Saturday, December 27, 2014

Guru's Musings: Smokin "D" Shakes Off The Rust

By Mel Greenberg

Guru's Musings: Smokin "D" Shakes Off The Rust

By Mel Greenberg

  Although the start of the women's basketball season is still several days away from this weekend's tipoff, two newcomers put up some inpressive numbers, though only one of them offered a preview of her skills before the public.

Baylor freshman sensation Brittney Griner with a reputation for prolific dunking threw down a slam Saturday night, scoring 25 points as the Bears beat Incarnate Word, 81-52, in a home exhibition game in Waco, Texas.

The other effort occurred during one of those "private" scrimmages, which under NCAA rules cannot be advertised in advance. Furthermore, outsiders and media are not permitted to attend.

 It is unclear at the moment, due to a ton of Guru calls for interpretation that went nowhere Sunday night, what can be mentioned for the record after the fact. For the record, the Guru was not in the house.

 So, let's just say this off of reports from a few Guru moles allowed to be on the scene Sunday in the region when Delaware hooked up with a Division I program in the nearby area here that has had a tradition of success.

  Heralded redshirt freshman Elena Delle Donne, back to the sport of her acclaim after a year off for volleyball, torched the nets for 50 of Delaware's some 80 reports. None of this, by the way comes, from the Blue Hens side of the encounter, although if coach Tina Martin is seen with an extra hop in her step Monday, now you know why.

  Delaware had a similar scrimmage a week ago -- the Guru did not pursue details -- but Sunday's would have been more of a test. Supposedly, Delle Done gave a similar performance last week.

On Sunday, the former star of Wilmington's Ursuline Academy is said to have made 20 of 25 shots, according to someone keeping track, and most of the misses were three-point attempts.

 The Blue Hens' opponent is known for defense and it wasn't like the versatile player was putting up uncontested shots, but she just kept making them.

  Delle Donne was characterized as in a zone right now and could cool off later when Delaware hits the Colonial Athletic Association portion of the schedule.

 But for now, whatever occurred during the year off, she was praised as the real deal by someone who is not known to offer superlatives in generous fashion.

 Delle Donne's public debut will come a week from Tuesday when Delaware travels to St. Francis, Pa., Nov. 17.

Poll Disparity

After the release of the USA Today preseason coaches poll, there seems to be quite a bit of disparity from the one  the media panel that deliberates on the Associated Press rankings.

Both sides agree with unanimity that defending NCAA champion Connecticut is No. 1 at the outset, with Stanford and Ohio State holding down the second and third spots in both rankings.

A few other teams are close enough but overall it is probably the widest differential since the USA vote came along in 1980 (give or take a year).

Notre Dame is 4th in AP, seventh in USA, while on the flip Baylor is seventh in AP and fourth with the coaches.

LSU posted ninth in AP but way down 17th from the coaches.

Here are some others: Xavier: 11-AP, 15-USA; Oklahoma 13-AP, 8-USA; Virginia 14-AP, 18-USA; Arizona State 16-AP, 11-USA; DePaul 17-AP, 25-USA.

Here's another eye-opener which is a rarity: There was a differential of 10 teams -- five each in one poll that wasn't ranked in the other.

The Associated Press had Georgia Tech (19), Kansas (20), Georgia (21), Middle Tennessee (24), and Rutgers (25), who were no-shows with the coaches.

The coaches had Texas A&M (16), Maryland (21), Pittsburgh (22), Purdue (23), and Iowa State (24), who were no-shows with AP.

With that kind of differential, things may not begin to shake out on a consensus until the season enters conference play after Jan. 1.

WNBA: Switching Sides?

Unless the Guru missed the report, it is still not known if the Detroit Shock move to Tulsa will offer a change in alingment in the two division standings.

From a standpoint of travel, however, it would seem to make sense to put Tulsa in the West and move Minnesota to the East.

Incidentally, unless situations change, Connecticut senior Tina Charles potentially has already worked with her prospective WNBA coach.

Minnesota got the No. 1 pick in the lottery. Lynx coach Jennifer Gillom is an assistant to Geno Auriemma on the national team and got to know Charles a little during the recent training camp in Washington.

While New York Liberty fans are wringing their hands because the pick went to Minnesota in a preseason trade, it's possible if the trade never happened to begin with, the tenants of Madison Square Garden might have had a better season since they didn't finish too far out of the playoff running that was the taffy pull in East after front-running Indiana.

One GM told the Guru recently that they thought New York underperformed for the most part and that the downfall was more on the players than anything done by former coach Pat Coyle or interim coach Anne Donovan.

OK, that's it for now.

- Mel 

 

 

 

 

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
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 Philly.com. 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 poll416@gmail.com.

Mel Greenberg Inquirer Sports Columnist
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