UD women’s team back on campus, preparing for season: ‘It’s just great to have them back'

Flyers started summer practices Monday

Members of the Dayton Flyers women’s basketball team returned to campus July 25 for the first time since March.

An season that included Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season and tournament championships, the latter won March 8 at UD Arena, ended March 12 when the NCAA tournament was cancelled four days before Selection Monday. After four long months of Zoom meetings, everyone got to see each other in person and return to basketball.

“We just started the full workouts on Monday,” Dayton coach Shauna Green said Wednesday. “We’ve had two days with them. Today was an off day. Thursday and Friday, we’ll be back again. It’s just great to have them back. It’s so nice to be in the gym, even though it’s different. Just to see them and be working with them was so refreshing. We’re excited to be back. We’re behind in terms of a normal season, but we’re in a good place.”

The team can train eight hours per week. Four of those hours can be spent on strength and conditioning. Four can be spent on basketball activities.

It’s an important time for the four freshmen: Bailee Adkins; Capria Brown; Makira Cook; and Anna LeMaster.

“We’re starting from the foundation with fundamentals and building up,” said Green, who was named A-10 Coach of the Year in March for the second time in four seasons. “We’re starting at the ground level, teaching everything, starting with the basics: passing, dribbling, shots, footwork.”

Green said the players underwent COVID-19 testing before returning to campus, and once they tested negative, they were allowed to move into their apartments on campus. They also underwent testing when they arrived on campus and stayed quarantined until getting negative test results.

At that point, the players had to get physicals, which would typical in a normal year. All 14 scholarship players will be on campus when Ténin Magassa, a 6-foot-5 forward from France arrives. Green said Magassa just received her visa and was cleared to travel to the United States and is scheduled to arrive this weekend.

Dayton signed Magassa in June. She played for France’s Under-18 national team in the European Championships last summer, averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 61.5 percent from the field.

“We’re super excited to have her here,” Green said. “Not a lot of people thought she was going to come to the states. They thought she was going to play professionally. For us to get her size and ability (is big). She has the experience playing with FIBA. She’s coming off a knee injury, but she’s cleared to play right now.”

Magassa will join practices that look different than normal. The Flyers are training in position groups with four or five players in each group. All the coaches wear masks. They have to talk louder and look the players in the eyes, Green said, to be understood through the masks.

There’s also a limit on how many players can use the weight room at one time. Temperature checks are done before they enter the building. Equipment is sanitized between workouts. Balls are sanitized after every practice. Players can’t just use the facilities whenever they want. Everything is scheduled.

Green said the players know they have to be responsible and accountable and do their best to avoid situations that might put them at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’ve got to make smart decisions on what they’re going to do with their free time and where they’re going to go,” Green said. “They know how much work has been done to get us to this point and even get us back here. They know the magnitude of it and know the season could depend on it. They’ve been great about wearing their masks.”

Everyone came back in good shape, Green said. Two players who missed their freshman season with knee injuries — Destiny Bohanon and Nadjy Tyler — are doing well but have not cleared for full practices.

“With all the kids right now, we’re just trying to go as slow as we can,” Green said. “We want to get so much work in. You feel like you’re behind. We’ve got to pump the breaks at times because we don’t want someone to pull a muscle or get hurt because we’re trying to do too much.”

LIke Dayton men’s coach Anthony Grant, Green said she’s dealing with the uncertainty about whether there will even be a 2020-21 season and whether it will start on time, by controlling what she can control.

“It’s not worth stressing and worry about the unknown,” Green said. “It literally changes every day. All we can focus on is we’re all here and we’re all healthy. If we have an hour on the floor, let’s optimize that opportunity and try to get better in that moment. That’s always our mindset and part of our core values, and it transitions into a situation like this really well.”

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