The PLAYBOOKThe Playbook is an occasional series on University of Rhode Island Women’s Basketball team and head coach Cathy Inglese as she works to turn around a losing program. Check out previous installments here and here.
By Laura Pappano
It’s starting. New uniforms are arriving. Coaches of other RAMS teams that bump into staff of the URI women’s basketball team are chatting about the season. For the first time in years there is anticipation that this year – maybe – could be the start of something. But as Head Coach Cathy Inglese and her assistants – including two former pro players – prepare for tomorrow’s exhibition game and the season opener next week against Fairfield University, there remains a lot of work ahead for a team that won three home games last year.
Inglese challenged her new team this summer, pressing them to improvetheir grades. Her philosphy: You can’t be excellent on the court and mediocre in the classroom. Players responded.
Now, how do you go from being used to losing to understanding how to win? From playing better on the road to developing a fan base and a home-court advantage?
Coach Inglese, asst. coaches Ashley Earley, Amber Jacobs, and Megan Lanham, director of operations Steve Wallace, and team captain junior Megan Shoniker, spoke with FairGameNews about some of the challenges of teaching players a new system, new expectations – and at the same time building support on campus and across the state for a team that may not – YET – have all the talent it needs to finish near the top of the conference and, dare say, make it to the NCAA tournament.
FGN: As a player, Megan, you were here last year. Does it feel any different now?
Megan Shoniker: It’s a lot different. We are reaching out more and getting people’s attention, going into the community.
Megan Lanham: With men’s basketball, people go and it’s a sport they watch. For women’s basketball, you need to build a sense of ownership. People want to know the players and the coaching staff.
Cathy Inglese: I’ve been out talking with people, groups. I say, ‘We are the State University. We are your University. Come support us. We want to make you proud.’
Steve Wallace: I talk toPowered by Sidelines