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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Guru Musings: Opening Bell For Collegiate Season

(Guru's note: Another encore performance appears in print in The Inquirer with coverage of the Temple-Ohio State game. Extended musings and commentary off all the local games of interest in Division I and a few others begin below.)

By Mel Greenberg

The Late Show:
Since this one was over too late for print, Rutgers opened on the West Coast, losing to California 66-57. Sophomore Erica Wheeler had 16 points Friday night for the Scarlet Knights and hit four three pointers.

Next up on Sunday afternoon is a visit to No. 3 Stanford, the scene where at the end of last season, Iowa knocked Rutgers out of the NCAA tournament 70-63 in the opening round. It will be the Cardinal's opener.

Penn Makes Progress: Ok, first of all understand the Quakers' 70-59 opening win over Bryant in The Palestra on Friday night did not involving anyone named Kobe or Joe from Lower Merion on the other team.

But considering Mike McLaughlin’s rookie encounter a year ago, one might still say Penn now has a two months jump over last season when the Quakers’ first win of the two produced occurred on New Year’s Eve.

In McLaughlin’s previous life on the sidelines at Division II Holy Famly in Northeast Philadelphia, he actually lost openers before taking the Tigers on a tear in their role as a national power.

Newcomer Alyssa Baron – soon to be known as the Red and Blue Baron? – scored 20 and Penn’s total of 70 was nine more than the 61 scored – the highpoint of offense in 2010 – against Columbia near the end of the season.

Next up is that long three blocks walk along 33rd Street next Friday night to the north for the neighborhood scrum at the Daskalalis Athletic Center with Drexel. Here’s a culinary tip for those following Penn faithful fans who haven’t been near the Dragons' home since the end of last season.

The new adjoining recreational facility has a restaurant – Landmark Americana – which the Guru partook on Tuesday while attending the Bruiser Flint and Denise Dillon coaches TV campus shows.

The menu is affordable, tasty and the portions are enough to stuff a Dragon.

No Brotherly Love? – Well apparently when both were at Ohio State last season, senior Evan Turner on the men’s team and sophomore Samanatha Parahlis with the women were and might still be an item – didn’t get that one absolutely confirmed as to currency.

So imagine the small talk after Turner was made the top pick and No. 2 overall by the 76ers and it also became known the Buckeyes women would be visiting Philly to play Temple, which is Ohio State coach Jim Foster’s alma mater.

However, thanks or no thanks to the NCAA and the NBA, socializing between the couple was taken right out of the romantic equation. The 76ers were scheduled out of town, which became academic when the NCAA slapped Parahlis with a three game suspension recently for an unspecified secondary violation. She was not allowed to travel with the team.

Foster, incidentally, claimed he would not be watching the Baylor-Connecticut showdown Tuesday night because he had a dinner date on the road with LSU coach Van Chancellor and Chancellor’s wife Betty.

“I hope she picks the restaurant,” Foster smiled.

Sounds like a past Waffle House experience to the Guru, who has had his own over the years with Chancellor, a longtime friend.

Kimmel Center Main Line Style. When Lindsey Kimmel was firing up three pointers for Temple her first two seasons, it became a natural to play on words with her feats on North Broad Street against the home of classical music and other performances a few blocks south of City Hall.

But those days are over.

Kimmel is now at Villanova, where after sitting a year under NCAA transfer and eligibility rules, she fit right into the Wildcats’ system Friday afternoon at the Pavilion. She hit five three-pointers to account for all 15 of her game-high total in the 51-42 victory over visiting La Salle.

The game was also the debut of new Explorers coach Jeff Williams, a former Pittsburgh assistant to Agnus Berenato, who just signed the Panthers’ first top 20 recruiting class.

La Salle got 12 points from Ebonee Jones and Alexis Scott scored 11, La Salle stays on the road to travel Sunday to Loyola of Maryland, coached by former St. Joseph’s assistant Joe Logan.

No, he’s not the former Inquirer golf writer.

