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, October 31, 2014

Guru's Associated Press Women's Poll Trivia

By Mel Greenberg

Associated Press national women’s basketball writer Doug Feinberg will be rolling out a story, which you might see by the time you are reading this, on the 20th anniversary of the poll since the board switched to writers.

Overall we hit the 39th season and as promised here is a lot of trivia, some of which Doug had on his AP preseason poll story.

Gone From the final poll of last season Penn St. 14, ending a string of 49 straight weeks, N.C. State 16, Purdue 17, Gonzaga 18, Middle Tenn. 22, Southern Cal 25.

Replacements Texas 9, first top 10 since 2009 and one of the bigger nowhere to return jumps, though tweener seasons get a Guru asterisk, Oregon State 20, first since final poll of 1996 – 19 seasons, Dayton 22, UCLA 23, Rutgers, 24, Syracuse 25.

Conference Strength Big Ten (most since 2004) and Atlantic Coast 5 each, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 with 4 each, Mid-majors: Atlantic 10, American, Big East: 1 each.

With Oregon State return, first coach appearance for Scott Rueck, who recently was given a contract extension.

Connecticut is the only team to be in the Top 5 for all 90 weeks of the current decade and the Huskies are joined by Stanford and Duke as only teams in the Top 10 across the same period.

Slippery Slope Louisville went from 4 in final poll to 12 and West Virginia went from 7 to 17.

Soaring Texas A&M from 15 to 5, Texas from unranked to 9, Michigan State from 20 to 14, DePaul from 23 to 18, California from 24 to 15.

Tennessee is the only team to appear in every preseason poll except the first in 1976 and only team to appear every season, missing just 14 weeks of the 673rd to date under coaches Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick.

Connecticut now has 10 preseason No. 1, second to Tennessee at 12. This is Syracuse’s first preseason poll appearance.


All Time Preseason No. 1 Appearances
(Tenn and La. Tech tied one season)

Tenn. 12
Conn. 10
La. Tech 3
Baylor 2
Duke 2
Sou. Cal 2
Stanford 2
Texas 2
Delta St. 1
Georgia 1
Maryland 1
ODU 1
Virginia 1

Total Preseason Top 5s
Tenn. 31
Conn. 18
La Tech 15
Stanford 13
Georgia 12
Texas 10

Total Preseason Top 10s

Tenn 31
Stanford 23
Conn 22
Ga. 21
La Tech 20
Duke 18
Texas 15
LSU 11
Md. 11
UNC 11
ODU 11

Total Preseason App.

Tenn. 38
Ga. 32
Texas 30
La. Tech 27
Md. 27
Stanford 27
Conn. 25
Penn St. 25
Rutgers 25
LSU 23
UNC 22
Duke 21
N.C. State 20
ODU 20
Purdue 20
Virginia 19

Coaching Appearances

Women’s Hoops Guru

(Oct. 30, 2014) also adjusted for offseason coach changes
Quick hits on AP poll (week 1-preseason – for coaches’ appearances week No. 1)
(This is 673rd poll after week 1 for 2014-15). (Records on pages through week 1-preseasson)

Coaches with Three Ranked Teams

C. Vivian Stringer (Cheyney-85), (Iowa-155), (Rutgers-172), 412
Jim Foster (St. Joe-35), (Vanderbilt-164), (Ohio St.-171), 370
Gary Blair (Stephen F. Austin-79), (Arkansas-67), (Texas A&M-153), 299
Marianne Stanley (Old Dominion-141), (Southern Cal-24), (Stanford*-18), 183
Lin Dunn (Miami-2), (Mississippi-1), (Purdue-130), 133
Don Perrelli (Northwestern-52), (S. Conn.-20), (St. John’s-1), 73
Tom Collen (Colorado St.-34), (Louisville-17), (Arkansas-9), 60
Sharon Fanning-Otis (Kentucky-4), (Miss. St.-48), (Tenn.-Chattannoga-4), 56
Debbie Yow (Florida-2), (Kentucky-21), (Oral Roberts-1), 24

Co-Coaches

Kittie Blakemore, Scott Harrelson – West Virginia 8
Sonja Hogg, Leon Barmore – Louisiana Tech 51
Jill Hutchison, Linda Fischer – Illinois St. 3
Jim Jarrett, Joyce Patterson – Georgia St. 1
Marianne Stanley, Amy Tucker – Stanford 18
Jim Bolla, Sheila Strike – UNLV 18

Coaches All Time Ranking Appearances

(note: Of first 23 coaches only Rene Portland and Joan Bonvicini have yet to make the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame -- Baylor's Kim Mulkey in as a former La. Tech player. )

