Pittsburgh, PA — Richmond coach Michael Shafer could not be any prouder of his team after a rare road victory Sunday at George Washington, in which the Spiders held GW to 36 points.
“I think we’ve been playing really well as of late,” he said. “Wednesday when we played UMass we didn’t play very well but before we that we had won five of six and now six of eight which is a good way to enter the tournament. Winning at GW, I thought were one of the hottest teams in the league and it was encouraging to head into a home game.”
Another big key to Richmond’s success of late was the return of Kylie Murphree who missed 13 games earlier this season due to injury.
“In the middle of January we played the top three or four team in the league, in a row,” said Shafer. “That’s going to be tough no matter who you are and the other piece was that we were without Kylie. Regardless of whether she scores or not, she obviously is very important to our basketball team because the results have shifted in our favor.”
Thought Richmond lost to both Dayton and Fordham earlier on in conference play, Shafer feels that the Spiders played those teams tough. In the Fordham game, Richmond literally had a shot to win the game but were unable to capitalize.
This year Richmond has seen noted improvement from senior Micaela Parson who has played with a chip on her shoulder.
“I’ve argued all along that Micaela is one of the better guards if not the best guard in the league,” Shafer said. “If you look at her stats, she is in the top-20 in every category in the league. It’s sickening really, and she’s doing it on pure will. At the same time I think she’s the most improved player in the league. She went from 11-12 points to almost 19 a game from her junior to senior year, which is unheard of. She just wants to win and prove a point that she is a good basketball player. I think she’s doing that.”
Shafer gave Micaela Parson the biggest compliment he could comparing her production and skill set to Abby Oliver, the last player he coached that reminded him of that drive passion.
“I am putting her in a very high regard but it’s easy to coach her now,” said Shafer. “Freshman year was a pain but now it’s easy, you don’t have to say a whole lot, she just understands what it takes, the effort and she brings it every night. That’s what is so enjoyable about coaching, one they figure it out you get to watch them and enjoy them.”
Richmond will host Davidson, which has exceeded expectations and nearly were able to host this game instead.
“They beat us at our place already and I thought they played really well,” Shafer said. “When I watch them on tape, they’ve been pretty consistent with the way they play, their effort and what they’re trying to do. The point guard Kate Turner, 5 (Justine Lyon) and 44 (Mackenzie) Latt, those kids are special players and we’re going to have to do a number on those kids if we want to advance to the Coliseum.”
In that meeting Richmond was with Murphree out of the lineup due to injury and now her return gives Richmond extra help from a defensive standpoint.
The winner of this contest will go on to the Richmond Coliseum and face top seeded Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinals.