Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting to know VCU Coach Beth O'Boyle

Minus the spotty cell phone reception, nice to chat with new Virginia Commonwealth Coach Beth O'Boyle. We learned a lot about the Rams, though what has us most excited is the prospect of O'Boyle cooking breakfast for us one day (we hear she does a terrific job with that French toast. Can we get scrambled eggs with that?).

They'll be no more Fury this year (at least as far as a nickname, players' decision) and there's a few new faces -- Auburn transfer Chadarryl Clay and junior college transfer Ashley Pegram, and of course, O'Boyle, who, in April, took over for Marlene Stollings, now the head coach at Minnesota.

This much we know. They'll be plenty fit, that's for sure (check out Runnin' with the Rams. . . .)

Tell us what's cool about living in Richmond

One thing that stands out to me is how nice everybody is. I'm living in the city and so is most of my staff and everywhere we go, everybody is so nice. I'm really excited about VCU. Anytime they find out I'm the basketball coach, people here talk about the school and the athletic department in a great way. It's really exciting to be a part of it. If I could only sell my condo in New York, I'd be really happy!

Given all the youth on VCU, how did you get all the kids to buy in?

That's one of the things our staff takes a lot of pride in -- building relationships with the players and getting them excited about what we're trying to do One of the things we talked about early was ownership. They really have been so excited about things. I think they're excited to play some man-to-man and really uptempo offense. They've really enjoyed how we've done the practices so far. We do a lot of individual skills. Our workouts over the summer are all one-on-one with a specific coach. They really have seen their skills get better. That's really helped with buy-in.

We try to do a lot of stuff off the court, so we're spending a ton of time with them. That really helps. We call them team challenges, and once a week we, with our strength coaches, come up with something that challenges them as a team but off of the court. They've gone on a fun monument run through the city, so they got a bit of history and a good workout. We've put them in situations where they have to communicate to accomplish something.

We had our French toast breakfast at my apartment and a corn hole tournament. That's the only thing I'm able to cook, but they've been having fun with it.

This week we have our first session with the Navy SEALS. I'm really interested to see how that's going to go. Coach (Shaka) Smart has talked really highly about it. He did it last year. It's teambuilding, and we're doing it really early in the morning. It helps to create team identity, and they get to hear it from different voices than the coaches'.

Coaches often take over struggling programs. What's it like taking over a winning program (VCU finished 22-10 last year and advanced to the WNIT)?

At Stony Brook I took over a team that was probably one of the bottom ones of Division I, and I went through that. It's different at VCU. They had a great season last year and got that first taste of going to postseason and playing in the WNIT. We're really focusing on building a culture and a program. We want our players to get after it in the classroom.

Talk about the offseason your players have put in.

Chad Clay
Adaeze (Alaeze) has put in a great summer. I think she's going to be a bigger scoring player for us this year than she has been in the past. She's been working really hard -- same for Camille (Calhoun) and Isis (Thorpe). You're going to see them in different roles. It's great to see Kei (Robinson) back. She had a great freshman year and she's going to have the ball in her hands a lot. Chad Clay is the transfer from Auburn, and she's eligible to play. She brings a good element to the team.

Keira had decided to transfer to Charlotte but a change of heart made her return to VCU. What's it like having her back? 

The thing about Kei is she's so responsible and a really great person. She might have been homesick, and it was the end of the year and things might have been difficult, so to be honest, she didn't miss anything. She didn't miss practices or summer school. Like a lot of teenagers, you realize once you go home that you really miss what you had. That was the case with her. The one thing that's great with this team is they're really close, and she missed her teammates. We're really excited to have her back.

Tell us about Ashley Pegram (the 5-8 guard from Richmond's Meadowbrook High School comes in as a sophomore, after a year at Chesapeake Junior College in Wye Mills, Md. She was a first-team NJCAA All-American, averaging 23.1 ppg, 6.8 rig and 4.1 apg.)

She's a great addition to our program. She's our first local recruit from Richmond. She's a really fast, athletic guard who does a great job getting to the rim. Athletically, she's going to do well for us. She's always wanted to play for VCU and was really excited that she had the opportunity to.

And your new big is Curteeona Brelove (6-2 freshman from tiny Malone, Fla., population 2,000-plus a little)

She is from the hills of Florida. She's country strong from chasing the goats and life on the farm. But if you're looking at us, we're pretty small. We don't have a lot of size and I think Curteeona is going to help us in that area. She's getting used to the pace of college basketball, especially the pace we want to play at. But she's got good hands and the ability to score and definitely will help us in the post.

