The VCU women’s basketball team has made great strides in the past 2 seasons and we expect it to continue in 2014-15. The Rams had one of the best turnarounds in the country improving 11 games over the prior season, setting new program records, and finishing with a post-season WNIT bid. There was just one small challenge introduced – the exit of head coach Marlene Stollings who was leading the upward trajectory.
Now losing the coach that helped orchestrate the rise of the VCU program could have been a setback, but VCU Athletics Director Ed McLaughlin and his team went right to work to ensure that wouldn’t be the case. McLaughlin referred to it as “an exhaustive national search” in which “one person rose above everyone else…not only for what she has done as a coach but for who she is as a person and where we think she can take us in our women’s basketball program.”
In a press conference on April 29, 2014 VCU President, Dr. Michael Rao, introduced new head coach Beth O’Boyle to Ram Nation.
Coach O’Boyle is no stranger to turnaround seasons having made dramatic strides of her own at Stony Brook improving by 10 wins in each of the last 2 seasons. In fact the similarities in the VCU and SBU programs include going 11-2 on their respective home courts in 2013-14 and post-season WNIT appearances.
Look for some buzz in 2014-15 around defense. It’s become the standard for the men’s team with Shaka’s Havoc defense, but O’Boyle’s Seawolves made an impression in that space in 2012-13 finishing 3rd in the conference in steals and in 2013-14 VCU averaged 11.5 steals per game finishing 5th nationally with a turnover margin of +6.28 ranking 8th nationally. The combination of players returning after a season of setting program records and an energetic coach that has a proven history in defensive strategy should result in good things in this space.
There’s also a good chance for some high scoring games and more record setting in 2014-15. Last year the Ram’s had 5 games with scores over 90 points and 2 where they scored 112 which broke the 25 year record of 75.5 points per game and replacing it with 75.8. It made them the highest scoring program in school history. They also shattered the previous three point record of 169, hitting 235 over the course of the season. The women’s basketball team is also taking a page from the men’s playbook by completing pre-season Seal Team Training, so look for them to bring some extra stamina to the court and wear the opposition down.