Womhoops Guru

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guru's College Report: Winners' Night as Princeton, Penn, Villanova, and Drexel Go 4-0

BY MEL GREENBERG @womhoopsguru

Drexel kept on course here Friday night at the Dragon’s Daskalakis Athletic Center with a 64-47 win over Charleston to continue as the second best team right now in the Colonial Athletic Association

Villanova’s Caroline Coyer didn’t cool off all that much five days later in the Midwest after setting a career high in a in Sunday’s home win at St. John’s.

.And 19th-ranked Princeton and Penn ruled Harvard and Dartmouth, respectively, in the first half of the Ivy southern duo’s weekend in New England and now switch sites to finish off the furthest trip in the league 24 hours later.

Let’s start with one of the hottest teams in the nation – the flying Tigers of unbeaten Princeton who now are dealing paybacks in their new season of history.

When last checking in with Courtney Banghart’s squad early in the new year of 2015 Princeton launched Ivy play at home in Jadwin Gym against its travel partner Penn by avenging the upset loss at the end of last season that snapped the Tigers’ run of four straight league titles and enabled the Quakers to win their third crown in league history.

Then came the annual three-week hiatus for exams which a year ago accumulated some rust as Princeton returned to action promptly being upset at home by Harvard.

So what might happen this time against the always dangerous Crimson playing them up in Cambridge, Mass.

Would you believe a 50-point 96-46 wipeout that put Harvard’s attempt to return to power in danger of being extinguished if both Penn and Princeton complete a sweep of the longtime past alternating powers Saturday night.

Blake Dietrick, who has been monopolizing Ivy player of the week awards, set herself up to perhaps collect another on Monday after scoring 18 points by connecting on 7-of-11 field goals, including 4-of-6 missiles from beyond the arc for the Tigers (18-0, 2-0 Ivy).

She also dealt six assists, grabbed four rebounds and had three swipes.

Amanda Berntsen set a career high with 17 points, shooting 6-for-7 from the field while Alex Wheatley collected 15 points and Vanessa Smith tallied 14.

Currently No. 1 in mid-major polls, the only other Ivy men’s or women’s squad to exceed this season’s run to date is the 1970-71 Penn men who were 28-0.

This is the eighth time this season Princeton built a 30-point lead.
The last Ivy team to get that many points against Harvard was by the Crimson’s northern travel partner Dartmouth, also 96, on March 7, 2000.

In all the Tigers shot 59,3 percent from the field (35-for-59) and 60.0 percent on three-point attempts (9-for-15).

Temi Fagbenle, the English Olympian, was the only player in double figures for Harvard (8-9, 1-2), scoring 13 points. Princeton, which is at Dartmouth 6 p.m. Saturday, outrebounded the Crimson 47-34.

Penn Handles Dartmouth 55-39

The Quakers joined Princeton in the payback department, succeeding at a place in which their run to glory last season became a disruptive bump along the way.

Wearing the title of Big Five co-champions for the first time ever – which may be amended on Wednesday if Saint Joseph’s beat La Salle – Penn plunged back into its Ivy business the rest of the way by securing its largest margin of victory at Leede Arena while making it the second straight game holding an opponent under 40 points.

Sydney Stipanovich had a game-high 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds while adding three blocks for Penn (10-6, 1-1 Ivy).

The sophomore now has 147 blocks in her career to move into 12th on the Ivy charts in the category.

Kara Bonenberger had nine points and 10 rebounds against the Big Green (10-7, 1-2).

Penn dominated the boards, 44-28.

The Quakers now head to Lavietes Pavilion for a 6 p.m. tip at Harvard that will air on ESPN3 as they attempt to win in Cambridge in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2000-01.

Villanova’s Hot Hand Continues at Marquette

The Wildcats began play in the second half of the Big East schedule by completing a season-sweep of Marquette 75-59 in Milwaukee.

Caroline Coyer, who set a career-high Sunday back in the Pavilion with 28 points against St. John’s, had 26 this time in shooting 9-for-15 from the field and connecting on 3-for-4 three-point attempts for Villanova (13-9, 7-3 Big East).

Taylor Holeman and freshman sensation Alex Louin each scored 12 points to keep the Golden Eagles (4-17, 0-10) winless in league play. Kavunaa Edwards had nine points and eight rebounds.

Villanova shot 50 percent on three-point attempts as a team and also shot 50 percent from the field (29-of-58).

The Wildcats, who have won 10 of their last 12 after finally getting fully healthy, will be looking for a season sweep of preseason favorite DePaul when they travel to Chicago on Sunday to meet the Blue Demons in a game that will air at 3 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia.

In all, Coyer has scored 54 points, connected on 20-of-33 field goal attempts and 9-of-13 threes her last two games. Holeman is 28-for-52 from the field and has scored 56 points her last four games.

The Wildcats, with a reputation of winning with defense and a patient offensive attack, have scored 155 points the last two games and allowed just 10 three-pointers the last five games.

The NCAA leader is fewest turnovers made, coach Harry Perretta’s squad committed just eight against Marquette, the fourth straight and 14th overall this season for single digit turnovers.

Drexel Downs Charleston

Rachel Pearson and Sarah Curran each scored 18 points for Drexel (13-7, 7-2 CAA), though got all hers with six 3-pointers in a win over the Cougars (4-11, 2-7) to stay in sole possession of second place, two back of James Madison, which is unbeaten in conference play.

The Dragons are one ahead of Hofstra, which Drexel has a 1-1 split on the season and hosts Delaware Sunday while coach Denise Dillon’s squad heads to UNCW for a 1 p.m. tip in Wilmington, N.C. and looking for a season-sweep after a 58-53 win here earlier this month.

Additionally, Alexis Smith had 10 points while Jamila Thompson grabbed 10 rebounds.

Jackie Luna-Castro had 14 points for Charleston while Breanna Bolden scored 10 points.

“Charleston came out at the start of the second half and put some quick points on the board but after one timeout I just told our players just focus on defense,” Dillon said.

“Don’t get caught up in the offense because when we start thinking on offense, especially against a matchup (zone), we start turning it over and panicking a little bit,” she continued.

“And that was when we settled into start executing and getting the stops we needed.”

Looking Ahead

Repeating from the last report, the only local D-1s in action are both on the road with the Atlantic 10 duo of Saint Joseph’s at conference newcomer Davidson on Saturday and La Salle at VCU.

The Guru will be crossing over to D-2 land and visiting USciences going after the Devils’ 13th straight win when they host Felician in a 1 p.m. Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game.

On Sunday, second-ranked Connecticut visits Temple at 2 p.m.in an American Conference at McGonigle Hall, while Penn State is at No. 22 Rutrgers at noon for the second of their two Big Ten contests this season.

Villanova and Drexel and Delaware have been mentioned above.

That’s it for the moment.

--- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Friday, January 30, 2015

Guru's College Report: Delaware and Rutgers Triumph While St. Joe's Edged

BY MEL GREENBERG @womhoopsguru

NEWARK, Del. --
Delaware’s 72-54 win over Towson Thursday night in a Colonial Athletic Association game at the Bob Carpenter Center was a different as the Blue Hens visiting Drexel in a loss Sunday in Philadelphia or the first meeting of the season between Thursday night’s foes 20 days ago that resulted in a 56-49 loss to the Tigers down in Towson, Md.

Beyond the boxscore, Delaware veteran coach Tina Martin had the reasons to explain one of the better performances of the season by the Blue Hens (9-11, 4-5 CAA).

“One, we’re home,” she began her list of reasons. “Two, I don’t know, I do believe we’ve grown up a little bit.

“This has been quite the year. We’ve just been on this roller coaster ride,” she referred to the game-to-game swings in performance. “I keep telling the kids, I want to stabilize. I want to stabilize.

“We come home and they love the fans here. That gets everybody going. If your blood can’t be pumping when you’re playing in front of a couple of thousand people than something is wrong with you.

“Plus our kids want to play well here. They’re in to it here. I just want to stabilize. I want us to go on the road and get some good quality wins. And I want to continue to play well at home in front of our home crowds.

“We’re a much more of an attacking, aggressive team now against the pressure now and it’s paid off big time. I mean teams that have been pressing us, we’ve been making them play.”

Four players scored in double figures for Delaware, paced by Courtni Green, who had a game-high 23 points while Hannah Jardine had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Erika Brown also had 14 points and Joy Caracciolo scored 10 points. Additionally, Makeda Nicholas grabbed nine rebounds.
LaTorroi Hines-Allen, whom Martin called a first team all-CAA star, had 17 points for Towson (8-13, 4-5) while Camille Alberson scored 10.

Next up is a visit to Hofstra (13-7, 6-3 after Thursday’s win) on Sunday as Delaware looks for a season-sweep and then a return to here next Thursday to host Northeastern.

Philly-Area Duo Pace Rutgers at Purdue

Philadelphia’s Kahleah Copper had 21 points while Betnijah Laney from nearby Clayton, Del., had her 13th double double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds as No. 22 Rutgers grabbed a 58-49 Big Ten win at Purdue at the Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.

They were the only ones to hit double digits for the Scarlet Knights (15-5, 6-3 Big Ten), who are now 9-1 on the road this season.

Whitney Bays had 16 points while Ashley Morrissette scored 11 for the host Boilermakers 10-11, 3-7).

The victory was the 175th in the conference for Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer, including 169 when she previously coached Iowa, and needs one more to tie former Penn State coach Rene Portland for most wins in intra-conference competition.

Ironically, Rutgers will host the Lady Lions at noon Sunday looking for a two-game sweep on the season series.

Stringer, who now is 424-211 at Rutgers needs 10 more to pass Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame former Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz, who came out of retirement this season to help Dianne Nolan at Lafayette.

On Wednesday night, in a game the Guru was at, which he’ll get to in a minute playing catch-up in the local report, Grentz helped preside over host Lafayette rally from a 25-point deficit to edge Colgate at home at the Kirby Sports Center in a Patriot League game in Easton, Pa.

“I had a good run,” Grentz quipped prior to that game when the Guru noted that people were catching up to some of her milestones on all-time coaching lists. For example, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale needs one more poll appearance to match Grentz at 225, though the Sooners, who just returned to the rankings for the first time in several seasons, fell in a narrow Big-12 loss to Texas Thursday night.

Saint Joseph’s Edged by St. Louis

The Stipanovich clan of St. Louis has become trouble for Saint Joseph’s

Sadie of St. Louis University and the midwest city of the arch hit a game-winning layup Thursday afternoon with five seconds left in regulation to lead the Billikens over the Hawks 52-51 in an Atlantic Ten game at Chaifetz Arena that was delayed a day due to travel problems for the visitors related to this week’s weather problems.

Earlier this month, Sadie’s cousin Sydney, a sophomore star at Penn, was instrumental in leading the Quakers to a rare win over Saint Joseph’s in The Palestra that helped Penn move on to a three-game victory total in Big Five competition for the first time in the same season, leading to a tie with Villanova for the City Series championship.

Saint Joseph’s can make it a threesome by beating La Salle at home next Wednesday night but nothing has been easy for the Hawks this season as Thursday’s result demonstrates.

Sadie Stipanovich hit one of two foul shots with 1:58 left in regulation to bring the Billikens within a point of the Hawks (6-13, 2-5 A-10) at 50-49.

Neither team scored on their ensuing possessions and then the Hawks’ Natasha Cloud missed a shot giving St. Louis opportunities in the final moments of the game.

The Billikens missed the game-winning attempt but Stipanovich grabbed the rebound off the bounce off the rim and scored before Cloud’s long attempt missed to end the game.