Did you feel you had to convince this team that you were going to hang around as a coach (Stolling departed VCU after two seasons for the Minnesota job.)

Lots of VCU fans and people have asked me that. It's the perfect job for me. My family is two hours away. I think my mom thought it was her press conference; she was so excited! When you're looking at great women's jobs, you want to be where there is good high school basketball. And Richmond has terrific high school basketball as does the Richmond area and D.C. The A-10 is really a premier basketball league. You have three teams that went to the NCAAs on the women's side and six on the men's side. You're not competing with football. And people at VCU care about athletics. I can't imagine being at a better place. I'm not thinking about the next move. This is a great move.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

So, how was YOUR summer?

Hey, guys. Hope everyone's had a kick-butt summer. We'd love to know how everyone is doing, and we're trying to make our blog more interactive, particularly with players. So if you have a spare moment or two, we'd appreciate it if you would jot down responses to these easy-to-digest questions and send them to ladyswishing@hotmail.com for a soon-to-be-posted blog entry.

Thanks in advance, and enjoy what's left of the break!

The questions:

1. What aspect of your game have you worked on/improved the most this offseason?

2. Most fun thing you've done this summer?

3. Summer guilty pleasure (overdosing on mom's cooking, multiple viewings of a bad TV show, a "One Direction" fetish, something along these lines)?

4. Best movie you've seen this summer, and why did you enjoy it so much?

5.. Favorite Robin Williams movie/show/special?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Catching up with the Tribe at the Seven Cities Pro-Am

A Sunday afternoon at Norfolk's Maury High School allowed LadySwish to catch up with the Tribe -- at least part of William and Mary, as we watched senior Jazmon Boone and sophomores Brooke Stewart and Alexis Hofstaedter play in the Seven Cities Pro Am Hampton Roads (apologies, Latrice Hunter. We saw you play a nice game, but did not get a chance to chat).

Anyway, always good to see some of our favorite players in action and hear their thoughts. Here's what we learned.

On second-year coach Ed Swanson:

"He's pretty intense," Boone said. "Those are the best words to describe him. He gets the most out of us."

And his mantra?

"Energy and effort."

Most coaches have a few lines they say over and over again, and the Tribe leader is no different. Among his pet Swanson-isms:

"In my 22 years of basketball, never have I had ....(fill in the blank)."

Boone also does a keen impression of him in a crouched position.

While we asked the W&M players what was going to be different this coming season (Tribe finished 8-21 last season), we knew one
thing already. This is the first time Tribe players have been regular participants in the summer league (Marlena Tremba, Kyla Kerstetter and Alex Masaquel are others on rosters). All seem confident the offseason action will help.

"We play pickup as a team all the time, but it's against each other, so there's only so much you can do because you learn how everyone plays," Stewart said. "You cheat the game in a way, so this kind of keeps you honest. For me we had our end-of-year meetings and gave us assignments on what we need to do and mine was to play."

We quizzed them each about the best part of W&M (not necessarily a basketball question).....

"Southern hospitality," offered Hofstaedter, from Richboro, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia (and by the way, she prefers Pat's to Geno's).

"I love my teammates," Stewart said. "They're my best friends. I've been on teams when it's not like that."

"The academics," Boone said. "I appreciate the academics. It keeps you on your toes for staying disciplined and prepares you for life. You don't just go to school and play basketball. You have to manage the rigorous schedule."

By the way, she says Intermediate Economics has been the toughest, and Stewart, who grew up outside of Boston, gives a thumbs up to the off-campus housing. "If I were to live in the house I live in now in Boston, it would be a zillion dollars."

We also learned what a TWAMP is (that'd be a Typical William and Mary Person).

Moving on ..... their summer guilty pleasure is....

"Ice cream," Boone said. "It's so hot. I like FroYo."

"I like wings,"Hofstaedter admitted.

"Lay by the pool," chimed in Stewart.

Last question -- a frivolous one, we admit. Where's LeBron gonna go?

"I don't like LeBron," Stewart said, whose loyalties lie with the Celtics and upside-rich forward/center Kelly Olynyk.


Spurs fan.

Never leaving Miami, Boone says.

"No doubt."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Headed to Seven Cities pro-am? Here's the scoop on who's playin' (lots of ODU, W&M)

W&M's Marlena Tremba

The Seven Cities pro-am is back for its fourth season at Maury High in Norfolk, and how sweet is it to have the Tribe in the mix! Several William and Mary players are on rosters this season, a first, says league organizer James Flood.

