. Jess Knapp had 12 rebounds.

Millersville Upsets Holy FamilyThe fourth-ranked Tigers (3-1) dodged one team Saturday winning at American University without team leader Catherine Carr (ankle). But they were unable to dodge another Tuesday night, losing at No. 19 Millersville 61-51.

It’s the first time the Marauders (3-0) have beaten that highly ranked an opponent.

Samantha Thompson had 12 points while Lindsey Tennett had 15 rebounds.

-- Mel

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

La Salle's Six Shooters Blast Oral Roberts

By Mel Greenberg

Coming out of a near-major upset of a Top 25 school, the La Salle women’s basketball team gave new coach Jeff Williams an effort at both ends of the floor Monday night on the way to an easy 87-67 nonconference win over Oral Roberts in the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena.

The visiting Golden Eagles (2-4), defending regular season champions of the Summit League, were playing their third game in four days, most recently losing to Villanova 61-52 Saturday morning in the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md., at the Naval Academy.

The Explorers (2-3), who faded in the second half at then-No. 13 Georgetown to take a 50-46 loss Friday night, had a scoring fiesta with six players in double figures against the Golden Eagles and led by as many as 32 points just seconds into the start of final half.

“The Drexel game woke us up a whole lot,” Williams alluded to last week’s home-opening loss to the Dragons. “We didn’t play well and didn’t present ourselves well on our home court.

“When we went out against Georgetown we wanted to make sure we gave maximum effort and we feel like if we play hard we can compete,” he continued.

“We definitely played hard tonight. We shared the basketball. I wasn’t happy how we closed it out, defensively. We let (Oral Roberts) get to the basket, but overall I’m pretty happy with the way we performed.”

Freshman guard Jess Koci, a graduate of Archbishop Ryan, had a double double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. She’s the first La Salle women’s freshman to accomplish that feat since all-time Explorer Crista Ricketts performed similarly in a home game against Xavier during the 2003-04 season.

“Jess is just one of those kids who will run through a brick wall for you,” Williams said. “She’s an under-sized post kid, but she’s our hardest worker in practice, hardest worker in the game and it pays off. She just lays it on the line. She’s a warrior.”

Koci said the Explorers’ effort against the Hoyas offered a degree of confidence going up against the Golden Eagles.

“We came out with the same confidence we did last game, knowing we could play a team as Georgetown,” she said. “We just tried to come out strong and play hard.”

Koci spoke of adjusting to a new coach from Tom Lochner, who recruited her last season before his contract wasn’t renewed after the final game. La Salle has given him a job elsewhere in the university.

“Tom actually recruited me but I was coming because I loved the school, and coach Williams is doing great with the team so I really like it,” she said.

Senior Ashley Gale, who played in the Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation NCAA Women’s Summer League in suburban Hatboro had a team-high 22 points and hit three 3-pointers.

“We tried to take the momentum from the Georgetown game into this one,” the graduate of Cheltenham High who lives in Glenside, said. “Summer League is great because you keep playing against college girls. You keep the momentum up. You just play against different levels. It’s a big help.”

Alexis Scott, a redshirt sophomore, had 19 points for La Salle, while Chelsea Connor scored 11, Nadia Duncan scored 13, and Ebonee Jones had 12 points.

The Explorers forced 25 turnovers while committing 15 themselves. Koci also had three steals and Gale blocked two shots.

Sophomore Kevi Luper, one of the top freshmen in the country a year ago, had a game-high 24 points for Oral Roberts, while Jaci Bigham had a doubious double double with 15 points but 10 turnovers. Jordan Pyle had 13 points.

La Salle will get to enjoy a break past Thanksgiving and then host a major game Sunday when Delaware and sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne make their first appearance of the season in the city.

A year ago, in Delle Donne’s only city appearance, the Drexel game sold out for the annual rivalry war at the Dragons’ end in the Colonial Athletic Association.

In the Blue Hens 3-0 start, Delle Donne scored 36 against UMBC, 34 against Villanova and 41 at Yale. Delaware will host St. Francis of Pennsylvania Tuesday night in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark before taking a holiday break heading into the La Salle game.

“it’s going to be a tough game,” Williams said of his first time going against the Blue Hens. “Delaware’s a very good team. I know Delle Donne is huge for them, they play very well together and have an excellent coach (Tina Martin).

“We have to get our kids fired up to play. It’s going to be a barn burner. It’s tough playing a kid like Delle Donne. What are you going to do with a 6-4, 6-5 kid who can shoot the three?”

The game will mark a homecoming against a Big Five school for Delaware newcomer Sarah Acker, who was the City Series freshman of the year for St. Joseph’s several seasons ago before suffering a back injury at the outset of her sophomore season. She later transferred out.

Acker became eligible last week and her first game was Saturday in the win at Yale.

“Wow. I tried to recruit Sarah when I was (an assistant) at Pitt,” Williams said. “She’s a pretty good player. That gives them a very, very strong team. Now they have someone in the post and someone outside, and they have some pieces around those kids that allow them to do what they do. And they’re a very well-coached team.”

Gale is familiar with Delle Donne. The Explorers met her last year early in the season when La Salle travelled to Delaware.

“I played with Elena a little on Fencor AAU and also against her most of the time,” Gale said.

Rutgers Evens Its Record

Speaking of players out of Wilmington, Del., as is Delle Donne, her former high school rival – Khadijah Rushdan of St. Elizabeth’s – had 26 points and 10 rebounds as Rutgers (2-2)routed Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) school North Carolina A&T 88-59 at home Monday night in the Louis a. Brown Athletic Center.

Rushdan’s shot with four seconds remaining stopped a major upset on Thursday by Princeton in a home game Thursday against the Ivy champions in their annual Garden State rivalry.

Monday's game produced the largest point total for the Scarlet Knights (2-2) since the 2003 season.

The visitors fell to 1-3.

