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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Guru's USA Women's Basketball Tour: A Photo Gallery of Elena Delle Donne Homecoming Night

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

NEWARK, Del. -- She shoots horses doesn't she.

 No, not Delaware's sweetheart Elena Delle Donne, whose prowess involves shooting a roundball with great proficiency that has taken her from Wilmington's Ursinus Academy to collegiate acclaim at nearby Delaware, on to the WNBA, and now as a new member of the USA Women's National Team that is about to chase continuation of collecting Olympic gold medals, this time at the Rio Games in Brazil.

But about our opening sentence first.

The young woman the Guru refers to in the first sentence who shoots horses is not an actress starring in a movie sequel of a film by a similar name on theater screens years ago.

She does not carry drug-laden needles nor silver bullets. She achieves her skill weekdays halfway between here and Philadelphia at Harrah's Casino and Racetrack in Chester, Pa., as the track photographer.

Her name is Melissa Willhouse, a student at Rider University up in Central New Jersey near Princeton and a graduate of Cherokee High in South Jersey.

In the spirit of the Guru's bloggerettes of the middle of the last decade, many of whom came back on board for a special visit to help with the Guru's recent coverage of the passing of Tennessee Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, we now go in a new direction.

Since for the most part, all you get from the Guru and Rob and some guest stars is words -- words worth reading but words nonetheless.

So now its time for photos.

Knowing her aspirations (you have to like someone who incessantly heads to the shore early in the morning just to capture sunrise over the ocean), the Guru invited her to spend time with the bigtimers here Wednesday night capturing the homecoming visit of Delle Donne with her USA teammates                                            to her alma mater as the first stop on a three-city East Coast tour that continues Friday night (the Guru will be there) in Bridgeport, Conn., and Sunday in Madison Sqjuare Garden in New York City.

When the WNBA season resumes following the games, look for more work from our photo lady at the Guru's usual haunts and possibly more this winter, as her schedule allows, on the local and nearby national collegiate scene.

But for now, enjoy the shots from Wednesday, from pre-game shootaround to the finish and understand also she had to work from beyond the usual photo floor spots due to limited spacing in the Bob Carpenter Center, and look for more in the future.

By the way for those who dont know Delle Donne, she wears No. 11.

The Guru now turns you over to Melissa, yeah we understand there's going to be a Mel-2 nickname               from the Guru's followers, but also understand this platform ain't the best to post a multitude of photos so bear with us.

- Mel


Philly Women's Summer League: Two Narrow Escapes Enables Favorites to Sweep Quarterfinals

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

And Bob Heller

HATBORO, Pa. -- There are no blackboards only six backboards in Kelly Bolish Gym, home of the AAU Renegades and the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Certified Women's Basketball Summer Leagjue.

However, there was nothing but chalk in terms of the final results Thursday with all four favorites winning their quarterfinal rounds in the playoffs' opening night.

However, it was not all-one sided as fourth-seeded Purple, on the strength of Saint Joseph's junior Chelsea Woods' 31 points, held off a closing rally by fifth-seeded White to emerge with a 73-71 victory causing a 21-point performance by Sierra Taylor, a Kutztown University freshman out of Camden Catholic, to go for naught.

In the other narrow encouter, SUNY Oneonta senior Brianna Spector, a SUNY Oneonta senior out of Upper Dublin High, nailed two foul shots with 0.4 left on the clock to lead third-seed Team Pink to a 54-52 win over sixth seed Team Black, also known as Division II Philadelphia University to advance to Tuesday’s semi-finals.

Having the easier time of it, in a game that featured the other two players of the night scoring 20 or more points, top-seeded Gold eliminated Sky Blue 61-54 as Saint Joseph's junior Adaisha Franklyn, the daughter of former Temple great Marilyn Stephens, scored 21 points.

Stephens, by the way, is headed for the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony November 3 at the Hilton on City Ave.

Meanwhile, Ciara Andrews, a recent Saint Joseph's grad out of Cheltenham High, scored 22 points for Sky Blue.

In the other result of the night, top-seeded Maroon, also known as Division II USciences, topped eighth-seeded Royal Blue 51-38.

Woods' 31 matched her total from the last regular season game on Tuesday and made it the eighth time overall she has scored more than 30 points, to go with two other games in which she collected over 20 points.
Looking Ahead

One Court, two games as the Final Four semifinals stage of the playoffs is quickly reached on Tuesday night.

