Jersey City, NJ - In the off season with the head coaching position at Monmouth University there were two approaches. The half- empty group viewing the job in a less than favorable light. No winning seasons since 2011-12. The last .500 record coming a year later. After that, a succession of long campaigns. Add to that, frequent coaching turnover-never a good sign.
The half-full group saw different. An excellent school. Great location by the Jersey Shore. And, right in their backyard, arguably the best high school girls basketball conference in America- the highly regarded and revered Shore Conference. Plus, an administration committed to the women enjoying success on the hardwood.
Ginny Boggess was all in on Monmouth. She saw the glass being more than half-full and a situation that could be turned around. On accepting the job the former Penn State aide to Carolyn Kieger remarked how so many of the women’s athletic programs at Monmouth are successful. No reason basketball could not follow suit.
She reached out to coaches and programs in the Shore Conference. Recent coaches at Monmouth may have been less than vigilant in that endeavor. Boggess was not about to let that talent exit the state before seeing what Monmouth had to offer in academics and athletics.
To date the Hawks show a 13-12 record, 8-8 in the MACC currently tied for fifth with Saint Peter’s. A year ago amidst the Covid shortened season, Monmouth was 2-16. The first thing Boggess had to do in getting started was change the culture.
"Coming into the program the first thing we emphasized was trust," Boggess said. "Coach to coach, coach to player, player to player. Build a trust in the process and good things will happen. As a student and as a player."
The early success Monmouth had caught the head coach by surprise. Job one was staying focused on ‘winning’ each day in practice and let it carry over to the games, the wins would come. "Late December we were winning and late in the game one of my assistants told me ‘you know we now won four of our last five’. I was shocked. I didn’t even realize it." Staying focused on the daily improvement, Boggess, for a moment, had to be reminded about the strides the program was taking. Her slogan for Monmouth is ‘win-what’s important now’. Each day, each practice, each game.
This past Monday night was a tough one. The Hawks ventured north to Jersey City to face Saint Peter’s. Two weeks earlier they defeated the Peacocks in overtime in West Long Branch. On this night Saint Peter’s avenged that defeat with a 78-66 victory. "They (Saint Peter’s) sped us up," Boggess lamented in the aftermath. "We like to play fast but their defense just didn’t allow us to be efficient." Case in point, the Hawks being guilty of 21 turnovers.
Marc Mitchell, Saint Peter’s mentor, in post game comments, had nothing but praise for his opponent on the other bench. "Coach Gin is a phenomenal coach." he said. "She is doing a fantastic job at Monmouth and they are a force to be reckoned with in the tournament."
Interesting that both Mitchell, in his fourth year, and Boggess came into places where the naysayers said you couldn’t win. Both are proving the ‘experts’ wrong.
Monmouth is in its last season in the MAAC. Next year they are off to the Colonial Athletic Association. Boggess enjoys the MAAC but doesn’t dwell on the decision. Rather, she takes the high road feeling the move to the CAA will help recruiting in the long run.
Boggess stays in close, almost daily, contact with coach Kieger at Penn State. "I talked to her today," Boggess said. "She just had a bg win over Michigan State." The biggest thing she took from Kieger during days assisting her at Marquette then in Happy Valley was preparation. "Be prepared daily and in all aspects of the program," Boggess said." Preparation was instilled in me by Carolyn (Kieger)."
Heading into the home stretch, Monmouth is a contender for a MAAC Tournament bye. An almost unthinkable proposition in preseason. The tournament in Atlantic City tips off in less than two weeks. Four regular season games remain. A game at a time. A practice at a time. All part of her mentor’s emphasis and lesson-preparation.
Boggess learned her lesson well, And is implementing that lesson and getting results at Monmouth.