April Sykes had 14 points for Rutgers, Monique Oliver had 12 points, and Erica Wheeler and Daisha Simmons each scored 10 points. Nikki Speed dealt 10 assists, the first to do that in double figures since the days of WNBA All-Star Matee Ajavon several seasons ago in 2007-08.

This weekend Oliver will enjoy a homecoming in Las Vegas when the Scarlet Knights play in a tournament that has UNLV has the host team.

“We shared the ball more, we knew what we were doing, and we pressed,” Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer said after Monday’s win.

“I think we can be a Top 20 team … based on the level of competition we’ve played and what I’ve seen.”

Rutgers opened the season in Northern California, losing to Cal-Berkeley and at No. 3 Stanford.

Drexel’s Mythical Big Five Run Continues Against St. Joe’s

As is known here, Drexel is not a Big Five school, but the Dragons are getting a strong dose of City Series rivals to start the season.

The best schools within the Big Five can do is 4-0 but as an outsider, Drexel (2-0) has a chance for a 4-0 sweep going into Tuesday night’s home against St. Joseph’s (3-0) in the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Drexel has already beaten La Salle on the road and Penn at home. The Dragons do not play Temple, but after Tuesday night they will host Villanova, coach Denise Dillon’s alma mater, on Friday afternoon.

It’s the first time Wildcats veteran coach Harry Perretta will be on the sidelines in the DAC, though he’s been in the stands for many games to watch Dillon’s Drexel teams compete.

St. Joseph’s is off to one of the Hawks’ better starts in recent seasons.

As previously mentioned, Delaware will host St. Francis of Pennsylvania, coached by former Penn State star Susan Robinson Fruchtl, whose Red Flashes won the Northeast Conference tournament last seasn.

Penn will travel to Lawrenceville, N.J., to meet Rider, coached by former St. Joseph and Drexel assistant Lynn Milligan. Temple will host Northern Illinois, another Mid-American Conference affiliate whom the Owls play along with a number of other MAC teams under the agreement that allowed Temple to join the MAC and compete in football. The other sports are still in the Atlantic 10.

St. Joe’s Cradle of Coaches in AP Poll Trivia

Though Notre Dame slid backwards in the most recent Associated Press women’s poll released Monday, coach Muffet McGraw reached 200 appearances, all with the Irish, in the rankings.

MGraw, who played at St. Joe’s, is a Big Five Hall of Famer who will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., in June.

Ironically she is surrounded by Philadelphia-area contemporaries on the all-time list.

McGraw is 22nd, just behind former Immaculata star Theresa Grentz, who earned 225 appearances at Rutgers and Illinois. She also coached at St. Joe’s.

Marianne Stanley, a former Immaculata star who coached three national champions at Old Dominion, is 23rd with 183 appearances that include a stint with Southern Cal when Lisa Leslie played for the Trojans. The run also includes the caretaking roles when Stanley and Amy Tucker guided Stanford to a Final Four in 1996 when Tara VanDerveer was on a leave of absence in the year-long march to a gold medal with the Olympic team at the Atlanta Games.

VanDerveer is at No. 4 on the all-time list at 391, soon to pass former Texas coach Jody Conradt, a Hall of Famer who had 395 appearances with the Longhorns.

Tennessee’s Pat Summitt tops both all-time and active lists with 583 appearances, missing just 14 shots at what has been a 597-week poll history through last weekend’s vote.

Georgia’s Andy Landers, a 2007 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction classmate of the Guru’s, is second on both all-time and active lists at 453, all with the Bulldogs.

Ohio State’s Jimn Foster, who also coached at St. Joe’s and Vanderbuilt, is at No. 8 on the all-time list at 335, just one behind former Penn State coach Rene Portland, a former Immaculata star who also coached at St. Joseph’s.

McGraw is 13th on the active list, behind Gary Blair (230), one of the elite triple-school club members with appearances at Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas and Texas A&M.


Monday, November 22, 2010

UConn Prevails Over Georgia Tech In Maya Moore's Homecoming

By Mel Greenberg

Back in the 1970s when then-called Immaculata College, now a university, and Delta State were the rivalry of the day in women’s collegiate basketball, they made part of their calling to play each other at times and appear individually in different locations around the country.

One reason was to give these places a taste of the highest levels of the sport and another was to provide exposure for hometown teams to increase attendance and perhaps leave somewhat of a lasting impact without regard to how lopsided the final score might be.

From an individual viewpoint, top-ranked Connecticut journeyed into Dixie Sunday with a local girl who played the role of Union General William Sherman’s march through Georgia.

Maya Moore left her native Peachtree state four years ago as the top prospect out of high school to join the Huskies and bring them a pair of national titles.

Now she was back in the neighborhood with a much younger collection of allies than those who had romped over the nation, excepting the narrow win over Stanford in last season’s championship in San Antonio, Texas.

However, by the time their day’s work was done in Alexander Memorial Coliseum, the outcome was similar to what has been done in the past rather than the narrow 65-64 escape that occurred Tuesday over No. 2 Baylor in Hartford, Conn.

Moore, expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in next April’s WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx, torched Georgia Tech for 30 points as she drew many cheers from the program-record crowd of 7,325 on the way to a 71-51 victory.

It’s the first time she has scored 30 or more points in two consecutive games.

In the wake of Moore and the Huskies (3-0), another historical marker was left here in the ongoing winning streak that now stands at 81 straight and is headed full steam ahead toward reaching the 88 achieved, if not more, by the UCLA men’s team under John Wooden.

That 81 total matched the all-time number in any women’s collegiate competitive classification achieved by Division III Washington University of St. Louis.

“I know they’re a great team and they’re probably a little pissed that nobody talks about them, all anybody talks about is Connecticut,” coach Geno Auriemma quipped. “And they’re probably like, `We’re a pretty good academic school – hard to get into – and there’s UConn, a state school, getting all the attention.’”