In Game 1, top-seeded Maroon (9-2 regular season) meets fiourth-seeded Purple (7-4) at 7 p.m. During the regular season Maroon was topped by its next playoffs opponent, 57-52, it's one of two losses, the other being to White, the fifth seed eliminated in Thursday's quarterfinal action.

The 8:15 p.m. Game 2 action on Court 1 has second-seeded Gold (9-2) playing third-seeded Pink (7-4), a team it beat 76-59.


#1 Maroon  51,  #8 Royal Blue  38 - Top-seeded Team Maroon turned in another solid effort on both ends of the floor as they pulled away from #8 seed Royal Blue in the second half for a 51-38 win.


Team Maroon (also known as Division II University of the Sciences) was led by juniors Colleen Walsh (The Shipley School) and Laura Trisch (Archbishop Wood HS).  Walsh and Trisch scored 16 and 10 points respectively.  East Stroudsburg University senior Courtney Brown (Council Rock South HS) led Team Royal Blue with 17 points.


Maroon rallied from an eight point deficit late in the second half and then used an 18-4 spurt to close out the third quarter to take a 40-26 lead into the final ten minutes of action. Highlighting the run were consecutive three-point field goals by freshman Brigit Coleman (Gwynedd Mercy Academy)sophomore Marissa Sylvester (Nazareth Academy) and freshman Maddie Ritsickbreaking a 22-22 tie and giving Maroon a nine-point lead.  Coleman followed with a layup to complete an 11-0 run to push the lead to double-digits where it would remain the rest of the way.


Two straight baskets by Micah Morgan (Caravel Academy) midway through the fourth quarter gave Maroon its biggest lead of the game at 47-31.  Royal then cut the deficit down to 11, courtesy of a Brown three-pointer and layup from St. Joseph’s University senior Amanda Fiorvanti  (Our Lady of Good Counsel). Maroon connected on 5-6 from the free throw line in the final 2:46 while limiting Royal to just one field goal to come away with the 13-point victory.


In the first half, Royal Blue held Maroon without a field goal for the first 7:35 of the game but could not break their defense, holding just a one-point advantage 10-9 after one quarter.   A 9-2 run by Royal Blue opened up an eight point lead 19-11 before Maroon closed out the half on a 9-1 run to even the score at 20-20.  Walsh led the Maroon surge, scoring seven points in the final 3:30.


#3 Pink  54,  #6 Black  52 - SUNY Oneonta senior Brianna Spector (Upper Dublin HS) sank two free throws with 0.4 left on the clock to lead third-seed Team Pink to a 54-52 win over sixth seed Team Black to advance to Tuesday’s semi-finals.


Salisbury University senior Lauren Rothfeld (Upper Dublin HS) led Team Pink with 14 points.Emma Dorshimer, a Gettysburg College sophomore out of Jenkintown HS, added 12 points.  Senior Kelsey Jones (Mount St. Joseph’s Academy) led Team Black (also known as Division II Philadelphia University) with four three pointers and 14 points.  Junior Jess Kaminski (Archbishop Wood HS) and freshman Alynna Williams (Plymouth-Whitemarsh HS) added 10 points apiece.


Black had rallied from a seven point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to take a one point lead in the final minute.  A 9-3 run reduced Pink’s lead to 50-49 with 4:50 left.  Neither team added to their total until there was just 36 seconds remaining.  At that point Williams sank two free throws to give Black the lead for the moment 51-50. 

A baseline jumper from  Rothfeld put Pink back on top 52-51.  Kaminski went 1-2 from the line and the game was tied at 52-52 with 20 seconds left.   Pink again answered with a layup from LeMoyne College junior CourtneyWebster (Central Bucks East HS) with 13.2 left to take a 54-52 lead.

  Black again tied the score as Kaminski’s basket with 5.9 seconds left evened the game at 54-54.  Pink had the ball knocked away but still maintained possession under their own basket with 1.4 seconds left.  The inboundspass went to Spector and as she attempted to launch a three-point shot as game clock was set to expirewas hit on the arm and a three-shot foul was called.  After missing the first free throw she sank the next two. Black could not get a shot off in the final 0.4 enabling Pink to advance.


It was also Spector that generated a 7-0 run in the third quarter that gave Pink their first lead since midway through the second quarter, turning a 38-36 deficit into a 43-38 lead. Spector had four of the seven points in the run while Dorshimer sank the go-ahead three-point field goal at the 2:09 mark.


