Guru's Musings: Happy Transition for McLaughlin

By Mel Greenberg

  The headline over this post says what it says because the Guru orginally wanted to write "Happy Ending" in terms of Penn's impending official announcement coming early Friday that Holy Family's Mike McLaughlin is the Quaker's new women's basketball coach. He will succeed Pat Knapp, whose five-year deal was not renewed last month.

 The Guru originally wanted to use the "Ending" terminology because of the long aspiration of the Father Judge and Holy Family graduate to land a Big Five women's job. Along the way, McLaughlin enjoyed solid success during his entire 14-year era coaching the Tigers in Northeast Philadelphiaas it transformed from an NAIA program into a Division II powerhouse.

However, it is also a  happy beginning in that McLaughlin reportedly received rave reviews from the Penn players iuvolved during his campus visit last week for the official interview.

Holy Family will make its statement regarding McLaughlin's exit after Penn sends out its release Friday.

Meanwhile, one Big Five athletic director praised McLaughlin when told of Penn's choice.

  "I'm happy he is getting a chance here in town at a Big Five school," Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said. "I talked with him during our search process last year for Dawn's successor and he is a guy who is terrific with a great record. All he does is win."

  As for McLaughin's successor with the Tigers, former La Salle women's basketball coach John Miller, who led the Mount St. Joseph's High girls team to a state title a year ago, could become involved at Holy Family.

  Miller has said some of his best years in coaching have been during his current job.

  McLaughlin, who had confirmed he applied for the Penn job, said Miller's name was high on his list as a recommendation for a successor at Holy Family if he should land the Quakers' position.

   "I would definitely go in and recommend John if he has an interest," McLaughlin said. "If it turns out I'm leaving, I want to make sure the program is left in good hands and he certainly is capable."

  The Guru is not going to spend too much time on this news at the moment in that there is a print story over in the Inquirer print section on the web and another will occur with reaction for Saturday's editions, although if print space is minimal, more in-depth coverage will be provided here.

  Incidentally, the daily transaction wire indicates that Jennifer Wasson, a former assistant on Knapp's staff, has landed an assistsant position at Troy.

               N.C. State Hires Harper

      North Carolina State introduced Western Carolina's Kellie Harper Thursday as the  successor to Kay Yow, the Wolfpack's Hall of Fame coach who died in January after a lengthy battle with cancer.

    Full Associated Press coverage of the press conference is listed right below this post.

    It appear's that former assistant Stephanie Glance's chances to succeed Yow had been doomed for some time in that Yow made her wishes for Glance known to athletic director Lee Fowler several years ago, but he did not take any action when Yow approached him.

  Given all the controversy, Harper appears to have struck the right chords accepting the job as a next-generation mentor who was a star on Pat Summitt's Tennessee teams in the late 1990s.

   It appears by their comments, the N.C. State players are willing to move forward in the wake of their disappointment over Glance being bypassed.

  It is hoped the coaching community, who overwhelmingly supported Glance, will do likewise in not holding a grudge against Harper.

  The Guru says this because he remembers the flap, deservedly so, when Marianne Stanley left Southern Cal in a salary dispute and all forms of boycotting the Trojans were being discussed.

   However, When former USC super star Cheryl Miller was hired at her alma mater to fill the vacancy, not many kind words were said of Miller's taking the job at her alma mater

   Incidentally, the USC job is vacant again with the exit of Mark Trakh. If the Los Angeles Sparks' Michael Cooper lands the position -- the Los Angeles Times reported there have been discussion -- the guess is that Stanley, now an assistant on the WNBA team, would be elevated next year if she desires, given her past experience in the pro league.

            Atlantic Ten Freshman Jinx At St. Joseph's

        Hawks coach Cindy Griffin confirmed that center Sarah Acker, who was sidelined her sophiomore season with a hip injury, will not resume her career, at least not at St. Joseph's, if anywhere.

        Acker is the second Hawks star to receive Atlantic Ten freshman of the year honors in recent seasons and then no longer play at St. Joseph's. Hillary Klimowicz departed several seasons ago to the College of New Jersey where she concluded her career last month in the Final Four with the Lions and was named the NCAA Division II player of the year.

                DelleDonne and Auriemma -- Together Again or Not?

    Although no public statement has been made, signs and off-the-record coments continue to indicate that Wilmington's Elena DelleDonne may soon return to the sport of her national acclaim, which occurred when she played for Ursuline Academy.

    DelleDonne had accepted a scholarship to play at Connecticut but then left the campus after less than 48 hours at summer school almost a year ago and then annouced in late August she would enroll at Delaware to play volleyball, which she had played her senior year in high school.

   In announcing her decision at a well-attended press conference at Delaware, DelleDonne cited "burnout" from years of pressure to be the best.

    DelleDonne went on to make the Colonial Athletic Association all-freshman team and the Blue Hens went on to repeat as conference champions.

   However, her name has since disappeared from next season's volleyball roster on Delaware's web site.

   Neither Blue Hens  basketball coach Tina Martin nor anyone else associated with the basketball program has made any comment public, private or otherwise to date regarding DelleDonne's status.

   But an athletic department source not associated with the basketball team recently indicated DelleDonne, who had been touted early in high school as an Olympic star of the future, may soon return to basketball, although the source did not flat out say it would be at Delaware.

   The Guru brings this up at the moment in terms of the news out of Storrs this week with the appointment of Huskies coach Geno Auriemma as the next Olympic coach.

   Imagine this scenaro: DelleDonne returns, her passion fully rekindled and she begins fulfilling all those expectation that were built from almost the day she first touched a basketball.

  In the process, she is eventually mentioned as prime Olympic material as her junior year approaches. The selection committee would certainly want to take a look if DelleDonne has gold medal desires.

   That would put her on a reunification/collision course with Auriemma.

   Remember, the Olympic coach can recommend what types of players he or she would like to have for positions but the committee names the roster.

  In  1996, Stanford's Tara VanDerveer was not ga-ga over former UConn star Rebecca Lobo when VanDerveer was the USA coach and Lobo was named to the team as much for marketing material at the time.

    VanDerveer's stance did cause unhappiness in Storrs at the time but the friction created has long since gone by the wayside and the two teams will begin a nonconference series this season.

   At the moment, DelleDonne's intentions for next season not withstanding, this is just fantasy entertaiument. But as we saw almost 12 months ago, fantasy at times has a way of evolving into reality so stay tuned.

    -- Mel