Auriemma talked about the way the mixed crowd of fans for both the Huskies and Yellow Jackets cheered Moore’s performance.

“It was pretty unique, it was pretty amazing,” Auriemma said. “The way the people down here feel about Maya and really all over the country everywhere we go. She has just made an impact on the game and on the fans. Everybody is just drawn to her, the way she plays and the way she carries herself. And she made some spectacular plays today.”

Moore also spoke of the reception she received.

“It’s always good to know we have fans all over the country,” she said. “Especially being back in Georgia, familiar territory, it feels good. I haven’t gotten a chance to see any of my family but knowing that they were there, family and friends and people who have supported me come out to see me and support my team. That means the world to me.”

Freshman Bria Hartley, who had eight points in just less than the final four minutes Tuesday to save UConn against Baylor, had 15 against Georgia Tech (3-2).

The Yellow Jackets have a freshman star of their own in Tyaunna Marshall, a guard from Upper Marlboro, Md., in the Terrapins’ back yard, who scored 23 points.

“I was obviously very impressed with Ty Marshall to step up and make the plays she did against a very good UConn team bodes well for the future,” Yellow Jackets coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I thought she put us on our back at times and carried us. That’s what a big time player does in big time games. And I thought for a freshman, she showed a lot of guts out there, today.”

Alex Montgomery had 13 points for Georgia Tech.

Expressing disappointment in the outcome, Joseph, a former Purdue star, talked about the residual effect of her team’s effort and also praised Moore.

“Maya Moore showed why she’s the best player in women’s college basketball,” Joseph said. “She puts the team on her back. She carries them. She makes big plays at the right time. She’s all over the floor.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect on what she brings to the game.”

As for her own team, Joseph’s noted, “To out-rebound Connecticut (40-38) is a major accomplishment for us and to hold them for 3-for-23 from the three-point line, I thought our matchup zone was pretty effective.

“But we have to develop an inside game. UConn is the No. 1 team in the country and now we know what we have to do to get to where we want to be. They go as hard in warm-ups as they go in a game.

“This is teaching us a lot about ourselves. This is not going to hurt us in January, it’s only going to help ourselves.”

As for getting the crowds back down here, Joseph said, “I hope they saw how hard we play, how we compete. Obviously women’s basketball is played at a very high level.

“I thought you saw some tremendous basketball plays out there. But one thing we’re missing here is we’ve been in the (NCAA) tournament the last four years. We’ve won 27 games the last four years.

“The one thing we’re missing to get this program over the hump is our attendance, getting people to support this team. We’ve been one of the best kept secrets in Atlanta. Obviously getting 7,000 people in here – we’re not a secret any more. As long as we continue to win and be competitive I think that will happen.”

-- Mel

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kuester Keeps Hawks Unbeaten As Does Delle Donne For Delaware

By Mel Greenberg

When St. Joseph’s junior Katie Kuester shot her way to the top of the Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation NCAA Women’s Sunmer League this past season it seemed only a matter of time she might do likewise for the Hawks this winter.

Kuester, the daughter of NBA Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester, a former assistant with the 76ers, has gotten there quickly.

She scored a career-high 16 points Saturday as St. Joseph’s stayed perfect at 3-0 after a 64-50 win over UMBC in Baltimore.

The Hawks excelled at both ends of the floor, holding UMBC to 25.8 percent from the floor defensively.

“We certainly are consistent,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. “We’ve been scoring in the 60s and holding teams in the 50s,

“This is a much better start so far than we’ve had the last several seasons and a lot of these games are now paybacks.

Michelle Baker had 12 of her 15 points in the second half and Kelly Cavallo grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds,

The Hawks are back in town Tuesday but will remain on their extended road trip with a trip to Drexel.

Delaware Fires Past Yale

No sophomore jinx so far for Delaware all-American Elena Delle Donne, who followed up opening scoring games of 36 and 34 points Saturday with 41 in a 79-61 win over Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

Danielle Parker had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the unbeaten Blue Hens (3-0). The Bulldogs fell to 1-2.

Sarah Acker, a transfer whose college career began at St. Joseph’s and who was the Big Five freshman of the year several seasons ago, became eligible this week and had four points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes of action.

Delaware is back home in the Bob Carpenter Center Tuesday night in Newark against St. Francis, Pa., the defending Northeast Conference tournament champions.

Kimmel Torches Oral Roberts

Junior forward Lindsey Kimmel, a transfer from Temple, had 20 points and connected on six three-pointers to spur Villanova (3-1) to a 61052 victory over Oral Roberts (2-3) on the second and final day of the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md.

Jesse Carey had 11 points and dealt five assists while Megan Pearson scored 10 points.

Villanova next will host Patriot League champion Lehigh on Tuesday.

Holy Family Conquers New England

Despite the absence of Catherine Carr, who suffered an ankle injury in Tuesday’s win over Kutztown, the Tigers rallied Saturday for a 61-55 nonconference win over American International in Springfield, Mass.

Samantha Thompson, a graduate student, had a game-high 24 points for the Tigers (3-0) who handed the home team its first defeat in four games.

Erin Mann had 20 points and eight rebounds.

The Tigers travel to Millersville on Tuesday.

-- Mel

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Drexel Rallies Over Penn In Battle of West Philly

(Guru's note: Some nights such as Friday, in the early going, the Guru report will take the form of a local roundup. It will extend to D-II and D-III as soon as the Guru gets them in synch with new email addresses. By the way, the Guru may no longer consider it gender equity training at his former place of employment but he will be in print Sunday with a St. Joe men's game being played Saturday against Norfolk State at Hagan Arena.)

By Mel Greenberg

A few days ago Drexel coach Denise Dillon reflected on the Dragons’ season opening win at La Salle noting, “It helps when you make shots early.”

On Friday night, however, in Drexel’s second straight game against a Big Five school, the Dragons (2-0) in their home opener couldn’t do anything at the outset against Penn and fell to a 9-0 deficit.