#4 Purple 73, #5 White 71 - St. Joseph’s University junior Chelsea Woods scored 31 points as fourth-seed Team Purple held off a late rally from Fifth-seed Team White to hang on for a 73-71 win to advance to the semi-finals on Tuesday.


Woods, who reached the 30-point plateau seven times during the regular season, sank six three-point field goals en route to her 33-point effort.  Penn State Abington junior Symantha Marrero (Central HS) also drained six three-pointers and finished with 18 points.  Kutztown University freshman Sierra Taylor (Camden Catholic HS) led Team White with 21 points, all in the first half.   St. Joseph’s University sophomore Michaela Clay added 16 points. 


White trailed by 13 early in the third quarter but outscored Purple 18-9 over the final seven minutes to pull within four 59-55 as the game entered the final quarter.


A 6-0 run to open the fourth quarter gave White their first lead since they opening minutes of the game, 61-59 with seven minutes remaining.  Two ties and four lead changes followed over the next four minutes with neither team holding more than a two-point advantage.  

basket by KU sophomore Taylor Thames (North Penn HS) gave White a 69-67 lead with just under three-minutes remaining.  Woods then scored five straight points for Purple, producing another lead change and a 72-69 lead.  Thames had a chance to tie the game with a traditional thee point play after being fouled while making a layup with 1:50 left but could not convert the free throw, allowing Purple to maintain a one-point lead 72-71.  

PSU-Abington senior Madison Kimball (Jenkintown HS) added a free throw with 25 seconds left, increasing the Purple lead to two 73-71.  White had four shots in the final 15 seconds in an attempt to tie the game but fell short as Purple hung on for the win.  


#2 Gold 61, #7 Sky Blue  54 - St. Joseph’s University junior Adaisha Franklyn led three players in double figures as second-seed Team Gold held off a fourth quarter rally from  seventh-seed Team Sky Blue to earn a 61-54 win and advance to the semi-finals on Tuesday.


Franklyn, (Bayard Rustin HS) led Gold with 21 points.  Holy Cross graduate Alex Smith (The Peddie School) added 11 and former Spring-Ford HS and Kutztown University graduate Ashley Wood added ten.  Recent St. Joseph’s graduate Ciara Andrews (Cheltenham HS) paced Sky Blue with 22 points (10-12 FT line).  


Team Gold built a double-digit lead early in the game, scoring 12 straight points at the end of the first quarter and start of the second to take an 18-6 lead.  St. Joseph’s freshman Avery Marz (Wilson HS) drained a three-pointer late in the second quarter, cutting the gap to nine, before Gold scored the final three points of the half to lead 25-13 at the break.


Sky Blue cut the lead to seven, 31-24 in the opening minutes of the third quarter before Gold produced a 12-2 uprising to take their biggest lead of the game at 43-26.  Franklin and Wood each scored six points during the run.  Sky Blue closed out the quarter with a 10-3 effort to cut the gap to ten 46-36.


A 6-2 run to open the fourth quarter built Gold’s lead back to 14, 52-38, when Sky Blue went on another run, this one a 13-2 effort, cutting the lead to three, 54-51 with 1:42 remaining.  Two free throws from Millersville University graduate Shira Newman (Upper Dublin HS) and a single free throw from Wood pushed the lead back to five 57-52 with a minute to go. A layup from Marz cut the deficit back to three 57-54 with 47.3 remaining.  Gold then scored the final four points on two free throws apiece from St. Joseph’s senior Jazmin Horne (Franklin HS) and Wood to come away with the seven point 61-54 win.


The Guru would like second the thank you shoutouts by longtime commissioner David Kessler, but first a thank you goes to the commissioner himself for all the organizing and administration he excutes to maintain a smooth operation.

Hand-in-hand a thank you to deputy commissioner Steve Michielli, as well as thanks to Tim McGrath and his game officials.

As for the AAU host Renegades, thanks for a great snack bar and overall hosting from Steve Flynn, who will be coaching Team Pink Tuesday night, and Meg Baum.

Media-wise the Guru thanks to Bob Heller, who has helped fatten the overnight report with recaps and also handling the lede opening when the Guru was out of pocket. Thanks to Tom Utescher for providing photos and look at the moment for the Guru photo newcomer Melissa Willhouse, who hopes to be on the scene for the playoffs and shot Wednesday's USA Olympic Team doubleheader at Delaware Wednesday night and whose photo gallery is right next to this post.

