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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guru's Local College Report: St. Joseph's Stops Drexel Hex On Hawks

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – St. Joseph’s seniors rode the passion of their last opportunity to beat nearby rival Drexel 59-50 Tuesday night in a nonconference game at home in Hagan Arena that end three years of futility at the hands of the Dragons.

This particular game between the host Hawks of the Atlantic 10 and Drexel of the Colonial Athletic Association does not count in the Big Five but local bragging rights still means much.

Seniors Michelle Baker and Katie Kuester, whose father John is an assistant coach with the NBA Los Angeles Lakers, each scored 15 points for the Hawks (4-3) while seniors Samira van Grinsven and Kelly Cavallo each grabbed eight rebounds.

When van Grinsven hit a foul shot with 14 minutes, 25 seconds left in the game after missing her first of two attempts at the line, she reached her 999th career point, including two years spent at Casper College out West.

But that was to be the last point of the night for the native of the Netherlands.

“I told the girls going in that it was an emotional game for us,” Kuester said afterwards. “Not winning the past three years eats at me when I play against them in summer league and in pick-up and they always have that on me.

“But to go out with that win, that really means a lot to our team, to our program, and especially our seniors,” she added.

The Hawks never trailed and after an early 2-2 tie they went on to build a 15-point lead that then settled back a little to a 31-20 score by halftime.

Then at the outset they bolted to an 18-point lead and extended the differential to 19, their widest advantage on the night, before Drexel (3-2) made a run in the closing minutes to reduce the Dragons’ deficit below double digits.

St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said it was the team’s best effort of the season as the Hawks continued to build on a continuous fight to avoid total embarrassment at a recent 94-71 loss at then-No. 9 Maryland in College Park at the Comcast Center.

“Playing a team of that caliber, we were in a situation where we weren’t playing our best basketball going into that game,” Griffin explained. “The score might not show the effort, but honestly, we could have lost by 40.

“But we played well, we did a lot things well, and that really helped us in today’s game. You play against Maryland, you’re playing against number nine and if you can hang against that type of team, you can do so damage against some other teams that don’t have that punch.”

Maryland has since moved up to No. 6 in the current poll.

“We executed when we needed to execute,” Griffin said of stopping the Dragons. “We were on defensively. We made the right switches when we needed to switch, we made the right bumps when we needed to bump, we rebounded the ball for the most part pretty well.

“Numbers won’t say that, but the bigger numbers say when they started to make a run, we did a nice job with that,” she continued.

“We rely on our seniors in these kind of games because it’s Philadelphia pride. I think Michelle and Katie did a wonderful job tonight. We went to Michelle to start out each half and she delivered.

“That’s an energy booster for us. She’s been struggling a little bit but she just did a great job for us and gave the rest of the team confidence.”

Drexel came into the contest off a three-game win streak on the road, including Saturday’s 71-50 triumph at the University of Pittsburgh.

But the Dragons didn’t make shots early and the Hawks held Kamile Nacickaite to 12 points, though Hollie Mershon scored 20 and grabbed eight rebounds.

“We missed defensive assignments and then we missed shots,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said.

“You know coming in here, home court, coming out, they’re an experienced team, veteran players and they’re playing some good basketball in spurts,” Dillon added.

“But they have enough players to have one or two step up and carry them the way and Baker did that at the start,” she said.

“It’s a rivalry, it’s them wanting to go out with a win as seniors, not that our girls didn’t, but just understanding we’re still trying to find our way a little bit.

“And with players like Kuester and Baker, they’re doing a nice job of leading their team.”
Dillon discounted the rally down the stretch.

“We made a little bit of a run but I don’t think anything we did was team oriented,” she said. “We didn’t play as a collective unit and that is what I’m most concerned about because we’re going to be in a position like this a number of times where teams pressure us and give Kamile and Holly a fit and we need the other players to be involved and step up and willing to take the big shots.”

Drexel’s six-game road trip in terms of being away from the Daskalakis Athletic Center continues Sunday with the December opener in the CAA at UNC Wilmington, which is considered to be rebuilding in the second year under former WNBA star Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.

The rest of the CAA schedule resumes in January. Drexel will then travel to surprising Seton Hall Monday before returning home Dec. 19 to host La Salle.

St. Joseph’s is off until next Wednesday when the Hawks travel to Lafayette, a team, which will visit improved Penn in The Palestra tonight (Wed.) at 7 p.m.

West Chester Stays Unbeaten

Coach Deidre Kane’s Golden Rams are still perfect at 4-0 after traveling into Northeast Philadelphia Tuesday night to beat traditional Division II power Holy Family University 84-70 in a nonconference game at the Tigers’ Campus Center.

West Chester, also in Division II, compete in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division while Holy Family (3-3), which just dropped out of the national Division II coaches’ poll, is a member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC).

Golden Rams senior Allison Hostetter collected a game-high 24 points, shooting 12 of 21 from the field, She also had six rebounds and dealt four assists.

Senior Jillian Keefer added 18 points to West Chester’s attack and junior Alex Lennon scored 15 off shooting 7-for-10 from the field.

Holy Family junior Erin Mann, the reigning CACC player of the week, had 23 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 7-of-15 from the field. Sophomore Maggie Serratelli and junior Ana Cruz each scored nine points.

The Golden Rams had to withstand a rally in the second half in which the Tigers sliced a 14-point deficit down to three to make the score 70-67 with 4 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game.

West Chester then plugged the opposition’s momentum with a 14-3 run to close out the win.

“We went with the five-in and five-out substitution pattern once again,” Kane said. “And I think it really paid off down the stretch.”

West Chester will return home for a pair of PSAC crossover contests against Clarion and Gannon on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Holy Family Saturday will open CACC play in Wilmington, Del., at Goldey Beacom College, the team that last season ended the Tigers’ NCAA Division II record 110 home winning streak.

Several weeks later Goldey Beacom beat Holy Family against at Campus Center to win a first-ever CACC title but the Tigers then came back for revenge by ousting the Lightning in the NCAA Division II regional quarterfinals.

-- Mel

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guru's College Report: Delaware's Women Become Historic

By Mel Greenberg

In American history, Delaware is known as the First State after becoming the leadoff signer of the constitution to form the federal government.

However, in terms of the 36-year history of the weekly Associated Press women’s basketball rankings, the University of Delaware became the 149th school to land in poll Monday following a week in which the Blue Hens (4-0) won at Villanova last Tuesday and then Sunday in a first-ever meeting traveled to St. Bonaventure in Olean, N.Y., and topped the Bonnies to stay unbeaten.

“It’s been a matter of building blocks, no doubt,” said Delaware coach Tina Martin, who experienced being with a ranked team as an assistant at Seton Hall when the Pirates were in the poll during the 1994-95 season. “It takes time to get to this level.

“We actually had the day off so I was getting words of congratulations by text messages from families of players who were probably getting the news through the papers and internet,” she said. “(Tuesday) will be the first time we’re together since the news broke.”

Martin becomes the 245th head women’s coach to guide a team into the rankings.

The Blue Hens, one of the better mid-major teams in the early going, are listed at No. 24.

Delaware, which joined the Colonial Athletic Association for the 2001-02 season, is only the third school to earn a national ranking as a CAA member following Old Dominion and James Madison.

ODU was also in the poll through previous affiliations and Georgia State, a current CAA member, had a one-week appearance back in the days of competition in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) prior to women participating in NCAA championships.

The Blue Hens jumped from virtually nowhere into the cusp of a ranking a week ago from the nationwide media panel of voters following an upset at home in the Bob Carpenter Center of then-No. 11 Penn State, which this week moved up to 16th after a drop to 17th.

Rutgers, which hosts Temple Wednesday night, moved from 13th to 11th for the Scarlet Knights’ highest ranking since being No. 3 in the second week of the 2008-09 season.

The Blue Hens received some votes during the 2006-07 season which ended with an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but then Martin had to endure a youthful roster the next time around after a sizeable group of talented seniors graduated.

Delaware also earned an automatic NCAA bid in 2000-01 as champions of the America East.

But in the fall of 2008 Delaware drew national attention when Elena Delle Donne, who had been the high school player of the year at nearby Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, decided not to move forward with her scholarship to play at powerful Connecticut and enrolled at the university in Newark, but to play volleyball.

Martin, meanwhile, was working on getting her squad back to respectability while maintain a hands off approach unless Delle Donne had other intentions.

Following volleyball season the versatile player began drifting back to her original sport of desire and in the spring of 2009 told Martin she was ready to help the Blue Hens’ cause.

That path creates an interesting side note when Delaware visits Princeton Thursday night at the Tigers’ Jadwin Gym.

The two-time defending Ivy champions have been making their own mark and earning votes in the poll, which has been a rarity for members of the league.

For all intentions in an otherwise world when Stanford traveled to play Connecticut a week ago Tigers star junior Niveen Rasheed and Delle Donne should have been opposing players in the marquee matchup.

But Rasheed, a native of California who missed most of last season with a knee injury, decided Princeton was the place to be and helped lead the Tigers to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearances.

“It’s odd how that worked out. One kid is on a team because she wanted to get away and another is on a team because she wanted to stay home and now they’ll still end up opposing each other.”

Princeton has won the last two meetings but Delle Donne did not play on the Newark campus at home a year ago suffering the early stages of what was eventually diagnosed as Lyme’s disease.

She fought her way out of the illness last spring and led Delaware to two upsets to advance to the CAA title game before losing to James Madison.

Delle Donne continued to get healthier and last summer was the top scorer and rebounder on the gold medal winning USA squad loaded with elite collegians in the World University Games.

Off to a great start this season, she scored 40 in the win over Penn State and is currently averaging 30.3 points per game, the best in Division I according to this week’s statistical report.

Delaware, the conference favorite, is one of several CAA schools, such as Hofstra, making an early impact that could actually result some rare at-large bids if they don’t stumble.

The Blue Hens’ ranking along with the return for the first time this season of Wisconsin-Green Bay ends a three-week drought of mid-major teams in the poll, which had been absent for the first time since that terminology came into usage to different from the so-called BCS crowd.

More Poll History For UConn

A year ago Connecticut set a record for both men and women in NCAA competition when the Huskies rode a 90-game win streak before losing at Stanford.

