Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A few minutes with Richmond's Abby Oliver

Throughout her first three seasons at Richmond, Spiders sharpshooter Abby Oliver was content to leave the vocal leadership to the other guys. But now there are no other guys - Although redshirt juniors Sam and Rachael Bilney match her in time in the program, Oliver is the lone senior on a squad with six sophomores and five freshmen. As she gears up for her final season, Oliver talked about Richmond's new breed and her role in getting the newcomers up to speed.

First of all, just want to say that we love your name. Abby Oliver. Great jock name. Really rolls off the tongue. Do you have a nickname?

Not really. Sometimes, Sam Bilney calls me Abigail.

Do you mind?

It's OK. I prefer Abby.

So do we. Now, about being a team leader....

Well, it feels kind of weird being the only senior. But I really just need to lead by example, be someone (the underclassmen) can look up to, someone to show them how things are done. Help them with the concepts. Because we're going to really need to rely on those guys.

It wasn't that long ago that you were a freshman. What do you remember about adjusting?

Well, I played point guard, and when Kara (Powell) got hurt I had to learn to play right away. The hardest thing for me was handling the pressure up front and calling out the play at the same time, timing it so you could get the team into the offense. Wasn't easy.

Let's play word association with the Spiders freshman. I'll name a player, you give me the first word that pops into your head. Start with Liz Brown.


Hmmm... How 'bout Amber Battle?


Yazmean Burgess?


Miah Register?


We'll get back to her. How 'bout Kerri Soppe?

Quiet, but she can surprise you with some of the things she says. She'll just come out of nowhere with something that's funny.

That's way too many words.

OK, funny. Surprisingly funny.

Two words, but we'll take that. Now, back to Miah....

How 'bout "tough."

Perfect. Now you've got to explain that "crazy" for Liz Brown.

She likes to dance and sing...she's just one of those teammates that makes you laugh.

Sounds like a fun group. But how much basketball talent are we talking about?

A lot of talent. Liz has surprised me a lot. She's a great rebounder and will spread the floor. Miah's a good point guard that will be aggressive and attack. Kerri's a really good shooter and knows a lot about the game. Yaz, she has a lot of good post moves and just needs to learn to have more confidence in herself and use those moves. Amber is a post with a great outside shot. Overall, I've been really impressed with them.

OK, now what about you. Is Abby Oliver bringing anything new to the floor this season?

I've been working a lot on attacking off the dribble, trying to get my own shot. I'm working on stepbacks, coming off screens and shooting right away...pump fake, jab step and getting by your defender. Things like that.

Give us one thing Coach (Michael) Shafer says all the time.

This year, he's always saying "We can do more than we think we can do." 

What's your best Richmond basketball memory?

My freshman year, when we went deep into the Atlantic 10 tournament. In the (semifinals) we beat Dayton, came from like 19 down. That was great.

Same thing happened last year at Duquesne. The Spiders have played a lot of exciting games during your time there, and have won more than their share. So how come more fans don't come to see you play?

Good question. If I knew the answer to that.... I'd love to get more fans in here. Especially students.

You've been described as a gym rat, an extremely hard worker who puts a ton of time into hoops. True?


So tell me three things you like to do that have nothing to do with basketball.

Let's see. I like spending time with family and friends. I love watching all sports - basketball, of course, but I also love football. Besides the Richmond Spiders I'm a big UNC fan. My father (Dick Oliver) played there and my brother went there, so I've always liked the Tar Heels. And I love going to the beach.

Still friends with any of your high school teammates from those great Hidden Valley teams?

Oh, yeah. I stay in touch with Abby Redick, Kylee Beecher, Kayla Osborne, Amanda Crotty, Abby Boggs. We had three Abbys on the team my junior year.

Finally, a lot of people on the outside are going to figure Richmond lost Brittani (Shells) and Crystal (Goring) and have all these kids, so it's probably going to be a tough year. You're on the inside. What does it look like from there?

Well, when people talk about inexperience, they see a lot of negatives. To me, I see a lot of positives. We're really talented, and having fresh faces, I think, will be good for us. And just because you're young, it doesn't mean you're going to have a bad year. I remember Rutgers in 2007. They had no seniors and five freshmen and went all the way to the (NCAA) final. I think we're really going to surprise people.

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