The Quakers (1-1) were coming off last week’s season-opening win at home in The Palestra against Bryant. Penn, whose campus is a few blocks away from the Daskalakis Athletic Center in West Philadelphia, also had a level of familiarity because of the number of players on both teams who play pick-up games with and against each other.

But the chance of a magical upset in coach Mike McLaughlin’s second season began to unravel once Drexel got on the scoreboard courtesy of freshman Jackie Schluth’s shot with 10 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first half.

Schluth, who lives across the river in Medford, N.J., is a graduate of Bishop Eustace.

Then another Drexel newcomer – Fiona Flanagan of Penn Valley, Pa., and Notre Dame de Namur – hit a shot and suddenly the Dragons were on their way with a 22-3 run the rest of the half and emerged with an easy 62-31 triumph.

“We definitely did recover, but it was the case of constant defense,” Dillon said afterwards. “We tried to keep our players focused and understand we have to keep playing defense no matter what was happening on the offensive end.

“Thankfully, they did that and gave us a chance to knock down some shots. It helped to bring some players in. Jackie Schluth did a nice job off the bench for a freshman. Again, we keep telling our players it’s a team effort. If somebody’s having an off-day, someone else is there to pick you up.”

Drexel needed group therapy to kick start the offense considering that Gabriela Marginean, the all-time scorer in Philadelphia women’s collegiate history, has graduated and is now playing overseas after a brief stint in the WNBA last summer.

“We started taking care of the ball and stopped taking quick shots,” Dillon said of several factors involved in breaking the game open.

The Dragons ended up shooting 49 percent from the field, while the Quakers shot a miserable 22 percent. In terms of defense, Drexel was able to outscore Penn 15-2 off turnovers.

Jasmina Roosseel, a native of Belgium, had 12 points, while Hollie Mershon scored 10. Kamile Nacickaite of Lithuania, who had scored 26 against La Salle, scored eight against the Quakers.

“Our bench players stepped up, which was a key,” Nacickaite said. “I’m really proud of them.”

Unlike many of her teammates, she was not involved in summer league action here in suburban Hatboro.

“I was home playing for the national team in the European championships,” Nacickaite said.

Penn freshman Alyssa Baron scored eight points as no Quaker was able to score in double figures.

“We were playing well on both ends,” McLaughlin said of Penn’s start. “We were moving the ball, we made some good defensive stands.

“And then it just snowballed backwards. We got some poor shots, give (Drexel) credit, they made shots and we didn’t handle it well. Our offense got rushed because they scored and we have to learn quickly to handle that.

“I thought, defensively, if we held them to 60 we might be able to get into position to do something but our offense was just not good enough,” he said.

Freshman Meghan McCullough of Havertown and the Academy of Notre Dame is the only Penn player with a local connection while other players hail from such states as California, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois.

McLaughlin thought that makeup affected the mindset of his squad in terms of not being knowledgeable, upper class women the exception, of the intensity of local rivalries with schools such as Drexel and those in the Big Five.

“I didn’t explain until this week the magnitude of a Philadelphia-type game and with some of the players not from this area, I think the magnitude of playing a rivalry right down the street is a big thing and I don’t think we handled it well. If we’re in this situation again, I think we’ll learn a lot.”

Drexel next hosts St. Joseph’s on Tuesday (7 p.m.) before the Dragons host Villanova, Dillon’s alma mater, at 5 p.m. on Friday after Thanksgiving.

“That game with St. Joseph’s is going to be tough,” Dillon said of the next time in uniform. “They’re a lot like us, right now, getting things done as a team effort.”

Penn will travel on Tuesday to Rider in Lawrenceville, N.J., halfway between Trenton and Princeton.

La Salle Nearly Stuns Georgetown

While tracking the other local teams during the Drexel-Penn game, the computer seemed to utter a big gulp when a halftime score out of the nation’s capital showed La Salle (1-3) was holding a 28-18 halftime lead on No. 13 Georgetown in the Hoyas’ McDonough Arena.

The home team had just dismantled No. 21 Maryland on Tuesday night in the same building.

Though the Explorers are short-handed – seven scholarship players – it was then thought that perhaps new coach Jeff Williams might have a few tricks up his sleeve from his previous job as an assistant at Pittsburgh, which plays Georgetown regularly in Big East competition.

However, Hoyas coach Terri Williams-Flournoy must have given some halftime speech because her squad (3-0) opened the final 20 minutes with a 15-0 run to take the lead and hold on for a 50-46 victory. The run actually extended to 20-3.

All-American candidate Sugar Rodgers and Monice McNutt each scored 10 points for Georgetown while Ashley Gale had 18 points and Nadia Duncan scored 12.

The Explorers were unable to try the Villanova method from the outside, shooting a poor 6-for-34 on three-point attempts.

La Salle next hosts Oral Roberts – the school – on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Tom Gola Arena.

‘Nova Blockades Host Navy

Don’t get the wrong idea from the headline for this item. The Wildcats didn’t suddenly all turn into multiple versions of Baylor 6-8 sophomore sensation Brittney Griner against the Midshipwomen in Annapolis, Md., Friday night, at the Naval Academy.

However, coach Harry Perretta did go to the air effectively as Villanova (2-1) bombed Navy (2-1) with 11 three-pointers in the 54-41 victory that was secured by making six straight foul shots in the final 1:32 of action.

Sophomore Megan Pearson from Archbishop Carroll had a career high 15 points and Sarah Jones of Central High scored 13.

Additionally, the Wildcats armada was plentiful with Villanova reserves outscoring the local sailors 33-7 off the bench.

The team will remain in the town of tasty seafood and Colonial ambience to meet Oral Roberts 11 Saturday morning before hosting Patriot League champion Lehigh Tuesday night at the Pavilion at 7 p.m.

