Shauna Green orchestrated two major victories Wednesday night.
For the first, she put together a game plan — with the help of her assistant coaches — that enabled her Dayton Flyers women’s basketball team to overwhelm Duquesne early, bottle up the Dukes’ leading scorer, Chassidy Omogrosso, all game long and then down the stretch get the ball into the hands of veteran point guard Jenna Burdette, who hit 10 straight free throws to seal a 79-70 victory at UD Arena.
The Dayton win snapped the eight-game winning streak of the 18-4 Dukes, gave them their first loss in the Atlantic 10 and kept the Flyers atop the league standings at 10-0.
And yet, all that was nothing compared to the second challenge Green handled after the game.
That’s when she was tasked with getting her 3 ½-year-old son Matteo — who was past his bed time, not feeling well and ready to go home — to smile for a family photo outside the UD dressing room.
“Come here Teo, we need to take a picture,” she said to her son, who wanted no part of a pose and a smile and instead worked his way behind the legs of the few adults standing nearby.
Finally, she coaxed her son into her arms, stood next to her husband, Andy, and tried to get Matteo to cooperate:
“C’mon, you gotta look and smile … please look.”
And then — with the help of her dad, Dave, who was making monkeyshines — Matteo suddenly turned and for just long enough for one click of the camera, he smiled.
That’s the way most folks have been leaving UD Arena since Green took over the program 17 months ago following the abrupt departure of longtime Flyers coach Jim Jabir because of a personal problem.
Jabir had coached 13 seasons at UD, taken six straight teams to the NCAA Tournament, one to the Elite Eight just two years earlier and sent two players to the WNBA. But a downslide in the 2015-16 season left the Flyers 14-15 and two weeks into last school year, he suddenly was gone.
The situation and quick exit left the players rattled and disillusioned and UD realized it needed to find a quick, but comforting hand for the rudder of the program.
Green had been an assistant and the coordinator of recruiting for three seasons (2012-15) under Jabir before joining the Northwestern University staff for a year.
A week after Jabir left, she was announced as the Flyers new coach.
She led last year’s team to a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season crown and the A-10 Tournament title, got the Flyers into the NCAA Tournament and finished 22-10.
After the season the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named her the 2017 Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year.
This season her 17-4 Flyers again are the toast of the A-10, a point underscored by their balanced attack against the Dukes.
JaVonna Layfield had 18 points and 17 rebounds. Burdette added 18 points, while Jayla Scaife had 16 and Alex Harris 13.
Late Thursday morning it became evident that it wasn’t just the players who had upped their game Wednesday night.
So had Matteo.
Before coming to her UD office, Shauna said she would take her son to see the doctor.
“He was up last night, he just didn’t feel good,” she said. “But that’s how our life works when you have a 3-year-old. You just never know.”
‘Just find a way’
Shauna and Andy are both from Iowa. She from Clinton, he from Bellevue.
He played college basketball in Clinton, first at a community college, then at Ashford University. One of his teammates and best friends ended up marrying Shauna’s older sister.
At another wedding Andy hit it off with Shauna, who was back home over the summer from Canisius College, the Buffalo school where she’d have a legendary career with over 2,000 points and 900 rebounds.
When an injury thwarted a pro career in Europe, she took an assistant coaching job at Loras College, a Division III school in Dubuque. She and Andy soon married and he was the boys’ varsity coach at East Dubuque High School.
By 25, Shauna was the Loras head coach and after two seasons was lured to Providence, where she spent five seasons. In 2012 she joined the Dayton staff and Andy became a junior high girls coach in Oakwood and a freshman boys coach at Greenon.
“Once we had Teo, he stopped coaching,” Shauna said.
Now a fourth-grade math and science teacher in Springboro, Andy is often Mr. Mom at home because road games and recruiting trips can pull Shauna away from home for a few days at a time.
Yet she does her best to handle the coaching-motherhood double team:
“It’s definitely hard, but like I always say, ‘You just find a way. You make it work.’
“Since Teo was literally two weeks old and I was an assistant here, he’s been in the gym. When I was doing individual workouts at 6 a.m., I’d bring him along and he’d be sleeping in his car seat at courtside.
“It’s all he’s ever known.”
She started to laugh: “And now he knows way too much for a 3 ½-year-old. He knows all the girls. He comes to the office with me. He loves coming to the games and he goes on a lot of our road trips.
“It works because I have a husband who’s unbelievable. He and Teo spend a lot of time together. Andy understands.”
He agreed with his wife: “I’ve been a coach at all levels so I get it. I know what her job entails.”
Shauna said during the season she’ll take Matteo to daycare around 7:45 in the morning, head to her office at UD and often not get home until 7:30 in the evening.
“I try to watch my film and make recruiting calls from home,” she said. “That way Teo is at least around me.”
The mantra she has espoused since taking over the team has been family:
“I want a family atmosphere here, and it’s not that we just preach it, we live it. I want my family to be involved in our team and vice versa.”
Andy said there’s a lesson to be learned in that, too:
“I think it’s really important that the girls see this. It sends a message. It shows you can be a professional and have all this and you can still be a mom, too.”
Fans taking note
Along with parenting and coaching, Shauna is doing some cheerleading this season.
Before Wednesday night’s game she took to Twitter, urging people to come out to the game.
The biggest crowd of the season — 3,223 — did come and filled the lower bowl of arena, giving the game an enthusiastic, partisan backdrop.
“This doesn’t always happen in women’s basketball,” she would say later. “But it was promoted very well. We had students here and all our fans came out. Now we’ve got to try to get that environment every single night. Then, just like it is with the men, it will be hard to come into this arena and win.”
That’s already pretty much the case. The Flyers are 9-1 at home and their crowds — an average of 2,578 — are the best in the A-10.
The next closest is St. Louis at 1,556. Six teams average fewer than 700 fans a game at home.
As soon as Wednesday’s game ended and postgame handshakes were done, Shauna grabbed the microphone and spoke to the crowd:
“Thank you so much. You guys were huge this game — keep coming back. This is how we envision UD Arena looking every game.”
As she stood on the court in black blouse, red skirt and black high heels, you noticed a quarter-sized tattoo above her left ankle.
Asked about it later, she shook her head: “Don’t even…”
“It’s a funny story,” needled her husband.
Though she may have been offering watered down version of the story, she did share the origins of that tat:
“I designed it myself to be like a star or the sun. It’s stupid. Just a dumb decision. When you’re 16 years old, don’t get a tattoo. It’s not smart.”
Then again, it may be right on the mark.
After all, the sun sure seems to be shining on Flyers women’s basketball again.