During the run they also set several AP records in terms of consecutive weeks and total rankings holding the No. 1 spot.

This past weekend, coach Geno Auriemma’s squad set a women’s NCAA record in all divisions with their 89th straight home victory, including games in Hartford at the XL Center and contests winning as hosts during Big East and NCAA tournament history.

On Monday UConn was back in the AP history books as a result of the Huskies’ second straight No. 2 ranking.

That gave them 279 appearances in the top five of the AP poll, tying UConn with Louisiana Tech for second place on the all-time list behind Tennessee at 445.

The Lady Techsters’ last appearance in the group was in the 2001-01 season, though they made a few appearances in the Top 10 afterwards.

Louisiana Tech, under Hall of Fame coaches Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore made their mark beginning in 1978-79 and taking 24 seasons to reach their total.

UConn was first ranked in 1989-90 for to weeks and got to the same total as Tech in 23 seasons. A huge favorite to win at home against Towson Wednesday night for their only game this week, the Huskies are likely to be in sole position of second all-time heading into Tuesday night’s showdown in Hartford against No. 4 Texas A&M, the defending national champion.

More Poll Notes

Texas coach Gail Goestenkors has tied former Auburn coach Joe Ciampi for 13th on the all-time list with 290 appearances in the AP poll, though all of Ciampi’s were with the Tigers while Goestenkors has 229 appearances with Duke and 61 with Texas.

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, one of only a few coaches to have three different teams in the poll, reached his 250th appearance, which also includes teams at Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin.

Maryland’s ranking of sixth is the Terrapins’ highest since the a No. 3 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season, while Purdue’s listing at 13th is the Boilermakers’ highest since 11th in the final poll of the 2006-07 season.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, whose Bears retained their No. 1 ranking, has 173 appearances, three short of matching former Kansas coach Marian Washington at 26th on the all-time list.

Mulkey is 13th on the active list ahead of Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, who has 151 appearances with the Blue Devils and previously with Michigan State.

The return of Vanderbilt to the poll at No. 25 put coach Melanie Balcomb at 146th, tied for 29th on the all-time list with former Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry.

Speaking of Mid-Majors

Maybe losses St. Joseph’s suffered to Princeton and Vermont were not as bad as the uninformed might think.
Princeton has already been addressed here several times.

Meanwhile, Vermont is off on an early tear at 6-1 out of the America East bunch.

It’s the best start for the Catamounts since a 7-1 start in 2002-03.

For North Carolina star Lori Gear McBride, who was a transfer on the Tar Heels’ 1994 NCAA champions is in her second season at Vermont, which has already passed last win total off a dreadful 5-25 struggle, including an 0-15 start.

Sophomore guard Sam Simononis from Perkasie, Pa. and Pennridge High in suburban Philadelphia is second on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg) and is shooting a team-best 88.5% (23-26) from the foul line. She also leads the team in steals with 17 on the season.

A year ago she saw limited time as a reserve, though she moved up as a starter for Vermont’s final eight games and has started all seven games to date this season.

Seton Hall transfer Shanai Heber has started all seven games for Vermont and ranks fourth on the team in scoring (8.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.6 rpg). She also leads the team in assists (28).

Gear McBride’s previous stops included assistant positions at Seton Hall (1998-03) and Charlotte (2003-04) while she came to Vermont from a head coaching position at Colby College in Maine from 2005-10.

Local Awards

The Big Five player of the week for women’s competition went to La Salle’s Alexis Scott, while Penn newcomer Kara Bonenberger was named the Ivy freshman of the week.

-- Mel

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guru's College Report: Princeton and Delaware Wins Set Thursday Showdown

By Mel Greenberg
Princeton took care of its business Sunday beating host Rider 75-55 while Delaware picked up an impressive win over another Atlantic 10 team, topping host St. Bonaventure 61-49 in Olean, N.Y., to set up Thursday night’s showdown between two of the nation’s elite mid-major and unbeaten teams a few miles away from here at the Tigers’ Jadwin Gym.

Though the Broncos (2-2) were able to hold Princeton’s celebrated Niveen Rasheed to just six points, the Tigers found other ways to stay unbeaten (6-0) by getting 14 points from Lauren Edwards and 10 each from Devona Allgood and substitutes Blake Dietrick and Megan Bowen.

Rider’s MyNeshia McKenzie scored 17 points but after Ali Heller got 12 points in the first half, the Tigers were able to keep her off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

Princeton’s defense was able to force 23 turnovers to yield 26 points while Rider was able to harvest just 11 out of 14 Tigers miscues.

“We’re versatile,” Tigers coach Courtney Banghart said. “We’ve got kids who are tough and fast at all positions so it allows us to be versatile.”

Rider would make runs just when the game seemed it might be wrapped up early but each time Princeton would answer and get back into a more comfortable lead.

“We shuffled a lot of people in and out,” Banghart said. “And the whistle was blowing a lot in terms of in the stripes. So it didn’t let us get into any kind of rhythm.

“So I just told them (her players afterwards) you hope in the preseason you play a variety of opponents. This team gave us a variety in terms of a stop and go game. There was no flow to it. We found a way to impose our will and get another 20-point win.”

Princeton continues to look like an Ivy all-timer because even players who may not be scoring do other things to contribute in a game.

That was certainly true Sunday of junior guard Lauren Polansaky, who was 0-for-4 from the field in 21 minutes but dealt five assists and grabbed four steals.

Polansky was most likely one of the Princeton players Delaware coach Tina Martin alluded to last week saying, “They have talent. They have two kids from California who should be all rights landed at Stanford but decided to enroll at Princeton.”

Polansky after the win over Rider talked about what drew her to this part of the world.

“Obviously, it’s an incredible school,” she explained. “When I came on my official visit I came with Niveen. We came together to check it out and we absolutely loved the team, we loved the coaches and we loved the entire culture we got from the school.

“So the combination of amazing academics and the opportunity to create something – Princeton had never gone to the (NCAA) tournament or anything like that so it’s great to have a chance to make history.”

The Tigers have won two straight Ivy titles, losing just one league game the last two years, which occurred early last season.

Many believe that despite being in a league that historically would get terrible NCAA seeds until Princeton won the last two titles, the Tigers are strong enough to merit an at-large bid if they would falter in the title chase.

The Ivy is the only one of 31 conferences who don’t play a postseason tourney to determine a champion and automatic bid, which is won in the regular season.

However, if teams are tied at the finish, they are declared co-champions and then playoff to determine the NCAA representative.

In recent years, the expansion of the WNIT has allowed the Ivy runnerup a chance to play in the postseason.

As for Rider’s challenge in Sunday’s game, Polansky noted: “We knew the game would never be over. They’re a really tough team. They play with a lot of fight and they never give up.

“So we knew we had to battle the entire time, no matter who came in. Teams would make runs, so we would just have to respond.”

Princeton has beaten Delaware twice the last two seasons, though junior Elena Delle Donne, who had another dynamic game Sunday, didn’t play a year ago in the Bob Carpenter Center when she was in the early stages of still eventually being diagnosed that Lyme disease was the cause of her being extremely fatigued.

“We’re really excited. Every game is really important to us. But they’re an incredible team so hopefully we’ll get a lot of support behind us.”

By the way, when Ivy teams use the word preseason they are really discussing the nonconference portion of the schedule before the annual back-to-back weekend gauntlet of Friday-Saturday games begin in January.

On the other end, Rider coach Lynn Milligan was pleased with the Broncos’ effort attempting to rein the Tigers.

“It’s another step forward,” she said. “Princeton’s a terrific ball club. Obviously, they’re going to capitalize on your mistakes.

“In the first half, we made too many mistakes. We fought strong. We fought hard. We did a great job on Niveen, but when you’re playing at the level Princeton has right now you have the depth and someone else steps up and they have that,” Milligan added.

“Edwards and Allgood play a tremendous first half and put some points on the boards for them. I wasn’t dishappy with our team’s effort, though I was dishappy with the outcome. I think we took a step to compete against a higher level program and we have to do that.”

Blue Hens Baffle Bonnies

While Princeton was doing its part to stay unbeaten down here, Delaware on its upgraded schedule grabbed another nice win at St. Bonaventure.

Delle Donne scored 26 points and tied her career high with 18 rebounds for the Blue Hens (4-0) at the Reilly Center.

With wins at two improved programs in Villanova and St. Bonaventure, it will be interesting to see if Delaware can leap into the Associated Press women’s poll for the first time after finishing 28th a week ago – it’s highest move in history.

Teams at risk of falling out of the poll are No. 25 UCLA (3-2), No. 22 Virginia (5-2) and No. 20 LSU (3-3).

The Bonnies (4-1) came into the game with wins over St. John’s and West Virginia of the powerful Big East.

“I’m happy with our double digit win,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “Overall, the girls did a very good job, but it’s still a young season and we have some challenges ahead of us.”

Delle Donne also had three assists, blocked three shots and grabbed a steal while Danielle Parker narrowly missed a double double with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Lauren Carra added 15 points to the Blue Hens attack.

St. Bonaventure’s Jessica Jenkins had 12 points and Megan Van Tatenhoven collected 11 points.

Delaware took control early with an 11-0 opening run and stayed ahead the rest of the way.

Penn On A Winning Track

Not too far from where Delaware was competing, Penn moved to 3-1 for the first time since the 1982-83 season just under three decades ago by winning at Niagara’s Gallagher Center 55-41 in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Sophomore Alyssa Baron flooded the baskets for 23 points on a day Ivy teams just missed a 5-0 sweep on nonconference opponents that was short-circuited by a late rally by Holy Cross over Harvard.

Freshman Kristen Kody set a high in her fledgling collegiate career with 11 points for the Quakers, who next host Lafayette at The Palestra Wednesday night before heading to No. 4 Notre Dame on Friday night.

Penn dominated the Purple Eagles in the paint, 26-12.

Shy Britton was the only player scoring in double figures for Niagara (1-5).

Looking Ahead

Besides Penn’s week, Drexel and the Guru will be at St. Joseph’s Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. tilt at Hagan Arena, the only D-I game on the local schedule.

