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Opinion: Neal ready to move forward

By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~

Coaching college athletics may be one of the toughest occupations imaginable and Xavier women’s basketball coach Brian Neal faced just that tough situation last season.

Just weeks before the last season began, former women’s basketball coach Amy Waugh resigned, leaving the team in turmoil and Neal as the interim head coach. Now he continues his role as the team’s new head coach.

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Neal takes his full reign this season

On top of the normal coaching duty of devoting your life to the organization, a head coach has to develop young adults and prepare them for the next level of competition.

Additionally, coaches must spend their off-seasons recruiting prime talent from high schools. These players must not only fit the team’s scheme but also fit a mold that works well with the pre-existing roster.

Now, try taking all of those responsibilities and put yourself into the same situation as Neal.
Just three years removed from dominating Division III play with Thomas More College, Neal made his NCAA Division-I debut last November.

While Neal goes into the 2014-15 athletic year with a full off-season and his own recruits, this year’s roster lacks the fourth-year senior leadership that he leaned on last year.

The responsibilities of players like Shatyra Hawkes and Ashley Wanniger are now transferred onto the shoulders of senior transfer guard Maleeka Kynard and junior guard Jenna Crittendon.
Neal hopes to soon bring Xavier women’s basketball back to the elite level at which it competed in his first year as an assistant, when former head coach Kevin McGuff led the 2010-11 team to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Despite the departures, Coach Neal will certainly hope to improve on last year’s 8-23 record.
The diffucult season became even tougher during Big East play when the squad hit a rough patch, finishing the season 3-15.

Brian Neal has undoubtedly been dealt a difficult hand to begin his Xavier career, but with the addition of a top-50 recruiting class and the returning scoring prowess of Crittendon, the team’s success is sure to begin improving this season.