Saint Joseph’s, coming off a home win over St. Bonaventure last Saturday led trailed 16-8 before surging on a 19-0 run by holding St. Louis to 0-for-10 from the field over the stretch.

But the Billikens worked their way back into contention to set up their narrow victory.

Cloud and Ashley Robinson led the Hawks with 12 points each while Stipanovich had 18 points for the Billikens (11-10, 4-4 A-10).

The Hawks will stay on the road for a visit to conference newcomer Davidson at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Lafayette Stirring Rally Edges Colgate at the Finish

In what has become a season of revival at Lafayette, Wednesday night’s 58-56 victory over Colgate at home in Easton, Pa., was one of the most impressive, perhaps in NCAA history, in terms of comebacks.

Furthermore, the winning play by junior Jamie O’Hare was a dazzler that made its way across the internet and onto such nationally-respected sports websites as Sports Illustrated.

“It was definitely a tale of two halves,” Lafayette coach Dianne Nolan understated the flow of the night in which Colgate (3-17, 2-7 Patriot League) led by as many as 25 points near the end of the first half.

Then the Leopards (11-9, 4-5) began slicing away until the final minutes when the game became competitive and was reminiscent of Lafayette’s narrow non-conference triumph over Penn at home earlier this season.

Late in the game Nolan’s team, in which Upper Darby’s Emily Homan, the star attraction, had been bottled up early, finally caught the Raiders and were knotted up in the final minute.

That’s when the spotlight shifted to junior Jamie O’Hare bounced the ball off a Colgate player’s back and grabbed it and shot an improbable reverse layup over her shoulder for what became the winning points.

O’Hare, who had a game-high 18 points said afterwards she recalled the play from practice.

Homan, one of the all-time Lafayette scoring leaders who also has starred in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Summer League, finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds while Anna Ptasinski scored 11.

Colgate’s Josie Stockill had 14 points and Carole Harris scored 10.

Lafayette is attempting to get its first winning season since 1997-98.

The previous best-ever rally under Nolan, who previously had a longtime stint with some Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles at Fairfield, was two seasons ago when the Leopards trailed Bucknell.

Nolan said she couldn’t remember ever being involved in a comeback from so deep a deficit.

“It sure felt like it,” she said. “At halftime collectively as a staff we said collectively we have to do some different things.

“We went back to our old plays and give the kids credit, they went out and executed. We got our hands up higher and a little closer to knock rebounds away from the rim.”

Besides the attention of Grentz, mentioned in an item earlier in this post, Nolan has added two bright young assistants this season in C.K. Calhoun, who previously spent two seasons as the head coach at Shenandoah in Virginia, and Ross James, who was a graduate assistant at Texas Woman’s University.

Penn State Stopped at Minnesota

After two straight wins at home to get untracked, the Lady Lions went on the road Wednesday night and fell at Minnesota 75-64 in a Big Ten contest in Minneapolis.

A 20-3 run was wasted as Minnesota (17-4, 6-3 Big Ten), which fell out of the Associated Press poll this week after a brief return, was 10-for-33 on three-point attempts compared to the Lady Lions’ 3-for-11 while the Gophers shot 19-for-24 from the line compared to 11-for-12 by Penn State (5-16, 2-8).

Amanda Zahui B. had a triple double for the Gophers, scoring 16 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking 12 shots. Shae Kelly scored 18 points and Mikayla Bailey scored 16 while Carlie Wagner scored 12. Shayne Mullaney dealt 12 assists.

Zahui B.’s triple double was her second, a Minnesota record, as were the 12 blocked shots, which tied a Big Ten single game record for rejections. In all, 15 blocked shots by the Gophers tied a school record set against Iowa on Jan. 30, 1981.

Sophomore Peyton Whitted, with a career-high, and Lindsey Spann tied for team honors for Penn State with 16 points each and Candice Agee scored 12.

The Lady Lions, as previously mentioned, next head to Rutgers for a noon game Sunday trying to avoid a sweep by the Scarlet Knights, who are in their first season in the Big Ten.

However, the two teams in the 1980s used to battle for supremacy in the Atlantic 10.

Temple Completes Sweep of UCF

As the Guru finishes catching up from earlier games, the luck of the American Conference schedule put Temple in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday night, out of harm’s way from weather problems and the Owls enjoyed the sunny weather by taking a 71-54 victory over UCF.

The win was the third straight for Temple (10-11, 6-2 AAC), though a big bump is just ahead with the second of the two-game experience against second ranked and defending NCAA champion Connecticut is just ahead at 2 p.m. Sunday at home in McGonigle Hall.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma will be going for his 899th win, all at UConn, against one of his former assistants in Temple’s Tonya Cardoza.

Against UCF (7-13, 3-6), five players scored in double figures for the Owls with Erica Covile collecting 17 points to go with her eight rebounds while Tyonna Williams had 13 points, Tanaya Atkinson scored 12, Alliya Butts, the AAC freshman of the week, and Feyonda Fitzgerald each scored 11.

Nationally Noted

There were some interesting items from Thursday’s results elsewhere from around the country.

Old Dominion’s Jennie Simmons had 45 points, tying the top NCAA individual scoring high this season, in an 80-67 win by ODU (12-7, 5-3 C-USA) over FIU (3-15, 0-7). Kelsey Plum of Washington in the Pac-12 also had 45 in a game this season.

Illiinois had another upset bid foiled when No. 15 Nebraska emerged at home with a 59-57 victory in the Big Ten.

The treys were flying in Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena in a Big Ten matchup but more fell in favor of No. 20 Iowa,which took a 102-99 victory.

The two teams set an NCAA single-game record, combining for 32 3-pointers, 19 by the Hawkeyes (17-3, 8-1 Big Ten) and 13 by the Wildcats.

The previous mark was 31 combined with Mississippi getting 17 and Bowling Green scoring 14 on Nov. 26, 1999.

The 19 treys by Iowa are a program and conference single game record.

Nia Coffey had a career-high 35 points for Northwestern fueled by 12 treys.

After getting back into the AP poll for the first time this season, No. 24 Oklahoma was edged by No. 14 Texas 84-81 in double overtime in a Big 12 game that became Karen Aston’s 150th career victory counting previous stints at Charlotte and North Texas.

Freshman Arie Atkins had 21 points for the Longhorns (15-4, 4-4 Big 12) over the Sooners (13-6, 7-1), who had been unbeaten in conference play.

South Carolina is now 20-0 as the top-ranked Gamecocks cruised over Alabama 85-54 in a Southeastern Conference game at home in Columbia as the collision with second ranked Connecticut in non-conference action looms ahead a week from Monday in Storrs at Gampel Pavilion on campus.

The Huskies have announced the game is sold out.

Besides South Carolina being unbeaten in the conference, Tennessee remained likewise after the No. 6 Lady Vols edged No. 10 Kentucky 73-72 on the road in Lexington on the first road trip to a Top 10 opponent since 2008.

Kentucky had won 12 straight at home.

No. 5 Maryland the other Big Ten newcomer besides Rutgers stayed perfect in conference play with a 91-65 win at Michigan in Lansing to put the Terrapins at 18-2 overall and 9-0 in the conference. Lauren Mincy had 24 points against the Wolverines (13-7, 5-4).

Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti picked up her 300th win after Deanna Mayza scored with 28.4 seconds left in regulation to give the Hawks a 60-58 win at Stony Brook in an America East game that improved them to 11-11, 5-3.

Looking Ahead

On Friday among the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group No. 19 and unbeaten Princeton is hoping not to be rusted as opposed to rested when the Tigers travel to Harvard after three weeks of inactivity due to the annual hiatus for finals.

A year ago after having handled Penn in the Ivy opener before the break, in a reverse of this year’s schedule, the Tigers, who were the four-time defending Ivy champs, were upset in Jadwin Gym by Harvard, who the next time then were routed by Penn in The Palestra to level the playing field.

Ultimately, Penn prevailed at the end upsetting Princeton in the final game on the Ivy schedule after the two were tied going into the last game.

Princeton routed Penn again several weeks ago so this weekend will be a pretty good indicator of how the race may go the rest of the way. The Tigers continue on the New England trip Saturday to Dartmouth.

Penn is making the same sweep in reverse opening at Dartmouth Friday night hoping for a sweep on the most difficult trip in terms of travel time in the Ivies.

Villanova will try to feed off its win Sunday at home against St. John’s when the Wildcats travel to Marquette going for a season sweep in the Big East.

In the only other Friday game involving the Guru’s group, he will be at Drexel, which will try to stay alone in second in the CAA when the Dragons host the College of Charleston at the Daskalakis Athletic Center at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, besides the Ivy duo, the only other two PhilahoopsW teams in action are the A-10 duo of Saint Joseph’s, which as previously mentioned is at Davidson, and La Salle, which is at VCU.

So the Guru will either visit D2-USciences (See Rob Knox’s feature below), formerly known as USP, or return to Lafayette, which is hosting Navy.

On Sunday, as mentioned, Connecticut visits Temple in McGonigle Hall, where a building attendance record was set last season when the two played in the smaller of the two athletic venues on Broad Street.

The only other locals not mentioned, which are both on the road, Villanova continues its Midwest swing looking to complete a sweep at DePaul while Drexel heads to UNCW.

And that is the report for now.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rob Knox's D2 Feature: Traub Helping USciences to a Landmark Season

By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

Taking the lead from one of the best women’s basketball players in Division II, it’s easy to see why the University of the Sciences is enjoying a memorable season and a 12-game winning streak.

Even though she’s closing in on the all-time USciences’ women’s basketball school scoring record, all 5 foot, 8 inch senior forward Brianne Traub preferred to discuss during Wednesday afternoon’s fun phone interview was her improved defense, teammates and upcoming hospital rotation as part of her six-year Doctor of Pharmacy program.

“My freshman year, my defense was non-existent,” Traub said. “I knew it was something I had to work on. I continued to work on my defense every year because I know that’s what wins games for us. I can actually see the improvement and the work I put into my defense, which has made me happy.”

When playing lockdown defense, sharing the ball, having fun and bonding with her teammates are the critical components of your game, then it’s easy to understand Traub’s affable personality in which the selfless scoring queen puts others ahead of her.

The white-hot Devils (14-4 overall) have an opportunity to accomplish many more special milestones this season beginning with Saturday’s home conference game against Felician at 1:00 p.m. USciences (formerly nicknamed USP) is one of the best kept secrets in the Philadelphia area and worth your time.

If the Devils continue on their roll, they will tie the program record for the longest winning streak at 15 games on Feb. 7 against Concordia at home.

We haven’t even mentioned that Traub is also one of the most efficient, ruthless and relentless offensive forces in the country.

Even though she has two years remaining before having the doctor title in front of her name, she is already carving up the competition with surgical precision.

Currently, Traub leads the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) in scoring (21.5 ppg.) and ranks in the top 10 in the conference in nine different offensive categories.

She has scored in double figures every game this season with a low of 15 points. She has scored 20 or more points 13 times this season and has shot at least 50 percent from the field 11 times.

Traub has been the CACC Player of the Week or Defensive Player of the week in each of the last five conference reports (three player and two defensive).

During the 2014-15 season, Traub has earned Player of the Week recognition four times, tied for most in the conference.

“I have a great team too,” Traub said. “They are a big help and it’s not like we’re dependent upon one person to do all the scoring.

"We continue to take one game at a time and that’s all that really matters for us." Traub added.

"As a team, we focus on our defense because we know that’s what matters for us. This has been a great year for us on and off the court. We get along really well and been playing together for years.”

USciences moved up three places to seventh, recording their highest ranking of the season in this week's D2SIDA East Region Women's Basketball Poll.