  Final Regular Season Standings

Team,  W-L, Pct., G.B., PF, PA
^-Maroon, 9-2, .818, ---, 624 525
^@-Gold, 9-2, .818, ---, 727 533
^-Pink, 7-4, .636, 2.0, 727 616
^%-Purple, 7-4, .636, 2.0, 689 650
^-White, 6-5, .545, 3.0, 671 686
^-%-Black, 6-5, .500, 3.0, 556 578
^-Sky Blue, 5-6, .455, 4.0, 671 717
^Royal Blue, 5-6, .455, 4.0, 659 636
#-@-Hunter Green, 4-7, .364, 5.0, 546 561
#-%-Red,4-7, .364, 5.0 , 543 612
#-@-Orange, 4-7, .364, 5.0 552 634
#-Kelly Green, 0-11, .000, 9.0, 592 809
%-includes forfeit win
@-includes forfeit loss
^-Clinched playoff berth
#-Eliminated from playoffs

Playoff Schedule and Results

Quarterfinals Results

1-Maroon (9-2)  vs. 8-Royal Blue (5-6), Court 1
3- Pink (7-4) vs. 6-Black (6-5), Court 2

8:15 p.m.

2-Gold (9-2)  vs. 7-Sky Blue (5-6), Court 1
4-Purple (7-4) vs. 5-White (6-5) , Court 2

Semifinals Schedule
(Records include only regular season results)

Tuesday, Aug. 2

7 p.m.

1-Maroon (9-2) vs. 4-Purple (7-4), Court 1

8:15 p.m.

2-Gold (9-2) vs. 3-Pink (7-4), Court 1

Championship Schedule

Thursday, Aug. 4

7 p.m.

2-Gold (9-2) or 3-Pink (7-4) vs. 1-Maroon (9-2) or 4-Purple (7-4), Court 1

Regular Season Results

Tuesday, July 26

Black 53, Red 48
Sky Blue 59, Pink 55
White 56, Orange 38
Purple 75, Royal Blue 67
Maroon 44, Gold 43
Hunter Green 69, Kelly Green 36

Thursday, July 21

Black 65. Kelly Green 52
Pink 79, White 52
Gold 80, Orange 57
Red 51, Royal Blue 46
Maroon 55, Hunter Green 41
Purple 64. Sky Blue 60

Tuesday, July 19

Pink 90, Kelly Green 35
Gold 79, Red 51
Maroon 49, Orange 35
Hunter Green 59, Purple 33
Black 62, Sky BLue 44
Royal Blue 61, White 56

Thursday, July 14

Hunter Green 54, Red 45
Black 72, Orange 64, OT
Maroon 56, Pink 46
Gold 55, Royal Blue 51
White 59, Sky Blue 56
Purple 85, Kelly Green 78

Tuesday, July 12

Black 69, Purple 65
Orange 56, Royal Blue 48
White 66,  Kelly Green 55
Pink 62, Red 37
Maroon 60, Sky Blue 40
 Gold 62, Hunter Green 43 

Thursday, June 30

Gold 90, Kelly Green 52
White 67, Maroon 65
Red 67, Purple 65, OT
Royal Blue 69, Pink 56
Orange 69, Sky Blue 57
Black 2, Hunter Green 0, forfeit

Tuesday, June 28

Purple 90, White 81
Gold 76, Pink 59
Maroon 58, Kelly Green 47
Royal Blue 55, Black 45
Orange 67, Hunter Green 42
Sky Blue 61, Red 56

Thursday, June 23

Sky Blue 78, Royal Blue 71
Orange 71,  Kelly Green 65
Purple 2,  Gold 0, forfeit
Maroon 64, Black 41
White 67, Red 64, OT
Pink 70, Hunter Green 66, OT

Tuesday, June 21

Purple 57, Maroon 52
Royal Blue 80, Hunter Green 58
Red 69, Kelly Green 66
White 60, Black 44
Gold 89, Sky Blue 59
Pink 75, Orange 50

Thursday, June 16

Sky Blue 67, Hunter Green 66
Pink 63, Black 51
Maroon 59, Red 53, OT
Purple 88, Orange 45
Gold 90, White 63
Royal Blue 56, Kelly Green 44

Wednesday, June 15

Hunter Green 48, White 44
Sky Blue 90, Kelly Green 66
Pink 72, Purple 65
Gold 63. Black 52
Maroon 62, Royal Blue 55
Red 2, Orange 0, forfeit

