A week after Shaka Smart had his turn in the media room, women’s basketball head coach Beth O’Boyle was next up as she gears up to start her first season with VCU.
Held in the Siegel Center media room on Oct. 6, O’Boyle said she wants to keep up the tempo and play her man-to-man defensive strategy. She also wants the players to rebound the ball and get down the court to shoot instead of waiting for an outlet. According to O’Boyle, the women’s basketball team is small compared to other teams in the Atlantic 10 conference. O’Boyle wants to improve rebounds and keep an up-tempo with little room for hesitations. This leaves more room for the players to dictate their open shots during transition. Along with the changes of the team’s strategy as a whole, O’Boyle said she is excited for the new training facility and working with VCU.
Leadership roles usually fall on the senior players, but with forward Melanie Royster being the lone senior, other players will naturally have to step up. O’Boyle feels the team leadership will be more group oriented rather than having a sole player leading the team.
“When you’re a senior you just have that mental toughness that you can get through anything,” O’Boyle said, “The younger you are you’re still learning that, but you know I think Ke (Keira Robinson) has stepped up in a leadership role as well as Daisy (Royster).”
Royster had an impressive number of rebounds, which O’Boyle hopes to increase with her fast-paced offense. After her breakout season, Robinson is expected to rise as an experienced sophomore in helping lead the team.
“Because of the tempo we are going to play, you are going to see us playing a lot of players,” O’Boyle said. “I don’t know if it’s who starts the game, but it’s really going to be for us who finishes it.”
O’Boyle plans to use the team as a whole, playing 9-10 players every game. By rotating more players, she hopes to keep every player on alert and up for the up-tempo style of play she desires. This way the players will still have the energy and drive to play man-to-man defensively, rebound and push the ball on both ends of the floor.
“I think we are really going to try to keep that tempo up, and to do that we are going to need to play 9 or 10 players,” O’Boyle said.
O’Boyle is appreciative of her staff and said her staff puts in time with the players, and they are able to build relationships with players off the court. By building this relationship they are able to connect better with the player and understand them as an individual.
“When you’re holding your players to that type of accountability on the court, they also want to know that you really care for them off the court,” O’Boyle said.
The staff wants to build the team up and let them play with their full intensity. The intense training helps bring out the player’s personal skills and weaknesses.
“We want our players to be in the gym a ton and want them to love basketball, and it seems right now there is good healthy competition among them,” O’Boyle said.
O’Boyle is new to VCU, but she is excited for the hype of the Siegel Center, and the family that is her new team. When she came to VCU she instantly felt a connection and has been building on her relationships with the team.
“I’ve coached at a lot of schools but I’ve never come into a program where the team is as close as this team is,” O’Boyle said. “They have great chemistry, they’re really supportive of each other on the court and off the court.”
Along with a hopeful winning season, O’Boyle said she and her players are excited about the new practice facility, which will create more opportunities for the team. The facility gives the team the extra boost to recruit, and in turn could add to the success of the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
“It’s unbelievable,” O’Boyle said. “I think it raises our level of recruiting and it raises our level of play. It’s going to be one of the premier practice facilities in the country.”
The training facility enhances the level of play, but the conference itself is something that intrigued O’Boyle in taking the job at VCU. She said in basketball you want to go to great conferences. O’Boyle said coaching at VCU in the A-10 is where she wants to be and plans on being in Richmond for quite sometime.
O’Boyle expects the VCU women’s basketball team will have an intense season, but is confident the team will excel with her new strategy and training regimins moving forward.