On Wednesday, Temple, in a four-game losing streak, will be at No. 13 Rutgers with the Guru, though the Scarlet Knights’ ranking number might change when the next AP poll is released early Monday afternoon.

La Salle visits West Virginia the same night while Villanova visits Lehigh and No. 17 Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC challenge hosts North Carolina.

The Delaware-Princeton game is the only D-1 local on the Thursday bill while on Friday night in addition to Penn’s visit to South Bend, Ind., Rutgers plays host Florida in Daytona Beach.

On Saturday, Temple hosts Auburn on the front end of a doubleheader with the men’s team in the Liacouras Center, while Penn State visits Texas Tech in the Big 10/Big 12 challenge and Princeton travels to Baltimore to play UMBC.

The week finishes with Drexel launching play in the Colonial Athletic Association visiting UNC Wilmington Sunday while in the CAA Delaware will host William & Mary on the front end of a back-to-back in which the Blue Hens on the following night hosts Yale.

Villanova makes its Big 5 season debut visiting La Salle, also on Sunday.

The National Scene

On the high end of the ranking world, top-ranked Baylor (6-0) was able to hold its spot over the rest of the Division I world rallying to a 76-67 win at No. 6 Tennessee (2-2) in Knoxville.

Brittney Griner, a leading candidate for player of the year, scored 17 of her 26 points in the second half for the Bears, who will host No. 1 Connecticut early next month in another 1-2 showdown for Baylor, which knocked off Notre Dame from the runnerup spot a week ago.

The Lady Vols did not lack for key statistics in the loss with Shekinna Stricklen getting 25 points and 12 rebounds, Vicki Baugh had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Taber Spani had 10 points and Glory Johnson grabbed 11 rebounds.

Baylor’s Odyssey Sims delivered 23 points and Jordan Madden scored 11.

No. 2 Connecticut (6-0) completed its three-game romp in its own World Vision Classic at Gampel Pavillion on campus in Storrs by beating Atlantic 10 co-favorite Dayton 78-38.

Freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 23 points as the Huskies set an NCAA record in all divisions with their 89th straight home win, including games at the XL Center in Hartford as well as NCAA and Big East tournament hosting games.

Rutgers’ win in the Big East championship in 2007 was the last Huskies loss in the state of Connecticut.

Division III Rust (Miss.) College won 88 straight home games from 1982-89
Dayton fell to 3-3 and had the second best tournament record at 2-1 in Storrs.

Philadelphia native Keisha Hampton set a career-high with 32 points to lead No. 23 DePaul (5-1) to an 88-72 win at Northwestern (4-1) in nearby Evanston, Ill. The host Wildcats are coached by Joe McKeown, a graduate of Father Judge High in Northeast Philadelphia.

-- Mel

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guru's Local College Report: Drexel Shoots Down Pitt

By Mel Greenberg

Though Pittsburgh invited a judge to be as guest coach in Saturday’s nonconference matchup with Drexel, it was the Dragons who ruled the Panthers’ court in what was a first-ever meeting between the two schools in the lavish Petersen Events Center.

Senior Kamile Nacickaite was deadly from long-range at the outset, quickly scoring 13 of her 23 points to spur Drexel to a 71-50 victory for the Dragons’ third straight, all on the road, after suffering an opening round upset loss at home in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament to Long Island University in what was also the overall season opener.

“That was a wake-up call for everybody,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said.

The Dragons (3-1) shot 49.2 percent for the game doing their share of schools in the Colonial Athletic Association who have been winning games against opponents from BCS conferences.

Drexel nailed 6 of 15 attempted three-pointers.

“Our players, they’re making shots and understand the game plan on the defensive end so they stick with it,” Dillon said. “We made shots early and were able to get into the flow.

“We definitely try to stick with our motion offensives to get everyone involved and moving. And after our first game our players have bought into the understanding how important that is,” she added.

“When we play individual basketball, we don’t look pretty. We don’t have those players. You can break us down one-on-one and create your own shots. It takes a lot more for us to get open looks.”

Drexel snapped a three-game win streak all at home by the Panthers (3-2).

Three other Dragons also scored in double figures with Tyler Hale gaining a double double via her 11 points and 12 rebounds while Taylor Wootton scored 10 points and Hollie Mershon scored 13.

Starrting point guard Marisa Crane, recovered from her mid-season ending knee injury a year ago, dealt five assists.

“When (Kamile) is playing well, it opens it up for everybody else,” Dillon said of the performance by the native of Lithuania. “She’s realizing she needs to come in focused and just keep it simple.”

Pittsburgh’s Marquel Davis scored 19 points, while freshman center Chyna Golden grabbed 14 rebounds. However, Kyra Dunn, the leading shot blocker in the Big East in the early weeks of the season, didn’t stop anything from Drexel and was limited to two rebounds.

Though the two teams had not seen each other before, Drexel’s style of play was painfully familiar to Pitt coach Agnus Berenato, the South Jersey native who has to deal in the Big East with Villanova, which is Dillon’s alma mater.

“It’s just a very different offense and a different offense to try to explain to your team when you only have two days to do it,” said Berenato, whose sister Bernadette McGlade is commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

“They do a lot of backpick flares, backpick cuts, shuffle cuts, slice cuts, etc. When you make shots it does do a lot of different things to the game,” Berenato said.

“They have a nice player in 23 (Nacickaite), I won’t even try to butcher her name. And she’s really a great player. Her last outing she had 33 points, she’s 10 below that (Saturday).

“A couple positives for me. I thought (Davis) stayed within her game. And I thought ‘Quel stayed within her range. The other things, … anytime you can have a freshman (Golden) come up with 14 rebounds, that’s amazing.

“Our turnovers, we’re averaging 22 turnovers and I think that’s the most in my coaching career. We had 14 today. They hit a couple of shots in the beginning and we thought, `They can’t keep shooting like this.’ Well, they kept shooting like that in the second half.

“I think we fought to the very end and I don’t think our guys quit. And I’m proud of our team for that.”
Davis spoke of the challenge the Dragons presented.

“Drexel was different because they’re very fundamental. Like, they knew what cut to make, when to make it, how to get around the box out,” Davis said. “They’re very fundamental. I think that’s the different than the other two teams we played.”

Pittsburgh next will host Mount St. Mary’s, the alma mater of the energetic Berenato, whose program is rebuilding after making runs in the NCAA tournament.

Her associate head coach is Patty Coyle, who starred with her twin sister Mary at West Catholic in Philadelphia and at Rutgers.

She most recently was the head coach of the WNBA New York Liberty.

Drexel will continue to stay on the road, though some stops are short trips such as Tuesday’s visit to St. Joseph’s.
The Dragons will open conference play with one December CAA game on the fourth at UNC Wilmington and then will travel to surprising Seton Hall.

St. Joseph’s Rallies Over Sacred Heart

The Hawks snapped a two-game losing streak, beating Sacred Heart 63-54 at home at Hagan Arena as sophomore Erin Shields scored 12 points.

Their play in the second half, outscoring the opposition 37-23, enabled them to even their record at 3-3 heading into Tuesday’s home game against Drexel.

It was the first loss of the season by the Pioneers (4-1), who got a team-high 11 points from Blair Koniszewski.

Shields also had four rebounds and three assists. Senior center Samira van Grinsven scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds while Kelly Cavallo grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to go with seven points and six blocked shots. Sophomore Kasie Parker had 10 points and seven rebounds and junior guard Ashley Prim scored nine points and dealt five assists.

Villanova Handles USP

The Wildcats handled Division II University of the Sciences 77-44 at home at the Pavilion in what was the Devils’ first-ever game in their 25-year history against an opponent from Division I.

Villanova’s Lindsay Kimmel scored 15 points while Emily Suhey added 12 points, and Rachel Roberts was also in double figures, scoring 10 points.

Laura Sweeney grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and also dealt four assists to go with her six points. Devon Kane and Jesse Carey each dealt five assists for the Wildcats (4-2).

Brianne Traub and Carolyn Edwards each scored 11 points for the Devils (2-3).

Though it was the first-ever meeting of the two schools, the players were not total strangers to each other.

Several Villanova players were on teams in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer League in Hatboro, while USP, which is located in Southwest Philadelphia, was able to compete as entire unit under NCAA rules which allow non-Division I schools that luxury.

The game was a homecoming of sorts for USP’s Bob Heller, a former member of Villanova coach Harry Perretta’s staff who does seemingly everything at his current school but coach.

The Wildcats originally planned to continue the recently begun series with Drexel but a finals date was changed and when it occurred the Dragons, with added games in the WNIT, were unable to find a date this season to accommodate a rearrangement.

Temple’s Woes Continue As St. John’s Rallies

The Owls, who stumbled in their nonconference schedule a year ago, are back to doing things the hard way in terms of having NCAA tournament aspirations.

Temple squandered a 12-point lead, which the Owls (2-4) held midway through the first half, to fall to St. John’s 59-53 in a consolation game of the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas.

The good news for Temple, which is a co-favorite with Dayton to win the A-10, is the conference is shaping up as a wide-open race unlike the domination by Xavier the last several seasons.

Shey Peddy scored 16 points for the Owls against the Red Storm (3-3), who have had struggles of their own since starting out with an appearance in the Associated Press preseason women’s poll.

The rough six-game road trip, which includes an upset loss to Northern Illinois, continues Wednesday when the Owls visit No. 13 Rutgers, which they edged a year ago in Philadelphia.

Nadirah McKenith and Eugeneia McPherson each scored 13 points for St. John’s, which is still waiting for the return of Da’Shena Stevens from an injury.

Rutgers Still Rolling

The 13th-ranked Scarlet Knights (6-0) have not had it this good this early in quite a while in terms of being unbeaten after senior guards April Sykes and Khadijah Rushdon of Wilmington, Del., scored in double figures in a 59-52 victory over Arizona State (4-1) in the title game of the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.

Sykes, the MVP of the ecent in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had a game-high 14 points for Rutgers while Rushdon scored 13 points to join Sykes on the all-tournament team.

Monique Oliver grabbed 13 rebounds against the Sun Devils.

“I thought that we didn’t give up,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “When we got hit, we fell down and staggered a little bit but we came back. We seemed to be step slow.