1. **- Pat Summitt, Tennessee – 618 (missed just 14 polls in entire AP history)
2. Andy Landers, Georgia – 509
3. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 467
4. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut – 427
5. C. Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 412
6. **-Jody Conradt, Texas – 395
7. (((-Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 370
8. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 365
9. **-Rene Portland (2 schools – St. Joseph, Penn St.) – 336
10. **-Debbie Ryan, Virginia – 328
11. **- Kay Yow, North Caro. St. – 326
12. **-Leon Barmore, Louisiana Tech (51-shared with Sonja Hogg) – 325
13. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 299
14.**- Gail Goestenkors (2 schools – Duke, Texas) – 295
15. **-Joe Ciampi, Auburn – 290
16. Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame – 276
17. **-Sue Gunter (2 schools – Stephen F. Austin, LSU) – 270
18. &&-Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
19. **-Marsha Sharp, Texas Tech – 264
20. **-Van Chancellor (2 schools – Mississippi, LSU) – 261
21. Kim Mulkey, Baylor 229
22. **-Chris Weller, Maryland - 227
23. **-Theresa Grentz (2 schools – Rutgers, Illinois) – 225
24. Sherri Coale, Oklahoma 224
25. Joanne P. McCallie (2 schools – Michigan St., Duke) – 206
26. **-Marianne Stanley (3 schools – Old Dominion, Southern Cal, Stanford*) – 183
27. **-Paul Sanderford (2 schools – W. Kentucky, Nebraska) – 182
28. Brenda Frese (2 schools – Minnesota, Maryland) -- 181
29. **-Marian Washington, Kansas – 176
**-Not in college or not in as a head coach or deceased

Active Coaches-All Time AP Ranking Appearances

1. Andy Landers, Georgia – 509
2. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 467
3. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut – 427
4. C.Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 412
5. (((-Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 370
6. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 365
7. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 299
8. Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame – 276
9.&&--Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
10. Kim Mulkey, Baylor – 229
11. Sherri Coale, Oklahoma – 223
12. Joanne P. McCallie (2 schools - Michigan St., Duke) – 206
13. Brenda Frese (2 schools, Minnesota, Maryland) – 181
14. Melanie Balcomb (2 schools – Xavier, Vanderbilt) – 161
15. Bill Fennelly, (2 schools – Toledo, Iowa St.) – 155
16. Doug Bruno, DePaul – 142
17. @!@!-Kristy Curry (2 schools – Purdue, Texas Tech) – 136
18. %%- Joe McKeown (2 schools – New Mexico St., Geo. Washington) – 116
19. ==== Jim Davis, Clemson, 106
20.)))-Chris Gobrecht (Washington) - 104
21. !!!- Jane Albright (2 schools – N. Illinois, Wisconsin) – 96
22. Matthew Mitchell, Kentucky – 86
23. Jeff Walz, Louisville – 85
24. Charli Turner Thorne, Arizona St. – 84
25. Sharon Versyp, Purdue – 83
26. Sue Semrau, Florida St. – 79
27. Connie Yori (Creighton, Nebraska) – 71
28. Dawn Staley (Temple, South Carolina) – 67
29. Mike Carey, West Virginia – 64
30. Joanne Boyle, California (2 schools – California, Virginia) – 61
30. Coquese Washington, Penn State – 61
32. Tom Collen, (3 schools, Colorado St., Louisville, Arkansas) – 60
33. Bonnie Henrickson, (2 schools -- Virginia Tech, Kansas) – 54
33. Suzy Merchant, Michigan St. – 54
35. ***-Kathy Olivier, UCLA 52
36. ^^^-Kevin McGuff, Xavier – 50
37. ____Terri Williams-Flournoy, Georgetown – 48
38. Harry Perretta, Villanova – 44
39. Lindsay Gottlieb, California 41
39. Holly Warlick, Tennessee – 41
41. Lisa Bluder (2 schools – Iowa, Drake) – 38
41.@@@@- Kelly Graves, Gonzaga – 38
41. #####-Jeff Mittie, TCU – 38
44. Jim Littell, Oklahoma State – 37
45.%=%= Matt Bollant, Wis.-Green Bay – 35
45. Katie Meier, Miami –35
47. Lisa Stockton, Tulane – 34
48. $$$- June Daugherty (2 schools – Boise St.,Washington) – 32
49. MaChelle Joseph, Georgia Tech - 31

&&-Active at Seattle; )))-Active at Yale; $$$-Active at Wash. St.; %%-Active at Northwestern; !!!-Active at Nevada; @@@@-Active at Oregon; ^^^-Active at Ohio State.; ==== Active at Tenn Tech; ____Active at Auburn; %=%= Active at Illinois; (((-Active at Tenn.-Chattanooga; @!@!-Active at Alabama, #####-activre at Kansas State.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guru's Musings: Lauren Hill Story Turns Into a Small World

By Mel Greenberg

You never know sometimes how one thing leads to another and eventually back into familiarity.

As your Guru began to think about his presentation of the United States Basketball Writers Association's Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award Sunday to 19-year-old freshman Lauren Hill of Mount Saint Joseph's University in Cincinnati at Xavier's soldout 10,000-seat Cintas Center, a capacity that was filled within an hour of the opening of ticket sales last Wednesday for the game against Hiram College, he began thinking of some of the key points to strike the right chord to match the occasion.

And if you need an explanation of who Lauren Hill is by now then you shouldn't be visiting here.

In many ways thinking about it, the moment at halftime of the game that will be televised on Fox-Ohio could be the most daunting in your Guru's long career, and that includes making the acceptance speeches at various Hall of Fame inductions over the years.

Anyhow, without giving away the store here, especially since nothing is on paper, technically, in a word processing file, yet, he began to think of things that his Philly friend and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has spoken of over the years.