Owls Hit Free Throws to Dodge Bulls

Temple (1-2) finally made it to the win column in the opening week of the season, beating Buffalo 74-64 by picking up 26 points making foul shots in McGonigle Hall, the Owls’ other venue on North Broad Street.

Coach Tonya Cardoza’s squad was coming off an upset loss at Seton Hall after fading in the second half. This time, Temple got stronger with a 16-3 run down the stretch against Buffalo (1-2) of the Mid-American Conference.

Newcomer Shey Peddy scored 20 points and was 10-for-10 from the line. Junior Kristen McCarthy scored 18, while senior Qwedia Wallace scored 15 points. Victoria Macaulay had 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Buffalo is coached by Linda Hill MacDonald, a native of Delaware County who guided Temple in the 1980s leading the Owls to their best seasons prior to the Dawn Staley coaching era that began in 2000-01 and has continued the past two seasons under Cardoza.

Temple next hosts Northern Illinois, another MAC school, Tuesday night at 7 in McGonigle Hall before heading West after Thanksgiving. The Owls will be at Pepperdine Friday and then visit UCLA Sunday. The Bruins are expected to bolt forward in the AP rankings following their upset win this week at Notre Dame.

-- Mel

Friday, November 19, 2010

Princeton Tigers' Tale of Glory Ruined By Rutgers

By Mel Greenberg

Two years ago the Princeton women’s basketball team made the 30-40 minute trip north here to Rutgers’ Louis A. Brown Athletic Center and went the way one would expect an Ivy team to go against a squad which maintains a national stature even if that stature can be shaky at times in the front part of the season.

“I walked into this gym two years ago and we lost – it felt like 112,” fourth-year Tigers coach Courtney Banghart reflected Thursday night on what was actually an 83-35 rout at the hands of the Scarlet Knights. “I said to (her players) `We’ll be back.’ I just didn’t think we’d be back in this fashion so quickly.

”You’d actually think it would make me feel better but it actually makes me feel worse.”

The reason is the Tigers came up just short, losing to Rutgers 54-53 after junior redshirt Khadijah Rushdan nailed a short jumper with four seconds remaining to give the Scarlet Knights (1-2) their first win of the season and hand Princeton (1-1) its first loss.

Princeton, which trailed 35-22 at the half on the way to what became its 12th straight loss in the battle of central New Jersey, rallied over the final 20 minutes and was poised for one of the great nonconference upsets in Ivy history after Lauren Edwards hit a layup with 1 minute, 13 seconds remaining for a 53-52 advantage.

Rutgers went to work on its end only to have 6-foot-2 sophomore Monique Oliver, a former high school all-American, turn the ball over to Princeton’s 6-0 sophomore forward Niveen Rasheed on a steal with 43 seconds remaining.

However, with a chance to at worst be in position to go into overtime, Niveen missed a jumper and junior Chelsea Lee, another former high school all-American, came up with the ball for Rutgers with 12 seconds left in regulation.

The Scarlet Knights then darted down the floor and Rushdan, the team leader did what Rutgers leaders are expected to do – she hit a shot and Princeton was unable to scurry quick enough to have one final chance.

“To come that close it is clear I really like the fight of this team,” Banghart said. “But we didn’t come here to lose by one – that’s for sure.”

Last season the Tigers lost close at home to Rutgers and then went on a school-record 21-game win streak that included a 14-0 sweep of the Ivy League and first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament finishing 26-3 after a first-round loss to St. John’s.

Princeton, which drew weekly votes in the Associated Press women’s poll in the backstretch of last season, is probably the best Ivy squad since the Harvard team with WNBA future All-Star Allison Feaster that pulled the famous 16th seed upset of top-seeded Stanford in the opening round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.
Observers agree that both those teams were probably mis-seeded – Harvard because the Crimson were that good and Stanford because of two key injuries the week before the tournament got underway.

If Princeton wins the Ivy again the NCAA tournament committee will once more have a good handle on the Tigers since members Richard Ensor, commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Monmouth athletic director Marilyn McNeil, the chairwoman, are located nearby in the Garden State.

The Tigers are ranked fourth in the new CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll after winning their opener at home against Fairleigh Dickinson 78-37 on Saturday.

Princeton will have some more cracks at noteworthy nonleaguers, playing Southern Cal in the opener of Vanderbilt’s tournament in Nashville.

The Tigers also have a diet of Philly area opponents besides the Ivy home-and-home rivalry with Penn. They’ll travel to Delaware (Dec. 1), a game they won last year, and St. Joseph’s (Dec. 19) while hosting Drexel (Dec. 17) and La Salle (Jan. 4),

Niveen had 14 points against Rutgers, while senior Addie Micir, a graduate of Council Rock North in Lower Bucks County, scored 11 points as did Edwards. The roster also has Laura Johnson, a graduate of Mt. St. Joseph’s Academy who was coached by former La Salle mentor John Miller.

Rushdan finished with 13 points, while Lee scored 11.

It was a game Rutgers needed to win because it was the home opener and the Scarlet Knights were coming off opening road losses at California and No. 3 Stanford last weekend, not that there is any shame over either setback.

Rushdan described her winning play.

“The look was to see my options, either drive, kick hit to a shooter or try to get to the inside but the shot is what I had so that’s what I took,” she said.

Rutgers was able to sizzle from the field in the first half, shooting 52 percent from the field, though Banghart expected the Scarlet Knights to cool down and told her team to limit the Rutgers offense to one shot in the second half.

Princeton managed stay close in the battle of the boards being outrebounded 35-34.

“Against this team we had to make a decision,” Banghart said. “Are we going to concede the offensive glass and get back in transition, which is neither here nor there – your choice. But after
you saw my team, I couldn’t tell them to not crash the glass.

“It’s a physical team. We have a lot of pride. So, we said, `Good! Go after the glass and also make sure you get back and we did just that.”

Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer thought Princeton actually posed more of a problem than the two opponents out West last weekend.