“Arizona State is a team that plays extremely aggressive man-to-man defense. Their pressure created a problem and I thought we lost composure for a split second but we were able to battle back. We’ll be better when we see a team like that again.”

Penn State Trounces Nevada To Win Nugget Classic

The 17th-ranked Lady Lions (5-1) shot 57.3 percent to beat host Nevada 103-65 in Reno as Big 10 preseason player of the year Alex Bentley earned MVP honors in beating the Wolfpack 103-65.

Maggie Lucas, who joined Bentley on the all-tournament team, stayed hot as the Germantown Academy graduate from Doylestown, Pa., in the Philly suburbs, scored 26 points against Nevada (2-3).

Bentley scored 23 points and Zhaque Gray scored 21 points for Penn State.

Nikki Greene collected 11 points and seven rebounds, while Talia East, a graduate of Friends Central in Philadelphia, scored a career best eight points for Penn State.

Long Island Triumphs Over La Salle

Maybe the season-opening loss by Drexel to Long Island is not as bad as it seemed at the time considering what LIU (4-1) has done since that upset.

Having beaten Charlotte, a power in the Atlantic 10, the Blackbirds shot down another A-10 team, beating La Salle 69-53 in the final of Long Island’s Courtyard LaGuardia Turkey Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ashley Palmer, a preseason pick in the Northeastern Conference, scored 26 points for Long Island while Alexis Scott scored 14 points for the Explorers (2-5), who lost to Florida Friday in the opening of the tournament.

Jordan Mosley added 12 points for La Salle and Nadia Duncan scored 11.

Palmer was named the tournament MVP and Scott was named to the all-tournament team.

La Salle travels to West Virginia Wednesday.

-- Mel

Friday, November 25, 2011

Deja Vu Erased As Rasheed Leads Princeton Over Davidson

(Guru's Note: While hanging out in Pittsburgh's lavish Petersen Events Center before heading to the hotel, here's the report from Princeton. Guru will catch up with Tigers at Rider in suburban Trenton-Princeton, aka Lawrenceville, N.J., Sunday.)

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Watching Niveen Rasheed as she continued her early season rampage of doing basically whatever she wants on a basketball court, there was really only one conclusion that could be drawn. Whoever operated on her knee did a really, really good job.

A year ago, Rasheed left the Princeton-Davidson women's basketball game in need of an MRI and ultimately surgery on a torn ACL. For the rematch, she left to a loud ovation from a Jadwin Gym crowd who knew that once again it had seen something special.

Rasheed dominated again, scoring 24 points, adding nine rebounds and leading a smothering Princeton defensive effort in a 53-44 win over the Wildcats, in front of a Black Friday gathering of 1,140 fans that included University president Shirley Tilghman.

Princeton improved to 5-0 for the fourth time in program history and the first time since the 1977-78 season. Davidson fell to 2-3.

For the thrid time in five games, Princeton never trailed at any point. Through five games, Princeton has never trailed in the second half.

"I have a deal with Niveen and she made a deal with me," said Princeton coach Courtney Banghart. "We're not going to worry about that. She's going to go out and play the way she does, which is with a lot of passion."

That was clear against Davidson, a team against whom Rasheed suffered her big injury 11 months ago.

"It was definitely really weird coming in today and seeing Davidson," she said. "It brought a lot of memories back. During warmup, i felt like something was bothering me. But once the game started, it was just a game."

For Rasheed, "just a game" means 20 points (her average), nine rebounds (her average), 51.3% shooting (her percentage) and something intangible - the ability to completely impose her will on the game.

Princeton raced out to a 10-0 lead against the Wildcats, led by six points and an assist from Rasheed. For the day, Princeton outscored Davidson by 18 while Rasheed was on the court.

Davidson actually cut it to five on a Laura Murray three-pointer with 17:46 to go, so what happened next? Rasheed went on her own personal 8-0 run, a stretch that grew to 13-0 after a Lauren Polansky basket and a Nicole Hung three-pointer that made it 44-26 with 12:34 to go.

Davidson never quit, but the visitors from North Carolina would get no closer than eight.

"We had runs, and they had runs," Rasheed said. "We didn't put them away like we wanted to. They took us out of our rhythm. It shows we have more work to do, more to work on in practice."

Rasheed was the only Princeton player with more than Meg Bowen's six. Still, Princeton won this one with the combination of Rasheed on offense and great team defense, which saw the Tigers force 24 turnovers and block seven shots.

Davidson had shot at least 50% from the field in five of its last six halves, including 60% twice. Princeton did not allow the Wildcats to reach 40% in either half, the final numbers were 34.6% from the field, 33.3% from three-point range.

Next up for Princeton is a game Sunday at Rider, to be followed by a home game Thursday against a Delaware team that like Princeton is closing in on the national Top 25.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guru Report: KML Helps UConn Fly Over Stanford

By Mel Greenberg

After the University of Connecticut wrapped up an unbeaten season beating Big East rival Louisville for NCAA championship number six in 2009 Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma said it would not be fair to ask his Huskies the next time around to do it again in terms of at least winning the title unbeaten as Diana Taurasi nearly did as the only one of the illustrious starting five in the 2002 unbeaten squad who had yet to graduate and go high in the WNBA draft.

But the 2010 class with Tina Charles and then-junior Maya Moore went one better by putting together back-to-back unbeaten crowns and in terms of Moore and the yet-to-graduate group extended the winning streak to an NCAA-record 90 before Stanford stopped the Huskies last January at home in Palo Alto, Calif.

Over the past several months with Moore graduated and moved on to win rookie of the year and be part of the first-ever Minnesota Lynx’ WNBA championship contingent, Auriemma has stated it would be unreasonable to expect freshman Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis, the former overall No. 1 blue chip prospect, to do all the things Moore had done to keep UConn running at the highest level.

Monday night Mosqueda-Lewis, dubbed KML by the local media to avoid misspellings of her name on their part, showed she could not do everything Moore could do.

For example, Moore was in the house following UConn legend Rebecca Lobo, who now broadcasts women’s games, pro and collegiate, for ESPN’s conglomerate of sports cable television networks.

KML didn’t partake of that activity. She was too busy doing everything else in coming off the bench for the No. 2 Huskies (3-0) in her first big game to score 25 points, grab eight rebounds, hit three 3-pointers in eight attempts, swipe a pair of steals, and not commit one turnover as UConn topped No. 3 Stanford 68-58 before a roaring crowd of 13,771 in the XL Center.

“She may be the best player on the floor,” Auriemma, miked at halftime, responded to a question for the crowd to listen to after the rookie had already compiled 19 points in her first big game.

And just not to confuse the initials, the difference between KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and KML is the latter will fly out of Biddle on Huskies road trips as well as fly all over the court.

Appropriately coming from the backyard of Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim Hills, Calif., as soon as she stepped on the court KML basically dispensed the Tomorrowland speak of Auriemma, showing the new future is now.

Meanwhile, Bria Hartley, who year ago got her court baptism in big time games in the narrow win over Baylor, was the only other scorer in double figures for UConn, collecting 19 points.

And senior Tiffany Hayes gave a clinic on how to contribute in other ways when you’re struggling with a 3-for-15 effort from the field. She compensated by grabbing 13 rebounds in UConn’s tenacious defense and also dealt six assists.

“It was a November prize fight,” said Stanford’s Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer of the unusually early matchup of two of the nation’s top rivals. “It was very physical. The kind of game you usually see in March so it was good for us.”

Senior Nnemkadi Oguwmike scored 22 points for the Cardinal (3-1) despite being limited in the first half with two fouls and staying in the game in the second when foul number four occurred with 8:05 left in the game.

Her younger sister Chiney grabbed 12 rebounds and freshman Jasmine Camp scored 14 points.

Stanford is much younger than the team that stopped the UConn win streak at 90 and a rematch in March or April, depending on the draw, in the NCAA tournament might triple the thrill factor of Monday night.

Auriemma said that even if the score had gone the other way he would claim a win in terms of all the good things in the contest his Huskies achieved.

The poor shooting from most of the team was shrugged off as one of those nights and that on another they’ll go down.

What the outcome quickly determined here is that the 1-2 Sunday win by Baylor over Notre Dame to stay on top of the Associated Press women’s poll was yesterday’s news.

The loss by Notre Dame and the upset loss of then-No. 3 Tennessee Sunday to unranked Virginia shook up the poll and now Connecticut jumped two places to second in the rank.

So unless No. 5 Texas A&M, the defending NCAA champion, determines otherwise here on Dec. 6, another 1-2 showdown is on the horizon 12 days later when UConn visits Baylor in Waco, Texas.

Princeton Stops Marist

While a battle of the elite was waged here Monday night, further to the South Princeton continued to loom as a prime contender for ruler of the Mid-Majors.

Fresh on the heels of wins over St. Joseph’s and Villanova, the Tigers stayed unbeaten at 4-0 by topping another perennial Mid-Major power in Marist, the perennial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, at home in Jadwin Gym in central New Jersey.

The two-time defending Ivy champions pulled away down the stretch to beat the Red Foxes 68-51 just 48 hours after beating Villanova at home on Saturday.

Niveen Rasheed, continuing to show full recovery from her early season-ending knee injury, scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the host Tigers, who travel to Stanford next month and also host DePaul.

Laura Johnson scored 13 points and Lauren Polansky scored 12.

Corielle Yarde scored 15 points for Marist.

In what is becoming an informal local round-robin, Princeton will also play Delaware early next month while the Blue Hens visits Villanova Tuesday night.

-- Mel

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guru Roundup: Princeton Stops Villanova While Penn Goes 2-0

(Guru’s note: There is a separate post below this on the Hofstra win Friday night over St. John’s. If you are in megreenberg.com click the mel’s blog link on the left to get to the full blogspot archive.)

By Mel Greenberg

In scouting Princeton prior to Saturday’s nonconference matchup at the Tigers’ Jadwin Gym he thought he saw something that looked very familiar.

“They’re a little less talented, but they remind me of Trish (Juhline) and Katie’s (Katie Davis) team,” Perretta compared the two-time defending Ivy champion to his Wildcat bunch who in 2003 stopped Connecticut’s then-NCAA record 70 game win streak in the Big East championship and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

“They don’t have the talent of that team but they play very good together, they’re coachable, they hustle on every play, they’re just a very good team.

