Cinderella had her glass slippers and, in the Land of Oz, Dorothy wore ruby ones.
The magic kicks for Shauna Green turned out to be a pair of black and coral-trimmed Nikes she had customized with a special date stitched to the back of each shoe.
But the Dayton Flyers women’s basketball head coach didn’t really tap into her foot power until her team lost four straight games and five of six in the latter part of November.
The final two losses came at a Thanksgiving tournament in Fort Myers, Florida.
The Flyers folded against No. 21 Gonzaga, whom they had led at the half, and a day later they fell to Auburn, 76-74, in overtime, after leading by 13 at the break and sacrificing the lead only when the Tigers made a tying lay-up at the buzzer in regulation.
“We had a team meeting after that, and we tried to get them to lock in,” Green said.
To make her point, she didn’t put her foot down; she lifted it up for all to see.
“I showed them the shoes I had on that day,” she said. On the back she’d had stitched “03-08-20.” She then asked the team, “Does anyone know what that means?”
“Some of them looked at me like I was crazy,” Green said, “but then it clicked.
“It was the date of the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at UD Arena. I stressed that was our main goal and it was still obtainable. I said, ‘The rest of this is just part of the journey.’”
Her players listened and turned their journey into a nonstop romp down the yellow brick road.
They would lose just three of their remaining 25 games. They won 15 in a row and won the A-10 Conference regular season with a 15-1 mark.
“Toward the end of the year, they just had that look in their eyes,” Green said. “They just weren’t going to lose a lot of games.”
Senior guard Jayla Scaife became a first team All-Atlantic 10 selection and made the All-Defensive team. Junior guard Erin Whalen was named to the league’s second team and won All-Academic honors. And junior guard Araion Bradshaw was an All-Defensive team pick.
For the second time in her four seasons as the Flyers’ coach, Green was named the A-10 Coach of the Year. Best of all, her shoes were a perfect fit for her team.
At the A-10 Tournament, UD — playing before a loud and loving home crowd — won three games in three days and hoisted the championship trophy on 03-08-20. And that would get the 25-8 Flyers their ninth NCAA Tournament bid in the past 11 years.
“We got to win a championship on our home court, have confetti fall from the UD Arena ceiling and cut down the nets in front of our fans,” Green said. “You couldn’t have written the story any better. I told our team, ‘This is something you’ll remember forever.’”
But then, just three days later, on Wednesday, March 11, came word the NBA was suspending operations to deal with the first signs of the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Other cancellations — including the A-10 men’s tournament in Brooklyn — soon followed.
Although she felt the NCAA Tournament would be canceled, too, Green didn’t say anything and let her players practice on that Thursday.
She sensed it would be the last time the team would ever be together, so she stood back and savored the moment and some of the season’s memories.
As her women had been winning, so, too, had the UD men, and Green said that created “a real buzz” around Dayton.
“Any time the men win, we win,” she said. “Their success resonates with us. It brings attention to our program and people see how good we are, too.”
In Green’s four seasons the Flyers are 47-7 at UD Arena and while that success draws fans, so does the personal touch the program prides itself in.
And after each of those 54 home games, Green grabbed a microphone and — as her predecessor Jim Jabir had done — she told the fans how much she and her players appreciated them coming to watch.
“We always talk about how we are family, how we build relationships, and I think it’s important to let your fans know they are a part of it, too,” she said.
Soon after that Thursday practice, it was announced the NCAA Tournament had been canceled, and Green gathered her players for a tearful final get-together.
“Yes we were upset, but when you step back and look at what’s happened since, you realize our situation doesn’t come close to the heartbreak of the people who lost loved ones and the ordeal all the doctors and nurses face every day as they fight the disease,” she said.
Green believes college basketball will be changed by the pandemic experience:
“I think it will change how we recruit and travel and even interact with each other. A lot of things will probably be different when we play again.”
One thing will be for sure. Those special shoes will be gone.
“They did their job,” she said. “They’ll be retired.
“It’s time for some new ones.”
For the second time in her four seasons at UD, women’s basketball coach Shauna Green was named A-10 Coach of the Year. The Flyers finished 25-8 after going 15-1 in regular season conference play and winning the A-10 Tournament.
Senior Jayla Scaife was named First Team All-Conference as well as being selected for the A-10 All-Defensive Team. Joining her on the All-Defensive Team was redshirt junior Araion Bradshaw. Redshirt junior Erin Whalen made Second Team All-Conference and the All-Academic Team.