Well, as it turns out, in a conversation with Jill Eichhorn, the school's overall public relations director, a graduate of Ohio U. who has been thrust in the role of traffic controller for what will become, minimally, the center of the Women's Basketball Universe, she mentioned that Melanee Atkinson, the school's Associate Athletic Director, was looking forward to resuming old ties.

The name bore no quick familiarity until ... her maiden name was mentioned -- Melanee Wagener.

Now you younger folks would have no idea who she might be but she was in the very same enrollment and scholarship class as Staley at Virginia from 1989-92, the squad that also had Tammmi Reiss and the Burge twins, Heather and Heidi.

And here's something wild: Atkinson, a communications major, after graduation, went to play a short lived stay on a team in Spain, and after she was not retained, according to an old interview on the internet where you find everything, who replaced her? Staley.

Meanwhile, the buildup is gaining enormous momentum.

An NFL player currently sidelined by injury has requested anonymity but wants to bring his family to the game.

WNBA players -- both the pro league and the NCAA has support initiatives along with's Lauren's own campaign to brain awareness to the brain tumor that is shortening her life -- are expressing interest in attending and the Guru has heard that one of the fabled Three to See and a relative were trying to get tickets in the closing days leading up to the event.

With all the attention on Lauren's situation being stricken with DIPG, a rare brain tumor, there hasn't been much focus on the school, itself, that only a few months ago was simply a Division III school in the Midwest, not widely known back here in the East.

But, according to the school website, it has several times been listed by various organizations that do such ratings as one of the top institutions i9n Ohio and the nation.

The athletic program, consisting of 24 teams, competes in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

And clipped from the basketball website, here is the biography of Dan Benjamin, who coaches the Lion, and who made the request the NCAA approved of moving up the game two weeks so Lauren could realize her dream of playing in the opener.

Mount alum Dan Benjamin returns for his third season in 2014-2015 with the Lions’ women's basketball coaching staff, and will lead the team as the interim head coach after spending the past two years as an assistant coach. He will also begin his third season as an assistant for the Lions' softball team.

Coach Benjamin, who graduated from the Mount in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree, was at Middletown Madison High School as the varsity Head softball coach, leading his team to an 18-6 mark in 2011, before starting at the Mount. Prior to that, he was the varsity assistant coach at Mason High School, from 2004-2011, helping lead the Comets to an elite eight appearance and two final four appearances.

Coach Bear, as he is known by, has taken Education classes at Wright State University, and holds a certification in business through the state of Ohio was recently a teacher at Butler Tech and has taught and coached at many local high schools.

Benjamin resides in Mason, Ohio. He has two children, Alexis and Blake.

More to come.

-- Mel



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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guru's Special Report: Pat Summitt Reacts to the Lauren Hill Story

By Mel Greenberg

Tennessee legend and coach emeritus Pat Summitt sent her reaction Wednesday to the news that Division III Mount Saint Joseph’s 19-year-old freshman Lauren Hill, who is battling an inoperable brain tumor but plans to play in her first college game on Nov. 2, will receive the United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award.

Details of the unprecedented move to award Hill the honor right now is posted at the USBWA website and here’s the link.

http://www.sportswriters.net/usbwa/news/2015/summitt141023.html

The annual award was given to Summitt at the 2012 Women’s Final Four in Denver and her name was placed upon it to be given to all future recipients.

In August, 2011, Summitt revealed she had early onset Alzheimer’s but went on to coach that season and then stepped down from her Hall of Fame career that consisted of more than 1000 victories.

“Lauren Hill is so very deserving of the honor being bestowed on her by the United States Basketball Writers Association,” Summitt said.

“She is an incredible young woman facing a tremendous opponent. The way Lauren has handled her situation speaks volumes about her character and her will.

“I greatly admire and respect her courage and her resolve.”

As is stated in the USBWA release announcing the award: A year ago Hill was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an inoperable brain tumor, and doctors gave her about two years to live in the best scenario.

This was learned about six weeks after she gave her commitment to attend the university.

She continued to play basketball through her senior year at Lawrenceburg High in the greater Cincinnati area while undergoing treatments for the cancer.

Last month soon after beginning her collegiate life, it was determined that the tumor had grown larger and doctors now give her at best only a few months to live.

Lauren’s big wish was to still play in her first collegiate game.

To help her realize that dream and with an unprecedented exemption from the NCAA, Hiram College agreed to Lions’ coach Dan Benjamin’s request to play the game at Mount Saint Joseph’s in Cincinnati and move it up to Nov. 2 two weeks ahead of the original season start date.

On Friday, because of the anticipated interest, the game was moved to Xavier’s Cintas Center, a 10,000-seat arena, and on Wednesday tickets went on sale and the place was sold out within a half-hour, as quick as a recent NBA preseason game involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

When the Guru arrived at Big East media in New York at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and during the greeting with commissioner Val Ackerman, when he mentioned the USBWA move and what was going on, Ackerman quickly reacted knowingly saying, “Yes, it is in one of our arenas, and Fox is going to televise the game.”

Actually, it is Fox Sports Ohio and a Fox executive at Big East media day told the Guru that since the Guru plans to be in Cincinnati because the school would like the award to be presented at halftime, the network would make that part of the broadcast.

The Guru is hopeful of personally offering Lauren a congratulatory phone call Thursday.

