Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remembering Ginny, bidding adieu to Wendy, new look at George Mason, and Robyn in Spain

Ginny Doyle #ThrowbackThursday pic

Remembering Ginny: Stephanie Gaitley couldn't figure out the text message. It was from Delaware Coach Tina Martin expressing sorrow. Gaitley was in Las Vegas on the morning of May 8.

The text sent Gaitley to the Internet where she learned of the tragic balloon accident that killed the Spiders associate head coach and the team's director of operations, Natalie Lewis.

Stephanie called her sister Coco. "We cried together on the phone," she said.

The week before, the Fordham coach had been recruiting alongside her good friend and player she recruited to attend Richmond, Ginny Doyle. The two had a blast, joking about if limited to one person on a desert island, who that would be. Ginny picked actress Melissa McCarthy.

"I was Ginny's mentor," said Gaitley, who keeps a framed photo of Doyle in her office. "She loved Richmond so much."

Gaitley plans to keep Ginny's memory alive in a number of ways, even planning to name a play for the1992 Spiders graduate who led Richmond to consecutive NCAA tournaments. "Naturally, it's going to be for a 3," Gaitley said.

Gaitley also dedicated all of the money from her offseason clinic to the Ginny Doyle Scholarship Fund.

"We'll do that annually," Doyle said. "She'll be with us forever."

Once the scholarship fund reaches $50,000, each year an incoming freshman player will be known as "The Ginny Doyle Women's Basketball Scholar Athlete."

Ginny's brother, Joe, posts a photo of Ginny every Thursday for #throwbackThursday to raise awareness for the scholarship. Donate by clicking here.

Driving Miss Virginia: Former ODU coach Wendy Larry, who spent the last three years as an associate commissioner at the Atlantic 10, was part of her last official function for the conference at media day. Larry, with more than 600 coaching wins next to her name, will retire but plans to be plenty busy over the next several months.

Larry's mother, Virginia, 89 and living in New Jersey, is eager to travel around the country with her daughter, who plans to do a lot of driving in the coming months. "We're going to Cape Cod, Charleston, my condo in Florida, New Orleans, and she wants to go to Italy," said Larry.

Wishing Wendy and her mom happy travels!

Home sweet home: George Mason coach Nyla Milleson enters her second year coaching the Patriots with a new home and an upbeat attitude about her new-look team, which includes two transfers.

On the home front, Milleson and husband Brent have settled into a house in Haymarket. Brent recently moved to Virginia after spending last year in Missouri and has settled into a new middle school teaching job with an ideal commute. "We both have a perfect 30-minute real-world commute," Milleson said. The difference? Brent's is almost always a half hour as he's going against traffic, wheras Nyla often gets caught up in the gridlock of being close to D.C.

"Sometimes it's an hour and 30 minutes," she said.
Jasmine Jackson

As for the team, two transfers, 5-9 redshirt junior Jasmine Jackson (Georgetown) and 6-2 redshirt
junior Kristi Mokube (Florida State), should be in the starting lineup, good news for Taylor Brown and Sandra Ngoie, who carried the offensive load a year ago for the Patriots. "Jasmine is a great defender," Milleson said. "She's going to be a great complement to Tay. I can run her both at the 3 and the 2. More importantly, she provides a big voice."

Jackson and Brown were former teammates at Georgetown.

As for Mokube, "She provides a tremendous presence on the block and on the boards," Milleson said. "You don't hear this much about a post player, but she's an energy player. She provides just endless energy physically and emotionally."

Rachel McNair is also healthy again, Talisha Watts has a renewed confidence and Reana Mohamed "continues to get better and is a spark plug for us," Milleson said.

Deeper Spiders: Richmond coach Michael Shafer is hoping the added depth he has will allow Gen Okoro and Liz Brown to return to their natural positions. Okoro played center a year ago but returns to the 4 spot with an added strength that has allowed her to shine in early practices. Olivia Healy, who blossomed last season as a freshman averaging 12.3 ppg before a January ACL tear, has also been cleared for practice, and two freshman will be part of the early mix. They are Karleigh Wike, a 6-4 forward,  and Rennie Harrison, a 6-4 forward/center. Wike is the career leader in rebounds (1,291) and blocks (477) for East Rowen (N.C.) High in Salisbury. Harrison is a two-time all-league player from Episcopal (Va.) High in Alexandria.

Patriot pals: Great idea by Milleson to pair teammates to spend time together outside of practice every day and eat one meal as pals per week. The pairs exchange two tokens of appreciation and encouragement and spend snack time together during practice. The purpose is to help the team get to know one another better and build team chemistry.

In Spain: Hardly surprising that through four games, VCU grad (and former A10 leading scorer) Robyn Parks is atop the stats for scoring with 14.8 ppg for Gran Canaria. Parks is shooting .417 from the field and .500 (4-of-8) from 3, averaging a team-high 30.89 minutes. The team is 2-2.
Robyn in Spain

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