New Dayton assistant familiar with roster after five seasons in A-10

Olivia Applewhite returns to UD eight years after graduating

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

Olivia Applewhite had a hard time describing her emotions Thursday, one day after the University of Dayton announced she was joining Shauna Green’s staff as an assistant basketball coach.

“It’s one of those situations where I just know how special of a place this is,” she said. “Playing here and then having the opportunity to come back here, I really can’t put it into words, to be honest with you.”

Applewhite fills the spot vacated by Calamity McEntire, who left for an assistant coaching job at the University of Texas in May. The move comes eight years after Applewhite played her final game for the Flyers. The 2013 UD graduate appeared in 121 games in her college career and played for four NCAA tournament teams.

A 6-foot forward, Applewhite scored 636 points in her career and averaged 7.5 points as a senior during the 2012-13 season when she was named the A-10 Sixth Player of the Year.

After her college career ended, Applewhite played three seasons of professional basketball in France, Ireland and Denmark. She started her coaching career in 2016 as a graduate assistant at Saint Louis and then spent two seasons as a director of operations and video coordinator. She was promoted to assistant coach on Lisa Stone’s staff in 2019.

Throughout her time at Saint Louis, coaching against her alma mater multiple times every season, Applewhite said she didn’t look at Dayton as a rival. The teams played 12 times in the last five years with the Flyers winning nine games. Saint Louis handed Dayton its only regular-season loss last season, winning 64-57 on Feb. 20 at UD Arena.

“It was always love,” she said. “It was just us playing against the best team in the league. They were always intense matchups.”

Applewhite knew Green, whose first year as an assistant on Jim Jabir’s staff came during her senior year.

“I learned a lot about her,” Applewhite said. “She was someone I was able to go to a lot. She appreciated how I played, and that was obviously something that you want as a senior. I played hard. That really helped with our relationship.”

Applewhite’s return to Dayton also reunites her with Cassie Sant, who’s entering her third season on Green’s staff. She’s the assistant recruiting coordinator and video coordinator. Sant and Applewhite played together at Dayton for three seasons.

“She was a great teammate,” Applewhite said, “and even in these past few years, she’s just an even better friend to me. She’s been awesome, and I’m really glad she’s here as well.”

Green is entering her sixth season as Dayton head coach, and her team likely will be the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason favorite next season. Three seniors — Erin Whalen, Jenna Giacone and Araion Bradshaw — who helped lead the Flyers to the regular-season championship last season are returning for their sixth season in college basketball along with all the other letterwinners.

Dayton finished 14-5 last season and 12-1 in the A-10. It lost 56-50 to Virginia Commonwealth in the A-10 tournament semifinals and then lost two games in the Women’s NIT. Applewhite knows the roster well from having coached against Dayton.

“I’m very familiar with their strengths and weaknesses,” she said, “and now it’s just really cool getting to know them as people. They’re better people than they are players, which says a lot. There are some darn good players on this roster. The way the season ended, it gives you a fire in your belly to go into next season with a lot of goals. We’re just looking forward to competing and getting better every day. I’m really big on the process and Iook forward to that.”

Applewhite started thinking about getting into coaching during her senior year at Dayton. In five seasons at Saint Louis, she learned the importance of relationships.

“I wanted to be someone who the players could go to, but also — being the youngest staff member — someone that they respected,” Applewhite said, “and I think did a good job of balancing that. Relationships are huge. Relationships are everything in this business. That’s something that I learned a lot, and I’m going to cherish that and I’m going to keep carrying it on as I continue to advance in this profession.”


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