Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Guru Report: Xavier Leads Ranked Fleet of Cruisers Getting Easy Wins

By Mel Greenberg

Snow may have covered the Eastern seaboard again in the last 24 hours but Wednesday was a day and night for cruising in many places across the nation as well as games involving local Division I teams in wins and losses at home as well as on the road.

Although the Kids’ Day element was called off at St. Joseph’s because of the weather forecast, though it was clear and sunny at game time, the Hawks still had to deal with Atlantic 10 Conference heavyweight Xavier, the preseason favorite and number eight team in the country.

For 20 minutes, St. Joseph’s held its own as it had done in its last outing against nationally ranked Maryland and had a 31-30 lead at the half.

But for the second straight time, athleticism prevailed for the visitors in the second half and the Hawks fell 75-54 at Hagan Arena.

“We knew they had a switch they could turn on and they certainly did,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. “And we weren’t scoring at the other end and I thought it affected our confidence on the defensive side.”

Ta’Shia Phillips, a 6-foot-6 senior center, had 20 points and 17 rebounds, while 6-5 senior forward Amber Phillips had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Both post players are expected to be among the top five picks in the next WNBA draft.

Additionally, junior guard Tyeasha Moss scored 17 points, tying a career-high for the Musketeers (13-2, 2-0 A-10), whose only losses have been at No.3 Duke and No. 4 Stanford.

“We came out flat and we needed someone to feed off of what we have already,” Moss said of her performance. “It is always to good to get a win against a team that fights hard. No one is going to give it to us so we have to go out and earn it.”

Sophomore Katie Rutan, a graduate of Springside from Ambler, played 22 minutes off the bench but scored just three points.

Erin Shields had 12 points and Ashley Prim scored 11 for the Hawks (11-5, 1-1).

“St. Joseph’s played a really good first half and we lacked intensity and energy but we got ourselves together at halftime and I was really pleased at how we played in the second half,” Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said.

The Hawks will stay home to host Charlotte Saturday at 2 p.m. following an alumni game set to be played at 11:30 a.m.

Temple Rolls Past Rhode Island

The Owls (10-6, 2-0 A-10) followed its gritty win over Charlotte last Friday with a lopsided 81-34 triumph over the Rams (6-10, 0-2) Wednesday night at home at the Liacouras Center.

Substitute Satoria Bell rang up 17 points for Temple, including 3-of-5 three-point attempts, while Kristen McCarthy scored 16 points and Shey Peddy scored 14 points. She also had four assists and four steals.

Additionally, Victoria Macaulay had eight rebounds and tied a career-high blocking four shots.

Temple’s defensive pressure produced results in the first half as the Owls got 18 points off of 14 Rams turnovers, while committing just four miscues themselves.

“All year long this is what we have been harping on, getting up for games like this,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said, referring to a trio of nonconference upset losses at Seton Hall, Eastern Michigan, and Pepperdine.

“Finally we’ve done it and helpfully it will carry over the rest of the season.”

Temple next heads to Fordham Saturday before hosting St. Joseph’s Wednesday in the first of two major confrontations. The Big Five game against the Hawks will be the second one at Hagan Arena.

“One thing we do is we lax against lesser opponents so coming out the way we did today, that’s a good start, that’s the way to start the A-10 season,” Cardoza said.

Villanova Tops Penn With Perretta Aide At The Helm

Wildcats coach Harry Perretta neared his 600th victory in 33 seasons coaching Villanova, picking up No. 594 at the expense of the Quakers 57-52 in a Big Five game at The Palestra while he remained home in bed.

“He gets credit for the wins, I get credit for the losses,” quipped associate head coach Joe Mullaney Jr., who has filled in for Perretta several times in the past.

Perretta was suffering from the flu and not from getting ill coping with what has been an anemic scoring attack in most games throughout the season.

Rachel Roberts scored 17 points for the Wildcats (8-8, 2-2 Big Five), while Laura Sweeney scored 16, and Sarah Jones scored 13.

Freshman Alyssa Baron had 23 for the Quakers (5-7, 0-2 Big Five), who head to Charlottesville this weekend for a Sunday game at Atlantic Coast power Virginia.

“Obviously, it’s a challenge, but that’s why they’re on our schedule,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said.

Villanova, which hosts nationally ranked DePaul Sunday returing to Big East play, held a 15-point lead over Penn late in the first half. The Wildcats used a 10-0 run to gain a 16-point lead in the second half before the Quakers rallied to narrow the gap the rest of the way.