Individual Scoring 20 Or More Points (including Playoffs)

46 Chelsea Woods, Purple, L, vs. Black, July 12
43-Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. White, June 28
39-Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. Kelly Green, July 14
34-Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. Sky Blue, July 21
33-Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. Maroon, June 22
32-Chelsea Woods, Purple, L, vs. Pink, June 15
31-Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. White, (Quarterfinal), July 28
31 Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. Royal Blue, June 26
28-Alex Smith, Gold, W, vs. Sky Blue, June 22
28-Alex Smith, Gold, W, vs. White, June 16
26-Chelsea Woods, Purple, L, vs. Red, June 30 
26-Alexix Roman, Hunter Green, L, vs. Sky Blue, June 16
25-Danielle Skedzielewski, Kelly Green, L, vs. Black, July 21
25-Ciara Andrews, Sky Blue, W, vs. Hunter Green, June 16
25-Ciara Andrews, Sky Blue, W, vs. Kelly Green, June 15
24-Ciara Andrews, Sky Blue, W, vs. Pink, July 26
24-Adaisha Franklyn, Gold, W, vs. Orange, July 21
24-Emma Dorshimer, Pink, W, vs. White, July 21
24-Alynna Williams, Black, W-OT, vs Orange, July 14. 
23-Alynna Williams, Black, L, vs. Pink, June 23
23-Kelsey Watson, White, L, vs. Gold, June 16
23-Chelsea Woods, Purple, W, vs. Orange, June 16
22-Ciara Andrews, Sky Blue, L, vs. Gold, (Quarterfinal), July 28 
22-Lauren Rothfeld, Pink, L, vs. Sky Blue, July 26
22-Alexix Roman, Hunter Green, W, vs. Red, July 14
22-Mia Hopkins, Gold, W, vs. Sky Blue, June 22
21-Adaisha Franklyn, Gold, W, vs. Sky Blue, (Quarterfinal). July 28
21-Adaisha Franklyn, Gold, W, vs. White, June 16, 
21-Sierra Taylor, White, L, vs. Purple, (Quarterfinal), July 28
21-Ciara Andrews, Sky Blue, L, vs. Orange, June 30
21-Lauren Rothfeld, Pink, L, Royal Blue, June 30
21-Tori Smick, Red, L, vs. Sky Blue, June 28
21-Julia Glantz, Hunter Green, W, vs. White, June 15
21-Jessica Gerber, Sky Blue, W, vs. Kelly Green, June 15
21-K.T. (Katie) Armstrong, Royal Blue, L, vs. Maroon, June 15
20-Michele McCaughern, Gold, W, vs. Red, July 19
20- Emma Dorsheimer, Pink, W, vs. Kelly Green, July 19
20-Taylor Thames, White, W, vs. Maroon, June 30
20-Ciara Andrews, Sky Blue, W, vs. Royal Blue, June 23
20-Lauren Rothfeld, Pink, W-OT, vs. Hunter Green, June 23
20-Mackenzie Rule, Orange, L, vs. vs. Pink, June 22
20-Micah Morgan, Maroon, W-OT, vs. Red, June 16

Seed Tracker (In order)

^-Maroon (9-2) vs. RB (W), vs. Red (W-OT), vs. Pur(L), vs. Bk (W), KG (W), vs. Wh (L), vs. SB(W),
vs. Pnk(W), vs. Orng(W), vs. HG(W), vs. Gold (W).
^-Gold (9-2) vs. Bk (W), vs. Wh (W), vs. SB (W), vs. Pur (L-@), vs. Pnk (W) ,vs. KG (W), vs. HG (W),
RB(W), vs. Red (W), vs. Orng(W), vs. M(L).

^-Pink (7-4) vs. Pur (W), vs. Bk (W), vs. Orge, (W), vs. HG (W-OT), Gold (L), vs. RB(L), vs. Rd(W),
 vs. M(L), vs. KG(W), Wh(W), vs. SB (L).
^-Purple (7-4) vs. Pk (L), vs. Org (W), vs. M(W), vs. Gd (W-%), vs. W (W) vs. Red (W-OT), vs. Bk(L), 
 vs. KG(W) vs. HG(L), vs. SB(W), vs. RB(W).