Of course, like every good story, the Devils faced some early adversity after stumbling to a 2-4 record at the start of the season following a 79-61 loss to Goldey Beacom on Dec. 9.

Things didn’t look great for the Devils as their next contest was a game against fifth-ranked University of Tampa. However, the players remained together, practiced harder and continued encouraging each other.

The Devils surprised Tampa, 66-65, following Jessica Sylvester's four-point play with 2.6 remaining in regulation, which capped off a 13-3 run over the final 2:41 of the game. Following that game, USciences believed that it could conquer any team on its schedule.

“I would be lying if I expected us to be 14-4 after being 2-4,” second year USciences coach Jackie Hartzell said. “When you’re 2-4 it’s a little humbling. I give credit to our players to our players who came to practice, worked hard and tried to get better.

"The win over Tampa got us going and gave us confidence. We’ve been playing as a team on both ends of the floor. We have also stepped up our defense.”

We’ll return to Traub in a few as she is the offensive centerpiece of a solid and versatile Devil squad.

Sylvester is the only other player averaging double figures for the Sciences. She chips in 11.9 points per game. Sarah Abbonizio (8.8 ppg.), Laura Trisch (6.9), Colleen Walsh (6.8) and Bella Ross (4.7) have all made meaningful contributions during the Devils winning streak.

Kaitlyn Schmid is the engine that powers the Devils machine. She moved into tenth place on the Devils all-time assist list with 279 for her career. Schmid leads the CACC and is ranked second nationally in assist/turnover margin (4.10).

In the most recent NCAA statistics rankings report through games of Monday, the Devils are ranked second in the nation in three-point field goals made per game (10.0), seventh in assist/turnover ratio (1.29), 18th in assists/game (16.9) and 11th in fewest turnovers committed (13.2). USciences leads the CACC in all these categories.

The Devils are 12-0 when holding opponents to 65 points or less. On the season, teams are having a devil of a time scoring, as USP is allowing 60.9 points per game.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ross said of the winning streak. “We are always trying to get better as individuals and as a team. We all found roles that we can learn from and that are comfortable for us. I think that I can be serious and provide energy. I also bring comic relief and lot of entertainment. That helps a lot. I always give as much as I can for the team.”

For the record, Ross said that she can give comedian Kevin Hart a run for his money in stand-up.

While that may be debated, there’s no denying Ross’ impact to the Devils. A warrior on the court who battles for every rebound, Ross had an eight game stretch during the current win streak with eight or more rebounds, including four straight with 10 or more.

Ross produced a double-double in the Devils’ 34-point win over Philadelphia University earlier this month (11 points, 14 rebounds).

The Devils also swept the regular season meetings against Holy Family for the first time in program history. Traub averaged 19.5 points in the two wins over the Tigers. However, while she was happy with both wins, Traub was probably excited that USP held Holy Family to 34 points in the second meeting on Jan. 13.

Traub’s game is so quiet that it doesn’t seem like she stuffs the stat sheet the way she does.

“She just flat out scores,” Hartzell said. “Sometimes her points are quiet. She scores so much, you take it for granted and then at the end of the game, you look at the boxscore and she’s at 25 points.

"This year she took her game to another level. She’s a more complete player. She really rebounds the ball well and her defense has improved a lot. She makes her teammates better and is a lot of fun to coach. She wants to win; she really wants to win and that trickles down to our team. She’s a big reason why we are playing well right now.”

Last week in three victories, Traub moved into second place on the Devils all-time list for field goals made (686) and free throws made (421). She remains third on the Devils all-time scoring list with 1,900 points.

Traub needs 25 points to pass Leah Shumoski for second place and 40 to pass Shelby Rance and become the program’s all-time leader. Traub also is seventh all-time in rebounding (774) and 10th in steals (168).

“Becoming the all-time leading scorer would be a great accomplishment,” Traub said. “Overall, that’s not my goal for the season. We have a lot more that we want to do and that’s the most important thing right now. We have worked hard to get into this position. Now we just have to keep building off of that.”

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Monday, January 26, 2015

Guru's College Report: Caroline Coyer Carries Villanova Over St. John's

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta, who is used to jogging great distances, started out on a nostalgic path down memory lane Sunday afternoon but found the journey longer than he was ready to handle.

“That was as good a game, the way we executed on offense, as I can ever remember in a long time,” Perretta said after Villanova displayed extreme marksmanship in taking down St. John’s 81-69 at the Pavilion in a key Big East game for both teams.

The Wildcats (12-9, 6-3 Big East), who shot 60.7 percent from the field and 9-for-18 for 50 percent on 3-point attempts, have now bagged two prized conference heavyweights at home with wins this season.

The win was part of one of the better weekends of the season for the Guru's 10-team local PhilahoopsW group with Rutgers and Penn State posting Big Ten wins Sunday and Drexel topping Delaware.

In particular Sunday on the Main Line was the work of Catherine Coyer, who was accurate enough to win the equivalent of a moving van-size supply of stuffed animals in gaining a career-high 28 points, shooting 11-for-18 from the field, and 6-for-10 from beyond the arc.

The win over the Red Storm (15-5, 6-3), the ‘Cats first in seven tries, capped a roller-coaster week in which they took care of Penn at The Palestra to earn a piece of the Big Five title with the Quakers, then shot a bunch of blanks in losing here to first-place Seton Hall Friday night and then recovered two days later to stun St. John’s and move into a tie for fourth with the New Yorkers.

“I’m happy for our kids because we haven’t beaten St. John’s in a long time,” Perretta said.

Taylor Holeman, who had 14 points Sunday shooting 7-for-10 from the field on Sunday, was consistent and extraordinary in that three-game span shooting 22-for-39 for .564 and scoring 44 points.

The output was a season high for the Wildcats, who committed just 16 turnovers in their last three games, held opponents to just eight treys in the last four games, and on Sunday assisted 24 times on 34 field goals.

“We were really focused,” Perretta said.

Villanova came into the long-running series between the two allowing just 54.1 points game on this season’s opponents while St. John’s had yielded a near-meager 55.2 points a game.

Emily Leer also scored in double figures with 13 points, shooting 6-for-9 and 1-for-2 on trey attempts while Caroline’s twin sister Katherine scored nine points.

“I guess I like noon starts, you don’t get a lot of time to get anxious,” Caroline quipped. “But honestly, it was just one of those days.

“(Perretta) was asking me, `What were you thinking, offensively,’ and I said, `Why couldn’t we hit those shots two days ago.’ It just shows that any given day anybody can beat anybody.”

Danaejah Grant had 20 points for St. John’s, while Aliyyah Hanford scored 19 and Jade Walker scored 12.

“I thought Villanova played as well as I’ve seen them all year,” St. John’s coach Joe Tartamella said. “We were unable to slow them down offensively, which has been something our team has prided itself on against opponents all year.

“Coyer was tremendous for them.”

Villanova hits the road next week, traveling to Marquette in Milwaukee Friday night and to DePaul in Chicago Sunday, seeking a season-sweep against each of those opponents.

Drexel Holds Off Local Rival Delaware in CAA Action

Following the Villanova game, the Guru headed back into the city (the reason for the dual dateline) and arrived at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center just after the Dragons built a 19-point halftime lead against their longtime local rival Blue Hens in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Then they held off a late Delaware surge that reduced the lead to just three points in the final minute before Drexel emerged with a 61-56 victory that gave the Dragons sole possession of second place behind CAA unbeaten James Madison.

Rachel Pearson had 17 points for Drexel (12-7, 6-2 CAA) and Sarah Curran scored 14 points while the Dragons showed great board work outrebounding the Blue Hens 39-22.

That’s two big back-to-back wins for coach Denise Dillon’s squad even though Delaware (8-11, 3-5) has been struggling this season. The Dragons hadn’t beaten Delaware at home since 2010 and picked the right day to do it since the greats of Drexel past were on hand for the alumni game as part of homecoming weekend festivities.

“I’m happy with the end result but we have a lot of room for growth,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said. “We played a great first half but then had too many lapses in the second half with the turnovers.

“A team like Delaware is never going to go away. They fight, they battle, they compete, and that’s how our team has to play.”

Ironically, Delaware coach Tina Martin said the same thing in mirror reverse.

“Drexel is a very good team. They played like they should as one of the better teams in our league. When you go on the road you need to at least match their intensity.”

Martin expressed frustration with the roller coaster season and the fact that juniors and seniors were not focused for the game during the warmups.

“Drexel is one of our biggest rivals and I had never seen that before,” she said.

Erika Brown, who has been on a tear, scored 22 points while Courtni Green scored 16. But foul trouble to Joy Caracciolo cost Delaware one of its top rebounders.

The Blue Hens next host Towson Thursday back home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark while Drexel stays in town to host College of Charleston on Friday night.

Rutgers Tops Minnesota in Big Ten Battle of Ranked Teams

Not counting a win at Arkansas in non-conference over a Razorbacks squad that lasted just one week in the Associated Press women’s poll, No. 25 Rutgers beat No. 21 Minnesota 66-61 at home in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center for the Scarlet Knights’ first significant win over a ranked team after several failed efforts in six games involving ranked opponents.

Sophomore Tyler Scaife exploded for a season-high 28 points for Rutgers (14-5, 5-3 Big Ten), one off her career best while Betnijah Laney had 15 points and Kahleah Copper scored 13.

Amanda Zahui B had 36 points for Minnesota (16-4, 5-3), the most by a Rutgers foe this season and most since the 39 that Miami’s Riquana Williams had in a double overtime win three seasons ago. Recently, the previous high was achieved from Ohio State freshman sensation Kelsey Mitchell, who had 33 in a win over the Scarlet Knights on New Year’s Day.

Rutgers next heads to Purdue on Thursday and then hosts Penn State at noon on Sunday.

Penn State Edges Northwestern for Second Straight

The Lady Lions won their second straight for the first time this season in gaining another narrow triumph, this time beating the Wildcats 76-75 at home in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College.

Five players scored in double figures for the second straight game for Penn State (5-15, 2-7 Big Ten), the first time that has happened since 2011.

Alex Harris came off the bench for her first double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Kaliyah Mitchell had 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Reserve Peyton Whitted also scored 11 points off the bench while Candice Agee scored 10 points and while Sierra Moore had a team-high 18 points.

Maggie Lyon had 20 points for the Wildcats (14-5, 4-4), which may need some quick traction to stay in the NCAA hunt for an at-large bid if they don’t win the automatic bid that comes with the Big Ten title.

Penn State next goes to Minnesota Wednesday before staying on the road for Sunday’s trip to Rutgers to finish their two-game conference series in the regular season.

Division II: Streaking USP Wins Battle of CACC Leaders

The red hot University of the Sciences of Philadelphia squad, which is on top of the Southern Division of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, crossed over to the other side to travel to north jersey and captured another win – this time over the North-leading Caldwell University 81-62 for the Devils’ 12th straight.

Brianne Traub had 24 points and nine rebounds for USP (14-4, 10-1 CACC) while reserve Colleen Walsh had a career-high 17 points, Sarah Abbonizio scored 14 off the bench and Jessica Sylvester scored 15.

Emily Caswell had 24 points for Caldwell () and Nicole Angelo scored 12.

The Devils next host Felician College Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philadelphia and the Guru may be on the scene if he isn’t spending Friday and Saturday at Harvard being visited by Princeton and Penn.

But with no Division I area teams home Saturday, the Devils should certainly be a prime choice for your viewing consideration.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mike Siroky's SEC Notebook: Carolina Grinds Thru and Looks to UConn Showdown

By Mike Siroky

In women’s basketball of the Southeastern Conference yet another week passed with no change at the top.

South Carolina started the week by dismissing Florida, one of those third-tier conference teams.

