O’Boyle, Lady Rams prepare for season

Coach O’Boyle instructing players during practice at the Franklin Street Gym on June 27. Photo by Michael Musatow.

Alonzo Small
Sports Editor

This spring, VCU named Beth O’Boyle as the new head coach for the women’s basketball team, which had great success last season.

O’Boyle replaced Marlene Stollings, who accepted the same position at the University of Minnesota, and takes over a young VCU team after a 22-win season and a postseason berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. However, O’Boyle is no stranger to accolades, as she was earning them herself some 400 miles away at Stony Brook University.

Named head coach in early April 2011, O’Boyle’s coaching record over three years is 42-51. As coach of the Stony Brook Seawolves, O’Boyle saw the program produce a ten-win improvement each of its last two seasons. Like VCU, the 2013-14 Stony Brook women’s campaign was good enough to earn a spot in the WNIT. Under O’Boyle, the 24-win season tied for the most in school history and their WNIT appearance was only the second in school history. Alongside a high-octane offense, the team produced a vaunted defense that ranked nationally in the top-50.

When the VCU women’s head coaching position became vacant, O’Boyle emerged as the best candidate overall and became the 13th head coach of women’s basketball.

In the press conference introducing the new coach, VCU president Michael Rao praised O’Boyle’s track record with winning on the court and with the players academically.

“I have great confidence in your ability to take VCU to the next level,” Rao said. “You’re a very focused and passionate person. It’s not only about basketball, but also about the success of our student athletes.”

Once introduced, O’Boyle addressed her stance on the women’s basketball program and players moving forward.

“My expectations will be high, but my goals will be simple,” O’Boyle said. “I want our players to excel in the classroom, to be the best student athletes that they can be. On the court, they will compete.”

O’Boyle’s coaching career spans over a decade. Prior to Stony Brook, O’Boyle spent four seasons as a coach at Canisius College. In 2009, O’Boyle was named as associate head coach in 2009 after serving two years as an assistant coach.

Before her career at Stony Brook, O’Boyle served as head coach at Montclair State University posting an overall record of 51-33 in three seasons. At Montclair State, O’Boyle led the 2006-07 women’s basketball team to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Metro Women’s Basketball Championship after being named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Co-Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season.

Prior to Montclair State, O’Boyle spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Rochester University. In her first two seasons, Rochester won the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Upstate New York Championships and in the last two seasons made consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III Final Four.

Now that O’Boyle has settled into her new role in a new city, the Rockville, Maryland native who found her coaching niche in upstate New York, feels the transition to VCU has been great thus far.

“The people in the City of Richmond have been great, and the department is really a great and fun place to work,” O’Boyle said.

As the season draws near, O’Boyle anticipates more opportunities to work with her young players. O’Boyle praised her young student athletes and feels they have responded well to her coaching techniques and work ethic.

“The players have been really receptive,” O’Boyle said. “They have been working hard in our summer workouts and having the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them and get on the court with them has really helped and it’s been incredible so far.”

One of the big changes O’Boyle has implemented is shifting from a zone defense to man-to-man. It’s a transition O’Boyle said she feels the players have bought into, but is still an ongoing process this early in the season.

“I think one of the things about this team is that they are very athletic and athleticism on defense is something that you love to have,” O’Boyle said. “I hope what we’re doing here in July, it gets better for September and better in November and then we’re playing great team defense in March when it really matters.”

The success of last year as was much the presence of a dominant rebounder and scorer in the post as it was a young group of guards and forwards that produced high levels of energy on both sides of the floor. As a new year approaches, O’Boyle said she is confident her team is ready to take the next step based on the close bond they share.

“I think with this team, one of the things that is really important to them is that they are really close on and off the court they have a great bond with each other and I think that drives them,” O’Boyle said. “They want to build on that tradition and that kind of motivates them to work hard this summer.”

Still a young team filled with inexperienced players at the collegiate level, O’Boyle welcomes three former Stony Brook assistants to help with the maturation process. Nerlande Nicolas, Kate DeSorrento and Stephanie Witko, along with Rob Norris, formerly an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University, complete O’Boyle’s staff for the upcoming season.

DeSorrento, who worked with O’Boyle the past two seasons at Stony Brook, said she feels O’Boyle’s coaching style at VCU is consistent with past institutions.

“Her calling card remains the same,” DeSorrento said. “Up-tempo style of play on both sides of the ball and a strong focus on defense.”

Now charged with bringing VCU women’s basketball to all new heights in the A-10 and beyond, O’Boyle said she is focused first, on building a team culture that places emphasis on player development in passing, shooting and dribbling, team chemistry and team intensity.

“As we get further along we’ll start talking about the A-10,” O’Boyle said. “But right now let’s make sure we have great practices and great individual workouts.”

The Lady Rams’ 2014-15 season starts in early November.

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