During the last conversation during the day with coach Benjamin, he said Lauren was given the day off to rest so while he was sure the family learned about the honor, it was not known yet of their reaction.

As to how the USBWA move came – the plan is still to give a worthy Division I candidate, though not limited to Division I, the Summitt Award at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla., it was during last week’s USBWA board of directors conference call to organize for the men’s and women’s seasons that Guru, who represents the women’s media group, suggested that perhaps, since the NCAA did the right thing in allowing the move up, that perhaps why not likewise the USBWA, considering the meaning of the award and Lauren’s terrific stand, not only for the love of basketball, but to also bring awareness to her condition so perhaps someone in the future might be able to be cured in a similar situation.

Within seconds of the proposal, the rest of the board immediately endorsed the action and we went from there.


Meanwhile, the NCAA is making its own gestures to help the cause and under the signature of Anucha Browne, the vice president of Women’s Basketball for all three divisions, the following letter has gone out to the entire membership:

Friends in women’s basketball ...Lauren Hill needs your help NOW!!!

By now you probably have had the opportunity to experience the heart-breaking story of women's basketball freshman Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph's University (http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/one-last-game-18984.shtml). The wish of this terminally ill student-athlete to be able to play in a college game will be fulfilled on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 2 p.m. at the Cintas Center on Xavier University’s campus when Mount St. Joseph's plays against Hiram College.

Net ticket proceeds from the game on November 2 will be donated to The Cure Starts Now Foundation .

In addition to the ticketed donation, Mount St. Joseph's will be raising additional funds for the Foundation by selling signed Lauren Hill, No. 22 jerseys.

This is where you can assist in this effort. If you have a team jersey - No. 22 - that you can donate to the cause, Mount St. Joseph's would be receptive to receiving what you can provide. Plan is for Lauren to sign the jersey, which will then be auctioned off, proceeds benefitting The Cure Starts Now Foundation.

If you have a No. 22 jersey from your university that you can donate, please send by October 30th to the attention of Mount St. Joseph's head women's basketball coach Dan Benjamin:

Dan Benjamin
Head Women's Basketball Coach

College of Mount St. Joseph
5701 Delhi Road
Cincinnati, OH 45233-1670
Phone: (513) 244-8599


By the way, Adam Waller, who helps administer the Pat Summitt Foundation with her son and new Louisiana Tech coach Tyler, told the Guru that she is doing great and recently spent some time in Ruston at Tech’s practices.

“She plans to be at a lot of his games,” Waller said, “because their schedule will have them playing a lot of teams near here (Knoxville).

So that is the latest but the Guru has been working at this end with coach Benjamin and the school’s public relations department on a daily basis.

And go over to Blue Star Media.org where the Guru will attempt to post regular conference media day activities from the places he has been.

-Mel










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Monday, October 20, 2014

Guru's College Report: Rutgers and Maryland Help The Big 10 Up Its Cache

( Guru's note: This was also written for Blue Star Media )

By Mel Greenberg

ROSEMONT, Ill. –
Welcome and dread seemed to be the small talk in women’s circles here at the annual Big 10 media day, also held for the men’s teams, Thursday morning last week here at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel.

Dread in that the addition of Rutgers and Maryland brings a set of two new feared opponents to deal with once the conference wars begin in late December.

But welcome, for now, probably has more meaning in that in Maryland, which both the coaches and media in separate conference polls picked to land on top, and Rutgers, coming off winning the WNIT, are bringing an enhancement value to further state the days not too long ago of hard times and few teams in the Associated Press poll are further behind in the rear view mirror.

In fact the conference has now moved ahead of the Atlantic Coast Conference behind the leading SEC for total AP rankings among current members.

Maryland made it to the Women’s Final Four, though the departure of All-American Alyssa Thomas, who landed as a productive newcomer on the WNBA Connecticut Sun, has somewhat dented the Terrapins’ ability to be among the national elite at the outset.

Rutgers has everyone back, a beefed up schedule, in part due to the conference shift from a one-year stay in the American Athletic Conference extended from a productive life in the Old Big East, and also in part to Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer loaded the non-conference portion with more heavyweights as she had usually done until last season.

Both newcomers have heavy barriers removed from life experienced in their previous neighborhoods.

A year ago Maryland was on the other side of its new role as a conference favorite, having to deal with the arrival of newcomer Notre Dame, which was perfect until the NCAA title game when the Irish had to deal with both its and Rutgers’ previous thorn in Connecticut.

Both Terrapins’ coach Brenda Frese and Rutgers’ Stringer are no strangers to being part of the Big 10 brand: Frese got Minnesota into the national limelight with a one-year stay before succeeding longtime Maryland coach Chris Weller while Stringer turned Iowa into a national powerhouse in the mid-1980s.

“Back then, the league was more physical and top heavy with teams like Iowa and Ohio State, but today there’s more versatility and when you focus on teams, you focus as much on the coaches as the players because there are so many outstanding ones,” Stringer said.

“She also noted, they talk about learning us (Maryland and Rutgers), they only have to learn two new teams, we each have to learn 11 when the conference season begins,” she said.

As much as the Big 10 is considered Midwest in its geographical proximity, there is a lot of old line East in terms of teams and coaches.