"I approach all the local schools every year," he said. William and Mary previously had not showed an interest, but under new coach Ed Swanson, entering his second season, there's plenty of green and gold in Norfolk on the weekends.

We did our best to track down some info on players who have logged minutes so far. The season will continue this weekend at Maury (games continue on July 5 at 1:30 p.m. with the Virginia Lady Supreme vs. Pepsi followed by the Alexander Senators vs. the Virginia Lady Stallions at 2:30. On July 6, it's Optima FamilyHealthcare vs. Talk at 1:30 p.m.) Here's the full schedule.

Here's info on most of the players who have appeared in games so far.


From Old Dominion
Ije Ajemba: 6-3 sophomore center who played just 56 minutes last season
Keyana Brown: 5-11 freshman guard who scored more than 2,000 points at Williamsburg Christian Academy before transferring to Lafayette High her senior year.
Auteaonna Gilmore: 5-8 freshman point guard  who will be reunited with Jennie Simms at ODU, as the two played together for Riverdale Baptist High from 2010-12. Gilmore played her senior year at Capital Christian Academy.
Maia Lee: 6-3 freshman forward who was a highlight reel at McLean High
Stephanie Gardner: Graduated Lady Monarch who averaged 6.2 ppg as a senior
Ashley Jackson: 5-9 freshman guard from Ridgeway High in Memphis

From William and Mary
Kyla Kerstetter: 5-11 senior started 27 games as a junior and averaged 10.7 ppg
Marlena Tremba: 5-9 sophomore who was the CAA Rookie of the Year last season
Ashley DeLeonibus: 6-3 freshman forward from Bullis High who chose W&M over UMass
Abby Rendle: 6-4 freshman center from South Lakes High

Breana Boone: former Deep Creek High guard who played in 22 games for Tidewater Community College last season
LaTaya Bracey: played in 22 games last season for Tidewater Community College, averaging 8.4 ppg last season
Terice Burrell: point guard from Dyersburg State Community College
Annmarie Prine: Former Green Run High player
Ashley Cunninham: Former Williamsburg Christian High player
Brittney Townes: Former Kecoughtan High player

Jazmen Boone: W&M senior who made CAA All-Defensive team
Monique McClean: Former Bruton High player from St. John's
Jordan Mitchell: 5-8 sophomore forward and Norfolk native who averaged 3.4 ppg and 3.4 rpg for Grambling
Chelisa Painter: 6-1 senior forward who averaged 8.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg for ODU last year
Aerial Wilson: Former Virginia Tech guard who appeared in 115 games
Destinee Young

Kymesha Austin: Former center from Phoebus High
Keiara Avant: Hampton's Athlete of the Year and MEAC Player of the Year in 2013 who also played
in the Ukraine
Jessica Canady: Former ODU forward also played in Puerto Rico and the Ukraine
Trinise Fox: Former Nansemond River High player who played at South Carolina State
Olivia Hampton: Former Hampton guard
Kevia Small: Former Longwood player
Crystal Woodley: Former Oscar Smith High star who played in Germany


LaQuanda Younger: 5-10 junior guard who averaged 3.5 ppg last season for ODU
Amber Easter: former George Mason 1,000-point scorer from Bethel High
Bernadette Fortune: Graduated Hampton guard
Ty Cook: former Heritage High player who played at Virginia State
Kasey Curtis: 6-2 sophomore guard who played 125 minutes last season for the Tribe
LaToya Taylor: played at Virginia Union
Kenia Cole
Kenya Wilkerson: point guard at Apprentice School
Juel Woodard: former Norfolk State forward
Alex Masaquel: 5-9 sophomore guard at W&M from Honolulu who appeared in 12 games last year

Ebony Brown: 5-9 sophomore forward from Norfolk State who averaged 8 points last season
Kenia Cole: 5-4 senior guard who averaged 9.4 ppg for Hampton
Odegua Oigbokie: 6-1 sophomore forward who made 16 starts and averaged 5.3 ppg for ODU last season
Destinee Young 6-1 sophomore forward who averaged 2.6 ppg for ODU last season
Sarah Tabb: Graduated Radford forward from Chesapeake's StoneBridge High
Brooke Stewart: 6-foot senior guard who started seven games last season for W&M
Ronesia Spicer: Sophomore forward on Norfolk State