By: Steve Miller – Sports Editor
A little over a year ago, when Shauna Green took over as head coach of Dayton’s women’s basketball team, she barely had time to breathe before the season was off and running.
“When I took over last September, [I was] in survival mode,” she said in a recent interview. “From recruiting to [the] team to making sure everyone’s okay- it’s just a lot.”
And amazingly, that season ended in a conference championship and bid to the NCAA Tournament—the program’s seventh since 2010. Green greatly benefited from the groundwork her predecessor, Jim Jabir, laid in the previous seasons. But the team’s success is also a testament to her work ethic through a rocky transition period last fall as well as her absolute trust in the team. And that begs the question: If Green could accomplish that with such a limited offseason, what can she do after a full summer with the team?
Starting and sustaining long term success, Green explained, begins with attracting the right people to the program.
“We want the best players that we can get from a basketball aspect,” she said. “But then also great people, and people that fit our culture and high character.”
The two transfers she snagged this year not only fit those criteria, but have deep NCAA Tournament experience.
“Julia [Chandler], from Syracuse, fits what we do,” Green said about the redshirt who has two seasons of eligibility left. “She’s a big kid that can go inside out, shoots the three extremely well, and is a physical post player. And that was a need that we’re going to have to replace. Alex [Harris] is graduating this year so she’ll be able to step in next year and give us that height.”
Harris herself was a transfer (from Penn State), who played her first season for UD last year as a redshirt junior. She grabbed the second-most rebounds on the team, just behind Saicha Grant-Allen, creating a powerful one-two punch on the boards.
Chandler, coming from a blue blood basketball school that advanced to the 2016 National Championship Game, doesn’t only bring the same kind of physical presence to the court, but also the kind of mentality the Flyers need to motivate themselves to tournament success.
“I feel like already I’ve made an impact at least in the post group coming from a big school with my work ethic and just the way we ran things at Syracuse,” Chandler said. “People understand it starts now. It doesn’t start later on in the season with conference play. It starts now.”
“There was like ‘win an A-10 Championship,’ that’s the goal,” said Chandler describing the mental feeling that previously existed at UD. “Well [at] Syracuse, our goal was to win a National Championship, so now people are starting to realize that’s the goal, to win a national championship. And I kind of think that’s cool.”
Green’s other transfer has actually tasted the sweetness of a national title. Arion Bradshaw, a point guard from South Carolina, won the tournament with the Gamecocks last season, and along with Chandler will bring the same kind of championship mentality to the court next season.
“She’s a dynamic guard that’s going to fit us really, really well,” said Green about Bradshaw, who is the most likely candidate to replace senior point guard Jenna Burdette, who will play her last season as a Flyer this year.
Interestingly enough, when Green served as UD’s recruiting coordinator under Jabir in 2014-15, she actively pursued bringing on Bradshaw.
“I had recruited here when I was here before. And then when I left to go to Northwestern, they still recruited her,” Green explained. “She came on an official visit here and decided to pick South Carolina over us. So when she decided to transfer, she called us and a lot of that work had already been done.”
UD’s deepest tournament run was a 2015 trip to the Elite Eight, where they were knocked off by perennial powerhouse Connecticut–the same team that beat Syracuse in 2016. The Flyers are scheduled to play UConn twice more in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, the former of which will be Chandler’s senior year.
We’ll have to wait at least one more year to see the on-court impact of Chandler and Bradshaw since transfer rules dictate they must redshirt the season after they transfer, but Green is confident their addition to the team is a step in the right direction for this program.
“To bring in two transfers with that experience, it’s only going to help [us] now,” Green said. “There’s so much more that goes into it, but that’s an intangible that’s definitely a benefit for us.”
As for this upcoming year, Green is already seeing the benefits of working with the team throughout the whole offseason.
“This summer we really focused in on our individual workouts with a lot of skill work and just tightening up our passing and our dribbling and our shooting,” said Green. “Where we are right now as opposed to where we were last year is night and day. From a basketball standpoint and then also from a culture standpoint. Now they understand what I want from them and how I want things done, and I understand them. It’s a way better feeling sitting here right now than sitting here a year ago today.”
Photo Courtesy of Steve Miller