SC remains unbeaten in conference after seven games.

This week, they start with Texas A&M in the league conference showdown of the week.

Kentucky at Tennessee and Mississippi State at Auburn is also interesting this week and part of cable TV’s Big Monday.

The Gamecocks’ next big challenge is a national 1-2 showdown, against UConn on Feb. 9

Tennessee is also unbeaten in conference; A&M, State and Kentucky each have two losses.

Then there are several teams with three league losses each, among them nationally-ranked Georgia.

State is first to 20 wins, so is likely already into the NCAAs. Now they are playing to get back to No. 16 and the guaranteed opening games of the Big Show.

•South Carolina whomped the Gators, 70-42, and took a week to prepare for A&M.

A 40-17 opening half made the Florida an obvious walkover, but they took the second half by a dozen anyway.

In limited playing time, guard Tiffany Mitchell was 8-of-10 from the field for 18 to lead everybody. The rest of the starters did not have time to even reach double figures.

SC was thus first to 6-0 in conference.

Gator coach Amanda Butler said, “Obviously we are super disappointed by the way we played. South Carolina is a great team. Dawn (Staley) has done a fantastic job, and they deserve their ranking.

“It’s exciting to have the No. 1 team in our league again, but we didn’t bring the effort to match playing the No. 1 team.

"It’s really disappointing. We really battled in spots and certain individuals battled, but across the board, we didn’t bring the fight or preparation that I saw for three days in practice.

"I thought we had some really great days of practice and I was proud of our effort, but it didn’t translate into game success.

“We gave up a lot of points in transition and that was just panicking and not relying on our communication, and our structure and the things we have practiced.

"We gave them a lot of really easy looks in transition. We weren’t communicating, getting back, stopping the ball or really anything in transition.

"Some of the half-court things we knew they were going to pound the ball inside, so we knew we needed good ball pressure and good awareness on help side. It just wasn’t consistent; it was only there in spots.”

• Tennessee, after three road games, welcomed in LSU, which went 2-0 in the league the previous week and is coached by Nikki Caldwell, a UT All-American as a player.

Next was arch-rival Georgia, coached by Andy Landers, the coach with the most games in the league. That’s as tough a homestand as any in conference.

UT's gauntlet continues at Kentucky’s on Thursday, then No.18 Mississippi State visits.

Against LSU, Izzy Harrison's 5-of-6 from the field helped UT gain a 10-point first-half edge.

A 13-2 run five minutes into the in the second half made it a 17-point edge; the UT bench had a 12-4 edge over the LSU reserves.

It was over and ended 75-58.

Harrison finished with 25 points, 9-of-11 from the field, 7of-8 from the line with eight rebounds, five defensive. Andraya Carter was 5-of-6 with 13 points; reserves Alexa Middleton and Ariel Massengale had seven each,

The Lady Vols stayed undefeated in the league and LSU became one of those SEC teams with three losses.

Against Georgia, Tennessee won its 16th straight games at Thompson-Boling Arena, 12 in a row this season.

Tennessee also won a league-best 13 consecutive contests against SEC opponents, beginning vs. Auburn a year ago.

The Dawgs lost senior guard Shacobuia Barbee just minutes into the game.

She was limped off the court and did not return. She will be evaluated back in Athens.

Jordan Reynolds scored a career-high 15 and UT beat Georgia for the seventh straight time, this one 59-51 victory.

"I thought the past two games she has played very average,” said her coach, Holly Warlick. “I spoke pretty sternly with her. I hope she continues to do what she did tonight.

" She was aggressive, solid on the defensive end and I thought she pushed the basketball. She hit big shots. She is having to get people to go where they need to be as a point guard.

"I'm asking her to do a lot of things. You saw her against Kentucky. I have seen her so now nothing else is acceptable. My expectations of her are for her to play like tonight and the Kentucky games. I'm not going to stay off of her.

“But I think that is what point guards do when they take on that responsibility. I don't even think she thinks she has the biggest responsibility. I think she just plays. She loves the game and plays hard.

“When she plays hard with great effort that is the Jordan we know. When she is not into it then we don't like Jordan then. I just think she is a point guard.

"She knows it. We have sat down and talked. She has been a point guard pretty much her whole career. It's in her blood. I think Jordan is a great leader on the court. She knows who to give the ball. She knows when she needs to shoot. She has just done a great job for us this year."

Tennessee is 7-0 in conference, still defending the home court and has 17 wins. Harrison put Tennessee ahead for good at 47-45 by converting a three-point play with 5:51 remaining.

Tennessee won by hitting 20-of-21 from the free-throw line; the visitors were unsurprisingly 3-of -7.

"For us to shoot 95 (percent) it is huge,” said coach Holly Warlick. “We put in the time. This game was a huge bonus for us to be able to knock down the free throws. I can't remember the last time we shot 95 percent. It's huge.”

Neither side was consistent. Georgia had a 14-3 first-half run; Tennessee closed the half on a 14-0 spree. Georgia scored 10 straight in the second half and UT countered with 12 straight.

Harrison finished with nine points and as many rebounds, twice as many boards as anyone else in the game.

She is three points shy of 1,000 for her career; Bashaara Graves and Ariel Massengale are each past 960.

Warlick said she had a feeling about Harrison’s games to come.

"It was a great win for us. It's good to see Izzy get back on track. I told a friend of mine, I said, ‘Izzy's going to have a great game’" Warlick said.

"It's how she carried herself. I think she got her mind right before the game. It's how she was focused. I'm really proud for her.

"It was a solid team effort. It had some lapses but you know what, we played hard and shot the ball well. We got stops when we needed to. It was a good win for us tonight.

"At the beginning of the year I thought our offense was behind because our defense was there and we work so hard on our defense.

"Now we've kind of balanced it out. I think we took shots that each of our players can make.

"We didn't force a lot of shots. We took shots that each of these young ladies can make. We got on track and we moved the ball.

“When you get good looks you're going to shoot 55 percent because you're taking shots that are makeable shots."

Of course, Tennessee is almost done with its series with Notre Dame; next year’s game at South Bend ends it. This year was another meaningless loss, as the Irish closed out with nine of its final 11 from the line in a home win. UT is the only national team to play against three ranked teams in one week this season.

These two cannot meet again until the Final Four, as each will be a top seed in an NCAA Regional and each will be guaranteed a Sweet 16 advancement with two first-round home games.

•Texas A&M started Georgia’s week at Athens, which gave the Bulldogs one of those conference weeks in which both opponents are ranked higher than they are.

It was A&M’s only game in the week, a 54-51 loss, with the next challenge this week at No. 1 South Carolina.

Georgia started by outshooting the Aggies in the first half, 57 percent to 22 percent and finished with a 57-54 win, pulling A&M into those teams with two league losses and out of the Top 10.

Georgia won despite being outshot from the field at home, 51-38 percent.

Reserve freshman forward Mackenzie Engram scored 16, 5-of-7 from the field, 2-of-2 on 3s and 4-of-4 from the line with five defensive rebounds.

"The best thing about Mackenzie's game was that she executed," coach Andy Landers said. "She made shots, made some plays on top of some shots and rebounded the ball well. Mackenzie was terrific for us."

Georgia outscored the Aggies 20-8 in the paint, 23-9 off the bench, and 14-6 off second-chance points.

A key home advantage: The Bulldogs also earned 13 points from the line, shooting 72.2 percent, while the visiting Aggies were 1-of-2 on free throws. Two free throws as time expired were the difference

Regardless of the free throw discrepancy, Landers said, "It was a heavyweight fight. I thought our kids were perfect defensively, they really were.

" We took away exactly what we wanted to take away, and then we did a reasonably good job rebounding the ball on the defensive end.

"But on the offensive end, we were terrific at rebounding the ball. When you add both ends together, we get the advantage rebounding the basketball and that results in possessions. And in a game like this, possessions win."

Georgia has its 18th win with plenty of the season to spare. It was also its 18th straight at home. Three more overall wins and the program will have 900; eight more gets Landers his 950th.

A&M’s Gary Blair was ready for a tough defensive game.

“I give Georgia credit. I told Andy before the ballgame that the first team to 50 would win and that's exactly what he told me. He said, `We hit 50 before you.'

"I thought our kids fought hard to get back into it. We're seeing 90 percent zone. Tonight we saw 100 percent zone, but the player of the game was their backup kid Engram.

" She came in and played well. Somebody's going to the bench if she can play as well as she did like that.

" I thought they shot the ball, but when you hold a team to 25 percent in the second half you've got to find a way. We shot 46 percent, but we didn't box out on rebounds.

"I like the fight of our kids, how they came back. Jordan (Jones) is going to have to knock down those 3s. She made two that got us back into it in the second half.

"The bottom line is we've got to become a better 3-point shooter and we're not getting the job done inside at the five position.

"This a tough conference; four out of five on the road. This was the first one...South Carolina (on) Monday. This is the way it's going to be all year long.

"It's nearly going to be the first team that hits 50 is probably going win."

•Mississippi State was at its biggest conference rival, Ole Miss, another team that had made rumblings of life the previous week.

They escaped Oxford, 64-62, and celebrated being the first national team to 20 wins. Freshman Morgan Williams made the last-second shot for the win. She had 14 off the bench.

William made back-to-back layups with 4:58 left for a six-point lead, but the Bulldogs did not score another field goal until the game-winner.

Breanna Richardson scored 16, Martha Alwal 14, and Victoria Vivians 10, though it took her 2-of-13 from the field to get there, with 5-of-6 from the line.

Alwal was 6-of-7 and William 5-of-7 from the field. Some3,383 attended, for which Ole Miss coach Matt Insell was grateful. He also rewarded the effort by giving his team two days off. They only had one game this week.

William’s game winner was a deep jumper from just inside the 3-point lane with four seconds left.

"What a great atmosphere for a college basketball game," Insell said.

"Mississippi State has a really good team. I said that all week, and I knew it
was going to be a tough game. We have a pretty good team ourselves, and we're getting better each and every day. I hurt for our players."

Rebel senior forward Tia Faleru, limited by foul trouble and then fouling out with 1:54 left, finished with eight points and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes

"You're playing without your All-SEC player," Insell said. "She plays 22 minutes, and you still have a chance to win it. Tia is a really good player and we really need her on the basketball court for us to be success. It was hurtful for us to not have her for a large part of that game."

Mississippi State opened the second half on a 12-4 run, including an 8-1 run at one point, to take a 42-38 lead and ahead to stay.

Ole Miss remained close, drawing to within four, 55-51, with under eight minutes left when a block-charge foul went against Faleru and Ole Miss, picking up her fourth personal foul and wiping a possible 3-point play.

Faleru later pulled the Rebels to within three, 60-57, with 2:19 left, before picking up her fifth foul with 1:54 left in the game.

"We went a large part of that second half where we didn't have any pop," Insell said. "All of a sudden, it clicks in, and they start having pop there. We had a chance to win and gave ourselves a chance to win. We made the plays to win it. We executed when we had to execute, but we could not get over the hump."

Mississippi State drew a foul and got to the free-throw line again, making both to take a 62-60 lead with 46.6 seconds left, before McCray tied the game and William made the game-winning shot.

"Danielle McCary made a great play there driving through and scoring at the end," Insell said. "We didn't back in transition defense. And then Morgan made an unbelievable shot. I knew she was going to take it as the time ran down.

"She had no choice and she had to let it go. And then she raised up and made it. A’Queen Hayes contested it and guarded it as well as you can guard it. That kid made a tough basketball shot."

•Kentucky was at Missouri in its only game of the week.

This was relatively easy at the Kats took a three-point halftime lead to a 40-29 second half, 83-69 at the end or what should happen when a traditional, usually ranked team takes on a traditionally unranked team.