Delaware Under-Rated? – The big news of the night for the Blue Hens was not Elena Delle Donne continuing to be a scoring machine her sophomore season in Delaware’s 59-44 win over University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) with 36 points, it is what happened down the road to the preseason favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association.

James Madison lost at home to Hampton after the Dukes had been picked ahead of Old Dominion and Delaware by the coaches in the preseason conference poll.

But it happens.

A year ago, Drexel, then the defending CAA champs, beat JMU at the start of the conference schedule but at the finish it was coach Kenny Brooks’ squad that emerged with the title at home in the JMU Convocation Center.

Delaware next hosts Villanova, one of the original four schools along with UConn, Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee Delle Donne made as her final choices when she was recruited out of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy as the top high school player in the nation in 2008.

Defense Takes A Night Off – The last time Penn State got walloped by another team’s scoring was back in 1980 when Southern Cal scored 103 against the Nittany Lions.

On Friday night, host Dayton, picked second behind No. 5 Xavier in the Atlantic Ten, knocked down 107 – except – Penn State won the game 112-107 in double overtime.

Justine Raterman had 32 for the Flyers while Zhaque Gray had 27 for the Nittany Lions, Alex Bentley scored 26, and Nikki Greene had 20 points and 16 rebounds.

It sounds absurd that an opening outcome could be said to turn a season around but it is doubtful that Penn State would have been the winner in this one in any of Coquese Washington’s previous three seasons.

The Nittany Lions’ home opener is Sunday against Rider.

Ironically, Temple lost to No. 7 Ohio State in the Liacouras Center while Dayton has already been spoken to. Both arenas will be sites in March for the NCAA Sweet 16. Neither host team, if in the field and advancing to the regional finals, are allowed to be in the bracket leading to their homes at that stage under NCAA rules.
But Friday night showed home court advantages are not always absolute.

Measuring Posts. In more ways than one, Temple, which got off to a good performance Friday night despite losing to No. 7 Ohio State, will be able to gauge itself in terms of progress when the regular season ends in the Liacouras Center with a visit from No. 5 Xavier.

The Buckeyes’ Jantel Lavender had a career high 37 against Temple. Xavier will bring Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips. All three are projected as top five picks in the next WNBA draft along with No. 1 favorite Maya Moore out of UConn and Australian Elizabeth Cambage.

“Great,” said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza. “Now I’ll have to deal with two of them.”

After the game she spoke of Ohio State’s effectiveness.

“They surround Lavender with great shooters so you really pick your poison trying to double team her and risk leaving someone else open.”

Cardoza noted how Temple had come close to beating two other ranked teams in non-public scrimmages. Multiple sources without providing any detail, per NCAA rules, have indicated the two were Georgetown and St. John’s.

Wow Junior(s). That would be the St. Joseph’s Hawks, whose third-year classwomen poured in 55 of the winning points in the season and home opening 64-49 triumph over Providence Friday night at Hagan Arena.

The Hawks shot 52.9 percent from the field as Michelle Baker had a career high 16 points, Kelly Cavallo scored 14, Katie Kuester had 13, and newcomer Samira Van Grinsven of the Netherlands, a transfer from Casper College, scored 12.

St. Joseph’s won’t be back into Hagan Arena until Dec. 12 for a Big Five showdown with Villanova. During the Hawks’ road tour, that includes two games in New Orleans, two spots will be in town at Penn and Drexel.

Shadowing the Guru: That would be Marilyn McNeil, the new chair this season of the NCAA women’s tournament committee who stopped by press row before the game to great Associated Press national women’s writer Doug Feinberg and yours truly.

McNeil, also the overall athletic director at Monmouth, will be at Maryland, as will the Guru, when McNeil’s team opens against the Terrapins Saturday night.

Bummer of the Day – The software update that will make multitasking on the iPad possible has been delayed for later this month.

-- Mel


Blogger ericp said...

You forgot to mention the owls had an effective performance from Satoria Bell in her homecoming back to Philly...

As Temple improves with some of its new pieces it will be curious as to how high of a ceiling the media will put on their success.

Same with the men's team.

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