By Mel Greenberg
Senior Tina Charles of the still unbeaten defending NCAA champion Connecticut Huskies was unable to the be in Los Angeles Saturday night at the annual ritzy presentation of the John R. Wooden Award that is awarded through the Los Angeles Athletic Club to the top collegiate men's and women's players.
Scheduling conflicts had the native of Brooklyn in Secaucus, N.J., Thurday, for the WNBA draft and then off to the UConn campus in Storrs by Sunday for the USA Basketball Senior Women's National Team workouts under Huskies coach Geno Auriemma.
So in a first-ever move, with Charles unable to come to the Wooden ceremony, officials will be in Storrs Thursday to make the presentation off site.
Because of the addition of the USA Select Team under Virginia coach Debbie Ryan and her former player South Carolina coach Dawn Staley on site, all five Wooden All-Americans will be on hand at the ceremony.
The Guru, as a member of the women's advisory board, was invited, but is doubtful at this time whether he can attend.
The other four All-Americans are Virginia's Monica Wright, who is on the Select Team, UConn junior Maya Moore, who won the Wooden a year ago and is on the national roster, Nebraska senior Kelsey Griffin, also on the Select Team, and Stanford's Jayne Appel, a senior who is on the national roster, and her Cardinal teammate Nneka Oguwmike, a sophomore.
A week ago Charles went first overall to the Connecticut Sun as expected in the WNBA draft and Griffin also landed with the Sun after being picked third overall by the Minnesota Lynx and then dealt shortly afterwards to the Sun. Wright as the second overall pick was picked by Minnesota.
Moore likely will be the overall WNBA top pick next season and Ogwumike is heading for a high first round pick in the future based on her play with Stanford the first two years that included a runnerup finish earlier this month to Connecticut in the title game in San Antonio, Texas.
Colorado's Lappe Gets Congrats From a Former Teammate
When Linda Lappe was named the new coach of Colorado, her alma mater, Monday in succeeding Kathy McConnell-Miller, the Guru got a note from her former Buffs teammate Kate Fagan, who was a senior the same season in 2003 when they finished their collegiate careers in a loss to Villanova in the Sweet 16 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Fagan was hired by The Inquirer sports department last year and for better or worse will be finishing her second season Wednesday night as the beat writer covering the 76ers.
"I'm so excited for Linda, she's going to rock it," Fagan said in a text message upon hearing the news.
Big Five Women's Awards
The Big Five women's awards annual reception will be next Wednesday in Pennsauken or Cinnaminson -- it's on the border and the Guru forgets which -- across the Delaware River in New Jersey.
The Guru had a vote along with the coaches and his picks were as follows:
Player of the Year: Kristen McCarthy of Temple
Rookie of the Year: Laura Sweeney of Villanova
Most Improved Player: Jasmine Stone of Temple (was a tough call over Ashley Logue of St. Joseph's).
And Coach of the Year: Tonya Cardoza.
There's also a sportsmanship award, but since that is a dart toss with all five nominees worthy, the Guru declines to reveal his choice.
As for the First Team, the Guru went with McCarthy, Maria Getty of Villanova, Qwedia Wallace and Stone of Temple, and Brittany Ford of St. Joseph's.
His second team on the ballot consisted of: Villanova's Sweeney, La Salle's Morgan Robertson, St. Joseph's Logue and Ashley Prim, and Temple's LaKeisha Eaddy.
Summer League Action
The Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation NCAA Women's Summer League is moving from Northeast High to the Renegades AAU Gym in Hatboro on Tuesday and Thursday nights beginning June 15.
The Guru will provide the exact address in an ensuing post once the teams are formed.
Despite lavish farewells for David Kessler's retirement from the department at the end of last summer, he will again be back as the commissioner where has done an outstanding job running the league.
And no, even though a week from Friday marks the end of the Guru's 40-plus year run at The Inquirer, he is not holding an offer this time from Kessler to be the commisiner's assistant.
Besides, there will be nights that conflict with WNBA games along the seaboard in Connecticut, New York and Washington that will preclude the Guru's attendance. However, the league will continued to be chronicled in the Guru's blog at a site still to be determined -- all options, including here, open at this time -- and you all will be informed once plans are complete.