Coach Mox energizes UVA women's basketball program
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- On the practice courts at John Paul Jones Arena, Amaka Agugua-Hamilton wasted little time turning the dial up with the Cavaliers.
"I'm an energy person so what you see is what you get with me," Agugua-Hamilton said, "It is just kind of what we bring and my staff are a reflection of me so it trickles on down."
In her own words, Coach Mox hit the ground running in her first four months at UVA. She brought along nearly her entire coaching staff from Missouri State -- assistants Alysiah Bond, Tori Jankoska, CJ Jones along with strength coach Chris Toland -- and has quickly reinvigorated the fanbase.
"There is a buzz around town, everybody is excited for this season and so are we," Coach Mox said, "Obviously same buildings and facilities and all that but new energy in here and we are excited."
Coach Mox only moved into her Charlottesville home this summer, but has already attracted a talented group of transfers and recruits. Less than two weeks after accepting the job Coach Mox landed her first transfer in hometown star Sam Brunelle, a former Notre Dame forward and standout at William Monroe High School, who Agugua-Hamilton knew of from her time coaching at Michigan State. From there the Cavaliers landed former four-star recruit and Minnesota transfer Alexia Smith and two freshmen in Cady Pauley, a 3,000 point scorer in high school, and Yonta Vaughn, a four-star prospect.
"Bringing Sam Brunelle home was a huge piece that happened maybe a week and a half, two weeks after I got hired and honestly we were able to use her in recruiting," Agugua-Hamilton said, "Great players want to play with great players so she's a hometown favorite and she brought a huge buzz to the community."
The group of newcomers adds to seven returnees for the Wahoos -- guards Carole Miller, Taylor Valladay, Mir McLean, Kaydan Lawson and McKenna Dale and forwards Camryn Taylor and London Clarkson -- who Coach Mox describes as underrated clouded by a five win season last year.
"I mean they are hungry, that is the first thing, I love the fact that they want to be great, want to make the NCAA tournament, want to cut down nets, that's half the battle," Coach Mox said, "I just hope we continue to get better but we have athletes on this team, we have really good shooters on this team, we have ball handlers that can get downhill, all things that cater to my style of play."
With only two freshmen on the roster, Agugua-Hamilton's first team is made up of nine upperclassmen, but everyone is starting out with a new system. Practices are not only high energy, but played at a high tempo with the same frenetic style Coach Mox used to rank among the top defenses in the country at Missouri State.
"We want to play fast, so you've got to train that way," Agugua-Hamilton said, "Everything we do is with pace. I don't care if it's a shooting drill or whatever it is. We've got to have a lot of pace, a lot of energy behind it because that's how we play."
For a roster without much success at the college level yet after four-straight losing seasons at UVA, Coach Mox says she works a lot with confidence, off the court and on. She has already installed a program called L.A.B. or Life After Ball, to help instill life skills like finance, mental health care and sleep training all the way down to changing a tire on a car.
Coach Mox admits she only watched one or two games from last season to get a feel for the program, but is not focused on past results and instead on building a winning mindset at Virginia once again.
"You start to see kids be really competitive and that is the biggest thing I want to see in these workouts and want to win," Coach Mox said, "Because if you do that, and celebrate the small victories along the way then when you get to the game there are going to be expectations to win."