“In the first two games we let it flow and it was easy and open for whatever reason,” Stringer said. “A number of times we began forcing shots and when we do that it makes the shooters look bad and we’re not in position to rebound.

“We’re very lucky to pull this one off. They’re not a joke by an stretch of the imagination. I was more upset with this one because we didn’t play with a lot of intensity. Maybe it’s because Princeton runs so many things. Those other two teams are consistent with what they run.”

Stringer still thinks her team is ahead at this time of year then the last several.

“This game didn’t show it, but that’s OK. I saw it last weekend.”

Princeton travels to Patriot League champion Lehigh on Sunday while Rutgers will remain home for Monday’s game against North Carolina A&T.

Is Overtime Penn State’s Time?

Yeah, the Guru knows his headline on this item steals the Maryland theme from 2006 when the Terrapins won the NCAA title over ACC-rival Duke in overtime capping a season in which extra minutes became plentiful to secure victories.

But it’s late and the glass slipper of the moment seems to fit after the Nittany Lions went to 3-0, producing another high-scoring 96-89 overtime triumph against Oakland in Rochester, Mich.

On Friday night Penn State won at Dayton 111-107 in double overtime.

Freshman Maggie Lucas, a graduate of Germantown Academy, forced the extra period with a reverse layup with eight seconds left in regulation. Zhaque Gray was again at the top of the scoring charts for Penn State with 16 points, a total matched by freshman teammate Ariel Edwards as Oakland fell to 1-2 after leading 23-12 early in the contest.

Lucas had 13 points and three rebounds and three assists off the bench.

Penn State next hosts Dawn Staley’s South Carolina squad Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center with the nonconference match televised on Big10-TV.

The Gamecocks (2-1) beat in-state rival Clemson 73-51 Thursday as Ieasia Walker set a career high with 30 points as the Tigers fell to 2-1.

Scanning The Wires (And Email)

Jasmine Thomas had 16 points to lead No. 6 Duke to a 75-62 win at Auburn in a Big Six Conferences challenge game.

DePaul (3-0) will have an opportunity at moving into the AP Poll by playing Purdue on the road Sunday in the title game of the Preseason Women’s NIT. The Demons advanced at home with a 74-73 win over Florida (2-1) after a last-second shot by the Gators was ruled after time expired.

Shante Evans, a sophomore from West Chester Henderson High in suburban Philadelphia, had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead Hofstra (2-1) to a 84-72 win at Stony Brook.

No. 21 Maryland (2-1) shook off its loss at No. 13 Georgetown to rout in-state rival Towson 72-47 in the Comcast Center while No. 4 Tennessee (3-0) held off Virginia 85-73 in Knoxville as Angie Bjorklund scored 26 points. Ariana Moorer had 24 for the Cavaliers (2-1).


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guru's Musings: Delle Donne And Other Matters

By Mel Greenberg

Tuesday was quite the night for musing what might have been when it comes to discussing Delaware sophomore Elena Delle Donne, one of the top freshmen in the nation last season.

Had the 2008 national high school player of the year stuck with her original intent to play at Connecticut, there was ever a briefest pause to wonder what kind of impact she might have had for the Huskies in the 1 vs. 2 showdown with Baylor won 65-64 by UConn at the XL Center in Hartford.

Her departure after a two-day stay in summer school made little difference the last two seasons as Connecticut won back-to-back unbeaten NCAA titles to launch a record win streak that reached 80 after holding off the Bears on Tuesday.

But when it came to dealing with 6-foot-8 sophomore Brittney Griner, aside from the fine defensive job by freshman Samarie Walker in the first half, Delle Donne might have been another body capable of limiting the potential damage being caused by foul trouble in UConn's post rotation.

As it was, perhaps more so than Delle Donne, UConn coach Geno Auriemma noted the effect of losing her good friend Caroline Doty, the point guard out of Germantown Academy and Doylestown in suburban Philadelphia who is missing her second season in three years because of another knee injury.

As mentioned after the game, had Doty been healthy there wouldn't be a need to rush freshman Bria Hartley into the starting lineup in the national spotlight so quickly.

Incidentally, a fans publication had Doty's picture, in uniform, on the cover, though her injury was mentioned inside

However, UConn's history in winning seven national titles and just missing a few more, have been nutured by the hands fate has dealt the Huskies, such as Doty's two injuries.

Though Hartley struggled most of the night, her eight points at the finish made her an instant star and fan favorite as she enabled Connecticut's streak to stay alive and move closer to the 88 straight won by the UCLA men's teams under John Wooden.

But while Maya Moore and the newbies caused Connecticut to prevail again, Delle Donne was playing at home with the Blue Hens at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark face to face with another school that had been one of her original four finalists along with UConn, Middle Tennessee and Tennessee.

That would be Villanova, which came back into the discussion when Delle Donne declared her return to basketball in May 2009.

When she had given up her UConn scholarship and then decided to attend Delaware and play volleyball for the 2008-09 season, she blamed "burnout" from the enormous attention placed on her skills.

But upon her return, Delle Donne identified the real cause as homesickness, saying, "if I had known it was that, it might have impacted my original decision."

The conclusion immediately was that perhaps Villanova (1-1) would have been the grand prize winner.

So on Tuesday night instead of helping the Wildcats' cause, Delle Donne put her own stamp on their 69-62 demise, scoring 34 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. That followed up her 36 on opening night Friday aat home gainst the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

Villanova coach Harry Perretta does not get into these kind of scenarios that we all sometimes find a little fascinating or readership worthy.

Asked to evaluate her game, Perretta responded, "I hadn't seen her since high school, but, though it sounds hard to believe, she has gotten even better. She has clearly worked on her game and understands how to play.

"She was in the entire way against us and she also appears to be a lot stronger."

Delaware jumped from No. 24 to 15th in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll.

Ironically, it is sort of a retro week for Delle Donne because the Blue Hens' next stop is Saturday night at Yale at 7 p.m., in New Haven which means she will finally get to play IN Connecticut, though not FOR Connecticut.

