Thursday, September 18, 2014
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NCAA WBB TNMT: Guru's Elite Eight Musings

By Mel Greenberg

NCAA WBB TNMT: Guru's Elite Eight Musings

By Mel Greenberg

Kentucky's move to the Elite Eight over Nebraska and a matchup with another Big 12 power Tuesday night in Oklahoma at the Kansas City Regional immediately forced the Guru to head to memory lane.

This Wildcats group has come out of nowhere considering its preseason pick in the Southeastern Conference.

Then again, considering where Matthew Mitchell was drawing a paycheck before moving to Lexington, maybe there's been some cosmic transformation in Hollywood style and Tennessee's Pat Summitt, his former boss, is really in Mitchell's body, while he really is still back in Knoxville.

The last Kentucky group that had Final Four all over it was back in 1983, the second year of NCAA postseason competition for women.

The Wildcats squad was tri-captained by Kentucky all-time scorer Val Still, out of Cherry Hill East across the rivcr from Philly in New Jersey; Patty Jo Hedges, and Lea Wise, a skilled point guard who had more notoriety due to her resemblance to the late actress Farah Fawcett at a time she was one of Charlie's Angels on television.

Still spent years in Europe and then returned to become one of the stars of the short-lived American Basketball League, working with former Texas star Andrea Lloyd. among others, to lead the Columbus Quest to two ABL titles.

Terry Hall coached that Kentucky squad but the core group had been recruited by the previous coach -- one Debbie Yow, who can be found these days as the athletic director of Maryland.

An assistant happened to be at that time none other than Lynn Barry, who had yet to acquire that last name prior to her marriage to NBA Hall of Famer  Rick Barry.

But the Wildcats never made it Norfolk, Va., where Old Dominion was hosting the Final Four for the secons straight year.

Kentucky was shocked in the first round at Indiana, 87-76, a loss to the Hoosiers notable for two reasons.

The Indiana coach was Maryalyce Jeremiah, who later took over Cal-State Fullerton, and way later became a chair of the NCAA Women's Tournament committee. In fact, it was still her watch when the finals were held in San Antonio in 2002.

The other thing noteworthy about the upset was that prior to the game the Hoosiers' men's coach -- one Bobby Knight whose views on women's athletics had been widely reported -- actually visited the Indiana locker room and gave the team a pep talk.

Streaking With UConn

 Maybe Temple will feel a little better after seeing what happened to Iowa State Sunday afternoon at the hands of those invincible Connecticut Huskies.

When Florida State takes on Geno Auriemma's group Tuesday night in the Dayton Regional final, trhe Seminoles will be trying to avoid becoming a three-time loser in terms of the victims' list in the record breaking win streak that has reached 75 after the calming the Cyclones.

Louisville and Notre Dame have been feasted upon the most, contributing four wins each to the UConn record run.

Maybe the Guru's media friends on the UConn beat have already gone into this mathematical breakdown but if not here goes:

Although the number of wins is at 75, the number of victims is actually 44, though the number of coaching conquests is slightly hire do to job switches across the last two seasons.

Louisville had a trifecta of setbacks last season due to meetings in the Big East and NCAA title games, while Notre Dame reached a triple this season due to the conference changing UConn's home-and-home partners from Rutgers to the Irish for regular season competition. Notre Dame also got to be the equivalent of serving up the record-breaker in the Big East semifinals.

Triple loser awards over two seasons go to South Florida, West Virginia, Syracuse, Villanova. and Rutgers.

Double loses out of conference belong to Holy Cross, Florida State, as mentioned; Hartford, North Carolina, Vermont, Stanford, and Oklahoma.

Overall 15 Big East teams have lost 39 times, while 29 non-league teams have lost 36 times.

The Huskies have ripped through nonconference opponents from the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Pac-10, Big Ten, Southeastern, and Big 12, among the BCS contingent, as well as Atlantic Ten (Temple, Richmond, and Rhode Island), Mountain West, Colonial Athletic, Patriot, Metro Atlantic, and Southwestern Athletic.

Post-season Honors

The United States Basketball Writers Association will announce its post season women's winners on Wednesday.

Duke's run will probably help Jasmine Thomas' cause for several all-America teams and just as Kentucky came out of nowhere, Thomas emerged at the last second when the final votes were counted in the preseason voting for the Atlantic Coast Conference squads.

No such problem existed on the back end.

Also, the announcement of 12 finalists from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association last week for the Wade Trophy creates an interesting thought.

The Wade winner in the past came off the 10-member State Farm, formerly Kodak, team.

So with 12 candidates, is it possible for the surplus of two be coming a winner without being on the team?

And what happens to the other 10 if an outsider pushes them off the State Farm winners.

Donovan Heads Back To College

The Guru doesn't remember whether Anne Donovan growing up in Bergen, N.J., ever thought one day she would be coaching Seton Hall but that is what is about to happen.

That means she'll be leaving the WNBA New York Liberty though at this hour it is unclear as reports have stated whether she would duplicate Michael Cooper's act of last summer when he stayed with the Los Angeles Sparks and Lisa Leslie's final season before heading to Southern Cal.

Ironically, another candidate in the mix was Donovan's former WNBA coaching boss Patty Coyle. One wonders whether the former Rutgers star will be asked on Donovan's staff with the Pirates.

Incidentally, the Guru noticed a musing on the Rutgers message board how this might affect Cappie Pondexter's potential move as a free agent to the Liberty from the WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury.

It's doubtful that could happen anyway since a good friend of the Guru's high in Phoenix management circles recently said the Mercury plan to match whatever offer Pondexter receives.

  Ok, enough for now. Be back after the Monday games.

-- 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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