Illini Coach Shauna Green Recaps A Productive Summer, Excited For The Challenges Ahead

(Editor's note: Illini women's basketball coach Shauna Green appeared recently on the IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular syndicated show.)

August 27, 2023

Larry Smith --  Shauna, good to see you, How's your summer been?

Shauna Green -- Good to see you. It's been great. It's been super busy. I feel like this is the first time we kind of have a little bit of downtime.  Kind of quiet before the proverbial storm, right?

LS -- You've had some time now to process what just was a wild first year in Champaign. What are your thoughts now on what you guys have done here in year one? And are you able to appreciate some of the the accomplishments that you were able to make?

SG -- I think that you do you have some time, once you know, that first season is done or any season to sit back and reflect a little bit and obviously really happy with, you know, the season and this team and how quickly they bought in and how they were able to perform, you know, and some really, some really great moments throughout the season and to be able to make an NCAA tournament, which is our goal every single year in that first year. Those are things we had our vision on and what the standard we want to be, but to be able to do that so quickly. And I think was just a testament to our players, our staff for just putting the work in and for believing in the process. So you know, really really happy with it, but definitely not satisfied. So, all summer the focus has been with our team and in this program of that next level, how can we get to the next level? What can we do differently this summer? What can we you know, what can you do more of  in every little thing, every aspect from a holistic approach, in order for us to get to that next level to make a jump into this season? So I loved our summer and just really excited to get rolling in and the fall.

LS -- As you know, Adalia McKenzie is one of the Illini Guys as a reguluar on the show each week. And so, we we've had an inside peek to your summer all along, almost like we're like we're spying on you! (laughs) But in a nice way. She's talked about all summer, just how how excited she was really mirroring the same things that you're talking about.

SG -- That's awesome to hear that what she's saying is what we're saying, right? And when we're all on the same page, good things usually happen. But I mean, yeah, you talk about the difference between last year our first workout in the summer to this year. I mean, it feels longer than a year in terms of kind of the growth, I think that this team made and you know, 12 13, 14 months. And you know, last summer we weren't able to put in any offense. It was all fundamentals, principles, what we're going to be you know about and our core values on the floor and off the floor. So now being able to work, you know, a lot on our defensive side and being able to implement some of our offensive stuff, you know, in the summer, it were able to progress a little bit. But then there was also a time where I felt like we were progressing a little bit too much. And we weren't being really, really solid at, again, the fundamentals and principles. So we kind of took a real dip back in and we just really stayed true to principle stuff and not get too far ahead of ourselves this summer. Because I know what's gonna make us successful is doing the little things, you know, and being elite in them. So our new kids really did they came in and it's different when you only have a few new kids as opposed to a whole team that's never been together. So that made it a little bit easier this summer.

LS -- One thing you have right now that you didn't have last year, you have more depth, obviously with Shay Bowen coming in, Camille Hobby also coming in... a couple of post players. You've also got some star freshmen coming in as well, that will give you some some depth off the bench and you changed in your coaching staff as well with bringing in Britney Anderson from Stanford. We talked with her right as she was about to leave Palo Alto.  I know she's excited as well to come in.

SG -- You know, I always think it's good when you bring in, obviously, new players that are fresh and that kind of don't know what to expect. And also appreciate some things that maybe we do a little bit differently than some other places. I love our depth in our new guys, you know, our two freshmen are going to be able to contribute right away, obviously Camille Hobby, giving (senior forward Kendall Bostic) some help down there and a true physical post player that can score and can defend, I really am excited about her and then Shay Bollin. And you know, she didn't play a ton last year (at Duke). But she's going to really be a great player here, once she kind of gets back into her groove and has been working really, really hard. And then, you know, from the coaching perspective, it's always hard to lose someone, especially someone like Ryan (Gensler), who had been with me the longest and someone I relied heavily on, but obviously, that's what we want them to do is build.  It means that we're having success as a program when people want to take your assistant coaches to be head coaches. It's unfortunate for us, but it's also great and I'm so happy for him. And now we have someone new and fresh in Britney and being able to add, obviously, she's won at the highest level. She's won a national championship, which is what all of our goals are, right? And to be able to have her add some just some new things and new ideas. I just think it's great.

LS --  It feels like, as you mentioned, getting Coach Anderson to come in to replace a trusted and very talented coach in coach Gensler and then the players you were able to bring into the program this year, the conversations you're having with players in next year's class, it seems like that everyone is watching Illinois, and they're buying into not only what you're doing, but what the vision is for what this program can become.

SG -- Yeah, last summer when we're trying to put together a team and when we're talking to players, you know, everyone's like 'I really believe you're gonna do it coach, but you know, I don't want to go here because I want to win right away', or, you know, if we lost out on some kids, so they thought we could do it, but they thought it's gonna take a long time. So now being able to have a little bit of success under our belt and being able to back that up, I think more people are listening and intrigued and have taken notice. So, are we where we want to be?  No, but are we a heck of a lot further along than we were, you know, a year ago.

LS -- What will fans see different about this team? What improvements are you hoping to make with this team on the court?  And how do you build on last year's success?

SG -- A year of experience is so much and everything was a first for us. So now we have a new team, but I just think that you'll see right from the start, you know, just more experience, more confidence in what we do, more confidence in themselves individually. I mean, everyone has made some really big growth from postseason into summer. And I just think how we play together, the chemistry, the feel, you know, obviously that's a lot better than what it was, you know, going into last season, and then it's just the depth. It's gonna look different, you know, we're gonna have some different options of, you know, a lot of different options of different rotations and different lineups.  You know, do we play KB at the four and Hobby at the five or do we go small like at times we did last year and in go for true guards and then a KB or Hobby. So I just think that there's gonna be some more flexibility in what we do in terms of lineups.

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