Flyers women’s basketball head coach Shauna Green (center, black shirt) previewed the A10 tournament and praised the team’s A10 award winners in a Zoom session with local media. Photo courtesy of Christian Cubacub, Flyer News.
After nearly two weeks off between their regular season finale and first Atlantic 10 tournament game in the quarterfinals, the University of Dayton women’s basketball team is extremely focused, according to head coach Shauna Green, with the A10 awards now behind them.
As the Flyers head into their quarterfinal game against La Salle or Duquesne, the team has spent most of the last two weeks practicing and ran an intrasquad scrimmage over a period that challenged her team to stay focused.
“Our team has been extremely focused,” Green said. “We’ve had a great week and a half of practice, maybe the best … we’ve had all year. And we’ve really been able to work on some things, and get better in some areas. So I’m really happy with, number one, their focus and the effort that they’ve put into being ready to go just one day at a time and get better each day.”
This extra time off is not the first extended stoppage the Flyers have experienced, as they were shut down twice because of Covid-19 cases (nearly four weeks of December, two weeks in mid-late January). Green said she told the team that they have had the opportunity to experience this already and played well in the 3-game road trip over six days when they returned after the second stoppage.
“We’ve been there, we’ve done that, whether that’s a good or bad thing,” Green said. “We’re trying to treat it the same, and hopefully that past experience with that and success on the road, hopefully help us this weekend going into the tournament.”
Knowing that they will face either Duquesne (64-48 win at UD Arena Jan. 3) or La Salle (95-66 win in Philadelphia Feb. 7), Green has the challenge of keeping the Flyers on full alert for Friday’s quarterfinal.
“I think this is where you rely on a lot of our veterans,” Green said. “Our guys that have been there before, they know it’s March and anything can happen in March. It’s our approach in the regular season, we know anything can happen any night. We get everyone’s best shot, it’s what it is, especially coming into this tournament as the number one seed. You are going to get everyone’s best shot, and they’re going to play hard because they have no pressure on them.”
Green said there is “nothing to lose when you are playing the number one seed,” so she has enforced playing how they practice, which they have done well in preparation for postseason play.
“The one thing I’ve talked to all of our seniors about, I don’t want them to want it so bad and put so much pressure on themselves that they don’t perform as well as they can perform. I want them to go out there and have fun with it, and just really play free.”
As they prepare for their quarterfinal match-up on Friday in Richmond, Va., the Flyers have also had multiple players recognized for the achievements this season. Redshirt senior guard Araion Bradshaw was named Defensive Player of the Year, and fellow redshirt senior Jenna Giacone was named Most Improved Player. Meanwhile, freshman center Tenin Magassa earned Sixth Woman of the Year honors.
Bradshaw was named to the All-Defensive First Team and Third Team All-Conference, and Giacone was named to the First Team All-Conference. Magassa was named to the All-Rookie Team.
Finally, rounding out the Flyers’ honors was redshirt senior guard Erin Whalen, who was named to the Second Team All-Conference and All-Academic teams as well.
“I’m so proud of them,” Green said. “They’ve all worked extremely hard, and even players on our team that didn’t get recognized that I thought maybe could have got recognized.”
Green highlighted each player for their achievement.
For Bradshaw: “You look at AB getting Defensive Player of the Year, that’s been something we’ve talked about now for the last two years, that’s been a goal of hers. And to see her work and be able to achieve that and be recognized by our coaches in the league, I know it means a lot to me for her and it shows what she has done.”
For Giacone: “I thought Jenna Giacone definitely deserved Most Improved, in terms of her numbers and what she’s done in terms of, she was not starting last year. And now she’s the go-to player at the end of the game. And (the award) is just a testament to her resiliency and continuing to trust the process.”
For Magassa: “As a freshman that gets Sixth Woman of the Year, I think it shows the impact she made coming off the bench. And she could have been a starter, there’s no question about that, but she was so critical for our success coming off the bench and doing what she did.”
For Whalen: “Obviously we know what she’s brought to this program in her time here. I thought she could’ve been First Team all-conference easily, she’s just such a great player for us. And then her getting All-Academic as well.”
“So I’m just really, really proud of them all,” Green said. “I wish we could’ve gotten more on there, I always do as a coach because I see the work that goes in behind-the-scenes every single day to earn those awards.”