Thursday, November 26, 2015

Villanova Seeks Quick End To Big Five Race At La Salle

By Mel Greenberg

Villanova Seeks Quick End To Big Five Race At La Salle


By Mel Greenberg

    Boy was it cold in the Big Five Sunday a day after the big snowfall.

    It was so cold inside Temple's Liacouras Center that Villanova and the Owls set a trifecta of records in the women's version of the local round-robin.

    Villanova's 44-32 win over Temple marked the lowest-ever winning score in the City Series since its women's launch iin 1979-80 while the Owls' losing score was the lowest ever. Hence, the combined score was also a new low.

    "Listen, if Temple didn't foul to try to get the ball in the last couple of minutes, we wouldn't have gotten out of the '30s either," Wildcats coach Harry Perretta said. "With my team this year, I have absolutely no clue before the game begins on what might happen."

    What might happen Tuesday afternoon, however, is if Villanova beats La Salle at the Explorers' Tom Gola Arena (Game Time 1 p.m.) the Wildcats will become outright Big Five champions for the first time since 2004.

     Since then Temple has been the dominate team winning a record four straight outright titles and then sharing one with St. Joseph's last season, a deadlock made possible when Villanova ended the Owls' record 18-game local win streak.

     If Temple had won Sunday, the fight for local honors would have been wide open deep into the season until the Owls play through the La Salle-St. Joseph's combo Atlantic 10 matchups.

      Meanwhile the Explorers got a hot result with a cold hand themselves Sunday beating Rider in Lawrenceville, N.J. in a nonleague game in which not one La Salle player reached double figures in the scoring column.

      That might have never happened before to La Salle because no situations exists on official records kept since 1982-83 while unofficial records prior to then are in complete.

               Random Observations

      Don't know if someone on a Penn State message board noticed -- The Guru has been busy on internal bailout duties the last several nights due to major staff shortages caused by weather and illness -- but when Duquesne beat St. Francis of Pennsylvania Monday night each team was coached by two of the Nittany Lions' all-time players.

     Duquesne is led by Olympic gold medalists Suzie McConnell-Serio, a Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, while St. Francis is coached by Susan Robinson-Fruchtl.

                   Banned From Amtrak

          It looks like UConn may end its missing attendance situation Wednesday. The Guru was looking at train schdedules between Philadelphia and Hartford Wednesday on Amtrak as a traveling options for the 1 vs. 2 showdown between the host Huskies and No. 2 Stanford and everything is sold out.

          There couldn't be any other reason could there for trains to be that packed this time of year?

              End Of A Decade

           The next AP poll will be the last one between the first week in January 2000 and the last one in 2009. Check back here for all the performance stats.

               Delle Donne's New/Old Teammate

            Delaware hosts Buffalo Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in the last nonleague game before the Blue Hens' begin their forway into the Colonial Athletic Association wars at home Jan. 3 against traditional conference power Old Dominion.

            For the second time this season, a former Ursuline Academy star from Wilmington will make her debut. Now it's Kayla Miller's turn after sitting out time under NCAA rules because of her transfer from George Washington.

            Of course the first Ursuline alum was introduced earlier this season with the official arrival of Elena Delle Donne, the former national high school player of the year in 2008.

            As the Guru signs off for now, the Nova-Salle game will be covered for print and the Guru will hopefully be on the scene in Connecticut Wednesday to provide enhance coverage here of the big showdown.

            And he knows he still owes the Cheryl Reeve praise from her former coach but the Guru has not had time for the transcription. But now it will be enhanced since current La Salle coach Tom Lochner was an assistant during the junior and senior seasons of the future WNBA Minnesota Lynx head coach.

                      -- Mel


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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