^-White (6-5) vs. HG (L), vs. Gd (L), vs. Bk (W), vs. Red (W-OT), vs. Pur (L), vs. M (W), vs. KG(W)
 vs. SB(W), vs. RB(L), vs. Pink(L), vs. Ornge(W).  
^-Black (6-5) vs. Gd (L), vs. Pk (L), vs. Wh (L), vs. M (L), vs. RB (L), vs. HG (W-%), vs. Pur(W), vs. Or(W-OT), vs. SB(W), vs. KG(W), vs. Red (W).

^-Sky Blue (5-6) vs. KG (W), vs. HG (W), vs. Gold (L), vs. RB (W), vs. Red (W), Ornge(L), vs. M(L),
  vs. Wh(L), vs. Blk(L), vs. Purple(L), vs. Pink (W).
^-Royal Blue (5-6) vs. M (L), vs. KG (W), vs. HG (W), vs, SB (L), vs. Black (W), Pnk(W), vs. Orng(L), vs. Gold(L), vs. Wh(W), vs. Red (L), vs. Pur (L).

#-Hunter Green (4-7) vs. Wh (W), vs. SB (L), vs RB (L), vs. Pk (L-OT), vs. Org (L),vs. Blk (L-@) vs. Gd(L), vs. Red(W), vs. Pur(W), vs. M(L), vs. KG(W).
#-Red (4-7) vs. Org (%-W), vs. M (L-OT), vs. KG (W), vs. Wh (L-OT), vs. SB (L), Pur (W-OT), vs. Pk(L), vs. HG(L), vs. Gold(L), vs. RB(W), vs. Blk (L).
#-Orange (4-7) vs. Red (@-L), vs. Pur (L), vs. Pnk (L), vs. KG (W), vs. HG (W), vs. SB (W), vs. RB(W),
 vs Bk (L-OT), M(L), vs. Gold (L), vs. Wh(L).

#-Kelly Green (0-10) vs. SB (L), vs. RB (L), vs Red (L), vs. Orange (L), vs. M(L), vs. Gold (L), vs. Wh(L), vs. Pur(L) vs. Pnk(L),vs. Blk(L), vs. HG(L).

%-forfeit win
@-forfeit loss
^-Clinched playoff berth
#-Eliminated from playoffs

Thursday, July 28, 2016

USA Women's National Team: Delle Donne Homeccoming Lights Up Delaware Arena in Win Over France

 By ROB KNOX (@knoxrob1)

 Photos by Melissa Willhouse

NEWARK, Del. – The Bob Carpenter Center roared and rocked like never before thanks to an enthusiastic sellout crowd that left members of the United States Women’s Basketball National Team in awe and Elena Delle Donne emotional.

 From the time Delle Donne stepped onto the court for warmups at 7:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time to when she was hustled away while being surrounded by three security officers following an on-court postgame interview shortly before 9:30, the 4,711 fans shoehorned into the nooks and crannies enjoyed everything the Wilmington native and Ursuline Academy graduate did. 

 The energetic gathering departed into the hot, humid night hoarse and happy after exploding in ferocious sound throughout Delle Donne’s 10-point performance in 21 minutes of Team USA’s 84-62 victory over France at the University of Delaware Wednesday night

In addition to addressing the capacity crowd before the game, Delle Donne was 4-of-8 shooting from the field.

 “It was by far the most emotional game I’ve ever played at the Bob,” Delle Donne said. “To see faces that have been watching me here since eighth grade and have gone along with me in this entire journey with me, and now see me in a USA jersey, which has been my dream my entire life, and really the pinnacle of my career, it was so special to come out and share that with them as well.” 

Elena Delle Donne makes a defennsive move.

Even though Team USA took another giant step coalescing into the juggernaut that’s favored to win its sixth consecutive gold medal in Rio next month, the night belonged to Delle Donne, who added sizzle to an already electrically charged atmosphere that resembled a giant family reunion. 

 At times the decibel level rose to one that rivaled a jumbo jet taking off.

 Playing at her alma mater for the first time as a member of Team USA, Delle Donne drew the largest and loudest ovation when she was introduced before the start of the game. Fans savored every second of the contest refusing to leave the gym until well after the final buzzer. 

 “We have great fans, but they’re also intelligent fans, and when they get to watch the best players in the world come into the Bob Carpenter Center, they eat it up,” Delle Donne said. “They were getting so pumped on great offensive plays, even great defensive plays, so our fans are knowledgeable as well. So they’re thrilled to see the greatest players they’ve ever seen in this building.”

