Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chatting with Richmond's Ginny Doyle

As good as Richmond's Ginny Doyle was as a player - and trust us, folks, the girl could ball - it looks like she may be an even better coach.
Spiders head coach Michael Shafer seems to concur, as he recently promoted the longtime assistant to associate head coach and given her greater responsibilities within the program.
But we might argue that Doyle's greatest gift is as a storyteller. To go with this post we served up a LadySwish six-pack of Ginny-specific questions, and the woman absolutely smacked them out of the park with detailed, candid and at times humorous answers (although we're not sure Shaquille O'Neal would be amused).
Maybe we've been giving Shafer too much credit for Richmond's success the past few years....
Besides money (we assume), what is the biggest perk that comes with your new job?
I was pretty involved as an assistant coach for quite some time here at Richmond. So to be honest, I'm not sure there are any "perks" other than just having the title of Associate Head Coach. I've had quite a bit of responsibility as an assistant over the past 12 years, so I don't really consider it a "new job." I plan on continuing to handle the same responsibilities that I have in the past and welcome any new ones that may arise throughout the year.
When was the last time someone called you Virginia?
It's not often. But the last time was at the airport ticket counter this past July traveling for recruiting. Every time I walk up to the ticket counter in any airport and hand them my driver's license, the ticket agent generally chuckles and says, "Oh, Virginia from Virginia." It never fails! I'm usually referred to as Ginny as I have been from an early age. I probably shouldn't admit this but it is quite funny looking back at it now (I have share it with our team in the past and they have gotten a good laugh out of it). But when I was in kindergarten, the teacher called home to my mother after the first week of school and told her she thought I had a hearing problem and that my mother should take me to the doctor to get it checked out. My mother was a little baffled as she insisted to the teacher that she hadn't noticed a hearing problem with me at home. After a few days had gone by, the teacher was still insisting that when she calls on me in the classroom, I wasn't hearing her or paying attention to her. My mother then asked her what she was calling me and the teacher replied, "I'm calling her by her name, Virginia!" My mother just laughed and had to tell her, "We all call her Ginny at home and that's what she goes by. She doesn't know her name is Virginia!"
Of the current Spiders, who is the player about whom longtime Richmond fans are most likely to say, "She reminds me of a young Ginny Doyle."
Abby Oliver
This is a tough question, because our current Spiders all seem very different than I was as a player. But if I had to pick one, I would say Abby Oliver's game would be most similar. As a side note, Abby usually is the one who grabs me after our practices to challenge me to a free throw-shooting contest. We've had many over the past three years; it's an ongoing contest that becomes very fun and competitive.
What's the biggest key to relating to today's kids?
I think there are several key ingredients. First, I think you have to have a sense of humor, so that they know you can have some fun with them. Secondly, they have to know that you genuinely care about them and are willing to take time out of your day to help them or just learn about what's going on in their life. Lastly, I believe you also need to be technologically savvy and advanced to communicate with a kid today since this is how this generation communicates.
You famously made an NCAA Division I-record 66 free throws in a row. So did you take it personally when the Spiders shot 10 of 22 from the line last year at William and Mary?
When we shoot poorly from the line, I have to admit that I do take it a little personal! A few of our fans generally come up to me after games wanting to know how we can shoot poorly from the FT line with me on staff. I believe that FT shooting is a great deal more mental than physical or skill. It helps if you do have good technique, but it's more about a feeling of comfort, having a good feel for the ball and being relaxed that brings confidence for you every time you step to the line. I also believe strongly that you have to have a routine (a simple one) and practice your routine with each FT that you shoot. In order to build a habit, you have to practice being consistent with your routine and technique and it requires a lot of repetition. We do take time out of practice to shoot FTs which I believe is important. But I think sometimes you just have those days when nothing seems to be going in the basket (including FTs). You just hope those days don't come too often! But one thing I have also noticed over the years is that FT shooting is very contagious as a team. So if you can get a couple of players on your team shooting at a high percentage, then it can bring a confidence that will spread throughout the team.
Finally, could you have solved Shaquille O'Neal's free throw-shooting woes?
Wow, this is a tough one! I'm not sure he would want my help because my solution would be drastic - I would recommend some kind of hand reduction surgery. I think his hands are too big for the size of the ball. I'm not sure this solution would be worth it, however, just to shoot a better FT percentage!

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