The media covering the Huskies, however, will be on the way to Atlanta where UConn goes after win No. 81 Sunday afternoon at Georgia Tech, which also is the homecoming game for senior Maya Moore in her native state.

Holy Family Wins Again Despite Carr Injury

Close calls come in different forms and moments.

On Tuesday night, were it not for 24 turnovers by Baylor to go with a poor shooting effort on the foul line, Connecticut's win streak might be history instead of remaining alive by the slim 65-64 outcome.

Holy Family (2-0), ranked fifth in the coaches' poll in Division II, suffered a different kind of scare Wednesday night on the way to an 83-61 victory over Kutztown at the Tigers' Campus Center in Northeast Philadelphia.

Cruising along in the first half against the Golden Bears in what was the visitors' season opener, Carr had 15 points ahd the Tigers were ahead 29-14 when the senior forward from Bernardsville, N.J., hit the floor screaming in pain.

As she was helped to the bench, the moment appeared to be another in a long series of scenes in the sport in which star players have been cut down by knee injuries.

This time, however, the outcome was happier with Carr having tweaked her ankle.

If anything, Holy Family never faded after Carr left the game against a team that was 19-10 last season and picked to finish fourth this time in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division. Kutztown, incidentally, is coached by Janet Malouf who starred at Rutgers under Theresa Grentz.

"I proud of my kids to keep the momentum going when 'Cat did go down," Holy Family coach Mark Miller said afterwards. "I think it hurt a little bit but I think she'll be ready to go Saturday.

"I'll be shocked if she's not ready."

Carr described the moment she got hurt.

"It's just the initial reaction you have, you get a little scared, but I should be good."

Lauren Peters followed Carr in the scoring department with 13 points, while Lindsey Tennett scored 12, Carolyne Heston scored 11 and Samantha Thompson scored 10.

Kutztown's Melissa McQuade and Kristen Murray each scored 12 points and Steph Zewe scored 10.

"I thought we had a good rhythm, even after I came out, and we didn't let that alter the way we played," Carr said. "And we handled it well. On the defensive side, we know we need to pick it up a bit, box out some more and not give up so many offensive rebounds. Offensively, we're playing pretty well."

The Tigers struggled a bit at the opening but showed no effects of a letdown from Monday's season opener at home against No. 24 Bentley.

"I was a little bit concerned we didn't get off to a good start, but we kind of got ourselves going, playing better," Miller explained. "I'm not real happy where we are defensively right now as a team -- giving up too many points -- we have to do a better job as we go.

"But we came through, made some big plays, got some people playing well, and we had a good group that did a lot of different stuff and got a lot of people playing time, so that was important."

Holy Family continues its nonconference schedule with its first road trip Saturday, playing American International in Springfield, Mass.

Drexel Roars Over La Salle

Gabriela Marginean has moved from Drexel action into the Dragons' history books, but apparently there's little trouble at the outset continuing to produce points in the wake of her stellar career as the all-time scorer in Philadelphia women's collegiate history.

Kamile Nacickaite poured down 26 points Tuesday night, shooting 10-for-15 from the field, and Hollie Mershon had 15 as Drexel took its season opener, winning at La Salle, 86-55, in the Explorers' Tom Gola Arena.

La Salle (1-2), which is at No. 13 Georgetown Friday night, suffered its second loss under new coach Jeff Williams.

"I was a little surprised it went that way," Drexel coach Denise Dillon said. "I thought it would be a lot closer either way because of the way we traditionally have had problems at their place over the years.

"I didn't know what to expect from us, considering it was our first game. But I said with 'Gabby gone, it will have to be about other people stepping up and that's what happened.

"Of course, it always helps when you can make shots early in the game."

Drexel opens at home Friday night in the battle of West Philadelphia, hosting Penn, which is off to a 1-0 start following last Friday's when over Bryant.

"You look at what's happening in some games and we told our kids at practice, you can't assume things after our win over La Salle. Both teams know each other well from playing in the summer league (in Hatboro). Penn is obviously a lot better."

An example of what Dillon was saying can be found in College Park, Md., where the No. 21 Terrapins are recovering from a 53-45 loss Tuesday night at nearby No. 13 Georgetown in the Hoyas' tiny McDonough Arena.

It's not that Maryland lost that was a surprise, it was the Terrapins' inability to score considering the way they ripped through three lesser opponents, two in preseason play, and Monmouth in the opener prior to Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Drexel, though not in the Big Five, is playing its first four games against City Series rivals, continuing next week against St. Joseph's and Villanova, which is Dillon's alma mater. The only team the Dragons won't meet is Temple (0-2), which was shocked at Seton Hall (1-1) Tuesday night with new Pirates coach Anne Donovan getting her first victory 72-59.

"We play Seton Hall so I'm curious as to what they have," Dillon said. La Salle also plays the Pirates.

Drexel and Villanova met last year on the Main Line with the Wildcats using a strong second half to win. This will be the first time Villanova's Perretta will coach in the Dragons' Daskalakis Athletic Center, though he has been in the stands many times watching both Dillon's teams and the Drexel men coached by Bruiser Flint.

Hawks Begin Long Road Trip With Win

St. Joseph's is now 2-0 after winning 67-49 at Sacred Heart on Tuesday night as Michelle Baker set a career high with 17 points. The Hawks travel to University of Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday.

Next week they return to the city but play at Drexel Tuesday and then take a break before traveling to Patriot champion Lehigh on Nov. 30. The Mountain Hawks will be coming off an appearance at Connecticut -- really.

The next St. Joe's game in Hagan Arena is Villanova on Dec. 12.

Rutgers After First Win

Following losses at California at No. 3 Stanford last weekend, Rutgers hosts nearby Princeton, the Ivy defending champion and favorite, in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center Thursday night.