Penn State, for example, which won the top seed in the conference but now must do some rebuilding with the departure of Maggie Lucas, who was a key newcomer on the WNBA Indiana Fever, used to compete with Rutgers in the 1980s in the Atlantic 10.

The duo used to also compete in Region 1B in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and Stringer was there also in the late 1970s building her first powerhouse in Cheyney in suburban Philadelphia, and also leading the Wolves to the first NCAA title game in 1982.

Northwestern’s Joe McKeown, a Father Judge grad in Northeast Philadelphia, previously had a long coaching stint at A-10 George Washington, while new Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings is coming out of VCU, which also is a A-10 member.

Furthermore, Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff had Xavier built for a while into a national powerhouse while competing in the A-10 while this entire mix has Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico remembering the wars of the old Big East when her Saint John’s squad became an upstart causing havoc to Rutgers and even taking down Uconn once, ending a long home-win streak on a buzzer beater.

There’s also the nostalgia rivalry with Rutgers and Iowa because of Stringers’ past with the Hawkeyes and being looked upon an up and coming coach who has been in charge for some time in Lisa Bluder.

But it won’t be a first time when the two meet for their initial Big 10 confrontation.

“We’ve been to their place, they’ve been to ours and we’ve also met in the NCAA tournament,” Bluder recalled when asked about another reunion.

Iowa, by the way, is one of three teams expected by the coaches and media who vote in separate conference polls, to give the best pursuits to Maryland.

One thing that is different from the time that Stringer and Frese last lived in the Big 10 is the rich Big 10 TV network that means increased exposure, always useful when it comes to showing yourselves in the recruiting process across the country.

The Big 10 notes that every game in the conference and conference tournament – a total of 139 games – will air on its Big 10 and Big 10 Plus (streaming) networks as well as games produced by an ESPN network or CBS.

And some will appear even more as part of national telecasts on teams in their non-conference schedules.

The conference does not show the entire result in its preseason release – and right here says Rutgers should be a strong player when all is said and done – but after consensus points to Maryland, the coaches went with Michigan State second and Iowa third, while Michigan State made it a consensus No. 2 courtesy of the media, who picked Nebraska third.

The Cornhuskers slipped past everyone in March to win conference tournament but graduated All-Conference Jordan Hooper.

When it comes to players, both groups chose Minnesota senior guard Rachel Banham as the top star in preseason forecasting.

Of the 11 combined players picked – the media’s five became six because of a tie – Banham, Iowa senior guard Samantha Logic, and Nebraska junior guard Rachel Theriot made both teams, while Michigan State sophomore guard Aerial Powers, and Northwestern sophomore forward Nia Coffey made the coaches’ player picks.

Differentiating, the media chose Maryland sophomore guard Lexie Brown, Minnesota sophomore center Amanda Zahui, and Ohio State junior guard Ameryst Alston.

No one from Rutgers, as is obvious, made the first and only squads, but let it be known that senior Betnijah Laney, junior Kaleah Copper, and sophomore Tyler Scaife, are not a bad threesome to have in your attack and defense.



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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guru's WNBA Musings: Another Blindside Hits the New York Liberty

By Mel Greenberg

One thing that can be said about the New York Liberty, with the exception of player retirements of such notables as Katie Smith, Sue Wicks, and a few others, little amunition is available when it comes to giving 21 gun salutes when some of the notables in WNBA history awake mornings not knowing in a few hours they will be slipping from active to past tense when it comes to employment by the organization.

Four years ago there was the September massacre when Hall of Famer and longtime Liberty front office head Carol Blazejowski wasn't even given a chance to say thanks for the memories to members of her staff.

Came mid-afternoon on Tuesday and fesity but lovable Bill Laimbeer was given the heave ho in a move that some in the organization did not know what was about to happen.

When ESPN star scribe and former Inquirer Guru colleague Kate Fagan keyboarded an offering around the end of the season that New York wasn't far from turning the corner and the last thing New Yortk should do is fire Laimbeer many wondered, why the concern?

Especially those of us who knows how the front office bloodlines have flown.

But in the wake of this post postseason's annual news surprise -- a tradition that includes such out of nowhere events as WNBA presidential resignations and other ejections of coaching ejections that seemed stable at the time -- hello Mike Thibault -- the question becomes who knew what and when.

For example, a phone call placed to one agent acquaintance of the Guru brought the response, "Oh, did they finally announce it?"

One other source said, "they probably let Cappie (Pondexter) know before departing to play foreign ball and she might have told a few people on the QT.

When Laimbeer returned last season, part of his vision was disrupted when the ghosts of Detroit Shock past -- the glory days when he piloted three WNBA titles -- became unusable parts because of injury or health issues.

Then he worked hard to land a key superstar in the offseason when he capitalized on former UConn star Tina Charles' desire to jump ship on the Connecticut Sun and return to her native New York, though the price was more than a few trinkets of youthful talent.

Several WNBA types who were in Turkey for the recent world championship won by the pro stars of America under the USA Basketball banner had no idea, especially with front office executive Kristin Bernet among them.

When asked about Big Bad Bill's whereabouts, she said he was fishing, which was not out of line from comments he made during his past two seasons.