“I thought they would expose a lot of those weaknesses because they play so smart.”

On the other side, however, though Princeton was ahead 20-17 in the game against the Wildcats, Tigers coach Courtney Banghart didn’t think her group resembled the power she has developed in recent seasons.

“We couldn’t have played much worse, offensively, in the first half, but these guys are fighters,” Banghart said. “`Guys,’ at halftime, `We worked too hard for this. This is not who we are. If it’s going to be ugly, we’re going to go to the glass.’ We had 18 second chance points. (Nova was up 5-4 in that category at the break). We’re going to go to the free throw line. And we’re going to attack.”

Princeton then became familiar again to Banghart, rolling to a 56-41 victory and stay unbeaten at 3-0, including a win over St. Joseph’s.

After a day off, Princeton hosts another mid-major power in Marist, the perennial champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference but also one that Villanova upset on Wednesday night to go 3-0 before Saturday’s loss.

In meeting the Red Foxes, the Tigers are switching animals to play following wins over Lafayette's Leopards and Villanova's Wildcats.

Rasheed Niveen, back after a season-ending knee injury last December, scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Devona Allgood scored 18 points.

Villanova’s Emily Leer scored 12 points off the bench, but the Wildcats were forced into 19 turnovers while Princeton committed just 12 in gaining a 17-8 advantage off the Wildcats’ mistakes.

The Tigers also dominated the paint 36-20 and stopped Villanova’s perimeter attack, limiting the Wildcats to 3-for-21 from beyond the arc.

“We completely took them out of their rhythm,” Banghart said. “This team (Princeton) has set very high goals for themselves and my job as their coach is to help them reach them.”

Villanova next hosts Delaware Tuesday night in the Wildcats’ first home game of the season.

The Blue Hens, who could be nationally-ranked Monday for the first time ever, will be coming in off of Thursday’s upset at home over No. 11 Penn State when junior Elena Delle Donne scored 40 points.

Ironically, Villanova was among her final four choices when Delle Donne originally decided to go to Connecticut before chaning her mind and deciding to stay home and enroll at Delaware.

Princeton will host Delaware on Dec. 1 and prior to the Ivy wars the Tigers will be hosting DePaul and traveling to Stanford. Hofstra and Drexel before the New Year.

A Princeton-Villanova game might not have drawn many in the past but on Saturday such notables as former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan was in the crowd as well as most of the officials from the Ivy League.

Ryan, a native of nearby Mercer County, had been in New York last week to receive the Lapchick Character Award along with former Princeton men’s coach Pete Carril and former Mount St. Mary’s men’s coach Jim Phelan.

Ryan, who suffered pancreatic cancer, has been a fundraiser in the fight against all forms of the disease.

Her sister-in-law Mika, who was her first assistant coach at Virginia, and brother Pat live in the area and often attend Princeton games as well as those at Rider.

Rutgers Holds Off LaSalle

PHILADELPHIA -- The Guru stopped here, also.

The Explorers (1-3) made the pre-game form card of little value Saturday night at their Tom Gola Arena when La Salle extended No. 15 Rutgers (3-0) before fading in the final minutes of a 61-48 loss to Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer’s Scarlet Knights.

La Salle entered the game off a 66-45 wipeout defeat Wednesday night at St. John’s while Rutgers had played two games at home, showing some new scoring prowess with 70-plus scoring efforts over California and Boston College.

Despite the trend indicator, La Salle took a 30-20 halftime deficit and moved to 51-45 late in the game before Rutgers then clamped down and went on a 10-1 that became 10-3 when the Explorers’ Nadia Duncan scored at the buzzer.

It was the first road game for Rutgers’ prized freshmen that included Betnijah Laney from Delaware whose mother Yolanda played at Philadelphia’s University City High and was an all-American under Stringer at Cheyney in the Philly western suburbs.

Stringer did not believe her newcomers handed the visit well, but thought things will get better.

We didn't do a lot of things we should have done," Stringer said. "We were half playing, I'm saying running and trapping the way we did before, we didn't have the energy. We simply weren't moving. I do believe we should be able to play our game no matter who it is."

Senior Khadijah Rushdan, who is from Wilmington, Del., and actually is in her fifth season because of an injury as a freshman, scored 20 points, while senior April Sykes scored 12. Laney scored just two points but grabbed eight rebounds.

La Salle’s Alexis Scott scored 18 points while freshman Jayda Payne scored 11 and Ruvanna Campbell scored 11.

Second-year La Salle coach Jeff Williams said the St. John’s lopsided win was an eye-opener for his players.

"The kids learned from that game you have to fight you have to compete, especially at this level," Williams said. "We try to prepare the kids for a tough Atlantic 10 Conference season."

La Salle next launches the city’s Women’s Big Five season Tuesday hosting Penn, which upset the Quakers a year ago to end a long drought in City Series games.

The same night Rutgers will host Lehigh. The Scarlet Knights hosts Temple Nov. 30 in a nonconference game and in February visits Villanova as part of the Big East schedule.

Former La Salle star Cheryl Reeve was at the game while visiting home. She guided the WNBA Minnesota Lynx to the league championship in September and was also the coach of the year winner from a national media panel who covers the league.

Many of her former teammates were also at the game.

Drexel Rallies To Zip Akron

The Dragons (2-1) continue to recover from last week’s opening upset loss at home to Long Island U. in the first round of the preseason WNIT.

In the consolation round, Drexel, which beat Detroit Friday night, made it a weekend sweep Saturday by rallying over host Akron for a 67-60 victory as senior Kamile Nacickaite of Lithuania scored 25 of her career-high 33 points in the second half against the Zips (1-2).

Taylor Wootton finished just two short of her career high, scoring 16 points while Hollie Mershon scored 10.

Drexel next visits Pittsburgh Saturday and will be on the road three more games before playing in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Penn Rules Rider

For the first time in five seasons the Quakers are 2-0 are building a 23-point lead and holding on for a 66-57 nonconference victory at The Palestra.

Sophomore Alyssa Baron continues to be a scoring machine, this time putting up 30 points against the Broncos (1-2).

Coach Mike McLaughlin’s squad, which snapped a long Big Five losing streak upsetting La Salle last season, visits the Explorers Tuesday night.

Jess Knapp had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Penn, while Rider’s MyNeshia McKenzie had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

St. Joseph’s Falls at Vermont

The Hawks made it a weekend split in Burlington after beating Dartmouth on Friday but losing to the host Catamounts 80-67 to drop to 2-2 in the early season.

Vermont remains unbeaten at 4-0 after winning their own TD Bank Classic in which St. Joe’s Ashley Prim and Kelly Cavallo were named to the all-tournament team.

The Hawks trailed by as many as 17 points caused in part by a 2-for-13 effort from the floor in the first eight minutes.

Individually, Prim finished with a team-high 17 points to go with three assists, while Cavallo posted a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double.

The Hawks stay on the road to go to No. 10 Maryland on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Terrapins’ Comcast Center.

Looking Ahead

On Sunday, Temple will try to shake off Friday night’s narrow loss at No. 24 Ohio State with a nonconference visit to Northern Illinois while Penn State, off the loss at Delaware, travels to South Carolina, coached by Dawn Staley.

The Guru will be in Connecticut for Monday’s game in Hartford against Stanford.

-- Mel

Guru Report: Hofstra Turns St. John's Back To A Rivalry With an 92-83 Triumph

(Guru’s note: If this catch up from Friday night is your first stop, Saturday’s games are in the post above this.)

By Mel Greenberg
It doesn’t take much to get to the water from here on the campus of Hofstra University.

Nevertheless, the Pride were able to finally stop what would have otherwise been a decade-long drought when they topped St. John’s 93-82 in a nonconference neighborhood scrum Friday night at the Mack Sports Complex on Long Island.

The win over the Red Storm was Hofstra’s first in 10 seasons and just the second in 13 meetings between the two metro area squads.

Sophomore Katelyn Loper fired away for 29 points, while junior forward Shante Evans of Henderson High out of West Chester in the Philadelphia suburbs delivered 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Candice Bellochio had a double double also going in a different direction from the backcourt to score 12 points and dish out 12 assists. Nicole Capurso also joined in the scoring fiesta with 14 points.

The Pride (2-1) shot 48.4 percent from the field in the shooting frenzy that saw St. John’s (1-2) nearly equal the marksmanship with a 47 percent effort.

The win completed a two-night salvo out of the Colonial Athletic Association that began with Delaware taking down No. 11 Penn State on Thursday at home before Hofstra handled the Red Storm, which was one of seven Big East teams ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll.

St. John’s, which is still without All-America candidate Da’Shena Stevens, didn’t last long in the group, however, losing its season and home opener to St. Bonaventure of the Atlantic 10 conference.

Mid-Major teams may have been missing from the first two weeks of rankings but with these kinds of upsets, including Tulane of Conference USA taking down No. 20 LSU 65-62 in overtime Saturday night, look for one or two, perhaps, to break through after Sunday night’s vote.

That will come after two residents in the high-rent district -- No. 1 Baylor and No. 2 Notre Dame – collide in Waco, Texas, Sunday for the WNIT preseason tournament championship.

On Monday, No. 4 Connecticut will host No. 5 Stanford in Hartford in the first meeting between the two since the Cardinal took down the Huskies almost a year ago in Palo Alto, Calif., to stop UConn’s NCAA-record win streak at 90 games.

Both teams are still powerful enough but a little less so with UConn’s all-universe Maya Moore moved on to the WNBA where she became part of the Minnesota Lynx’s first championship.

Stanford’s Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen also graduated and made worthy debuts in the women’s pro league.

But at the moment much of the entertaining games in the front part of the season have involved mid-major powers and BCS teams not in the poll.

“In many ways, the games involving all of us are probably more fun to watch,” said Villanova’s Harry Perretta last week after he earned his 600th victory and opened the season with an upset of Michigan State, ranked No. 25 in the coaches’ poll, and at Marist, the perennial winner these days of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Contest.

Villanova’s 3-0 start was blunted Saturday at Princeton, the two-time Ivy champion that plays far beyond the longtime perception of teams in the Ancient Eight.

