RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - May 9 is the day that changed the Spider women's basketball program. Assistant coaches Ginny Doyle and Natalie Lewis passed away in a hot air balloon accident, and it would be hard to find a college basketball team in the nation that's had the deal with as much as Michael Shafer and his team have this off-season.
Doyle and Lewis were on the minds of many on Tuesday during Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Media Day in Richmond. Several speakers mentioned them in their remarks and reiterated the importance of the family atmosphere throughout the league.
Shafer says the best thing for his team has been getting back in the gym. He says he and his staff have reminded the players that they are all in this together and nobody is going through it alone. The head coach told his team that the basketball court would be their sanctuary and they would use their minds to focus on the process of basketball, and that, so far, things have been really good since the team began practice.
The Spiders' head coach also talked about how difficult it was to replace the two assistants on his staff. He called the process "virtually impossible," saying he was unmotivated to do it, given the circumstances. Shafer also says that he knew he had to take care of his players as well and give them the guidance they needed.
Richmond will open the season on November 14 as the Spiders host Providence. The Spiders were picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 during Tuesday's media day.