Given the trend of saving dollars, this could be a money issue, this was the option year in his contract, perhaps he sought a few more years, and the MSG hats suddenly decided, on second thought, it is better to let go now, then be stuck if things don't improve later.

The thread through the front office beginning with Blaze's ouster after being the only executive leader the Liberty knew from the 1997 launch of the franchise in the first year of WNBA competition was curious.

The man credited with shooting Liberty Blaze was Scott O'Neil, who happened to have had a past working relationship with Bernet, a Siena grad who first surfaced working in the front office in Detroit in the glory years, then worked in the league front office, and then was part of the in-house ruling family of the Los Angeles Sparks headed at the GM level by Penny Toler.

When a coaching vacancy in Tinseltown came up several years ago, Bernet, who prefers the KB monicker, had interest in John Whisenant, who had made the former Sacramento Monarchs one of the league's powers berfore the franchise's demise.

But Toler had eyes on Jennifer Gillom, who had held the interim title with the Minnesota Lynx. That by the way enabled Laimbeer, who was then with the NBA side of the Minnesota Timberwolves to back the candidacy of Cheryl Reeve, his former Detroit assistant, as coach of the Lynx.

Meanwhile, what Penny wants, she usually gets, only to toss away later except for the glory of the Lisa Leslie years, and so Bernet ended up together again with O'Neil in New York.

Prior to Blaze's departure, she had been in the hunt for a coaching replacement for Anne Donovan, who was heading back to the college ranks, however, briefly, at Seton Hall near where she grew up at Bergen Catholic as the pre-Elena Delle Donne of her time -- OK, don't overract to the description.

Her top choice was Carol Ross, then assisting the Atlanta Dream and later to become the coach in L.A. until her surprising ouster during last summer.

But she never got to make the move and like magic Whisenant was brought in also as GM but to be hampered by New York's first two of three-relocation seasons to the Prudential Center in Newark across the Hudson River in New Jersey while Madison Square Garden underwent a major renovation.

Laimbeer arrived for the third of those seasons and at the end whether the organization wanted it publicly stated, he pretty much alluded what a mess it was having to operate in North Jersey, especially with the training center being up the road near White Plains, N.Y.

His WNBA return seemed ticketed for Washington at a time when Thibault had not yet been dismissed from a mostly successful decade run in Connecticut, but no title.

However, Laimbeer's arrival was not a shock, forgive the pun, considering Bernet's influence but somewhere in there O'Neil left in a huff with owner James L. Dolan and now has key positions with the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and the Jersey Devils of the NHL.

One wonders what the scene would be today had not the Liberty during the final weeks of the regular season in the Eastern gridlock for playoff spots beaten Washington and Washington had lost to the Indiana Fever which would have been enough to tip New York into September.

So now the suspense begins: Will Laimbeer land in L.A. which has an opening or will Gary Kloppenberg get promoted.

And might Kloppenberg land in New York though Marynell Meadors sits out there since her unceremonious exit two yesrs ago in Atlanta where she was the victim of a devil deal by an Angel.

Ironically, Ross could land in New York and said as much in having interest in a twitter reaction to a Guru speculation about finally hitting her destiny soon after the Guru's hearing about Laimbeer's parting of ways.

So that's it for now -- stay tuned but now that you have been entertained, the Guru has a plane to catch for Chicago and Big Ten media day, which is Thursday.

-- Mel








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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guru's AP Poll History: All-Time and Active Coaching Appearances

( From the Guru files. Here is the gold vault file of all-time appearances in the AP poll until the cutoff for the blog list and a longer list of coaches active reflecting the changes, also, since last season before we get under way with the ongoing history in the new one.

Though Pat Summitt's era ended, Tennessee, under Holly Warlick continues to have missed only 14 weeks out of the overall total.
)

By Mel Greenberg (@womhoopsguru)

Women’s Hoops Guru

(Mar. 17, 2014) - update July 5 reflecting coach changes

Quick hits on AP poll (week 20-final – for coaches’ appearances week No. 20)
(This was the 672nd poll after week 20 for 2013-14). (Records on pages through week 20-final)

Coaches with Three Ranked Teams

C. Vivian Stringer (Cheyney-85), (Iowa-155), (Rutgers-171), 411
Jim Foster (St. Joe-35), (Vanderbilt-164), (Ohio St.-171), 370
Gary Blair (Stephen F. Austin-79), (Arkansas-67), (Texas A&M-152), 298
Marianne Stanley (Old Dominion-141), (Southern Cal-24), (Stanford*-18), 183
Lin Dunn (Miami-2), (Mississippi-1), (Purdue-130), 133
Don Perrelli (Northwestern-52), (S. Conn.-20), (St. John’s-1), 73
Tom Collen (Colorado St.-34), (Louisville-17), (Arkansas-9), 60
Sharon Fanning-Otis (Kentucky-4), (Miss. St.-48), (Tenn.-Chattannoga-4), 56
Debbie Yow (Florida-2), (Kentucky-21), (Oral Roberts-1), 24

Co-Coaches

Kittie Blakemore, Scott Harrelson – West Virginia 8
Sonja Hogg, Leon Barmore – Louisiana Tech 51
Jill Hutchison, Linda Fischer – Illinois St. 3
Jim Jarrett, Joyce Patterson – Georgia St. 1
Marianne Stanley, Amy Tucker – Stanford 18
Jim Bolla, Sheila Strike – UNLV 18

