By Mel Greenberg
PHILADELPHIA – A family feud of sorts occurred at University of the Sciences Tuesday night in a Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference women’s basketball game in which parts of the opposing sides were once part of the same competitive unit and beyond.
Tom Shirley, fresh off his 600th career victory last Wednesday night, led Philadelphia University to the Devils’ Den, also known the Bobby Morgan Arena, where he had to go against his former longtime assistant Paul Stadelberger.
Furthermore, one of Stadelberger’s aides happens to be Shirley’s own daughter Kristen, who played for the Rams two years ago and was then hired when Stadelberger landed the job.
By the time the smoke cleared on Tuesday, USP gained a 67-59 victory, nearly squandering all of an 18-point lead that had shriveled to three late in the game until the Devils stopped the slide and held on for the win.
The sixth-straight win enabled the Devils (12-4, 8-2) to move within a half-game of idle Holy Family in the CACC South standings.
Senior guard Caitlin Shaw, the leading scorer in the conference, poured 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for USP while Marissa Chesnavich added 12 points.
Kate Brennan scored 20 points for the Rams (8-7, 4-4), who lost their fourth of the last five games. Kristen Blye added 13
Incidentally, the Guru, as a result of pursuing the moment of Shirley’s milestone for The Inquirer, has now seen all four of those losses and was actually elsewhere in town at another game and handled the achievement by remote.
Stadelberger, after his game last week, ventured up to his old haunts in Roxborough to attend Shirley’s postgame celebration.
“For 20 years you’re working with a friend and a mentor and all and then you get to coach against him,” Stadelberger said after Tuesday’s win over the Rams. “But Tom’s team was pretty well prepared for us but I think we were pretty well prepared for the game tonight, as well.
“It’s exciting and a lot of fun, but this is what the coaching profession is about. You make friends along the way and you learn from each other.”
As for the star of the game, he praised Shaw’s effort.
“She’s a tremendous player, she is a force,” Stadelberger said of the native of Eatontown, N.J., who played at Monmouth Regional High.
“She had a great game tonight shooting 12-for-18 from the field.”
Shaw was ranked 19th overall in the most recent NCAA Division II statistical report in scoring with a 20.3 average at the time.
All five USP starters are seniors; a commodity that Stadelberger says is priceless in terms of this year’s record to date.
“I don’t know that a lot of people gave them respect before the season,” he said of the fifth place prediction in the CACC preseason poll. “I don’t know that a lot of people even gave them respect early on.
“Actually, I wanted it to be a secret. I didn’t want anybody to notice how good we are. The senior leadership really makes a big difference,” Stadelberger continued.
“They’ve been playing together a long time. It showed that one time when Philly U. made this great run and got it down to three points and the kids didn’t panic.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that first timeout in the half but I wanted to give our kids a rest because we kept running and running. I think I put a spark in Philly U.
“I won’t do that next time. I’ll just let them keep running because we rarely need timeouts except for strategy or to stop a run by the other team.
“But that comeback gave them hope. They are going to be tough to handle when we have to go to their place.”
Curse Of KYW Interview?
USP's longtime media contact Bob Heller noted that KYW News Radio's Matt Leon, who also broadcasts Philly U. games, had Holy Family star Catherine Carr on for an interview on the morning of the Tigers' recent stunning upset loss to CACC rival Georgian Court.
On Tuesday morning, the Rams' Stephanie Agger was on the air.
Heller just smiled and didn't answer when asked if for prudence reasons, in light of the coincidence, whether he would allow USP players to be interviewed on KYW game days.
Several days after Shirley reached his mileston, over in Division III, longtime Alvernia University coach Keith Calabria recently gained his 400th career win, Saturday, all with the Crusaders out of Reading, Pa.
He has been the only coach in the program, having guided the Crusaders for 22 seasons before becoming the 35th coach in Division III history and 27th on the activelist to reach 400 wins.
Other Commonwealth Conference coaches who have reached 400 wins are Elizabethtown’s Yvonne Kauffman (668 through last week) and Messiah’s Mark Miller (462).
McQuade's Double High At Kutztown
While Calabria was earning his milestone on Saturday, elsewhere in the Keystone State senior forward Melissa McQuade wrapped up future Hall of Fame stature with Kutztown University after becoming the Golden Bears’ all—time scorer.
McQuade’s moment occurred during a 69-52 victory over East Stroudsburg in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division game at Keystone Arena.
For all purposes, it was an instant replay of an earlier celebratory moment in pregame ceremonies when she was honored for previously becoming the all-time rebounder in Golden Bears history.
Only 56 seconds remained when McQuade reached her 1,434th point on a foul shot that topped the previous scoring record by Amy Wahl (1995-99), who was on the scene to hand over a boquet of flowers for the achievement.
Incidentally, the Golden Bears are coached by former Rutgers star guard Janet Malouf.