Friday, March 27, 2015

Guru's Notes: Wooden Award Goes On First-Ever Road Trip To UConn

By Mel Greenberg

Guru's Notes: Wooden Award Goes On First-Ever Road Trip To UConn

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.

          -- 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 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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