Hofstra on Friday night blazed away from the outset jumping to a 25-12 after hitting 8 of 11 shots, including 4-for 5 from three-point land.

St. John ‘s bounced back to take brief leads but Hofstra fought back down the stretch and the Pride’s nine three-pointers compared to three from the Red Storm proved the difference.

Eugenia McPherson scored 22 points for the Red Storm while Nadirah McKenith scored 19 and Shenneika Smith scored 18.

Hofstra opened the season in the Northwest losing to Gonzaga, the recent power of the West Coast Conference, and then beating Eastern Washington.

“I challenged these guys this week,” said Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Stevesky. “As much as we’re putting up a lot of points, we have to play defense.

“Women’s basketball is changing. As much we’ve had that lockdown defensive mentality, we’re getting 20 or 30 more possessions,” she added.

“I’m growing and trying to understand what that magic number is. As much as we’re getting 30 more possessions, we still have to get stops down the stretch and that’s what we did tonight.

“We’ll become great when these guys stop those runs and still keep pushing.”

St. John’s had its spurts to keep the game competitive.

“We have a deep squad. I challenge this team to bring what you have even if you only play one or two minutes,” Klburn-Stevesky said.

“When you see 21 assists and 16 turnovers you know you’re playing good team basketball.”

St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico, whose roster is now a mixed bag of some veterans and much youth, is trying to find ways to keep her team competitive after two straight NCAA tournament appearances.”

“They did a great job,” she said of Hofstra. “They made shots from beginning to end. They made great plays. They rebounded the heck out of the ball.

“Evans killed us on the glass and Loper made every shot they had to.”

Barnes Arico thought Smith needed to do more down the stretch despite her point total on the night.

As for the scoring slugfest, she said, “We said, `What was more incredible – that we gave up 93 points or we scored 82.

“We felt at halftime we had sustained a punch in the face. (Hofstra) came out and they were making unbelievable shots. We came back and in the second half we were able to go ahead a little bit so we thought we held off their punch.

“Our game plan was not to step up on Bellochio and we stepped up. Our presence is young and inexperienced (in the post) and we showed that against Shante Evans.

“Everyone thought we were going to be deep and experienced coming back and we’re really not. We have Nidirah, Eugenia and Shennika who all play 30 minutes. After that everybody else is pretty much new and inexperienced.

“(Delaware transfer) Tesia Harris comes in, but she’s never played at this level so that’s an adjustment for her. But after those three, we’re all a bunch of babies and we’re just learning how to play. Now everyone sits in the paint and makes us take outside shots.

“We’re happy to score 82 but I’d rather score 40 right now and win. We need an inside game right now.

“They’re incredibly tough. They were impressive. I knew it was really going to be a challenge.”

-- Mel

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guru Local Report: St. Joe And Drexel Win While Temple Comes Up Short

Here are the SID reports from the three games so the Guru avoids a super late night considering the trip back from Hofstra and a doubleheader at Princeton and La Salle on Saturday.


Parker Leads Six Hawks in Double Figures With 13 Points

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Backed by six players in doubles figures, the Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team easily handled Dartmouth, 85-48, in the Friday evening in the opening game of the TD Bank Classic. The Hawks’ sophomore guard Kasie Parker (Oviedo, Fla./Lake Howell) led all scorers with a career-high 13 points as SJU had 10 players score in the win.

The Hawks took control of the game quickly, opening a 23-4 lead just under nine minutes into the contest. Saint Joseph’s hit 8-of-10 from the floor to start, with redshirt sophomore forward Ashley Robinson (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Wood) extending the lead to 19 on a pair of free throws at 11:15.

Saint Joseph’s (2-1) expanded its lead to as many as 25 points in the first half as nine of 11 players scored. The Hawks posted 14 of their 23 assists in the first half, while they held Dartmouth to just 36.4 percent from the floor (8-of-22) and caused 11 turnovers.

In the second half, Dartmouth (0-2) scored the opening two baskets, but Saint Joseph’s responded and quickly opened its lead to 32 points, 63-31, on a fast-break layup by junior guard Ashley Prim (Ansonia, Conn./Kolbe Cathedral) at 12:03.

The Hawks would maintain a 30-point lead from there as SJU finished at 48.7 percent shooting from the field (34-of-70), knocked down 7-of-16 from behind the arc (43.8 percent) and hit 10-of-13 from the foul line (76.9 percent).

Saint Joseph’s finished with a 48-21 edge in rebounds, with 22 boards coming on the offensive end. The Hawks would also add 23 assists, with sophomore guard Erin Shields (Drexel Hill, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) leading the way with five helpers to go with 11 points.

Parker added three rebounds to go with three steals, three assists and 13 points. Senior forward Kelly Cavallo (Hampton Bays, N.Y./Westhampton Beach) added nine rebounds and 12 points, while Robinson added 12 points. Senior guard Katie Kuester (Media, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame de Namur) converted three three-point field goals and finished at 11 points, while Prim was the sixth Hawk in double figures, adding 10 points.

Faziah Steen led Dartmouth with 12 points

The Hawks will face host Vermont on Saturday at 7 p.m. to cap the TD Bank Classic.

Temple Falls Just Short in Comeback Attempt at #24/25 Ohio State

Owls lose 70-66 after cutting a 15-point deficit to two in the final minute

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After cutting a 15-point deficit all the way down to two in the final minute, the Temple women's basketball team fell just short of completing the comeback and suffered a 70-66 loss at #24/25 Ohio State on Friday night. The Owls (2-1) got 14 points from Kristen McCarthy and 13 points from both Brittany Lewis and Joelle Connelly.

Ohio State (2-0) was led by Tayler Hill with 24 points and Samantha Prahalis with 20. The Buckeyes largely won the game at the free throw line, shooting 25-of-31 at the stripe.

Temple kept the first half close and took a lead on four different occasions, but foul trouble along with an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers allowed Ohio State to pull ahead down the stretch.

Eight fouls on Temple sent the Buckeyes to the line for 14 tries, of which they made 10, while the Owls were just 2-of-5 at the stripe in the first half.

Connelly stepped up for the Owls in the post with six first-half points and five rebounds, and BJ Williams led all Temple players with seven points including a three-pointer. Temple shot 43 percent from the field to Ohio State's 41.4 percent, but Prahalis was tough to stop and finished the half with 12 points to lead all players.

The Owls' largest lead was two, 15-13 after the trey from Williams. Lewis hit Temple's second three with 9:30 remaining in the first half to put the Owls within one, 23-22, but the Buckeyes out-scored Temple 13-6 the rest of the way to take a 36-28 lead into the break.

Temple used a 6-0 run that included a steal and some strong offensive rebounding to come within two, 36-34 in the opening minutes of the second half, but with an 11-0 run of its own, Ohio State took its first double-digit lead, 47-36 at 13:12. Natasha Thames stopped the bleeding with a layup for the Owls, but back-to-back fastbreak layups for Ohio State increased its lead yet again.

The Buckeyes led by as many as 15 before a pair of buckets by McCarthy put the margin back at 11. The Owls continued to chip away as they held Ohio State scoreless for a five-minute stretch, and without a field goal for over seven minutes.

Hitting 5-of-8 at the free throw line got the Owls within seven, 53-46 with 5:30 remaining before Prahalis struck again with two jumpers in a 6-0 Ohio State run that put the Buckeyes back up by 13.

The Owls refused to go away as McCarthy scored three points in a 5-0 run for the Owls that cut the margin back to single digits. After being held scoreless in the first half and for much of the second, Shey Peddy came to life for Temple and hit two three-pointers as the Owls continued to earn possessions with their defensive efforts.

The second trey from Peddy cut the margin to two, 68-66 with 14 seconds remaining, but Prahalis was solid at the free throw line hitting both attempts with nine seconds on the clock. The Owls had two chances on their final possession thanks to an offensive rebound, but could not covert either field goal attempt.

Temple will continue the weekend's road trip on Sunday with a 4:30 p.m. (EST) game at Northern Illinois out of the Mid-American Conference.


Here is the link to the Drexel win story since other attempts while on the Long Island Railroad aren't working.


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Guru Report: Delle Donne's 40 Fuels Delaware Upset Of No. 11 Penn State

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. –
There have been those occasions in the modern history of women’s collegiate basketball when a defining moment arrives that enables a program to burst through a threshold to a new level of acceptance and national identity.

The first time Connecticut beat Tennessee in January 1995 enabled the Huskies to jump from a Top 10 team to one that could go on to challenge the Lady Vols in terms of overall supremacy.

Louisiana Tech’s visit to existing Top 10 power UCLA and upsetting the Bruins in early January 1979 propelled the Techsters into the high rent district of the weekly Associated Press women’s poll where they resided into the Top 5 and no lower than the Top 10 until Dec. 24, 1990.

The team that knocked them out until several years later was Notre Dame in the St. Joseph’s tournament in Philadelphia at Irish coach Muffet McGraw’s alma mater.

Several days later Notre Dame made its AP debut and changed from its previous consideration as a developing power to one eventually regarded as a threat to win a national title.

Dawn Staley’s enrollment at Virginia took the Cavaliers from an 11-20 ranked team to one that climbed into the Top 10 and made three straight trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

On Thursday night such a game-changing moment struck the University of Delaware (2-0) at the Blue Hens’ Bob Carpenter Center courtesy of a thundering 40-point performance from junior sensation Elena Delle Donne that led to an 80-71 upset of No. 11 Penn State (2-1).

She also had 12 rebounds, blocked four shots and grabbed three steals.

Her total was the third highest behind her 54 at James Madison in 2010 and 41 at Yale a year ago. The 40 points set a record for the arena and the win is against the highest-ever ranked opponent of Delaware.

“That’s one of the most fantastic performances I’ve ever seen,” said Penn State coach Coquese Washington, a former Notre Dame associate head coach who also played in the WNBA. “We just couldn’t guard her.

“She shot right over the top of us. We tried to double her. We played man, played zone, I mean she is an incredible offensive player. She put on an all-American type performance tonight.”

Coincidentally, the win came on the eve of veteran Blue Hens coach Tina Martin and her staff’s move to new digs in the recently-built expansion of the complex that houses their home arena.

