Coach Beth O’Boyle does not play around in practice. She is very mission oriented when it comes to getting her team ready for a very aggressive start to the VCU women’s basketball schedule. The Rams will play 4 games in 7 days beginning on November 14 and that’s a lot for players, even when they are in top physical condition. To make sure the team is ready she runs a very structured practice where segments are timed and so are the player breaks.
Coach O’Boyle and her staff are very vocal and the women have to be alert to move throughout the series of drills, half court plays, and full court scrimmages. O’Boyle talked about changing up the style of play at her pre-season press conference and the Rams are currently adjusting to a new defensive style and the loss of their go to shooter who graduated last year. As promised O’Boyle is focused on producing an up tempo game where the players need to think fast and transition from defense to offense quickly. There was a lot of “grab it and go” being called out by the staff and that translated into a lot of activity on the court.
There’s no question as to what’s expected in practice. When the speed isn’t there or the players aren’t executing at the desired level, a whistle blows and the players receive new instructions and commence either sprinting from one end of the court to the other or dropping to the court for push ups. If you aren’t hustling on the court, you’re probably getting subbed out quickly. This is a non-stop, 110% effort required type of program. The biggest surprise was when they brought men in to play against the women. It was unexpected, yet appeared very effective in making sure the team plays aggressively and maintains that up tempo rhythm. No excuses here – you had better be ready to work for it.
The players received positive reinforcement and acknowledgement when they accomplished something and guidance when things weren’t working out well. The most impressive moment for us was when O’Boyle called a stop in play to help her players analyze a defensive scenario. She positioned herself in the middle of the action and asked questions allowing the players to think it through and look at the dynamics in play. Then she talked through and demonstrated why certain things would or would not work and how making a different choice could improve their ability to achieve the desired result. It was exactly what a teachable moment should be – someone who is passionate about something and shares it with someone else so that they can improve and be successful. It’s also why Coach O’Boyle, her staff, and team are going to be something special to follow this season.
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