NEW ORLEANS — Theresa Shank-Grentz’s phone rang Monday with the news that she had not allowed herself to contemplate in eight years. In 2007, Cathy Rush -- her coach at Immaculata College -- had been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2014, those groundbreaking Mighty Macs teams of the early 1970s had been, as well. That, Grentz figured, was that. Would she herself earn induction? Nope. It’ll never happen.
Then John Doleva, the Hall of Fame’s president and CEO, called to let her know that she had been wrong. She would indeed be a member of the Hall’s class of 2022. Then, once she arrived here for Saturday’s announcement, a Hall official asked her if she hadn’t gotten a call yet from her friend.
“What friend?” Grentz asked.
Marianne meant Marianne Crawford Stanley: an Archbishop Prendergast alum, Grentz’s teammate at Immaculata, a Division I and WNBA coach for 45 years. She would be part of the Hall induction class, too.
“I jumped out of the chair straight up,” Grentz said, “and my nephew was with me, and he said, ‘Well, that’s not the move of a woman with two replaced knees.’ But I was so pleased Marianne was in.”
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The Hall’s Class of ‘22, which will include Manu Ginobili, George Karl, and Bob Huggins, will have a distinctly Delaware County flavor for the presences of Grentz, a Glenolden native, and Stanley, who is from Yeadon. Grentz scored more than 1,000 points in her career at Immaculata, leading the Mighty Macs to the first three official national championships in women’s college basketball history, from 1972 through 1974. Of the 74 games that Grentz played for Immaculata, the Mighty Macs won 72. A year behind Grentz at the school, Stanley was the point guard on two of those title-winning teams.
“Still pinching myself, actually, that it’s an individual thing this time and not a team thing,” Stanley said. “As an ex-point guard, I’m all about the assist. That’s my mindset.”
Without a women’s professional league at the time to continue their playing careers, both Grentz and Stanley immediately became head coaches. Grentz won 681 games -- and a national championship at Rutgers in 1982 -- over 33 years of college coaching.
“When I graduated from Immaculata, the last thing that you would think about is you were going to have a career in coaching,” she said. “I graduated in May and got married in June, and I started coaching. My father-in-law said to my husband, ‘When is she going to realize this is over?’ And of course, 45 years later, we’re still doing it.”
Stanley has split her time between college and the WNBA. She was named the league’s coach of the year, with the Washington Mystics, in 2002, and she has been the head coach of the Indiana Fever since 2019.
“It was my junior year when I actually said, ‘You know what? I might be able to make this a career,’” Stanley said. “My undergrad degree is in sociology. I just wanted to help young people. How that was going to play out, I had no idea. After Title IX became law and things started to change, and that took a few years, that career path actually was there. Prior to that, no.”
Grentz’s and Stanley’s induction will cap a year that has made it easy for Immaculata to celebrate its women’s basketball history. The university held a reunion last month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Mighty Macs, with Rush and several of her former players returning to campus for a luncheon.
“The greatest player of that era,” Rush had said of Grentz before that get-together. “It’s a crime she’s not in the Hall of Fame.”
As of the second weekend in September, that error will have been rectified.