Considering that several ranked teams in the lower part of the poll may be vacating on the next vote Sunday night, the Blue Hens are poised to move uptown where the world “national” becomes affixed to the home address.

“People are doubters of Delaware,” Delle Donne said. “There are some people who doubt me but that’s not something I’m going to worry about.

“Hopefully people are going to start jumping on the Delaware bandwagon. We’re a fun team to watch. I think we’re going to be a great team this year. We still have a ton to work on. But we proved ourselves tonight.

“We didn’t back down and that’s something I’m very, very proud of,” she added, saying Delaware should now be on the national map. “We played a great game of basketball. A solid game for 40 minutes. We executed to pull this one out. I think that’s something nationally that’s going to be recognized.

“(Penn State’s) defense is phenomenal and every shot I took was contested. But it was falling.”

This was more than just a flash-in-the-pan upset. This was redemption on Delle Donne’s side after her briefly abandoning the sport that brought her acclaim dating back to her early high school years drawing national attention competing with the Fencor AAU team out of suburban Philadelphia.

And it was redemption on Delaware’s side, especially Martin, who endured Delle Donne’s absences the last two seasons due to a series of nagging injuries and last season’s bout with lyme disease that cost her the NCAA scoring title.

On Thursday night the promise of what could be, the dream of what could be, with Delle Donne returning to form and the Blue Hens adding significant support among some newcomers, became reality in what could be considered a prizefight of a matchup.

On one side were the Lady Lions, themselves recently restored to their own national identity that had vanished until Washington arrived in the spring of 2007 to rebuild the program.

A month ago Penn State was made the preseason favorite in the Big Ten and senior Alex Bentley was named the preseason conference player of the year.

“Anytime you can get a win outside your conference, especially against a BCS school, it’s great for your program,” Washington said of the national perception of Delaware. “They’re going to win a lot of games this year. When you have someone like Elena Delle Donne who can take over a game like that, they can be special.”

The Lady Lions’ visit was also a homecoming affair for sophomore scoring sensation Maggie Lucas, who smashed three-point shooting records as a freshman and is a former Germantown Academy star and resides in nearby Narberth, a suburb of Philadelphia to the north.

Delaware was poised to make its statement. Delle Donne had had a magnificent summer helping to lead the USA squad of the best collegiate talent to a gold medal.

Furthermore, point guard Kayla Miller, who missed last season with back problems, was healed and newcomers who had played at Florida and West Virginia arrived to offer depth.

Thus the moment of opportunity was at hand for Delaware and it is a statement in itself when an NCAA tournament committee member was in the house to make an early on site evaluation of both teams.

Delaware roared to a 15-3 lead but Penn State rallied to draw even and eventually be ahead 35-32 at the half.

The Lady Lions seemed on the way to a knockout when they held a 51-43 advantage with 12 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game.

As good as Delle Donne was – she had 15 at the half – Bently, who finished with 20 points, had Penn State maintaining the upper hand.

But then the Blue Hens and Delle Donne, connecting on contested shots, went to work with a rally.

Furthermore, she was getting Penn State’s post players into foul trouble, including Talia East, a graduate of Philadelphia’s Friends Central High.

East finished with 11 rebounds bur fouled out as did Ariel Edwards, who had eight points and eight rebounds.

Delle Donne’s jumper tied it at 51-51 with 9:15 left and it became up for grabs until the Blue Hens went ahead on Jocelyn Bailey’s layup with 6:25 left.

Now the crowd of 3,352 in the 5,000-seat arena stirred sensing a historical moment at hand for Delaware.

“The crowd got them energized. That’s the beauty of playing at home,” Washington said.

The Blue Hens then began extending the advantage the rest of the way and when it ended, students, primarily members of
the football team, in a previously unheard of scene here, stormed the court engulfing the Blue Hens in celebration.

“That was by far the best win in my entire life,” Delle Donne said. “I don’t know about my teammates but I’m pretty sure that was the best win in their lives, too. To have them (football players) charge the court like that – that’s something you see on ESPN. It was inredible.”

“This is something we’re going to remember for a lifetime. We had players in the locker room crying. We were screaming Delaware. Coach Martin was dancing. This is just something that gives you chills when you think about it.

“I’m just so proud of my teammates. The work we put in the offseason. The work coach Martin and all of our coaches put in.

This is something we definitely deserved and I’m just so proud of them,” Delle Donne said.

“(Penn State’s) a phenomenal team. They got Maggie Lucas (4-17 for 12 points), you can’t leave her open. A three is like a layup for her. Our bigs did a tremendous job fighting back to get the win. Everybody did what they had to do.”

Zhaque Gray had 15 points as the other Lady Lion scoring in double figures.

Penn State next visits South Carolina, coached by Dawn Staley, on Sunday, while Delaware is off until visiting Villanova next Tuesday night.

Trumae Lucas, who had seen many key nights playing for Florida in the rugged Southeastern Conference, had 15 points and four assists.

“Right now, it feels great. I just want to enjoy the moment. Our goal this year is just to win a CAA championship. I loved playing at Florida – I loved the school, loved playing for the coaches. But somehow this game just felt bigger than any other game I’ve played before. So it definitely felt good.

“We were definitely the underdog, but as the year goes on that shock (over winning) will go away. Gotta love Elena. I love having her as my teammate. She definitely carried us. But myself and others stepped up and played their roles. (Lauren) Carra later on in the second half played great defense on Bentley.”

Martin, now in her 16th season, called it the best nonconference win in the school’s history.

“It’s been such a ride for us,” she said. “We’ve gone through a lot the last couple of years and to have this victory at home in front of our crowd. Our fans were unbelievable.

“We just wanted to show some emotion from the coaching staff, not that I never show emotion. I just felt these kids earned it tonight. We had some periods where we got into a little lull – we didn’t score. I felt our defense sustained us.

“Penn State’s an unbelievably talented team. I can’t say enough about our kids on the defensive end. We showed some grit. Huge rebounds. Hustle plays. And on the offensive end people were setting screens all over the place doing a good job.

“(Penn State) is in my backyard (Lock Haven). I grew up being a Penn State fan. I only lived 45 minutes. I have a lot of respect for their program.

“But there are a lot of big games ahead and we have to learn from our mistakes and get better. There’s a very good Villanova team waiting for us on Tuesday night.”

Martin said she thinks people have been aware of Delaware’s growth in terms of having some scheduling difficulty.

“Nobody seems to want to play us here. The bottom line is that we were finally able to get a really good team here and I thank Penn State for that. But when we’re playing home and playing well, we’re tough to beat here.

“I would hope we would get more respect but we still have some more work to do. It was fun to see the other athletes come out and support our team. I was just hoping no one was going to tackle anybody. I stayed out of that melee. I’m too out for that.”

Cheryl Reeve, the coach of the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, whose home in southern New Jersey is nearby, stopped by for “due diligence.”

Delle Donne has another year of eligibility but is technically a senior by enrollment. Thus she can decide to make herself available for the draft but does not have to make a commitment until around the time of the Final Four.

Minnesota owns the Washington Mystics’ pick that became the third overall choice off the lottery. So the game was an opportunity for Reeve to check out both Delle Donne and Bentley.

“She reminds me of (Seattle Storm superstar) Lauren Jackson, when she was young before she began posting up,” Reeve said at the half.

-- Mel

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guru Report: Rutgers and Villanova Continue Renaissance Start

By Mel Greenberg

Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer unintentionally did a bit of an Andy Reid imitation at her postgame press conference Wednesday night after the 15th-ranked Scarlet Knights turned back Boston College 74-58 at their Louis A. Brown Athletic Center.

Storming to a 19-point lead early in the second half in the nonconference encountrer, Rutgers (2-0) squandered much of the advantage until the Eagles (1-1) whittled the differential down to five points at 51-46 with 8 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game.

Her players then righted the ship and got back into a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

"That was me, not them, I have to do a better job (using combinations)," Stringer echoed some phrases used by the NFL Eagles coach in Philadelpha, who team is in far worst shape.

That is not to say the Scarlet Knights are in any trouble at all in their early contests, something that was in quite opposite in recent seasons that launched with somewhat depleted rosters going against tough competition.

The influx of freshmen talent, highlighted by Betnijah Laney, the daughter of all-American Yolanda Laney, whom Stringer coached at Cheyney in suburban Philadelphia in the early 1970s, combined with the veterans has enabled Rutgers to have depth, speed, athleticism and whatever else is needed to play Stringer's vaunted "55" press start to finish.

And even with senior Chelsey Lee lost for the season with a shoulder injury, Rutgers is getting the job done in the post, which was much to the dismay of Boston College coach Sylvia Crawley, the former North Carolina star.

"We gave up too many points in the paint, at halftime, we looked at their shot chart and the majority of their points were inside the key," Crawley said.

Monique Oliver had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Khadijah Rushdan of Wilmington, Delaware, also scored 15 points for Stringer's bunch, which all saw minutes in double figures.

Laney and Briyona Canty, another prized newcomer, each scored nine points as did senior April Sykes on a night that she struggled a bit from the field with a 4-for-12 effort from the field.

Boston College's Katie Zenevitch had 15 points, while Tessah Holt scored 12 points and Kristen Doherty scored 10.

A year ago the Eagles (1-1) got Rutgers at home for a win in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

"Last year we were the team with experience," Crawley said explaining how the teams have reversed roles after the departure of two talented post players in Carolyn Swords, now on the WNBA Chicago Sky, and Stefanie Murphy.

Rutgers, which next visits La Salle (1-2) Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia, forced the Eagles into 21 turnovers while only committing 10. The Scarlet Knights also blocked 10 shots compared to just one by the opposition and when the offense flowed, Rutgers dealt 18 assists to 13 by B.C.

Incidentally, this week Stringer rang up her 150th appearance with Rutgers in the Associated Press women’s poll. That puts her five away from the same C. Vivian Stringer who made 155 appearances with Iowa in terms of most rankings at the same school.

But add her total at Cheyney and Stringer is among a handful of coaches with three different teams in the poll and her overall total is now 390, which is still way below Hall of Fame Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s 601 appearances.