"We didn’t shoot the ball well in the second half, which has been our m.o. all season,” Mullaney said. “We don’t play consistently well.

“This kind of game, we played aggressively in the first half for 17 minutes, but now we have to get to be aggressive in the second half for 17 minutes,” Mullaney explained. “And we have to be smarter at the end of the game.

“Mike does a good job,” Mullaney said of his counterpart. “He was smart to keep playing a zone (defense). We don’t always make the right pass and when we made the right pass we didn’t shoot the ball aggressive enough the second half.

“We’ve never shot the ball well the whole game all year,” he added.

McLaughlin pointed to the 10-0 run by the Wildcats during the second half as the cause for the Quakers defeat.

“We fought back but we just ran out of time,” he said. “I told our players we had them where we wanted them at the end but it was a little late. And Laura Sweeney is tough inside. She’s very skilled.

“We tried a scramble zone the second half and had a little success with that.”

There was a brief scare near the end of the game when a Villanova player barreled into veteran official Kathy Lonergan trying to make a play and Lonergan hit the deck slightly injuring her wrist.

But she got up a few minutes later and finished working the game.

St. Bonaventure Surges Over La Salle

The Bonnies (11-6, 1-1 A-10) used a 20-0 run across the halftime break to gain a 74-54 win topping the Explorers (4-12, 0-2) at home in Olean, N.Y.

The Explorers’ 35 points in the first half were the most allowed by St. Bonaventure all season.

Ashley Gale scored 16 points for La Salle, Alexis Scott scored 15, and Jess Koci scored 13.

The Explorers will host St. Louis Saturday.

The Billikens have their own woes, losing to Dayton at home 84-62 as the Flyers’ Justine Raterman scored 30 points in an Atlantic 10 game.

UConn Returns To Broadway – Actually Seventh Ave.

Several weeks after tying the UCLA men’s Division I win streak record of 88 by beating Ohio State in Madison Square Garden before breaking the mark and extending the total to 90, the second-ranked Huskies returned to the scene of their notoriety in New York Wednesday night in a late 9:30 start and demolished host St. John’s 84-52 in a Big East contest.

Mittie’s Achievement

TCU coach Jeff Mittie gained his 400th career victory as the Horned Frogs defeated host Wyoming 68-47 in a Mountain West game and shot over 50 percent in Laramie.

“Our group has really started to grow as a team lately and have really stepped up their play since the break,” Mittie said.

Texas Tech Rallies Again

The Red Raiders are off to a 2-0 start for the first time in the Big 12 since coach Kristy Curry succeeded Hall of Famer Marsha Sharp as coach of the Red Raiders.

This time they again rallied from a double-digit deficit for the second straight game and beat Missouri 63-56 at home in Lubbock.

Ranked Cruisers

Several other nationally ranked teams besides UConn had an easy time of it Wednesday night.

Notre Dame shrugged off its narrow loss to Connecticut Saturday and thumped Louisville 80-60 in a Big East game.
Top-ranked Baylor beat Texas 87-72, while Texas A&M blasted Oklahoma State 82-53, both wins coming in Big 12 action.

Reunion – Sort Of
Pittsburgh ventured into North Jersey and beat host Seton Hall 64-58 in a game that had a pseudo WNBA reunion.

Panthers assistant Patty Coyle, hired by Agnus Berenato this season, had been the WNBA head coach of the New York Liberty before being let go during the 2009 season and succeded by her assistant Anne Donovan, the coach of the 2008 United States
Olympic gold medalists.

Donovan has since left New York to cross the Hudson River and coach Seton Hall this season returning to the college ranks. However, prior to the announcement of her hire last spring. Coyle was considered the frontrunner to head the Pirates.

Thursday’s Action

Three games of note exist among teams followed locally.

Penn State, trying to make a run at the Big 10 title by piling up wins in the Bryce Jordan Center, will be hosting Minnesota Thursday night.

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Drexel travels to James Madison, the scene of key triumphs for both teams in recent seasons.

The Dragons beat the host Dukes in 2009 to win the title game and first-ever CAA postseason title that came right after a first-ever outright season title.

JMU stayed home to return to the title game again in 2010 and topped perennial champion Old Dominion that lost in the CAA tournament for the first time in 2009 when Drexel felled the Monarchs in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, the Guru will head to Delaware for the Blue Hens’ CAA game with William & Mary.

Before you ask, nothing new on you know who but it’s early in the day.

-- Mel


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