Guards Mikayla Epps, Bria Goss and Linnae Harper scored 18, 16 and 15. Alexis Jennings scored 10 of the bench.

Bit it is Jenniffer O’Neill who is the leading scorer as a reserve.
She led again, with 19, including 6-of-6 at the line, or five points above her season average. She is in double figures in 16 of 19 games, including seven of the past eight.

Mizzou hit a league-best 13 3s (of 35 tries) to score the most in conference against UK this season.

Sophomore Sierra Michaels scored 16 (against a nine-point average) with seven rebounds and six assists in the four-guard offense.

TOSSED, THEN SUSPENDED: With 1:14 left in the first half of the Auburn at Alabama game, the Tide leading 28-15, Auburn's Hasina Muhammad and the Crimson Tide's Breanna Hayden got tangled up after a free throw.

Video replay showed Hayden throwing a punch that connected with Muhammad's face.

An official got knocked to the floor as she tried to separate the two.

Muhammad threw a punch after chasing Hayden toward the Alabama bench.

Both players were ejected. Meoshonti Knight of Alabama was also ejected for leaving the bench. Muhammad and Hayden each received one-game suspensions from the NCAA, which was not contested by either school.

"I have no idea what completely happened, but BreBre (Hayden) apologized to her team immediately after that and knew that she had made a mistake," Alabama coach Kristy Curry said.

Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy is also unhappy.

"You're always disappointed in situations like that," she said. "You never want to see either player from either side ejected from the game. This is the game that they love, the game that they practice to play, and so you never want that to happen."

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guru's College Report: Saint Joe's Snaps Skid While Penn Routs NJIT

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Saint Joseph’s made a little headway Saturday afternoon to avoid rock bottom in the Atlantic 10 with a 66-48 conference win against St. Bonaventure at home in Hagan Arena that also provided coach Cindy Griffin with her 300th career triumph including previous time spent at Loyola of Maryland.

The victory for the Hawks (6-12, 2-4 Atlantic 10) also snapped a four-game losing streak and dropped the Bonnies (11-9, 1-6) into a three-way tie in the league’s basement with newcomer Davidson (5-15, 1-6) and La Salle (10-10, 1-6), which lost its sixth straight earlier in the day when the Explorers lost their sixth-straight 67-48 at home in Tom Gola Arena to George Washington.

That win by the Colonials (18-2, 7-0), their 16th straight tying third-longest in GW history, left them all alone atop the A-10 by the time the afternoon ended for everyone due to the 54-50 upset loss by Fordham (14-6, 6-1) at St. Louis (11-11, 3-3), where Saint Joseph’s heads Wednesday for its next game.

Dayton (14-4, 5-1), the pre-season favorite who has already fell in a tight-battle at home once this year to the Colonials, defeated VCU 75-56, among teams teams in the penthouse district of the conference. The Flyers have a return game at GW on February 8.

The GW start matches the best 20-game run spanning back to the season-opener in Colonials history, though third-year coach Jonathan Tsipis is staying low-key even as he keeps his squad on a path that is close to making them into a lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in March at the conference playoffs in Richmond.

“It’s still a long way to go with nine games left,” Tsipis said. “We still have to go to Saint Louis and they are obvious better based on what we saw on film from this week as we prepared for La Salle, which a year ago played their most complete game of the season against us.”

A 21-8 run early in the first half propelled GW to its latest win. Jonquel Jones got her seventh straight double double with 12 points and 16 rebounds, while Kelli Prange had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

Micahya Owens had 12 points for La Salle and Alicia Cropper scored 11. The Explorers next head to VCU Saturday night while GW also has the week off before traveling to nearby George Mason in Fairfax, Va.

Tsipis complimented Griffin on her achievement and also noted Richmond coach Michael Shafer becoming the all-time wins leader in the program with the Spiders (11-7, 3-2) gaining a 66-44 win at Massachusetts (8-11, 2-4).

Richmond has been playing its season in the wake of last May’s tragic balloon accident nearby in Virginia that took the lives of former longtime associate head coach Ginny Doyle, the former Archbishop Ryan star in Northeast Philadelphia, who also was a prolific foul shooter for the Spiders prior to her coaching career at her alma mater.

Operations director Natalie Lewis, a star swimmer at Richmond, also died in the accident on May 9.

Meanwhile, in ending its losing streak, Saint Joseph’s, picked third in the preseason but having struggled with numerous injuries, had 10 players see action, including Ashley Robinson in her first home game in a while with nine points and nine rebounds.

Ciara Andrews had 17 points as the only Hawk scoring in double figures but that was enough because of the defense holding the Bonnies to 31.9 percent from the field. Freshman Adashia Franklyn, the daughter of former Temple great Marilyn Stephens, grabbed 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Natasha Cloud had six points and seven rebounds.

Katie Healy had 15 points for the visitors and Imani Outlaw scored 10 points.

“It was important for us to get off to a good start, I think we did that, we shot the ball very well in the second half. We’ve been trying to find our way as far as moving the ball and getting the shots we want,” Griffin said of the win over the Bonnies.

“We did a nice job defensively. We held them under their average. When you’re scoring and playing defense, the results are going to be in your favor and I think we did that today.”

As for her milestone, Griffin, who first took over a program in Dec., 1998 before returning to her alma mater in the spring of 2001, noted, “I’m proud of the players that have coached for me and the assistant coaches that have helped us achieve this goal.”

She is now 252-178 on Hawk Hill as part of her overall 300-211 record.

“Really, it is more important in getting a win in the league, because we have been struggling. That is more important than any milestone right now. But is certainly something I’ll look on when I’m old and retired some day but right now it is about enjoying this for the next couple of hours and then getting ready for our next game.”

By the RPI measurement, Saint Joseph’s schedule has been in the top 10 for toughest in the nation, which may not be worth anything in terms of an at-large bid unless perhaps the Hawks run the table clear up to the league title game.

But if they get back on track, the Hawks still can do enough to climb steps in the packed conference standings, get over .500 and perhaps still land a bid to the WNIT.

“Today was a good start to turning the corner,” Griffin said. “We got a lot of production from our bench today. CC. did a great job coming off the bench, A-Rob did a great job guarding their best player, rebounding the ball.

“We’re still trying to find our way. We’ve had some injuries, work through those kinds of things, and you really want to be playing your best basketball at the end of January into February so we need to build from this and take two steps forward and see where we end up,” Griffin added.

“The tournament at the end of the year – it’s anybody’s. We just have to position ourselves to get a good seed. We just have to stay the course and concentrate on the things we need to stay focus with.”

Penn Finishes Non-Conference Slate With Win at NJIT

The defending Ivy champs finished their out of league schedule by bouncing back from Wednesday’s Big Five loss to Villanova by traveling up to Newark, N.J., and rolling over NJIT, the nation’s only Division I Independent, with a 59-29 triumph.

The game was the only other on Saturday among the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group, though the Guru will do a little catching up from games played Thursday and Friday night after this item on the Quakers.

The Penn bench got 36 of the 59 points for the Quakers 9-6), whose all-time non-conference mark is exceeded only by the 10 achieved in last season’s landmark accomplishments.

Prior to Mike McLaughlin’s arrival, Penn had achieved nine wins beyond the Ivy just once and now have done so back-to-back with this one containing a program-record three City Series wins to tie for the Big Five title for the first time since the local round-robin for women were launched in 1980.

It was a breakout afternoon for newcomer Michelle Nwokedi, who had 14 points, seven rebounds, a career-high five blocks, three assists and two steals in 22 minutes of action.

Ronni Grandison had 10 points for NJIT (8-14).

Penn now gets the rest of the week to prepare to launch the remainder of the conference schedule in the same situation as a year ago heading out 0-1 after losing to Princeton at The Palestra though at that time the furtherest New England tandem of Dartmouth and Harvard traveled South.

The Crimson from Cambridge, Mass., upset the Tigers, who were coming off the same three-week layoff from exams they are now concluding. The next night Penn beat Harvard and the playing field was leveled and after each team was tripped up once thereafter it came to the Penn-Princeton showdown in Jadwin the Quakers won.

This time, Princeton is more powerful and holding a consecutive streak of national rankings in both coaches and media polls and the Tigers are one of only two remaining unbeaten schools along with Dawn Staley’s South Carolina squad that is heading for a showdown at UConn one week from Monday night.

Penn will go to Dartmouth first on Friday and hit Harvard on the way back while Princeton will make the trip vice versa.

Villanova Upset of Big East Leader Seton Hall Falls Short

It may not be the power Big East that existed until a few years ago but it looks a lot like the vintage Big East of the early era when rivalries included many schools whose fan bases hit the road with their teams.

And so it was that the revitalized Seton Hall group both on and off the court travelled to Villanova Friday night – the only game on the Guru’s PhilahoopsW slate – and went home happy with a 59-56 victory and still in sole possession of first place.

“They were great,” said Tony Bozzella of his fans and cheerleaders. “We couldn’t have won this without them.”

It was also helpful to jump to a lead of as many as 13 points in the first half at the Pavilion in the first of two meetings this season prior to the Big East tournament in suburban Chicago at the Allstate Arena, home of the WNBA Chicago Sky, in Rosemont.

Daisha Simmons, who eventually won eligibility to play this season after her transfer from Alabama, gave the Pirates (18-2, 7-1) a five-point lead with 3 minutes, 4 seconds left in regulation.

But after Taylor Holeman made a shot for the Wildcats (11-9, 5-3) on the next possession, neither team scored the rest of the way.

Caroline Coyer missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as regulation time elapsed.

“That was a fun game, I thought,” veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “I just felt bad for our kids – they missed so many shots (22-for-69, 11-for-42 on 3s) they normally make.”

The letdown came after Villanova shot its way into a minimal Big Five tie with Penn, cruising over the Quakers Wednesday night at The Palestra. Saint Joseph’s can make it a three-way affair beating La Salle at home on February 4.

“One reason for our record (besides the early slew of injuries) is because we’re not consistent on offense. One day we put 70 on the board and the next day with the same shots we put 46 on the board. I guess someone took the air out of the ball.

“The difference now is the bottom teams are must better – in the old league you couldn’t beat the top. Now you can’t beat the bottom either on a night. It’s fun for the fans but it’s not fun for the coaches,” Perretta laughed.

“As much as I want to win, but if we beat each other, no one can get an at-large to the NCAA tournament,” Perretta saluted Bozzella’s revival.

More and more though Seton Hall is moving toward that capability and Bozzella belongs on somebody’s list of consideration for coach of the year nationally.

“It’s a very competitive league,” Bozzella said. “Do we have contenders for the national title? No. But we have very good teams. We beat Saint Joseph’s when they were healthy. We won at Penn State.”

Daisha Simmons finished with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Pirates while Ka-Deidre Simmons had 15 points, Tabatha Richardson-Smith scored 11, and Janee Johnson grabbed 12 rebounds.

Emily Leer, who had an off-night at Penn, came back with 15 points on Friday while Caroline Coyer scored 11, and Kavunaa Edwards and Taylor Holeman each scored 10.

Seton Hall moves on to Georgetown Sunday while Villanova hosts another team at the top when St. John’s (15-4, 6-2) visits in the first of the home-and-home series between the two. The noon start is due to a men’s game later at night.

Three-teams, Including preseason favorite DePaul trail Seton Hall by a game while Villanova is in fifth place, 1.5 now behind the Pirates and one game behind the other three,.

Drexel and Delaware Win While Penn State Ends 8-Game Skid

Drexel played a noon game Thursday and avenged the loss to Hofstra earlier this month in Philadelphia by beating the Pride 63-56 in Hempstead, N.Y., to move into a second-place tie with Hofstra two games behind James Madison, the defending champion which is unbeaten in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Elon lost to miss making it a three-way tied in the runnerup slot.

