Coach Abe leading Women’s Basketball to the top
By Aaron Cheris
Nov 4, 2014
Each of the past three seasons, the University at Albany women’s basketball team has won the America East conference tournament and played in the NCAA Tournament. At the helm for all three titles was Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. Known simply as Coach Abe, she sat down with the ASP before beginning her fifth season as UAlbany’s head coach. This piece is a continuation of last week’s interview with Coach Abe.
How would you describe your coaching style?
I’m different on the court than off the court and I’m different on the court in practice than I am during the game. When the game comes, I’m their biggest cheerleader. There’s just so much detail during the game and the little details really manage me. When they don’t do the little things that they’ve been taught over and over again, that’s when I stomp my feet. It’s all those little details that are important to games and winning. The only reason I stand up is because they don’t let me sit down. If I sit down, they don’t like it. They want me to stand up so they can see me call the plays. I would like to sit, to be honest. Now I kneel because I’m tired of standing and my feet start to hurt. They want to watch me and feel my presence. I’m a big believer and the energy of the coach is the energy of the team. Off the court, I’m there for them if they need me. I’m laid back and easy going. That’s my personality.
Last season, you were undefeated in the conference schedule and had the number one seed in the conference tournament going into the final game of the regular season against Stony Brook. After losing the game, how did you rebound in time for the conference tournament?
We had to refocus. You can never take anything for granted. Just because we beat them before doesn’t mean we can beat them again. After the game, I was announcing Tammy Phillip for senior night, and four years ago, nobody even thought we could win and then we lost one game ever in two years and it was so awful. I said we’re still the number one seed and still won 38 games in a row. It was interesting to see the flip side of the expectations in just four years. That’s the feel I got after that game.
After winning the conference tournament, you were a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season. Did you think you were going to be a higher seed?
We lost some crucial games during the season, so that didn’t help. We’re in our own little bubble here, and we think we should be a higher seed, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the country is even thinking about us.
Shereesha Richards is now just a junior, she won conference player of the year last season, and she is rewriting the UAlbany record books. Can she be any better than she already is?
Yes because she’s relentless. She has a work ethic, she listens, her teammates love her, and she is very humble. When you have that kind of young person on your team, your team wants so much success for her. When your best player is your hardest worker, you’re pretty lucky as a coach.
What do you hope the players get over their four years on the team and at UAlbany as a whole?
I hope they walk out of here with a $90,000 job and that they’re empowered, strong women. I want them to know who they are, what they stand for, and what they believe in.
Do you have anything left to prove?
I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody. I’m just trying to empower these young women. Every year, it’s always about our seniors. Right now, everything is about Sarah Royals and Margarita Rosario. When you look back on college athletics, you only remember your senior year. I remember mine. I know that this year is the year that Sarah and Margarita are going to remember. Sarah and Margarita don’t know anything different.
What is the next step for this program?
Whatever Sarah and Margarita want it to be.
After winning, there are usually opportunities elsewhere. Have there been any offers from schools trying to take you away from UAlbany?
Absolutely, but I’m not in this for me. I’m in it for my family first. This is where my husband and my children love to live, in New York. No matter what, it’s always going to happen and I’m going to have opportunities.
UAlbany begins its season in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The first game is on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. against St. Francis Brooklyn at SEFCU Arena.