By Mel Greenberg
Villanova released its women's basketball schedule on Monday and judging by the listed slate veteran coach Harry Perretta may add a few extra years beyond his actual age by the time March Madness approaches.
In large part due to the Wildcats' membership in the Big East, a winning record will lead to either a second-straight NCAA appearance or, at worst, a trip to the WNIT.
Once the conference portion of the schedule arrives, the Wildcats are almost guaranteed to have a strong showing in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), one of the tools used by the NCAA committee to help select and seed the 64-team field.
The major home date that will be become a quick sellout once tickets are made available is Saturday, Jan. 23, when defending national champion Connecticut visits the Pavilion at 2 p.m.
Besides the traditional homecoming visit of Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, who will head the United States in the 2012 Olympics in London, the game will mark the first return of former Germantown Academy star Carolyn Doty, who missed a large portion of her freshman season with a knee injury.
Auriemma won't be the only Hall of Fame coach visiting the Pavilion.
Rutgers and coach C. Vivian Stringer, who was recently joined Auriemma in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., will bring the Scarlet Knights to Villanova on Feb. 13.
The Big East game also marks a homecoming for Stringer, whose coaching career began at nearby Cheyney. Rutgers will also host Temple on Dec. 2.
Even games that would not appear so tough by comparison are matchups against teams who did well in their respective conferences.
Drexel, for example, won a first-ever Colonial Athletic Association title and feature reigning CAA player of the year Gabriella Marginean.
The Dragons will meet Loyola of Maryland on Dec. 28 in a first-round Wildcat Christmas tournament game against Loyola of Maryland, coached by former St. Joseph's assistant Joe Logan.
Villanova meets San Francisco in the other game. If the Wildcats and Drexel both win -- or lose -- they would meet the day marking the first time in an official game that Perretta on the sidelines would go against one of his former stars in Denise Dillon.
The two teams have met in NCAA privately-sanctioned preseason scrimmages in the past.
Villanova will meet another conference champion on Dec. 5 when the Wildcats travel to Bethlehem to meet Patriot League winner Lehigh.
Another coach with area ties returns when Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato brings the Panthers for a Big East matchup on Feb. 17.
Since joining the program, Berenato has turned Pittsburgh into a nationally-ranked power.
Also as part of the Big East agenda, Villanova travels to NCAA runnerup Louisville on Jan. 26, and to national contending Notre Dame on Jan. 9. There's also a visit to DePaul on Feb. 6. Blue Demons coach Doug Bruno was recently named an assistant to Auriemma for the FIBA World Championship tournament next year.
The Owls will meet NWIT champ South Florida in a Big East visit on Feb. 2.
Villanova also will host traditional Atlantic 10 contender George Washington on Jan. 21 to continue an ongoing nonconference rivalry.
As for the Big Five competition, the Wildcats launch their City Series play on Nov. 18 against Penn and new coach Mike McLaughlin. Villanova will have already played a preseason game against West Chester on Nov. 1 at home and a season-opening visit to Sacred Heart.
St. Joseph's, which helped make Big Five history with a triple-overtime win against Villanova last season, will visit the Wildcats this time around on Dec. 9.
Perretta's group will travel to Temple on Dec. 20 in a nationally-televised game on the CBS College network, and then visit La Salle on Dec. 22 to finish the four-game Big Five slate.
A Peek at Temple
The Owls have not yet made a formal release of their schedule while Temple determines which dates will be doubleheaders with the men's team and which games will be played in McGonigle Hall -- the men will also have a game or two in the former basketball home -- but dates, themselves, are firm and it is possible to glean some information off the recently-released Atlantic 10 schedule.
Temple will open at home on Friday, Nov. 13, against Illinois, which is headed by former longtime Rutgers associate head coach Jolette Law.
A major attraction will be played on New Year's Eve when powerful Duke visits. Temple has another matchup with a key Atlantic Coast Conference team on Jan. 23, traveling to Florida State.
Auburn, which was nationally ranked and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, pays a visit on Nov. 17 before Temple travels to Ivy power Dartmouth on Nov. 19.
As previously mentioned here, Owls coach Tonya Cardoza will go against a former UConn player she coached when she was an assistant with the Huskies when Temple travels on Nov. 28 to play Hartford, headed by Jen Rizzotti.
The visit to Rutgers was mentioned above.
In the Big Five, which Temple kept its streak alive at five straight, sharing last year's title with St. Joseph's, the Owls host Villanova, as mentioned above, and Penn on Jan. 23.
In three other games, which are also A-10 contests, the Owls visit La Salle on Feb. 6 and play home-and-home dates against St. Joseph's on Jan. 16 at Temple and on Feb. 2 at renovated Hawk Hill. Only one of the games with St. Joseph's will count as a Big Five game.
Summer League Commissioner Honored
On Thursday night, David Kessler, the longtime commissioner of the Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation NCAA Women's Summer League who is retiring, will be honored at Sumerton Springs, on Bustleton Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia.
The summer competition has featured many local players over the years from all divisions of area colleges as well as players from outside the area or local players who play elsewhere in the winter.
Philadelphia University women's coach and athletic director Tom Shirley is supposed to attend, as is West Chester coach Deidre Kane, and former Penn assistant Joe McGeever. The Guru will be on the scene to report.
Tickets, at this point in time, are $50 at the door.