Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

UConn: 1 vs. 1 the rest of the way?

By Mel Greenberg

UConn: 1 vs. 1 the rest of the way?

By Mel Greenberg

By the time the Guru has recovered energy from driving trauma to Hartford for Wednesday night's 1 vs. 2 showdown between Connecticut and Stanford, every postgame quote has probably appeared somewhere.

But in the spirit of originality, this thought went through the Guru's mind when the weekly AP poll performance summary arrived a little while ago.

In the entire group, in part because of the annual holiday slowdown on the schedule, only one team lost and that was Stanford.

If one used the timeless fish eating fish graphic that's appeared over the years, you have Stanford devouring Tennessee and then getting chomped by the Huskies in the second half.

And so if AP went to a Top 30 poll, an accurate submission might be the following at the top:

1. Connecticut.

2. ----------

3. ----------

4. Stanford

5. ---------

6. Whatever team and fill the blanks the rest of the way.

Soon the comparisons will begin anew as they existed last season when the Huskies marched to their third unbeaten record. Stanford is the favorite in every game the rest of the way, which will have the Cardinal dominating the Pac-10 conference, almost an annual occurrence.

Connecticut has dates with Duke, North Carolina, and two Notre Dame encounters, as well as Rutgers, prior to the Big East.

Oh yes, just to get the marketing plug in, the Huskies visit Villanova Jan. 23 in a Saturday afternoon 2 p.m. contest.

The game will be the first return of Germantown Academy's Caroline Doty. And before anyone begins to wonder, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne won't be in the house to see her former Fencor AAU teammate because the Blue Hens are at Hofstra the following day.

What to make of this Huskies' edition?

While the statistical romps continue in scoring differential, it is still hard to put this group ahead of that 2002 class.

One reason is that the former group played more formidable opponents. That's not the schedule marker's fault.

The problem is UConn continues to get enough top talent to transcend year-to-year, veterans-to-freshmen while many teams elsewhere have talent but have gotten younger overall. If a tournament were held tomorrow between let's say Nos. 5-25 of five years ago, to pick a random selection, against today's 5-25 ranked teams, the previous group would overwhelmingly prevail.

You know how disproportionate UConn is to the rest of the nation when the major story during most of the early going in Hartford was a comparison of how many minutes the Huskies were on the deficit side of the scoreboard.

Then there's been the focus on attendance.

At one point during a moment of particular energy in the XL center in the stands, the Guru remarked that the U.S. senator in Connecticut -- Mr. Lieberman -- took a look at the action on TV, declared attendance quite healthy and stated that Huskies were absolutely in on need of a public option.

Although come to think of it, one probably was in place considering the special ticketing offers that existed that made Wednesday's game part of the package.

Afterwards, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma played down the significance of the game saying no one won anything.

Well, that's not entirely accurate.

The Huskies won the right to stay No. 1 and in a few weeks will undoubtedly set a record for most consecutive No. 1s, smashing the mark set two decades ago by the Louisiana Tech crowd.

Outtakes

In Tuesday's print roundup of local games, the editing process due to space considerations knocked out the fact that former Villanova men's coach Rollie Massimino was at La Salle when the Wildcats claimed a 4-0 sweep for the Women's Big Five title with the lowest total overall scoring ever in the four-game shutout.

"I told him, this is like what the Big Five men's games were when he coached," Villanova's Harry Perretta said. "These games may be great for the fans but I don't know how good it is for us coaches."

Meanwhile, Katie Kuester, who tied a career high in St. Joseph's lopsided win over Old Dominion, is the daughter of new NBA Detroit Pistons head coach John Kuester, a former 76ers assistant.

Coach Cindy Griffin on the Hawks' best performance to date this season: "We talked about roles and everyone had an understanding of what their particular role should be. It was great. I wish we could play again in a couple of days but the schedule says we must wait for our tournament next Monday.

In that contest, the Hawks play Brown while South Carolina coach Dawn Staley brings the Gamecocks to her hometown for the first time since leaving Temple in 2008 and they will meet Kelly Greenberg's Boston U. squad.

Greenberg is a former La Salle star who coached Penn to two Ivy titles.

Kudos to the Delaware sports information department for catching a great piece of trivia that went through the mind of the Guru when word came of Delle Donne's school-record tying 39 points in the Blue Hens' win over Buffalo.

The other mark was held by Lori Howard set in 1981 and Bulls coach Linda Hill MacDonald was on the receiving end of that scoring spree as coach of Temple when the Owls visited the Blue Hens' previous home.

Next up for Delaware is the CAA, with a home-opening contest on Jan. 3 against Old Dominion.

That same day, Drexel will host James Madison in a rematch of last season's conference title game won by the Dragons in a first-ever trumph at JMU.

Incidentally, in a blog posted here a few hours ago that can be found just under this one, the Guru picked the Top 10 women's local games at D-1 schools in caldendar 2009.

Before Drexel hits the CAA, the Dragons will be in Villanova's tournament Monday and Tuesday with the possibility that Denise Dillon could be matched against her former coach Perretta on Day 2.

The two have had their teams meet in preseason private scrimmages in the past.

It will mark another homecoming for Drexel assistant Amy Mallon. Earlier the Dragons traveled to Richmond where Mallon once played and then to St. Joseph's, where she also played a season and became Big Five player of the year. Mallon also served as an assistant to Perretta.

OK,. the Guru has to updated the AP data base to get ready for next week's decade-ending report.

Special thanks to Drexel men's coach Bruiser Flint and his wife Renee, who live near the office, for the holiday meal and the treats sent back to the department's editorship.

Interestingly, while all were pleased with the plate (two pictures are on the Guru's facebook page), one editor especially loved the ribs, another the ham, and still another the pork. A fourth declared a tie for each item, which takes care of the salmon and stuffing.

Oh, and thanks to former Penn assistant Joe McGeever, former summer league commissioner Dave Kessler a a few others for the Christmas Eve afternoon gathering at a small establishment in the Guru's home neighborhood.

Then a shoutout to the waitress trio at the all-night diner - Karen, Ashley and Rena -- for the sunrise feed.

The Guru will be back in 24 hours with a few more loose ends. South Carolina is holding a teleconference with Staley Sunday afternoon.

-- 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
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected