Friday, October 1, 2010

Let's get it started: Richmond

Another installment in our series of previews of the state's Division I programs as they approach their first official practices:


Last year: 20-13, 7-7 Atlantic 10 (8th); lost in Atlantic 10 quarterfinals (Xavier), lost in WNIT second round (at Syracuse)

First practice: Sunday
Meet the Spiders: "Spider Mayhem" is set for Oct. 29 at 9 p.m. The 2010-11 Spiders will be introduced, perform a dance (last year was 'Thriller') and participate in contests (3-point, etc.) with students.

Season opener: Nov. 12 at Western Carolina

Coach Michael Shafer on:

His players' preseason work: We had a unique preseason in that we started in August because of a foreign tour. The Scandinavian trip was a great learning experience for all of us. We did many team building exercises working on trust and overcoming adversity. We are ahead of where we would normally be at this time. The freshmen are way ahead of where they would normally be, at the same time, they still have a lot of learning to do.

The ladies have made great strides in addressing some key issues. They put in a lot of time and hard work in the post season and this preseason. As a unit, they are stronger and more physically fit than they have ever been. We worked hard on overcoming adversity, by putting them in challenging situations. They fought to get tougher mentally and I believe that they are clearly moving in the right direction. They are challenging each other and holding each other accountable in a very positive manner. I have been pleased with their preseason work.

Abby Oliver
 Veteran(s) poised for a breakout season: All of our veterans have been HARD at work, so it is difficult to single them out. They have bought in to the "team" mentality and doing this for each other. They have been on a mission to improve on last year.

Abby Oliver has put in a ton of work and it is showing in workouts and as well as in Scandinavia. I think she is ready to have a super year. She is physically stronger and aggressive.

I have been very pleased with Rachael Bilney as well. She has worked on having more of a scoring mentality. She has always been able to shoot the basketball as well as anyone. She has gone to work on attacking the basket, her defense and her strength. I really like where she is heading into the season.

It is hard to think that Brittani Shells could improve much, but she has. Most of her improvement is with the mental part of the game. She has worked on reading the game, reading help and the general understanding of when she does certain things, other things open up for her or for others.

Kara Powell, Crystal Goring, Ryann Dannelly, Sam Bilney, and Tiffanie Couts all have been working to improve and I believe that we will see them have good years because of their hard work.

Newcomer likely to adjust quickly: All of our freshmen have done pretty well, but it appears that Gen Okoro and Kristina Puthoff- King are making the adjustment the quickest. Kris has picked things up quickly and seems to be a pretty good scorer, passer and she understands the game well. Okoro answers a big question mark for us with her ability to rebound, She jumps very well and is relentless in going to get the basketball. I do expect to see Amber Nichols, Lauren Shute, and Leah Johnson contribute as freshmen. Becca Wann is a bit of an X factor as she is doing her scoring on the soccer field right now.

However, as with all freshmen, they tend to struggle with consistency and the length of the season. I expect to see each freshmen have times of great success and times of inconsistency. Hopefully, we will see all of them be more consistent than not.

Next up: Virginia

Previous preview: Liberty

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