Dayton’s Shauna Green on canceling NCAA Tournament: ‘Obviously the right decision... but you still feel it’

If the past week was stressful for the average sports fan, try being Shauna Green.

Her Dayton Flyers went from the euphoria of winning a championship to the deflation of a season over too soon in the span of only five days as attempts to limit the spread of the coronavirus led to nearly all major sporting events being canceled across the country.

>>RELATED: Flyers relish winning tournament title in front of home fans

“It felt like every day, hour by hour, it took drastic turns,” said Green, who coached Dayton to victory in the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament on March 8.

The Flyers already won the regular season league title and were poised for their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance, at least one last chance for seniors Shakeela Fowler, Brittany Ward, Christine Szabo, Jordan Wilmoth and Julia Chandler to wear the UD uniform.

Could they recapture the magic that took them to the Elite Eight in 2015? Only time would tell, but they had done what they had to do to earn a shot.

“Sunday we win the championship and you’re on top of the world. It’s the best feeling ever,” Green said. “So we were riding high and then we gave them Monday and Tuesday off, and really at that point there wasn’t that much out there (about the coronavirus disrupting daily life).”

The Flyers returned to practice Wednesday, but that night the world learned NBA player Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus, which is also known as COVID-19.

“And after that, in my gut I didn’t think there was any way we could play the NCAA Tournament,” Green said.

With nothing official yet, she kept that to herself, but she also watched practice with a different eye that Thursday.

“I didn’t say anything to them before practice or during practice, but I tried to sit back and really enjoy watching them.”

What she saw was veterans leading, youngsters taking cues from them and everything falling into place for a final run that ultimately would not take place.

“I just tried to really take it in and enjoy it because I had a feeling in my gut that it was probably gonna be the last time we were all on the court together, and then Thursday afternoon is when it all broke,” Green said.

>>RELATED: Men’s team heartbroken as season ends

The Flyers got together for a team meeting, but the players already knew their season was over.

“In that team meeting there was just a ton of emotion, not a dry eye in there, and everyone got up and spoke,” Green said. “Our seniors all spoke, and it was cool. It was a sad moment but also a cool moment to see them speak about how much the program and how much this team and especially this year meant to them.”

On what would have been Selection Monday for the women’s basketball tournament, Green was still trying to cope with the sudden ending of her fourth season piloting the Flyers.

“We’ve never being in this position before just in terms of what’s going on in the world,” she said. “So obviously health is the most important thing, but that still doesn’t make the feelings go away. You know, we should be finding out tonight who we’re playing. We should have been practicing the last few days, but I mean you just kind of go through all the emotions. I think it’s just that abrupt ending that you’re just not ready for.”

Asked if the feeling in any way compared to a team finding out its NCAA Tournament bubble burst, Green said no.

“The only way to describe it is mourning,” she said. “I know it sounds extreme, but you feel so badly for your kids because they’ve just sacrificed so much and worked so hard. And for some since they’re little, little kids playing basketball, this is what you dream about. This what you work for, and some of our players had never been to an NCAA Tournament. Some of them are seniors and it would have been their last, and I feel for them because that was their dream and that’s everything that we had worked so hard for and they’ve come so far.

“And then for them to not even get the opportunity to compete, it’s just heartbreaking. But with time, you know like anything, I think we’ll get through it. Obviously it’s the right decision for them to stop everything — I understand that.

“But you still feel it.”

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