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Richards Ready To Lead Women’s Basketball in 2015

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By Aaron Cheris

11/3/15

Richards is now UAlbany’s All-Time leading scorer. Source- UAlbany Athletics
Richards is now UAlbany’s All-Time leading scorer. Source- UAlbany Athletics

The University at Albany Women’s Basketball Record Book might as well be called the Shereesha Richards Book.

In just three years at the school, Richards has dominated on the court for the Great Danes and climbed into the top 10 of nearly every major program record.

She is currently the program’s all-time points leader, and she still has a season left to rewrite the record that former teammate Ebone Henry set in a historic four-year career.

Henry’s number five now hangs in the SEFCU Arena rafters, and it’s all but certain Richards’ number 25 will be there shortly after her graduation.

For now, Richards is focused on her senior season at UAlbany, and she intends to make it a great one.

“We definitely want to win and continue the tradition of winning,” Richards said. “We’re looking forward to having a great year overall and getting back to the [NCAA] Tournament and winning a game, making it to the second round.”

UAlbany Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson lets the team’s seniors dictate what the team’s goals are going to be. This year, Richards and fellow senior Erin Coughlin are going to be the team’s leaders on and off the court. Knowing it is her last go around with the Danes probably won’t bother Richards.

“There’s no added pressure because I know I’m always going to have the target on my back,” Richards said. “As a player being out on the court I’m always going to be pressured so I can’t be focusing on that.”

Over the past four seasons, the UAlbany women’s basketball program has turned into a juggernaut, winning four straight America East titles to reach the NCAA Tournament. Richards was a part of the last three championship teams, and the chance to earn a fourth in a row is one she will relish.

“It would be great to be a part of this and it would mean we were able to continue the tradition of succeeding for the program,” Richards said of a potential fourth championship in a row.

While Richards and the Danes have taken home a lot of hardware, one thing still eludes them – an NCAA Tournament victory.

Last season was the closest UAlbany got to success on the national stage. In a tough, hard fought battle at Cameron Indoor Stadium in March, the Duke Blue Devils escaped with a 54-52 victory over UAlbany in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The loss was a tough one to get over, but it will serve as motivation for UAlbany heading into the upcoming season.

“It’s always something that’s right there. It’s like that bug that is buzzing in your ear and you can’t get rid of it. It’s always going to be there and it’s always going to be heartbreak,” Richards said. “You wish that you could have won the game but at the same time you have to move on, you can’t dwell on the past.”

Over her career, Richards’s stats are mind-boggling. She boasts the two highest scoring seasons in program history. She is the only Great Dane to score 40 points in a single game, and she has also scored 20 or more points in a game an astounding 37 times, the equivalent of a full season. Her rebounding numbers are almost as good, topped only by former teammate Julie Forster, whose number 11 also hangs in the SEFCU Arena rafters.

However, what may be her most important asset can’t be judged in a stat sheet or record book.

“Just seeing her work ethic, she comes in every day working, she’s getting better,” Coughlin said. “She’s becoming more of a vocal leader this year too, which is big for her because she has so much respect from her teammates just from her talent alone.”

That talent has led Richards to two straight America East Player of the Year awards after a Rookie of the Year award her freshman year. Richards has come a long way from playing netball in her home, Jamaica. In fact, she didn’t even play basketball at all until she came to America for high school.

“She’s developed so much more when she got here,” said teammate Imani Tate. “Everything that she does now as a basketball player is completely different since her freshman year or even before that.”

“She can lead with her actions and now with her voice, that’s big,” Coughlin said.

Richards has rarely been stopped in her career, and that job falls to scout players in practice. Since few coaches have the answer on how to stop her, it begs the question, could Richards guard herself if given the opportunity?

“That’s a good question. I really don’t even know how I could guard myself. I don’t really think I could, unless I really wanted to guard myself. I think it would be really hard to guard myself,” Richards said.

The first test for UAlbany will be on Sunday, Nov. 15, against Pepperdine at SEFCU Arena at 1 p.m.

The University at Albany Women’s Basketball Record Book might as well be called the Shereesha Richards Book.

In just three years at the school, Richards has dominated on the court for the Great Danes and climbed into the top 10 of nearly every major program record.

She is currently the program’s all-time points leader, and she still has a season left to rewrite the record that former teammate Ebone Henry set in a historic four-year career.

Henry’s number five now hangs in the SEFCU Arena rafters, and it’s all but certain Richards’ number 25 will be there shortly after her graduation.

For now, Richards is focused on her senior season at UAlbany, and she intends to make it a great one.

“We definitely want to win and continue the tradition of winning,” Richards said. “We’re looking forward to having a great year overall and getting back to the [NCAA] Tournament and winning a game, making it to the second round.”

UAlbany Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson lets the team’s seniors dictate what the team’s goals are going to be. This year, Richards and fellow senior Erin Coughlin are going to be the team’s leaders on and off the court. Knowing it is her last go around with the Danes probably won’t bother Richards.

“There’s no added pressure because I know I’m always going to have the target on my back,” Richards said. “As a player being out on the court I’m always going to be pressured so I can’t be focusing on that.”

Over the past four seasons, the UAlbany women’s basketball program has turned into a juggernaut, winning four straight America East titles to reach the NCAA Tournament. Richards was a part of the last three championship teams, and the chance to earn a fourth in a row is one she will relish.

“It would be great to be a part of this and it would mean we were able to continue the tradition of succeeding for the program,” Richards said of a potential fourth championship in a row.

While Richards and the Danes have taken home a lot of hardware, one thing still eludes them – an NCAA Tournament victory.

Last season was the closest UAlbany got to success on the national stage. In a tough, hard fought battle at Cameron Indoor Stadium in March, the Duke Blue Devils escaped with a 54-52 victory over UAlbany in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The loss was a tough one to get over, but it will serve as motivation for UAlbany heading into the upcoming season.

“It’s always something that’s right there. It’s like that bug that is buzzing in your ear and you can’t get rid of it. It’s always going to be there and it’s always going to be heartbreak,” Richards said. “You wish that you could have won the game but at the same time you have to move on, you can’t dwell on the past.”

Over her career, Richards’s stats are mind-boggling. She boasts the two highest scoring seasons in program history. She is the only Great Dane to score 40 points in a single game, and she has also scored 20 or more points in a game an astounding 37 times, the equivalent of a full season. Her rebounding numbers are almost as good, topped only by former teammate Julie Forster, whose number 11 also hangs in the SEFCU Arena rafters.

However, what may be her most important asset can’t be judged in a stat sheet or record book.

“Just seeing her work ethic, she comes in every day working, she’s getting better,” Coughlin said. “She’s becoming more of a vocal leader this year too, which is big for her because she has so much respect from her teammates just from her talent alone.”

That talent has led Richards to two straight America East Player of the Year awards after a Rookie of the Year award her freshman year. Richards has come a long way from playing netball in her home, Jamaica. In fact, she didn’t even play basketball at all until she came to America for high school.

“She’s developed so much more when she got here,” said teammate Imani Tate. “Everything that she does now as a basketball player is completely different since her freshman year or even before that.”

“She can lead with her actions and now with her voice, that’s big,” Coughlin said.

Richards has rarely been stopped in her career, and that job falls to scout players in practice. Since few coaches have the answer on how to stop her, it begs the question, could Richards guard herself if given the opportunity?

“That’s a good question. I really don’t even know how I could guard myself. I don’t really think I could, unless I really wanted to guard myself. I think it would be really hard to guard myself,” Richards said.

The first test for UAlbany will be on Sunday, Nov. 15, against Pepperdine at SEFCU Arena at 1 p.m.

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