 This was an event and a memorable night for the state of Delaware, who rolled out the red carpet for Team USA. The Delaware staff did a tremendous job. 

Delle Donne’s teammates were impressed and appreciative of the large crowd that repeatedly chanted “USA! USA!” during various points of the contest that was closer than the score indicated. 

 “To hear the “USA!” chant from the whole crowd, that felt really good,” Diana Taurasi said. “I haven’t had that a lot in my 14 years with the national team. We’ve usually been playing overseas.”

USA and UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma surrounded in huddle from right to left: Sue Bird, Seimone Augustus, Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, and assistant coach Cheryl Reeve, the former La Salle star from Washington Township in South Jrsey who has guided the Minnesota Lynx to three WNBA titles in the past five seasons including 2015.

The importance of this exhibition game wasn’t lost on the veteran members of the Team USA. When asked about the atmosphere, players’ faces lit up.

 “We knew what this meant for (Elena) and the state of Delaware,” Tamika Catchings said. “I don’t know how many times they’ve had an Olympic team come through and play here. Talking to her (parents), this is going to be the thing that they talk about for a long time. 

"I think the way Elena played, she was a little overwhelmed at first. For all of us, we wanted to play well for her too. I think through it all, we pulled it together at the end. Through the (USA) chants, I think that took us over the edge.”

 Fans were hyped long before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. tip. During Australia’s 80-67 win over Canada in the opening game, the stands were over 70 percent full. 

 Walking around the concourse, there were a kaleidoscope of No. 11 teal-and-gold Chicago Sky uniforms mixing with red-white-and-blue t-shirts. 

One souvenir stand was sold out of Delle Donne’s USA t-shirt well before the start of Team USA’s game. The game program featured three congratulatory ads for Delle Donne. 

 The popping flashes from the myriad of camera phones reminded one of lightning bugs at a late summer picnic. Fans lined up seven deep around the edge of the court to take photos and capture the moments for their snapchat stories. Concession lines snaked around corners especially the one for the smoked chicken and pork.

 “It was great,” Maya Moore said of the atmosphere. “It was so sweet and very encouraging. It’s a good way to continue to propel us forward to Rio to have a crowd like that come and be so enthusiastic and passionate to cheer us on as we were playing. When you have people in your corner and appreciating the work you’re doing out on the floor, it makes it that much more satisfying when you do play well.”

 All 12 Team USA players hit the scoring column. In addition to Delle Donne, Tina Charles (17 points), Moore (13) and Diana Taurasi (10) all hit for double figures. Marine Johannes led France with 13 points.

 Team USA led 32-31 at intermission before outscoring France, 31-15, in the third quarter to open a 17-point bulge entering the final 10 minutes. Delle Donne gave the crowd another memory to treasure when she converted a tough basket that turned into an old-fashioned 3-point play late in the game. 

 “I’m thrilled that we were able to come here,” Team USA and UConn women’s head coach Geno Auriemma said. “They’ve got some great basketball fans here and it was nice of us to be able to take part in it.” 

 Breanna Stewart goes for it.

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team is hosting Australia, Canada and France in a four-team, three-stop tournament this week. 

Team USA will play Canada Friday night at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport (Ct.) and Australia Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York. Both games will be televised live on NBA-TV.

From there, the U.S. team will travel to Houston for United States Olympic Team processing and a final practice on Aug. 2, prior to traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Team USA’s first game in Olympic competition will be on Sunday, August 7 against Senegal at 11 a.m.

 “Tonight was a great atmosphere,” said Sue Bird, who finished with a game-high eight assists. “The people of Delaware really showed up. Obviously to support us, but to see Elena do her thing and it was a lot of fun to play in this building. 

"France is a good team and we’re at a point where we’re trying to get better every day and working out the kinks.”

 The significance of this occasion wasn’t lost on Delle Donne, who did her best to savor every second of the experience. She tried sharing the moment with as many people as humanly possible as she held a meet-and-greet with select fans following the game where she graciously signed everything from orange balls, to colorful program covers to gray t-shirts to Chicago Sky jersey’s. 

 “This has been by far the most special night that I’ve ever played here, and there’s been a lot of special nights on this court, but this by far is the biggest for me,” Delle Donne said. “This being a dream come true for me and for a lot of Delaware fans as well, to see a Delawarean heading to the Olympics to compete for a gold medal. 

"I’m not here to just represent myself, or the team, we’re really representing everybody, trying to make this dream come true for everyone.”