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, December 23, 2016

Guru's Ballot: Top 10 WBB Moments in ACC History

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Since there won’t be game coverage for a couple of days after Friday, the Guru will offer odds and ends beginning with this posting revealing his ballot on a panel to identify 10 at-large moments to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The conference will have a top 20 derived from the panel’s submission of 10 picks each from a major list of nominees submitted by each school.

Somewhere to be determined each school submitted its own major nominee.

Thus, while the Guru wondered where was the Charlotte Smith three-point shot that won the 1994 NCAA tourney for North Carolina, he was informed that perhaps that was the Tar Heels’ major submission.

Anyhow, since the Guru goes back to the beginning of the ACC for women, he went with perceptive to use purity and give more credit to the charter group, though since non-ACC events are included, he went with them when there was some national implication or domino that was significant.

So counting down from 10 to 1, here is the Guru’s list:

10. Feb. 16, 2007 – Court named for Kay Yow, N.C. State Defeats No. 2 UNC. – The win was significant and the Guru needed to get the name of the great Wolfpack and Olympic coach onto his ballot.

9, Feb. 23, 1991 – Dawn Staley logs her second triple double on the same season. Something with the Staley name needs to be included and this was the only one on the list.

8. Mar. 12, 1982 – Clemson plays in the first NCAA tourney game. The Guru was in the middle of this but not on site. The game was to be played at Penn State and the Guru, after checking time starts, remembered to tell the great Mary Jo Haverbeck, the Lady Lions sports information official to note everything early because the game would be starting ahead of all others, so whatever occurs would be the first in the history of the tournament – field goals, free throws, attempts, etc.

7. Jan. 8, 2015 – Miami beats Notre Dame. The Irish had come into the league out of the old Big East and besides being out from under the long shadow cast by the Huskies, coach Muffet McGraw’s bunch had become the UConn of the conference. So when the Hurricanes struck it was similar to Stanford ending the 90-game UConn NCAA string, etc.

6. Jan. 2, 1996 – Syracuse upsets No. 2 UConn. On one hand the Guru believes that since the Orange were not in the ACC on the aforementioned date, it should not be eligible. But if it is, then it was a great win. Furthermore, the Guru remembers having written a notebook and submitted it hours early during his employment years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, he happened to include an item that assumed a UConn win, though he was going to keep an eye opened on the game. When the Huskies lost, the desk had to go in and edit the notebook between editions. And when they did, one of them, doing a combined gender roundup that night, led with the upset, which forced the UConn game to get the headline. The Guru later learned the sports editor of record, a woman at that moment, filed a complaint with the desk saying a men’s game should lead so the right headline would appear even though in a combined roundup the UConn loss was the best game.

5. Jan. 3, 2004 – Duke rallies from a deep deficit and at the buzzer in overtime brings down UConn’s NCAA record 69-home win streak. Another Inquirer memory. Because of the vacations of others, the Guru, who alerted that game, could not get there because he had to be a replacement. When the Huskies took a big lead, he thought he dodged a bullet in that being there was no longer paramount. But when the Blue Devils struck the first thing that happened was a string of papers who were clients of the Knight-Ridder wire kept calling to see when would the Guru’s story move – they assumed he was at the game. The next day, he kept hearing how UConn had lost a game and finally screamed out to cut it out. When the brass realized they screwed up, the Guru was told to submit a list of all key women’s games the rest of the year so he could be freed up to attend them.

4. Apr. 3, 2016 – Syracuse beats Washington in national semifinal. So here, the national implications allow the Guru to give Syracuse its moment as an ACC member. Technically, getting to the Final Four is more preferable. But once there, getting to the title game on a path that knocked out some heavy favorites was one of the bigger news moments ever in the sport.

News moments determined the Guru’s top 3 choices next.

3. Mar. 30, 2009 – Louisville Beats Maryland, advances to first final four. This was a major upset over the Terrapins, whose staff coach Jeff Walz had been on a few years removed. Technically, though, the Cardnals were not an ACC member and actually were in the same conference as UConn.

2. Mar. 22, 1999 – Duke Advances to First Final Four. Very close between this and No. 1 on the Guru’s list. The Blue Devils in the Elite Eight in Greensboro, N.C., took down the favored Tennessee squad on which senior Chamique Holdsclaw had one of the worst games in her career and the team also included the group that had been the super frosh behind her. The final four that year was in San Jose and all the Bay Area writers came to Greensboro to feature up Tennessee for home coverage.

When the Lady Vols went down, he cold spot them with their heads buried in their hands murmuring “Who knows anything about Duke?” When the Guru checked with his own paper to make sure they knew what happened, he was told he was getting the Big Ugly – the name of the place where the top sports story would go on the page. The Guru’s city of Philadelphia was to host the Women’s Final Four the next year and when he got back to the office, the Guru referencing the upset, proclaimed, Ladies and Gentlemen, let this be a warning next year to not put all our UConn eggs in one basket. Of course, we had a Philly basket because of all the local ties to the sport in terms of coaches and players and the Guru being the defacto host.

1. Mar. 31, 2013 – Louisville upsets Baylor in NCAA tournament. No. 2 on he Guru’s ballot would be No. 1 if this had not occurred. The Bears with Brittney Griner were the dominant tournament favorite. So that upset alone would merit high on a ballot. But the tipping point between this and the Guru’s second choice is this allowed UConn to come through the gate against a lesser barrier and thus resulted in a Huskies title and freshman Breanna Stewart proclaiming I want four, which she indeed get with the fourth achieved last season.

Others considered:

Sylvia Hatchell, UNC coach, lands in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Since Maryland has gone on to the. Big 10, missing as choices are the Terrapins upsetting then-No. 1 Virginia and several weeks later the return game in Cole when Maryland gets its first-ever sellout and the game goes into overtime won by Virginia.

Staley in some UVa/N.C. State battles when Andrea Stinson was a Wolfpack.

Virginia coach Debbie Ryan getting her 300th ACC win as the first.

Notre Dame winning its first ACC title.

Virginia beats Maryland in triple overtime for ACC title.

That’s It



Blogger Paul C said...

You also realize that Louisville was not in the ACC in 2013 either, right?
Not sure how you can call it a "great ACC moment" for a team that wasn't even in the conference yet.
By that logic you might as well include Notre Dame winning the national championship in 2001.

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