Delaware bounced back from Sunday’s squandered effort against visiting William & Mary to beat the College of Charleston, 80-49, at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark (Del.) setting up the first local CAA collision of the season Sunday afternoon when the longtime rivals meet at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center.

In the Drexel win at Hofstra Alexis Smith off the bench had 16 points while England’s Jamila Thompson continued to bloom, scoring 15 points while Sarah Curran scored 14 and Rachel Pearson scored 10 for the Dragons (11-7, 5-2 CAA)

Elo Edeferioka scored 15 and grabbed 12 rebounds for Hofstra (12-6, 5-2), while Kelly Loftus scored 13 points, and Ashunae Durant had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

In the Delaware game, five Blue Hens (8-10, 3-4 CAA) scored in double figures for the first time in five seasons.

Erika Brown continued her attack on the offensive nets with 19 points while Hannah Jardine and Courtni Green each scored 13 points, Joy Caracciolo scored 12, and Makeda Nicholas had 10 points against Charleston (4-14, 2-5).

“Tonight was a very good night for everyone,” said Delaware coach Tina Martin. “I want to build on this now; I don’t want this roller coaster that this season has been to continue.

“I want us to stabilize ourselves and play more consistently. This group has been very different, and for me, that’s been a challenge. Today they stepped up and showed what they can do.”

Up at State College, Penn State won its first Big 10 game of the season, beating Indiana 79-75.and snapping an eight-game losing streak that included a 90-87 home loss in overtime to USF and the first seven conference games.

Five players scored in double figures for the Lady Lions (4-15, 1-7 Big 10) for the first time this season while Alexis Gassion had 18 points for the Hoosiers (12-6, 2-5), built on 16-for-18 attempts at the foul line.

Kaliyah Mitchell led with 20 points, tying a career-high, and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Sierre Moore had 15 points, eight rebounds, and tied a career high with seven assists while Payton Whited scored 12, Candice Agee scored 13, and Lindsay Spann, who missed the loss at Ohio State due to illness, returned to score 11 points.

Though Penn State had held a 13-point lead, it evaporated down to two before pulling away from a 75-73 lead as Mitchell, Moore and Tori Waldner combined for four more points from the foul line on free throws.

The Lady Lions dealt 20 assists and tied a season low with 12 turnovers.

Next up Sunday afternoon is a visit at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center from Joe McKeown’s Northwestern squad (14-4, 4-3), which is coming off a narrow win over Illinois.

Looking Ahead

All of Sunday’s games have been mentioned above except No. 23 Minnesota’s visit to No. 25 Rutgers, which had the week off and resumes play at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center at 5:15 p.m. with few teams owning rankings remaining on the schedule.

Since this report deep, the other PhilahoopsW teams of the Guru in action Sunday besides the the Big Ten Penn State game hosting Northwestern is the CAA Delaware-Drexel clash against each other and the Big East game of St. John’s visiting Villanova at noon.

No one plays Monday night, Temple, the only team in action Tuesday and after a week off visits UCF in an American Athletic Conference game.

Penn State goes to Purdue in Big 10 action Wednesday while the other game involves the already mentioned Saint Joseph’s visit to Saint Louis.

Rutgers is at Purdue Thursday while Towson visits Delaware and we will stop the report for now and look at the weekend later.

With a light home schedule on the front end of the week, the Guru invites his local D-2 and D-3 to notify if they have home games or drivable road games through Wednesday.

We’ll be back with Sunday’s wrap in the next 24 hours.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guru's College Report: Villanova Shooting Gains Win at Penn and Tie for Big 5 Title With Quakers

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Villanova doused Penn’s hopes for a first-ever Big Five sweep from the outset Wednesday night at the host Quakers’ Palestra with a flurry of shots to run to a lopsided 70-44 victory and claim a piece of the City Series title themselves alongside Penn’s piece of program history.

Both teams finished 3-1, a first-ever success for Penn (8-6 overall), but the two teams will have to wait until early next month to see if they have to move aside a bit to make room for Saint Joseph’s, the defending outright champion who can make it a three-way affair by beating La Salle at home at Hagan Arena in the first of two games that also count in the Atlantic 10 standings.

For Villanova (11-8, 3-1), it’s the start of a very big week which continues Friday in the Big East when first-place Seton Hall, which is having a landmark season,visits the Pavilion followed by Saint John’s, another conference front-runner, which will visit at noon on Sunday.

If one had told veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta that his group would cruise to a victory despite Emily Leer having an off-night performance after a series of successes since her return from back problems, he might have been inclined to place a bet on the ponies instead at the nearest race track.

But Taylor Holeman and Kauvnaa Edwards both came through with career efforts as Holeman scored 20 points and Edwards had 16 to go with 11 rebounds.

“I just felt we played a good game tonight,” said Perretta, who usually has some imperfection to criticize in Villanova victories. “We’ve been playing a lot better since getting all our kids back and the kids were really focused.

“They really wanted a piece of that championship. They felt like we were injured early in the year and then they knew if they won tonight they would get a piece of it and they were really focused.”

The Wildcats shot 50 percent for the game while Penn suffered with a 29.8 percent effort from the field. Kara Bonenberger was the only Quaker scoring in double figures, posting 13 points.

Sydney Stipanovich was held to eight points and seven rebounds.

“They made shots and we broke down ad paid for it,”Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “It’s more about what they did. They really played well and we chased them the whole night and they deserve a lot of credit.”

The Wildcats are now 40-2 in their series with the Quakers and 23-2 at the Palestra and were the team McLaughlin feared the most of the four prior to an opening domination of La Salle early in the series that saw Penn beat Saint Joseph’s for only the second time, a victory that opened the door for Villanova to come back and claim a piece of the Big Five.

“We can sit here and make every reason up but they just outplayed us,” McLaughlin said. “When they make make threes, anyone is going to be in trouble against them. They’re so well coached. They’re so well schooled. If they missed those shots, maybe we’re having a different conversation. But they didn’t, so it doesn’t feel really well right now.”

“I can tell when we’re zeroed in,” Perretta said. And our upper classmen were zeroed in. Just the way we passed the ball you could tell they were focused.

“And sometimes it is harder for the team that has a chance to win it outright because they are a little nervous. I’m just happy we played well.”

Overall, the Wildcats now lead the five schools with 106 victories in City Series competition and have won 15 of the last 17 in their part of the local round robin.

“We treated it just as another conference game, the tradition of the Big Five,” Holeman said. “It’s just another game we’re trying to come out and play hard and win (like the Big East). It means something to be part of the Big Five so the fact we can share this championship means a lot to us to be part of this Philadelphia tradition.”

Penn might have been better off playing Villanova earlier when the Wildcats were coping with a short roster due to injuries. Since regaining overall health the Wildcats have won nine of their last 11 games and a sweep this weekend would keep a pulse going in terms of gaining an at-large NCAA bid if they do not win the Big East tourney in March in Rosemont, Ill., a suburb of Chicago located by O’Hare Airport.

Despite the ease of the win, Perretta took time to laud the work turned in by the six-year coach McLaughlin, who has enabled the Penn program to toss away its reputation as a local and Ivy League doormat.

He’s done a fabulous job, a remarkable job,” Perretta said. “They’re competing at a high level now and they win the (Ivy) championship last year and go to the NCAA tournament so I just think he’s done a great, great job.

“The only thing about this game tonight is we happened to play well and they didn’t. But overall I think he’s done a fabulous job.”

The Quakers head to north Jersey this weekend to finish their non-conference schedule with a visit to NJIT and then its back to Ivy business the rest of the way the following weekend beginning with the dreaded back-to-back New England road trip to Dartmouth on Friday and then to Harvard on Saturday.

“We’re excited to get back at it tomorrow because this group has to learn how to win on the road (all Penn’s games in the city series were home), we open both Ivy games on the road, we have to learn how to play on the road, more important we have to learn how to win on the road.

“We’ll dust this one off and take our lumps and but the credit on Villanova’s shoulders.”

La Salle Routed by Saint Louis

The Explorers continue to struggle since launching play in the Atlantic 10, falling to the visiting Billikens 76-47 Wednesday night at home in the Tom Gola Arena.

Michya Owens was the only home team player scoring in double figures, collecting 18 points for the Explorers (10-9, 1-5 Atlantic 10).

Jackie Kemph had a game-high 20 points for Saint Louis.

La Salle stays home for Saturday to next host revitalized George Washington, which is unbeaten in league play and won its 15th straight overall Wednesday night beating visiting Duquesne.

Temple Lights Up Cincinnati

Since we didn’t file off Tuesday’s lone game, at Temple the Owls struggled against the Bearcats in the first half and then exploded with a 64.7 shooting barrage over the final 20 minutes, outscoring Cincinnati 53-24 to take an 83-50 victory at McGonigle Hall and a 2-0 sweep in the series in The American Conference.

“I feel like we’re starting to come together,” said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, who is a longtime friend of Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott from their days at powerful Connecticut serving on Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma’s staff.

Alliya Butts had 17 points for the Owls (9-11, 5-2 AAC), Erica Coville and Tanaya Atkinson each scored 14, a total also reached by Taylor Robinson off the bench.

Ana Owens had 13 points and Marley Hill scored 12 for Cincinnati (5-13, 2-5).

Temple’s two losses in the conference have come against UConn and USF, the 1-2 punch in The American, so the Owls are still in control of being able to beat everyone else and finish high enough to gain a conference tournament bye as well as get over .500 and land somewhere for the postseason.

The Owls are off a week before traveling to Orlando to try to complete a sweep of UCF and then return here Sunday, Feb. 1, prior to the Super Bowl to host UConn.

A Mo’Ne Davis Basketball Visual

.Here is a clip of local summer pitching sensation Mo’ne Davis in basketball action at the recent Kobe Bryant tournament. In 8th grade, Davis made the varsity of Springside Academy in suburban Philadelphia.

The video link is provided by Eric Quao, a local photographer who is one of the Guru’s vampire club colleagues doing our thing at night operating out of a Fedex spot across the river in Chery Hill.


Having posted all this, the Guru is going to check options of getting to Hofstra for the noon tip on Long Island against Drexel in the CAA or otherwise down to Delaware for the nighttime CAA game against Charleston or maybe both.

You will know from ensuing tweets on the Guru’s progress.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Guru's College Report: The Real Penn-Villanova Showdown is at the Palestra Wednesday

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

The Penn/Villanova men’s game Saturday night may have been a sellout but it is the women’s version early Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. in which many marbles will be involved in how the Big Five finally settles for the season.

A season removed from Penn doing diligence in a strong finish that brought a victory over Princeton for the Ivy crown and a trip to the NCAA, the Quakers are now making program history in their local competition.

Coach Mike McLaughlin’s group has already claimed a first-ever three wins in the City Series round robin but also has gone 3-0 to clinch at least a tie for the Big Five trophy.

Along the way were a narrow win over Temple and a rare triumph over Saint Joseph’s, which will be cheering for Villanova to have a shot for a hand in a piece of the tie after winning the city outright last season.

So for Penn, it’s time to go after the icing – a win over the Wildcats – another that in intself would be a rarity – and the Quakers own the city.

But in what is actually a kick off to a really big week for Villanova, if the Wildcats can top Penn, then both tie and the only remaining issue is whether it becomes a three-way if Saint Joseph’s can top La Salle in a few weeks in the Hagan Arena home portion of the two-game set with the Explorers created by the Atlantic 10 schedule.