The Tigers won their opener, beating Fairleigh Dickinson 78-37 after going 26-3 last season. One of the losses was to the Scarlet Knights at home in Jadwyn Gym while the other in regular season was at UCLA. They lost in the NCAA first round to St. John's.

Rutgers got good news Wednesday, getting a commitment on the final day of the early signing period from 5-9 guard briyona Canty, the No. 6 ranked player in ESPN HoopGurlz 100. She plays at Trenton Catholic Academy.

Temple Homecoming of Sorts

Still looking for their first win after an 0-2 start, when the Owls host Buffalo Friday night in McGonigle Hall it will mark the return of former Temple coach Linda Hill MacDonald.

She had been the most successful coach of the program, taking the Owls to the NCAA tournament in 1989, prior to the arrival 11 years later of former coach Dawn Staley.

The game is part of an annual series of contests against Mid-American Conference schools that were set as part of the deal that enabled the football team to join the MAC.

Staley's South Carolina team, incidentally, will be at Penn State Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

-- Mel

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rookie Hartley Rescues' UConn Win Streak In Baylor Showdown

By Mel Greenberg

HARTFORD, Conn. --
In their ascendancy to becoming one of the dominant powers of women’s collegiate basketball, the University of Connecticut Huskies have had their share of fabled point guards coming up big in key games when the outcome was still in the balance.

Who can forget the famous crossover dribble by Jennifer Rizzotti, now the coach at nearby Hartford, that turned the tide against Tennessee down the stretch to give UConn its first national championship in 1995.

There was the buzzer beater by Sue Bird in 2001 that gave the Huskies the Big East title over Notre Dame in Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. Though the Irish got revenge in the national semifinals several weeks later on the way to their first championship, Bird later signatured one of the four unbeaten runs in 2002.

Near the end of the decade Renee Montgomery authored the first of the two back-to-back unbeaten runs that had the Huskies open the season on Sunday in defense of their most recent national championships.

But these All-Americans had a little time and a lot of hounding from Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma to grow into their leadership roles and provide some rescue work whenever the Huskies needed it performed.

While they were able to be nurtured along the way, freshman Bria Hartley, a 5-7 guard from North Babylon, New York, grabbed hold of the legacy a little quicker Tuesday night in an early season No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with Baylor in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2 in front of a crowd of 12,628 in the XL Center.

Because of the second season-ending injury of Germantown Academy graduate Caroline Doty from Doylestown, Pa., near Philadelphia, Auriemma was forced to immediately toss Hartley into the deep end of the UConn pool of excellence.

So how did she respond?

Well after treading water most of the game, Hartley scored eight points at the finish to spur a rally to a 65-64 victory over the Bears that preserved the Huskies women’s record win streak that now stands at 80.

Hartley’s three-pointer with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left in the game brought the Huskies (2-0) back from an eight-point deficit to the Bears (3-1) that existed several minutes earlier to a 58-58 tie. UConn seemed on the way to another route when the Huskies had taken a 15-point lead earlier in the half,.

Then after sophomore sensation Brittney Griner, a 6-8 center from Houston, scored on the inside, Hartley scored again for another tie after a missed three-pointer from senior Maya Moore,the consensus national player of the year.

Then Hartley nailed a trey with 2:09 left that put UConn ahead to stay, though the game wasn’t ultimately decided until time expired at the same time or an eyelash ahead of Baylor freshman point guard Odyssey Sims desperation three-pointer.

“I don’t know if there’s been a bigger shot made in her life than the three that she made on the wing to tie the game,” Auriemma said. “That had to be the greatest feeling in the world for her.”

Auriemma, however, also noted how Hartley had struggled most of the way before her heroics.

“She was overwhelmed,” Auriemma said. She and (freshman) Stefanie (Dolson) were overwhelmed by the situation, by the competition, by everything.

“Bria reacted exactly liked I thought she would react,” Auriemma said of his thoughts over Hartley’s performance. “It just took a little longer. She’s going to make some plays that are going to win thje game. I just don’t know when.”

Moore praised her new teammate, one of five freshmen on a squad not as deep as the one that signed off last season after rallying to get by Stanford in the NCAA title game.

“I don’t know what was going through her head there -- I don’t think too much,” Moore smiled. I say that because when you need to make shots, you can’t think a whole lot. At times she overplays and gets out of the flow of our offense. When she hits shots like that you know she’s focused and playing to win.”

Hartley admitted to having the jitters going into the last five minutes,

“It was definitely nerve wracking but I knew we’d come through and make big plays,” Hartley said. “If everybody does the little things, we’d get the win. I was just playing.

“I was running through our offense and concentrating on what needed to be done.”

Newcomer Samarie Walker did a fine job shutting down Griner in the first half.

“I’ve never even seen a 6-8 female before,” she said. “Stepping out there next to her I was like, `Oh my goodness.‘ But once we got out there I totally forgot about the height difference and just tried to play her like normal.”

Moore finished with 30 points while Tiffany Hayes scored 16 for UConn.

Griner had 19 points and nine blocked shots but she was 5-for-13 from the line. Sims, who has been quickly thrown into a point guard start herself, finished with 17 points.

Baylor, which lost to Connecticut in San Antonio, Texas, in the national semifinals in Texas, committed 17 turnovers in the first half and was 16-for-28 as a team shooting free throws.

Other than the drama reflected on the scoreboard, this was a matchup that might have had more juice if both teams had their kinks somewhat ironed out and the game played in early January.

But the streak’s existence was newsworthy enough as UConn is now eight away from the UCLA men’s record of 88 under the fabled John Wooden, who died earlier this year.

Baylor was the biggest obstacle in keeping it alive. Georgia Tech might be somewhat of a threat in Atlanta Sunday. But if the Yellow Jackets are turned aside, it will be clear sailing to the Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden in New York when Game No. 88 in the streak would be against No. 7 Ohio State and Ariemma’s good friend Jim Foster.

-- Mel