Friday, July 31, 2015

Guru Musings: WNBA Shock Waves Bye Bye To Detroit

By Mel Greenberg

Guru Musings: WNBA Shock Waves Bye Bye To Detroit


By Mel Greenberg

    PHILADELPHIA - Considering the recent state of the auto industry in theMotor City, there was a temptation to put up a headline  saying the Shock are leaving Dodge about the three-time WNBA champion Detroit franchises move to Tulsa, which will be formally announced Tuesday in the Sooner State.

     But it would inaccurate to use that bouncy George Strait country tune "Take Me Back Tulsa," `considering the league has never been there long enough in the past.

     Whatever, the move comes eight years and three titles after Detroit had orginally been consigned for doomsday action until former NBA star Bill Laimbeer convinced ownership that he could become coach and turn things around.

    And reverse direction was something the Detroit Pistons "Bad Boy," did quickly taking the Shock from the worst recordin the women's pro league in 2002 to a championship a year later, dethroning the two-time champion Los Angeles Sparks coached by Laimbeer's former NBA rival Michael Cooper, who played with the Lakers.

      Of  course, three games into this past season, Laimbeer pulled his own reverse again, leaving the defending champions for an eventual spot as an assistant with the NBA Timberwolves.

     Someone is probably already wondering if he knew the Shock's ultimate fate down the road when he skipped out of town.

     One ramification, though the Guru hasn't seen the indication yet, is Tulsa would probably end up in the Western Conference, leaving the Eastern crowd at six.

       The Tulsa ownership group had already appointed Nolan Richardson, the former Arkansas men's coach, as the coach for whatever team would arrive -- expansion or one existing.

      For all the WNBA success of the recently concluded season, this marks the second straight year a league heavyweight has picked up stakes or in the case of the Shock, heading for steaks.

     A year ago, the once mighty Houston Comets reduced the West to a six-team competition by folding after having been the original dynasty capturing the first for WNBA titles from 1997-2001.

       While there's no dispersal draft involved with the move, undoubtedly Shock players eligible for free agency might consider dispersing, which could help a team as the floundering New York Liberty if ownership wants to spend the money.

       The transfer also puts Shock general manager and assistant coach Cheryl Reeve, a former college star at La Salle University here in town out of South Jersey, in an interesting spot.

      A finalist a year ago in the Washington Mystics coaching search, Reeve is in postion to join another Philadelphian,  Sparks assistant Marianne Stanley, as candidates for the coaching vacancy in Los Angeles.

      Reeve could also become a candidate in New York if the Liberty and Anne Donovan don't come to an agreement removing her interim title and then the 2008 Olympic coach takes a shot at Hollywood.

         The New Digs At Hawk Hill

         The Guru attended Sunday's annual women's basketball clinic held by the Big Five teams and Drexel, wich took place at St. Joseph's new Michael J. Hagan Arena.

          It was the Guru's first look at the remodeling of what was known as Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse and he can say after given the grand tour by Hawks women's coach Cindy Griffin, the facility is sensational.

         Griffin and legendary men's coach Phil Martelli have relocated from hole-in-the-wall offices inside the arena to presidential-style palaces in the adjoining Ramsay Center named for Hall of Fame St. Joseph's men's coach Jack Ramsay.

        There are many more amenities, including upgrades for media accomodations such as the postgame interview room.

         The clinic, incidentally, raised over $3,000 for the Coaches vs. Cancer foundation which gained an additional $450 from sales at the Alex's Lemonade Stand during the two-hour session.

            Players of the Decade

      As the collegiate season approaches, the Guru is aware that the number 2009-10 means thoughts need to begiven to naming players and teams of the decade.

         The Guru and Jonathan are conjuring some ideas on the local front but the Guru needs to talk to the area teams involved that he covers.

         The core group is the Big Five and Drexel, but Delaware, Rutgers, and Penn State could also be involved.

         The thinking is to name all-decade teams and a top player at each school by January and then produce an overall squad and player by the end of the season.

          The question is whether each school would handle the Part 1 at their own sites, but Jonathan says he can produce a ballot that means all the voting can be done here in Guru-land.

       Stay tuned, but feel free to email the Guru your thoughts if the idea intrigues you.


    The Guru has to sign off now and take off in a few hours for the nation's capital where the Colonial Athletic Association will host its annual men's and women's media days. He will be doing double duty producing two print -- yes -- print stories for Wednesday editions somewhere in the space not being given to praise for the baseball Phillies or bricks to the football Eagles.

     And for those that are curious, the Guru has resurrected his dysfunctional blackberry through a new external device that can charge the unit through a wireless tranfer. This would normally be twitter fodder, but the Guru will offer his copings the past week enduring technological tidal waves.

    No word on the main laptop yet, but poll history files off of last season that are 98 percent of what the total package should be. The backup laptop has finally kicked into a situation that in the spirit of the Apollo 13 return trip from the moon, mangeable communications has returned in the short-term.

     And with that, be back in the next 24.

          -- Mel



Inquirer Sports Columnist
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About this blog
Mel Greenberg covers college and pro women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he has worked for 38 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. He was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Click here for Mel's list of All-Decade players from Philadelphia-area schools.

Other contributors

Jonathan Tannenwald is a producer with In addition to covering the local college scene, he spent two years as the Washington Mystics beat writer for Women's Hoops Guru. He also writes his own blog, Soft Pretzel Logic, which covers men's college basketball, football, and other sports.

Kathleen Radebaugh is a recent graduate of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. She covered women's basketball for the school's newspaper, The Hawk, and served as sports editor her sophomore year. She was also a four-year member of the varsity crew team.

Erin Semagin Damio covers the University of Connecticut and the WNBA's Connecticut Sun for the blog, and contributes other features. The Storrs, Conn., native also attends Northeastern University, where she is a coxswain on the varsity crew team.

Acacia O'Connor is based in Washington, D.C., where she reports on the Mystics and the college basketball scene in the nation's capital. A graduate of Vassar college, she played on the varsity women's basketball team and was editor of the student newspaper.

Click on any of the contributors' names above to e-mail them.

Reach Mel at

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
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