However it goes for Villanova, this weekend at the Pavilion is really big, and would be even bigger had not the Wildcats been tripped up at Butler last Friday. But all is not lost because if coach Harry Perretta’s group is to stay in the Big East race, already owning a victory over pre-season favorite DePaul, the new top of the heap, Seton Hall will be visiting Friday night.

On Sunday, Saint John’s, another of the upper echelon drops by and while it is possible that Villanova has the ability to win the NCAA automatic bid with a Big East title, now that everyone is healthy, the only way to get into the at-large hunt for an NCAA bid is to produce a sweep in the top games.

If the NCAA is not to be, Villanova is among the locals with a strong shot at the WNIT.

Temple and Cincy Coaches Will be Parking Friendships For 40 Minutes

The Owls and the Bearcats have already met in the Midwest in the front end of their home-and-home series in the American Athletic Conference with Temple grabbing a victory.

Now, part two comes Tuesday night in the only D-1 game in the area when the two longtime friends and equally formerly longtime assistants to UConn Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma reunite again in Temple’s Tonya Cardoza and the Bearcats’ Jamelle Elliott, who also played on the first UConn NCAA champion.

While most teams in the area are already needing to win conference titles to get to the NCAA tournament , Temple has a variety of ways to get to the WNIT despite the current 8-11 overall and 4-2 conference record.

Theoretically, the Owls were already counted as four conference losses playing as underdogs to UConn and USF, which have already each taken one of the victories in the two-game set.

Temple has had extra practice for this one coming up because after storming to a 49-20 lead over UCF in McGonigle Hall on Saturday afternoon, the opposition outscored the Owls 37-23 in the second half though Cardoza’s group found a way to win after having a huge lead reduced to eight points prior to the 72-57 final score.

“We can beat anybody but, probably UConn,” Cardoza said of the first half play. “But if we play like we did in the second half, we can lose to anybody.”

The key here is to pick up as many conference wins as possible because option 1, if Temple can finish third in the regular season, with the probability that both UConn and USF will be NCAA bound, the WNIT takes Temple as the conference rep no matter what the record is.

But if the Owls can finish over .500 there is a good chance they could land an at-large slot and Cardoza’s youngsters could get some needed postseason experience for the future.

Looking Ahead on the Schedule

On Wednesday night, it is possible to get from Penn to the back end of the La Salle game, which has a 7 p.m. tip at the Tom Gola Arena for the Explorers’ A-10 game against Saint Louis.

On Thursday, Drexel is at Hofstra on Long Island at noon looking for revenge for the recent CAA loss here in overtime to the Pride.

Delaware will be looking to bounce back from Sunday’s squandered loss at home to William & Mary when the Blue Hens host the College of Charleston at 7 p.m. in the Bob Carpenter Center.

Villanova hosting Seton Hall is the only D-1 game in the area Friday.

On Saturday, the revitalized George Washington squad visits La Salle at 1 p.m. while Saint Joseph’s hosts Saint Bonaventure at 2 p.m. for those who want to catch a little of both in A-10 action.

Sunday it is possible to do a triple-header beginning with the Saint John’s/Villanova game at noon, then Drexel hosts Delaware at 2 p.m. in their first of their two CAA local rivalry games, and at 5:15 p.m. Rutgers hosts Minnesota in a game involving two nationally-ranked Big Ten teams that are NCAA bound at the moment.

Penn will be at NJIT for the Quakers’ last non-conference game of the regular season.

Postseason Outlook

OK, some of our teams in the 10-team Guru PhilahoopsW group were not discussed above because the less said the better right now.

To give it you graphically, here, in order, are the overall won-loss records, the RPI, and the Strength of Schedule, off one reliable simulation of the measurements used by the committee to evaluate and then the Guru will give you the skinny.

1. Princeton (17-0), RPI-16, SOS-110
2. Rutgers (13-5), RPI-57, SOS-106
3. Penn (7-5), RPI-72, SOS-37
4. Drexel (10-7), RPI-74, SOS-64
5. Villanova (10-8), RPI-106, SOS-126
6. St. Joe (5-12), RPI-128, SOS-7
7. Temple (8-11), RPI-177, SOS-167
8. La Salle (10-8), RPI-183, SOS-275
9. Delaware (7-10), RPI-200, SOS-175
10. Penn State (3-15), RPI-225, SOS-32

Princeton likely to win the Ivy barring a fight from Penn though depending on what happens at the finish the Tigers are at-large worthy, a rarity for an Ivy team.

Rutgers, barring a collapse, will get to the NCAA either as Big 10 champs or an at-large pick.

Penn is not dead yet in terms of the NCAA but let’s wait for the first half of the Ivy race to end. However, the Quakers either as the Ivy runnerup or a strong season showing could land in the WNIT.

Drexel must win the CAA, a long shot given JMU’s domination of the league. But the Dragons could get to the WNIT.

Villanova could creep into the at-large discussion, though not there now, has the ability to win the Big East, but at worst lands in the WNIT.

Saint Joseph’s collapse has been stunning but maybe the Hawks will become Cinderella at the A-10 tourney. However, Dayton, George Washington, and Fordham falling would be a major surprise.

Temple’s situation was mentioned above. The best hope and achievable is the WNIT.

La Salle has a winning overall record but is 1-3 in the conference. As for the postseason, not totally dead but not every much alive.

Delaware could go on a late run and get to the WNIT and host – that is if Elena Delle Donne will be around for an autograph session.

As for Penn State, the Lady Lions are young but no one expected this. But the way, since it wasn’t mentioned above, if the weather is suitable, Indiana is at Happy Valley, Thursday, but the better option is Sunday when Northwestern, coached by Father Judge grad and former GW coach Joe McKeown, visits in what will be a game featuring two teams whose fortunes have reversed.

Division II: USP Turning Into a Power

Considering the way the Devils performed in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer League, maybe their climb to the top of the Southern Division of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference shouldn’t be a surprise.

On Monday, the University of the Sciences of Philadelphia, took time off from the conference to host Kutztown, the team on which Penn center Kara Bonenberger’s sister plays.

The Devils, playing at home in Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philadelphia collected their 10th straight win 77-68 to improve to 12-4 overall – they’ve only lost once in the CACC by the way.

Brianne Traub had 23 points to help drop the Golden Bears to 6-11.

Kaitlyn Schmid tied a career-high with 13 points, a total matched by teammate Laura Trisch while Jessica Sylvester scored 10 points.

Defensively, Isabelle Ross grabbed nine rebounds while Traub collected seven, and Schmid dealt seven assists.

That’s it for the moment. The Guru will be tweeting from Temple.

- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Guru's AP Poll Trivia: UConn Turns 100 in Elite Categories for the Decade

By Mel Greenberg

Connecticut reach a perfect 100 total appearances this week for rankings in both the Top 5 and Top 10 of the Associated Press women’s basketball poll in this decade.

All-time Connecticut is second to Tennessee in both categories though in total appearances the Huskies are further down the line because the Lady Vols had a head start of over a decade before Geno Auriemma came aboard and made them into a national force.

Overall, Tennessee, which has missed only 14 polls under the legendary Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick since its Nov. 1976 launch, has made the Top 5 460 times to UConn’s 344.

In the Top 10, Tennessee has 593 appearances to the Huskies’ 389. Obviously, if we would make 2000 the start of measurement, Connecticut has had the more dominant elite appearances.

They also own the top two current consecutive poll streaks, which the Guru will get to in a bit.

In other poll trivia, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw is nearing former Auburn coach Joe Ciampi – both are in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame – to take 15th place all-time in coaching appearances in the poll.

This week North Carolina tied Penn State for total rankings in 8th place with 405 appearances while Rutgers, which had been higher at one point, moved back up a bit, tying Purdue for 12th place with 363 appearances.

Significant Current Poll Streaks

Here are the best current streaks of significant numbers by teams in the AP Women’s Poll thru the vote of 1/19/15 , which is this week’s poll.

1. Tennessee 526 weeks. Began Feb. 17, 1985 after 10-wk drought and runs across 30 seasons.
2. Connecticut 404 weeks. Began Preseason 93/94 and runs across 22 seasons
3. Duke 333 weeks. Began Preseason 97/98 and runs across 18 seasons.
4. Stanford 250 weeks. Began 01/02 and runs across 14 seasons.
5. Baylor 214 weeks. Began week 9 Jan. 5, 2004 and runs across 12 seasons.
6. Notre Dame 147 weeks. Began Preseason 07/08 and runs across 8 seasons.
7. Texas A&M 107 weeks. Began 11/16/09 2nd week and runs across 6 seasons.
8. Maryland 89 weeks. Began preseason 10/11 and runs across 5 seasons.
9. North Carolina 49 weeks. Began 11/19/12 3rd week and runs across 3 seasons.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: The Real Deals and the Pretenders

By Mike Siroky

In women’s basketball of the Southeastern Conference, there are real teams and hollow teams.

Tennessee and South Carolina are undefeated through league games; Texas A&M has one loss.

Then there are five teams with two league losses each, among them ranked teams Mississippi State, Georgia and Kentucky.

State is a sure bet for an NCAA bid, but without real expectations. They had 18 of the prerequisite 20 wins last week for NCAA entry but lost to an unranked team that hadn't even won 10 then beat another to hit 19 first.

Kentucky is in the mix of ranked teams with two conference losses, as is Georgia.

In other conferences, just getting ranked is enough. Look at DePaul which has never won anything representing the diluted Big East and still their coach was given a contract extension through the end of the decade.

Expectations are much higher in the best league in the land.

Here’s the example about the SEC: Auburn brought back four starters (eight letterwinners) from a 19-5 team last season that missed the NCAAs. Hasina Muhamad is averaging eight points higher than her season average since league play began.

So, naturally, the Lady Vols had the advantage because it is the quality of players as much as the number of them that matters.

Tennessee has held the Tigers to less than 61 points per game in six of the past eight meetings and that is four more than they have averaged this season.

Then, of course, Tennessee ended its series with Notre Dame, this last one on the road in a Monday night made-for-TV game.

It is unlikely UT coach Holly Warlick will ever interrupt league play again for anyone but UConn, now on her radar for resumption of a classic back-and-forth.

No. 5 UT has the luxury of a real star, Ariel Massengale, coming off the bench her senior season.

In the first game of the week, she had the most minutes of the reserves once again.

"I think she's comfortable with it," Warlick said. "She's getting just as much playing time, if not more. I think she's been really positive. I think she likes it. She's able to sit and see how the game flows, then come in and try to make a difference. I think she's handled it really, really well. We've needed her to do that. If she's going to keep playing the way she's playing, we're going to keep bringing her off the bench."

Massengale has contributed 178 of her 184 points as a reserve in 2014-15, including 96 points coming via 3s. The 5-foot-7 poinr guard started 73 games in the three seasons prior to this.

She said she has kept confidence and put in extra shooting work.

"I don't know what it is, honestly," Massengale said. "Extra shots in the gym always help. I definitely think my confidence is at an all-time high when it comes to shooting the three-ball."

"It's amazing. It brings so much energy to us on the offensive end when you're making shots. It makes it that much harder on the defense, and it can change a game like it did at Arkansas.

"I didn't even know the score at one point. I knew we were losing, and next thing I knew we were up 42-40 and they were calling a timeout that quick. It's a lot of fun."

The starters did not need much offensive help against Auburn, their 11th straight win (12th in conference overall), 54-42. The win streak is the longest by Tennessee since a 25-game streak at the end of the 2011 season.

The Lady Vols improved to 15-2 overall and remained perfect in the SEC at 5-0.

Sophomore Jordan Reynolds and junior Andraya Carter each scored 11. Cierra Burdick added 10, her fourth game in a row in double figures. Izzy Harrison had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

"It was an ugly game," said Warlick. "We just got ran out of the gym.