Coaches All Time Ranking Appearances

1. **- Pat Summitt, Tennessee – 618 (missed just 14 polls in entire AP history)
2. Andy Landers, Georgia – 509
3. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 466
4. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut – 426
5. C. Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 411
6. **-Jody Conradt, Texas – 395
7. (((-Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 370
8. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 364
9. **-Rene Portland (2 schools – St. Joseph, Penn St.) – 336
10. **-Debbie Ryan, Virginia – 328
11. **- Kay Yow, North Caro. St. – 326
12. **-Leon Barmore, Louisiana Tech (51-shared with Sonja Hogg) – 325
13. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 298
14.**- Gail Goestenkors (2 schools – Duke, Texas) – 295
15. **-Joe Ciampi, Auburn – 290
16. Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame – 275
17. **-Sue Gunter (2 schools – Stephen F. Austin, LSU) – 270
18. &&-Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
19. **-Marsha Sharp, Texas Tech – 264
20. **-Van Chancellor (2 schools – Mississippi, LSU) – 261
21. Kim Mulkey, Baylor 228
22. **-Chris Weller, Maryland - 227
23. **-Theresa Grentz (2 schools – Rutgers, Illinois) – 225
24. Sherri Coale, Oklahoma 224
25. Joanne P. McCallie (2 schools – Michigan St., Duke) – 205
26. **-Marianne Stanley (3 schools – Old Dominion, Southern Cal, Stanford*) – 183
27. **-Paul Sanderford (2 schools – W. Kentucky, Nebraska) – 182
28. Brenda Frese (2 schools – Minnesota, Maryland) -- 180
29. **-Marian Washington, Kansas – 176
**-Not in college or not in as a head coach

Active Coaches-All Time AP Ranking Appearances

1. Andy Landers, Georgia – 509
2. Tara VanDerveer (2 schools – Ohio St., Stanford) – 466
3. Geno Auriemma, Connecticut – 426
4. C.Vivian Stringer (3 schools – Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers) – 411
5. (((-Jim Foster (3 schools – St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio St.) – 370
6. Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina – 364
7. Gary Blair, (3 schools – Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 298
8. Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame – 275
9.&&--Joan Bonvicini (2 schools – Long Beach, Arizona) - 267
10. Kim Mulkey, Baylor – 228
11. Sherri Coale, Oklahoma – 223
12. Joanne P. McCallie (2 schools - Michigan St., Duke) – 205
13. Brenda Frese (2 schools, Minnesota, Maryland) – 180
14. Melanie Balcomb (2 schools – Xavier, Vanderbilt) – 161
15. Bill Fennelly, (2 schools – Toledo, Iowa St.) – 155
16. Doug Bruno, DePaul – 141
17. @!@!-Kristy Curry (2 schools – Purdue, Texas Tech) – 136
18. %%- Joe McKeown (2 schools – New Mexico St., George Washington) – 116
19. ==== Jim Davis, Clemson, 106
20.)))-Chris Gobrecht (Washington) - 104
21. !!!- Jane Albright (2 schools – N. Illinois, Wisconsin) – 96
22. Matthew Mitchell, Kentucky – 85
23. Charli Turner Thorne, Arizona St. – 84
23. Jeff Walz, Louisville – 84
25. Sharon Versyp, Purdue – 83
26. Sue Semrau, Florida St. – 79
27. Connie Yori (Creighton, Nebraska) – 70
28. Dawn Staley (Temple, South Carolina) – 66
29. Mike Carey, West Virginia – 63
30. Joanne Boyle, California (2 schools – California, Virginia) – 61
30. Coquese Washington, Penn State – 61
32. Tom Collen, (3 schools, Colorado St., Louisville, Arkansas) – 60
33. Bonnie Henrickson, (2 schools -- Virginia Tech, Kansas) – 54
34. Suzy Merchant, Michigan St. – 53
35. ***-Kathy Olivier, UCLA 52
36. ^^^-Kevin McGuff, Xavier – 50
37. ____Terri Williams-Flournoy, Georgetown – 48
38. Harry Perretta, Villanova – 44
39. Lindsay Gottlieb, California 40
39. Holly Warlick, Tennessee – 40
41.@@@@- Kelly Graves, Gonzaga – 38
41. #####-Jeff Mittie, TCU – 38
43. Lisa Bluder (2 schools – Iowa, Drake) – 37
44. Jim Littell, Oklahoma State – 36
45.%=%= Matt Bollant, Wis.-Green Bay – 35
45. Katie Meier, Miami –35
47. Lisa Stockton, Tulane – 34
48. $$$- June Daugherty (2 schools – Boise St.,Washington) – 32
49. MaChelle Joseph, Georgia Tech - 31

&&-Active at Seattle; )))-Active at Yale; $$$-Active at Wash. St.; %%-Active at Northwestern; !!!-Active at Nevada; @@@@-Active at Oregon; ^^^-Active at Ohio State.; ==== Active at Tenn Tech; ____Active at Auburn; %=%= Active at Illinois; (((-Active at Tenn.-Chattanooga; @!@!-Active at Alabama, #####-active at Kansas State.


