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Beyond woulda-coulda-shoulda: URI captain Megan Shoniker talks about the (real) work of turnaround

January 19, 2011 – 5:58 AM

The Playbook: Year 2

An occasional series about the University of Rhode Island Women’s Basketball Team and Coach Cathy Inglese as she tries to turnaround a losing program.

By Laura Pappano

Megan Shoniker is #10, URI team captain who hit the 1,000-point scoring mark on December 29. Shoniker, a senior with a 3.87 GPA, is majoring in physical education and envisions a career in coaching (after maybe playing in Europe or trying out for the WNBA).

FGN: You are 6-12, and into conference play. How does the team feel about where you are right now?

MS: We are disappointed, but we are not letting it get to our heads. As we look back on the first half of the season, there are woulda-coulda-shoulda’s, but win or lose, Coach wants us to get something out of the game.

FGN: As captain, how do you keep the team upbeat amid some wrenching losses (including a triple OT loss to UNH)?

MS: A-10 is a tough conference and every single night anyone could beat anyone. We want to be one of those teams people are scared to play. I think of myself as having a bubbly personality and I joke around, but try to keep [the team] focused. Sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that this is the game we used to go out into our driveways and shoot hoops and play with our friends and siblings.

FGN: You played here for two years before Coach Inglese arrived. Does it feel different?

MS: Oh yeah. Just our discipline and how we carry ourselves off the court. We walk with our chins up like, “HEY! We are the URI Women’s Basketball team!” Socially, we have grown a lot – our boosters and us being out in the community. On the court, I think we have gotten a lot better, and we’re becoming more of a team. I don’t think we are the perfect “team” yet, but we are getting there.

During the Dartmouth game, it was our fourth OT game in a row, and in the first overtime Sherrie Session went all the way down to the basket and all five of us just went crazy. We got into this huddle and we were just SCREAMING, “We’re WINNING THIS! We’re not going to let this go!!” I get chills thinking about it now. Right in that huddle I knew we weren’t going to lose that game. It’s something I’ll remember my whole career.

FGN: Coach Inglese has a career winning record and that’s her goal here – turning the program around. Does it bother you to graduate before the work is done?

MS: I am jealous of the other girls who have a year or two. We are slowly starting to get what it takes to be a Xavier, a Temple. I know within the next two years she will get it turned around. She is a winner. There is no way Coach Inglese doesn’t get us there.

I’m so lucky to have her my last two years. She’s not only helped me develop into a great player, but she has helped me develop into a leader. She asked me the other day, “Do you want to come help with film work and scouting so you can see behind the scenes?” I want to be like coach. I want to have a lot of wins, successful teams. I want to build strong women for the future. It may sound cliché, but I’ve had all these women help me become the person I am today, if I can do that for some girls – we’ll that’s what I want to be able to do.

FGN:What did you think of UCONN getting 90 consecutive wins and breaking UCLA’s winning streak record from the 1970’s?

MS: That was awesome! I’ve always been a UConn fan. I love Coach Auriemma, Sue Bird. For women’s basketball it was awesome. I wanted it to keep going. All around I think it raised awareness of how great of a game women’s basketball is to watch.

FGN: Did you know that Coach Inglese’s Boston College team beat UConn — at UConn — in the Big East Semifinals in 2004?

MS: Coach never really talks about the wins. That’s what makes her so great. She is never talking about,  “I’ve beaten UConn.” She not very much of boastful person.

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