"The last two games for us, we're underachieving and you can't continue to win games when you're not bringing your best. We missed easy shots. You know defensively you think we are solid, and we gave up 18 offensive rebounds. You know eventually it's going to come back and catch up to you. You're not going to continue to win if you keep playing like that."

•No. 14 Kentucky started life without its starting point guard Janee Thompson but did get back previously injured guard Bria Goss. She was averaging 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per. It was her offensive rebound in the closing seconds that set up Mikayla Epps' distancing free throws with 32 seconds left in a 62-56 win at home against Florida.

“She could have come back (earlier),” coach Matthew Mitchell said of Goss. "She participated in practice and was working hard. That’s a blessing that we can get her back. I know she can perform very well defensively. She is shooting the ball great right now. That will help us tremendously.”

"She has the biggest shoes on the team to fill," Epps said. "It's weird not having her out there."

Epps made all eight of her free throws, including six in the final two minutes. She shot 6-of-10 from the field and also had four assists. "Thank goodness that she got some on-the-job training and we won," Mitchell said.

Linnae Harper had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats.

"It was a game that just epitomizes our league," Florida coach Amanda Butler said. "It was a great women's basketball contest in the best league in the country.

"It came down to two, three and four plays. They made those two, three and four plays," she said.

Kentucky made 7-of-10 free throws in the final two minutes in a game that had 17 lead changes.

Kentucky then went to improving LSU and lost to an unranked team with not even 10 wins yet. LSU thus had two wins against ranked teams after starting 0-4 against ranked teams this season.

The Ben-Gals won the half by five at home and then matched UK point-for-point in the second half of an 84-79 win. Each are left 4-2 in conference, solid in the second tier of the league. LSU has won at home for three straight seasons against UK; each time UK was No. 10 coming in.

Kentucky could not take advantage of a free-throw overbalance, 27-of-32 from the line, 84.4 percent.

The LSU points are the most for them this season, against a once-feared UK defense.

They scored 27 points off 26 UK turnovers.

Jennifer O'Neill scored 19 for Kentucky, Linnae Harper had 16 with 15 rebounds.

LSU's Sheila Boykin equaled her career-best with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was Boykin's third double-double of the season. Raigyne Moncrief had 15 points and seven rebounds.

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said, "When we talked about how we were going to play, we talked about it being a game where you’ve got to do ‘Whatever it’s going to take.’

"We had play action that showed that. I thought our defensive effort, we did whatever we needed to do to disrupt a very good basketball team in Kentucky.

"That was the 'W' in 'W-I-N.' We talked about the ‘I’ standing for ‘I can’t do this alone’ and ‘this is a team sport.’ When you’ve got (Danielle) Ballard with five assists or (Shelia) Boykin getting on the offensive glass with five offensive boards, again, it’s about being givers.

"We talked about how ‘Nothing is ever going to be given to you.’ You’ve got to earn it. Today, we went out and earned a quality victory over a very good basketball team.

“I thought offensively we had some very good looks at the basket. I thought our shot selection was very good.

"We did a nice job of sharing the basketball, especially (Danielle) Ballard with five assists. We didn’t turn the ball over as much so that gave us those extra possessions.

"When you look and you get almost 70 attempts, we shot 40-to-45 percent. That’s a good number for us.

"We also got ourselves to the free throw line, and that’s a goal too trying to get there 20-plus times. We were able to do that, and we were able to knock down our free throws, so that helps us have a very good offensive night.

"Defensively, our ability to really turn people over, we’re buying into that. We’re becoming a much better defensive team, which is allowing us to get those transition baskets and not have to rely just on jump shots or things like that. We’re able to run the basketball.

“In the first segment of the game, Kentucky beat us Round 1. We talked about how they were up by one possession, but we now have to win some segments. We can do it one possession at a time.

“This team has now started to believe. I think that a couple of weeks ago, we were OK when we were playing some of the best teams in the country.

"We were okay with playing with South Carolina and playing with Texas A&M. When you finally turn the switch in your favor and you come out with a victory against an SEC opponent at Mississippi State, which is a hard place to play, it was hostile.

"They believe now.”

Kentucky turned the ball over 26 times, leading to 27 LSU points.

LSU is next at Tennessee, where an unlikely win would certainly get them ranked nationally. Ballard earned conference player of the week honors for her two-game effort.

•No. 22 Georgia went on the road and that other Mississippi team announced itself as ready to play be winning, 55-52. The Rebels outscored then-No. 18 Georgia 8-0 over the final 2:13.

The Lady Bulldogs went up 52-47 on a pair of Tiaria Griffin free throws with 2:22 remaining but failed to score the rest of the way.

Four starters reached double figures for Ole Miss, a surprising 4-1 in league play and still unranked.

"Ole Miss played hard," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "They were well-prepared, and they did a nice job defensively disrupting what we wanted to do.

"Defensively, we played well," Landers observed. "We did have a couple of breakdowns, back-door breakdowns to layups. Offensively, there were too many turnovers that led to easy points for Mississippi. End of the day, turnovers...missed free throws -- and we've been shooting those well -- did us end."

The Lady Bulldogs were next home for Vanderbilt and easily defended the home court, 64-53, winning each half.

Shacobia Barbee scored 14 with 11 rebounds, Krista Donald 13 points with seven boards and Merritt Hempe and Marjorie Butler had 11 points apiece. Georgia was 24-of-30 from the line.

"Today we took really good care of the ball," Landers said. "I thought we were doing a nice job of managing things for the most part, and then we made our free throws."

Georgia is among the group at 4-2 in conference.

The next home court challenge is Thursday when A&M visits.

"It's going to be a competitive game, and if you play reasonably well, you're going to have a chance to win it," Landers said. "We welcome the challenge of Texas A&M coming in."

•Mississippi State hosted LSU that started the Ben-Gals winning week.

This is the dangerous State stretch. LSU needs to prove itself now and started here with a win in two overtimes, 71-69, its first win in four tries against ranked teams this season.

Sure, State came back from an 11-point deficit. But not all the way back. This is where a contender settles in as a pretender.

They'll get to 20 wins and the national stage. But not if they keep playing like this will they be taken seriously. They have lost defense of the home court.

“Awfully proud of the team, hate the outcome,” MSU coach Vic Schaefer said in an attempt to shock the heartbeat back into his team.

With nine less wins, LSU tied No. 18 State at 3-2 in conference (each are 4-2 now).

State's second in the toughest conference in the land. One more and they will be out of the Top 20.

“I am very disappointed for our kids. We had close to 5,000 (4,727, sixth-largest in school history). Our fans have been outstanding this year. LSU just made one more shot than we did.”

LSU scored the first seven points and held the momentum, hitting shot 66.7 percent from the field in the opening half.

The Bulldogs trailed by three points at 11-8, 15-12 and 17-14. The Tigers scored the next seven points and eventually built a 27-16 lead with 4:25 left in the opening half.
In the second half, MSU turned up the heat defensively, holding the Tigers to 36.0 percent shooting from the field but is was not enough.

Dominique Dillingham blocked LSU's last shot attempt to maintain a 53-all tie. The Bulldogs thrice took three-point leads and blew them all. LSU's Danielle Ballard erased the last one on a 3 at the end of the first extra period.

In the second overtime, the Bulldogs took another lead on back-to-back 3s by Dillingham. State then committed back-to-back turnovers and LSU scored the final six.

“It was a knock-down drag-out game,” Schaefer said. “I hate it for these kids. They played their guts out. LSU is a Top 25 team (even if no rankings say so). Now that Ballard is back, they are a really good team. I am proud of the effort. It hurts to lose a game like this. I love the fight of my team.”

The Bulldogs hit 20 of 58 shots from the field (34.5 percent) and had a 37-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and 24 turnovers, while the Tigers had eight assists and 26 turnovers. Again, statistics don't win games, players with heart do.

Next was another home game, with the always-gettable Tide and they rolled 'em, winning each half of a 66-50 for victory No. `19. Kendra Grant scored 17 off the bench and another reserve, Morgan Hempe, scored a dozen.

The defense was dominant, holding the Tide to 30 percent from the floor, 1-of-7 from 3-point range and forcing 22 turnovers.

Another reserve, former starter Martha Alwal, grabbed 10 rebounds, had three steals and three blocks.

Alabama stayed alive with 23-of-31 from the line.

State again drew well, with 4,557 for this, the eight-best in program history. It is the first time they drew back-to-back crowds of 4,500-plus.

“We are so appreciative of the fans and numbers that we are getting,” Schaefer said. “We are meeting people every day who would go to football and baseball games and now they are going to women’s basketball games.

"Our ladies deserve the support they are getting. I think they represent the name on the front as well as they represent the name on the back.

“We are struggling offensively right now,” Schaefer said. “We are having a tough time putting together stretches of great offensively play. Defensively, I have no complaints. We simply are struggling on offense. I think we have some good offensive weapons. We have to figure that part out.

“I am really proud of our kids. We made some stops late in the game. (Alabama) had some empty possessions. It’s a W. In this league, we will take them. Winning can mask a lot of issues. In this league, those issues can get exposed. So we have to work hard at continuing to get better.”

•Top-ranked South Carolina was at Missouri and then at Florida for the Monday night national cable game, so two games with one challenge: Do not lose.

They did not.

The win at Missouri, 60-49, was thanks to clutch free throws late. They hit 5-0 in SEC play for the first time in program history. Tiffany Mitchell posted her second-straight 19-point outing to lead South Carolina to its 17th win while Aleighsa Welch grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds.

Down the stretch, the Gamecocks hit 11-of-12 from the line in the final two minutes.

"Every time that we take the floor, we're learning," coach Dawn Staley said. "We've got a lot of young players that need to see this action night in and night out so they know what to expect.

"I thought our team did a really good job of just keeping their composure and just playing through things."

•No. 10 Texas A&M hosted Ole Miss in the Agggies’ only game of the week.

Courtney Williams scored 21 in the 58-49 win for the Aggies.

Courtney Walker added 12 points, Achiri Ade nine with 13 rebounds and Jordan Jones had eight rebounds, six assists and six steals for A&M's 16th win. It is Ade's fifth straight double rebounds effort.

The defense held Ole Miss to its lowest score of the season. The Rebels had won eight of their last nine games and three in a row.

"I think we did better on defense," said Williams. “We took away the right handed drives like coach told us. Coach just stressed right-handed drives, because not to many people can finish with their left.”

A&M coach Gary Blair said there is much to be done.

“We’ve been behind at half every ball game, five straight games," he said. "We found a way to win four of them. We found some things that would work. We talked about our turnovers that killed us. We gave up 10 offensive boards in the first half. And we turned it over 10 times. Now the difference is in the second half we had one turnover. One turnover, that’s good point guard play.

“It was just a hard ball game. When you can win shooting 31 percent then you’ve done something right. So give our kids a little bit of credit. It started with three straight days of great practices.”

With these games, Ole Miss is the next SEC team in line behind some of the ranked ones but their two games started four of five against ranked teams.

The once-proud Rebels start February against South Carolina and then play Tennessee 11 days later, both at home.

This is when a team will get noticed or buried.

While they are also at the new tipping point of two losses in league play, danger is on the horizon.

CRIME TIME: Antoinette Bannister has been dismissed from Florida's women's basketball team after she stole a teammate's credit card from the locker room (she told police she found it outside) and showed up on a mall security camera using it multiple times.

A junior from Jacksonville, Bannister was arrested Friday and charged with theft of a credit card, a misdemeanor, and two felony counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.

All Florida will say is she is no longer a member of the team.

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