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guru's 2014-15 Carousel of D-I Coaching Changes

By Mel Greenberg

OK, as we continue to roll into the season and playing some catchup, here is the lineup right now in terms of the annual carousel of coaching changes in Division I since the end of last season.

Technically, under the Guru’s definition, if some unknown situation right now causes another change until the opening tip on Nov. 14, this will update to reflect that in the current spin.

After that the limbo list moves forward to the end of the season. Of course some unforeseen action, or situation, could cause a replacement after getting under way so that statistical situation will just be applicable to the moment, though if it happens before the mid-way point, it could count as an add-on here in terms of the Maggie Dixon Division I rookie candidacies, though the WBCA has the final say on the official list of consideration.

Anyone who was an interim no matter how long last season becomes eligible now, at least that was the way it stood several years ago when the Guru was part of the WBCA committee, actually time is flying, that was back in 2008-09.

Special thanks to David Saw, out West, who keeps his own chart and was able to give the Guru enough information to apply it to the Guru’s breakdown.

Overall, the total of changes is 34 with 23 being Maggie Dixon candidates, both numbers are a low for the past several years.

As in the past, the categories below will break into Maggie Dixon, first, then changes at the Major Power (formerly known as the BCS) level and for the moment until we ever get a consensus, we will keep the reconfigured Big East in that group until some consensus says otherwise.

The Guru has expressed his opinion last year, with no acrimony meant, just recognition of the reality though he has taken issue in the past from where actual BCS terminology got applied because there was a day that the major teams were determined from program success, so, in their time, teams, such as Old Dominion, in themselves would be considered major without regard to where they competed.

And the Guru knows what you are thinking in terms of a certain defending national champion and the conference it competes, but since football is also played and that seems to be the determining factor in all this right now, that is how it remains until we get some dialogue going or see how the whole on-going evolvement of NCAA governing structure plays out.

OK, having been pro-active to address all the Guru believes you might question, let’s go to the list.

Changes in Division I Coaching Positions

Maggie Dixon Candidates

Arkansas, Jimmie Dykes, former men’s assistant and national broadcaster.
Appalachian State, Angel Elderkin, past BCS LSU assistant.
Binghamton, Linda Cimino, past D-2 Caldwell head coach.
Boston U, Katy Steding, past BCS California assistant.
Butler, Kurt Godlevske, promoted from staff.
Charleston, Candice Jackson, past BCS Duke assistant.
Gonzaga, Lisa Fortier, promoted from staff.
Grambling, Nadine Domond, former AAU coach.
Houston, Ron Hughley, past BCS Florida State assistant.
Indiana State, Joey Wells, promoted from staff.
ULM (Louisiana-Monroe), Jeff Dow, past (2013) D-II Indiana-Pa. head coach.
Louisiana Tech, Tyler Summitt, past BCS Marquette assistant.
Marquette, Carolyn Kieger, past BCS Miami assistant.
Massachusetts-Lowell, Jenerrie Harris, past Navy assistant.
Morehead State, Greg Todd, past D-III Transylvania U. head coach.
North Dakota State, Maren Walseth, past BCS Penn State assistant.
Northern Colorado, Kamie Ethridge, past BCS Kansas State assistant.
Northeastern, Kelly Cole, past Harvard assistant.
Portland, Cheryl Sorenson, promoted from staff.
Prairie View, Dawn Brown, promoted from interim (full 2013-14 season).
Stony Brook, Caroline McCombs, past BCS Auburn assistant.
Southeastern Louisiana, Yolanda Moore, past NJCAA LSU-Eunice head coach.
Southern Utah, Chris Boettcher, past BYU assistant (2013), was in Japan.

Total: 23: 16 women, 7 men, 9 BCS assistants, 7 more D-1 assts, inc. 5 promotions, 5 others.

BCS Hires

Arkansas, Jimmy Dykes, see Maggie Dixon.
Georgetown, Natasha Adair, past Charleston head coach.
Houston, Ron Hughley, see Maggie Dixon.
Indiana, Teri Moren, past Indiana State head coach.
Kansas State, Jeff Mittie, past BCS TCU head coach.
Marquette, Carolyn Kieger, see Maggie Dixon.
Minnesota, Marlene Stollings, past VCU head coach.
Oregon, Kelly Graves, past Gonzaga head coach.
TCU, Raegan Pebley, past Fresno State head coach.

Overall Total 9-3 rookies listed; 5-2 men, 4-1 women ; 1 BCS coach, 5 past D-1 MM coaches.

Other Hires
Brown, Sarah Behn, past Massacusetts-Lowell head coach.
Fresno State, Jaime White, past Northern Colorado head coach.
Rhode Island, Daynia La-Force, past Northeastern head coach.
Santa Clara, JR Payne, past Southern Utah head coach.
VCU, Beth O’Boyle, past Stony Brook head coach.

Total 5: 0 men, 5 women, 5 past D-1 MM head coaches.

Grand total 34: 10 men, 24 women, 9 BCS jobs (6 minus3 – MD listed), 23 rookies, 5 promotions, 9 past BCS aides,7 more aides; 10 past MM D-1 HC, 1 BCS coach, 5 others.

That’s it. Contact the Guru for any errors in spelling, calculation, or missed changes.

-- Mel



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