As mentioned in the past Tennessee and Summitt have missed only 14 overall AP appearances.

Villanova Renaissance Continues

Judging by the Wildcats’ early season success with a 3-0 start perhaps the university needs to be renamed Villanova at N.Y.

Coach Harry Perretta’s squad has opened with three road games near the banks of the Hudson River and the group, picked 13th in the Big East may be causing conference coaches to requesting a do-over in the vote they produced last month for media day.

On Wednesday night, the Wildcats traveled to Poughkeepsie and ruined Marist’s season opener with a 12-0 run in the second half that resulted in a 60-53 win over the perennial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions.

Junior Megan Pearson scored seven points in the run while four Villanova teammates scored in double figures.

“We had a bunch of people play great,” Perretta said.

Rachel Roberts, who was the MVP of the Iona Tip-Off Tournament after the Wildcats upset then-No. 25 Michigan State in the USAToday/ESPN coaches’ poll and followed with a win over the host Gaels on Friday and Saturday, scored 14 points against the Red Foxes.

She also shot a perfect 4-for-4 on three-point attempts.

Laura Sweeney of Marlton, N.J., scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, sophomore Devon Kane from Springfield, Pa., and redshirt freshman Lauren Burford each scored 10 points.

The game was the first played in the Red Foxes’ new NcCann Arena where their MAAC conference championship banner was hung from last season when Marist was nationally ranked, went 31-3, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Marists’ Corielle Yarde scored 18 points.

Perretta entered the game fresh off his 600th career triumph.

Villanova hasn’t experienced this kind of start since a 4-0 liftoff of the of the 2005-06 season.

The Wildcats will try to match that start Saturday when they visit two-time defending champion Princeton, which has started hot with a win at hom in Jadwin Gym over St. Joseph’s and then a triumph Monday night at Lafayette.

On Tuesday, Villanova makes it home to the Pavilion where it will host Colonial Athletic Association preseason favorite Delaware.

St. John’s Red Storm Rages Over La Salle

It’s going to be a while before the youthful Explorers can find their footing.

Following a home-opening triumph over Lehigh and a road loss at Albany last weekend, La Salle traveled to St. John’s Wednesday night in Queens, N.Y., where the Red Storm did not need much to be motivated.

St. Bonaventure, a rival of the Explorers in the Atlantic 10 upset St. John’s in the season opener, dropping the Red Storm out of the rankings.

Coach Kim Arico’s squad responded with a total 66-45 wipeout of La Salle (1-2), which next hosts St. John’s Big East and Metro area rival Rutgers on Saturday night.

The Red Storm play Hofstra on Friday in a battle of Long Island.

St. John’s early 19-0 run took care of business early.

Alexis Scott scored 17 points for La Salle, while Nadirah McKenith scored 26 points for the Red Storm.

The National Scene

Maryland senior Lynetta Kizer is on a bunch of watch lists for national awards but to date all her watching has been from the Terrapins’ bench as she continues to serve an indefinite suspension by coach Brenda Frese for “breaking a team rule”.

Though she continues to practice, her absence on game day has had little effect as Maryland won comfortable games at home against Loyola of Maryland, then-No. 10 Georgetown, and now an 82-46 win at the Comcast Center Wednesday night as freshman guard Brene Moseley scored 26 points and veteran Laurin Mincy scored 15.

Maryland is 10th in the AP poll and hosts St. Joseph’s on Tuesday after beating the Hawks in Philadelphia in December.

Georgetown (1-2), which fell to No. 14 this week, might continue the plunge after losing at No. 20 LSU Wednesday night.

Dayton, which was co-picked with Temple by the conference coaches to win the Atlantic 10 has now dropped two games after Cincinnati (2-0) at home topped the Flyers 75-64 Wednesday night in the Queen City.

The host Bearcats are coached by former Connecticut player and assistant coach Jamelle Elliott, who is a good frined of Temple’s Tonya Cardoza from their days serving on UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s staff.

Delaware’s Moment Arrives

There isn’t much on Thursday’s schedule but in the only local Division I game on the slate, a trip to Newark, Del., is quite worthy.

The host Blue Hens will welcome No. 11 Penn State and in terms of Delaware, the CAA favorite of the conference coaches, this has the potential to be a program-changer with a victory.

Penn State, off to a 2-0 start, has its highest ranking since the 2004-05 season and is the consensus choice of media and conference coaches to win the Big 10.

Delaware, which could be heading for a first-evcr ranking with a win if the Blue Hens also win at St. Bonaventure Sunday, is loaded and junior sensation Elena Delle Donne, who starred on the USA Basketball gold medalists in the World University Games, is in the best shape since enrolling at the school near her home.

She scored 33 against Rhode Island – 28 in the first half -- in Friday’s opener at home in the Bob Carpenter Center.

Penn State , whose sophomore star Maggie Lucas is a Germantown Academy graduate, was less strong a year ago when the Lady Lions edged Delaware in State College.

The Lady Lions are the highest ranked team ever to visit the Bob Carpenter Center, which opened for the 1992-93 season back when Delaware played in what is now the America East.

They are also the highest ranked team to play Delaware, which also met PSU, then an 11th ranked team on Feb. 16, 1979 in State College at a time when the former Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) ran the show.

Four other ranked teams, who were also conference rivals of Delaware in either the CAA or America East, have visited the Bob.

Old Dominion arrived with a No. 13 in 2007-08 and No. 25 in 2001-02, while James Madison was 22nd in 2006-07 and Vermont was 17 in 1992-93
Next up here is the Delaware game Thursday night unless a guest star appearance in the print alma mater is requested.

-- Mel

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guru Report: Home Is Sweet On The Road For Temple's Cardoza And Peddy

(Guru’s note: Since the item drew a large amount of traffic, those of you still looking for the Guru’s report of Hall of Fame nominees being erroneous and are in melgreenberg.com, just click the mel’s blog tab on the left and you will get to the full archive in blogspot.)

By Mel Greenberg

Homecoming was sweet and successful for Temple coach Tonya Cardoza and senior Shey Peddy Tuesday night as the Owls beat Northeastern 72-58 in Boston to run the Owls’ opening record to 2-0.

Peddy, who grew up in nearby Roxbury, also the home of Cardoza, scored 20 points, including a 4-for-8 effort on three-point attempts.

She also dealt five assists and grabbed four steals.

Brittany Lewis, who had set a career record in Temple’s opening win over Miami of Ohio Friday night, quickly topped the mark against the Huskies, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

Senior Kristen McCarthy also scored in double figures for the Owls, collecting 16 points.

However, it was at the defensive end Temple really excelled by hounding Northeastern into 27 turnovers to pick up 40 points in transition while only committing 11 miscues.

So unlike a year ago when the Owls stumbled a bit against teams they were expected to beat, the Atlantic 10 co-favorites with Dayton in the conference coaches’ poll are meeting expectations.

Now comes up a step up in competition and rough waters ahead the next two weeks beginning with a trip Friday night to Ohio State, which just moved into the Associated Press media poll at No. 24.

On Sunday Temple continues its extended road trip visiting Northern Illinois.

Next week after Thanksgiving comes trip to the Bahamas against defending NCAA champion Texas A&M followed on Saturday with a game against either St. John’s, which just fell out of the poll after being upset by Atlantic 10-member St. Bonaventure or Iowa.

The Owls’ travels finish up on Nov. 30 at 15th-ranked Rutgers.

Looking Ahead

The Guru will be back up at Rutgers for another competitive matchup Wednesday night when the Scarlet Knights host Boston College, whose Kerri Shields is an Archbishop Carroll graduate.

Her sister Erin is a sophomore at St. Joseph’s and the two will go against each other for the second time this year when Boston College visits the Hawks next month.

In March Boston College eliminated St. Joseph’s in the second round of the WNIT at home in Chestnut Hill, Mass., with both sisters putting on a scoring show.

Meanwhile, Villanova, fresh off last weekend’s upset of Michigan State and then beating host Iona to win the Gaels’ Tip-Off Tournament to give Wildcats coach Harry Perretta his 600th career win, the team visits perennial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Marist on Wednesday night.

Then it’s on to Princeton, the two-time defending Ivy champion, on Saturday before returning home Tuesday night to play Delaware for the Wildcats’ first game of the season in the Pavilion.

La Salle (1-1) is also in play Wednesday night visiting St. John’s before hosting Rutgers on Saturday night. The Explorers are coming off a tough loss at Albany after winning the home opener Friday against Lehigh.

The Guru will round up all three games the locals play on Wednesday.

Delaware hosts No. 11 Penn State on Thursday night in a key game for both teams.

Besides Temple’s game on Friday, St. Joseph’s travels to Vermont to meet Dartmouth and then play the host Catamounts on Saturday.

Drexel, which was shocked by Long Island in the Dragons’ opener, Friday night, will be at Akron on Friday to meet Detroit in a consolation round of the WNIT and then meet either the host Zips or Howard on Saturday.

Rider will visit Penn on Saturday while on Sunday Penn State travels to play Dawn Staley’s South Carolina squad.

Weekly Awards

Although the Guru tweeted this news from Lafayette during the Princeton game on Monday night, those of you who have yet to follow (@womhoopsguru) should know that St. Joseph’s freshman Ashley Robinson was a co-winner of the Atlantic 10 rookie of the week award with La Salle’s Jayda Payne while Penn sophomore Alyssa Baron was named the Ivy player of the week.

Meanwhile newcomer Brianne Traub at University of the Sciences was named the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference rookie of the week after becoming the first player in the 25-year history of the Devils’ women’s program to score 20 or more points in her first two games.

The National Scene

Another 1-2 showdown looms ahead in AP Poll history Sunday if No. 1 Baylor turns aside UCLA on Thursday night and No. 2 Notre Dame beats Hartford.

On Monday Stanford gives Connecticut its first test of the early season in Hartford playing the Huskies for the first time since the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif., ended the Huskies’ record NCAA win streak of 90 in December.

Both teams advanced to the Final Four to be upset in the national semifinals as Stanford lost to eventual NCAA champion Texas A&M while the Huskies, in their fourth meeting of the year, fell to Big East rival Notre Dame.

The Guru will be back before the next sunrise or much earlier if the news warrants.

-- Mel