In her four seasons as head coach of the UD women’s basketball team, Shauna Green has led the Flyers to three A10 regular season championships and three NCAA Tournament bids. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.
Zoom calls, a lack of time, an accelerated process and uncertainty have been the framework of an unprecedented off-season for women’s basketball coach Shauna Green and her team.
Coming off an A10 regular season and tournament championship, the University of Dayton women’s basketball team was at the heights heading into the 2020 NCAA tournament. Now, six seniors are gone, the off-season was disjointed, and uncertainty reigns as the 2020-21 season is set to begin Nov. 25.
That start date is the extent of our knowledge on concrete scheduling, leaving a lot of work for Green and her eight new players to the roster, five of which are true freshmen. But the experience of the three starters who do return – Araion Bradshaw, Kyla Whitehead and Erin Whalen – will help the team adjust to carry over any momentum left over from last year.
“I think that’s where you’re returning players come in and are really important,” Green said. “They know, through the struggles early on, and what it took to win. The work, the consistent work, every single day, and that grind and the mindset that it takes in order to do what we did… the question now is, how fast can we get… all the newcomers up to speed and on board and right where (the veterans) are.”
Green said taking things one day at a time, laying the foundation and working on the fundamentals have been key in helping to accelerate the adjustment process for the new players.
So far, the team has been limited to just eight hours a week of practice, but beginning Oct. 14 that will increase to the regular 20 hours.
In the practices leading up to now, practice was mostly individual skill work, but has recently shifted to more team work in 2-hour practices, four times a week.
“(Once we increase to 20 hours) We’ll have more time to go over some of the details,” Green said. “We do a lot of film session stuff, and we just aren’t able to do it right now because of the hour restriction. And that will be the biggest thing, practices won’t change as much, it’s gonna be more individual work off the court.”
More practices will allow Green to get more answers from her players, but one thing that won’t be answered is scheduling, which has been a struggle for athletic directors around the US. While the Flyers still have a “core set of games,” they lost out on a tournament, throwing a “wrench into a lot of things,” including waiting for a decision from the A10 on whether conference play will be 16 or 18 games.
“No matter how long you’ve been coaching, no one’s been through this,” Green said. “There’s no playbook right now, things are unanswered and this year, we don’t know what it’s gonna look like. You gotta be very flexible, one day at a time, they gotta focus on what they can control.”
As the team moves into the month that remains between now and the tentative start of the season Nov. 25, they come out of an off-season characterized by trials. Perhaps none has been more challenging and polarizing as the fight for racial justice and an end to systemic racism.
One player, fifth-year senior Araion Bradshaw, has led the charge at UD, creating “Athletes for Change.”
“We’ve dealt with it and talked and communicated about it since really when everything happened with George Floyd, his murder is what really set it off,” Green said. “We weren’t all together (physically), but we were able to get together via Zoom and have discussions and let people share their feelings if they wanted to, and to just talk.”
Since then, the team has taken steps forward in education on social issues and teamed up with the men’s basketball team to give players an opportunity to use their voice. Green said to expect some “different things throughout the season” to keep the discussion going.