Sunday, February 7, 2016

Guru's Musings: WNBA Season Will Be Fascinating

By Mel Greenberg

Guru's Musings: WNBA Season Will Be Fascinating


By Mel Greenberg

  The enhanced Rutgers stamp that was placed upon the WNBA New York Liberty with the acquisition of former Scarlet Knights sensation Cappie Pondexter on Tuesday puts Team Gotham front and center in a season that might be the most fascinating since the pro league's launch in the summer of 1997.

 All over the WNBA landscape stories are becoming plentiful weeks in advance of opening day. And still to come will be more items after next week's draft that will occur at NBA Entertainment Studious in Seacaucus, N.J., 48 hours   after the NCAA Women's Final Four concludes in San Antonio, Texas.

  In many ways it is becoming the season of the great homecoming.

  The Connecticut Sun will have UConn stars immediately past and presence on the roster with Renee Montgomery and No. 1 draft pick Tina Charles. There is also the addition of former Tennesseee and Sacramento Monarchs star Kara Lawson.

  Once Lawson suits up, it wouldn't be shocking to see ESPN, located less than two hours away in Bristol, try to mike its women's colleagiate broadcast talent to do commentary while she is running the Sun from the backcourt besides Montgomery.

   Former Sun star Lindsay Whalen is back home in Minnesota with a Lynx squad that should be youthful, healthier, and being guided by former Detroit Shock general manager/assistant coach Cheryl Reeve, who starred at La Salle in Philadelphia in the late 1980s.

    The famed Miller twins -- Kelly and Coco -- are back in Georgia near their alma mater located in Athens as they try to keep Atlanta's progress moving forward.

     Additionally, there's the comeback story of Marion Jones with the Tulsa Shock, formerly in Detroit, and now run by former Arkansas men's coach Nolan Richardson.

     Former Temple star Candice Dupree, involved in the big trade this week, goes from Chicago to Phoenix, where the defending champion Mercury will try to keep its explosive offense going despite the departure of Pondexter.

      Virginia guard Monica Wright could end up in Washington with the Mystics, who also have Katie Smith as a newcomer.

      But New York will be the place the casual observer in the media will focus when it comes to guaging how well the league is doing.

      Considering that the Liberty now has three prominent Rutgers alum in Kia Vaughn, Essence Carson and Pondexter, and maybe more, the stands will be watched to see how much increased attendance will occur to take New York back to the early days in the league when the house will almost filled nightly and celebrities were always seated courtside.

    Furthermore, how will the local newspapers treat the team, especially if it returns to winning ways.

    And there's the element of coach Anne Donovan, who is now the Seton Hall coach, also, as the former Olympic mentor ends one phase of her career and gets ready for a return to college.

     Which also causes the thought: How much will Seton Hall be followed by the North Jersey media, which usually places all its attention on Rutgers, good times or bad.

     Meanwhile, out West, Jennifer Gillom, the interim coach of Minnesota last summer, takes over in Los Angeles, wher ethe Sparks will miss :the retired Lisa Leslie for good but adds aging guard Ticha Penicheiro.

     Post Season Awards

     The United States Basketball Writers Association announced its all-America women's team of 10 members Wednesday along with Connecticut's Charles as player of the year, Nebraska's Connie Yori as coach of the year, and Baylor's Brittney Griner as freshman of the year.

     The Guru was involved in the vote count and while the numbers cannot be revealed, for those that might be wondering, he will tell you that Charles outdistanced her Huskies teammate Maya Moore, last year's winner; Yori topped UConn's Geno Auriemma; and Delaware freshman Elena Delle Donne was very competitive against Griner in the rookie category.

     As for the 10 member team, Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley and Xavier's Amber Harris were right there just missing out in a photo finish for the last several spots.

      Credentialed media, incidentally, are invited to the awards brunch in San Antonio at the Hyatt on Tuesday morning.

    There will also be a roundtable discussion on the changing media in terms of the state of newspaper print coverage and the newer forms of communication.

     NCAA tournament committee chair Jane Meyer will also speak.

    Finally, in light of a buzz about the Guru that began Wednesday, he will have nothing to say officiually until he arrives in Texas Friday near the Alamo, an appropriate place considering its reputation for a famous last stand.

   Incidentally, Kayla Goldman, a student out of Orlando, Fla., will be helping the Guru's blogging cause in Texas.

    Between now and arrival in the Lone Star State, the Guru will tweet at @womhoopsguru.






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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