NORFOLK, Va. - It hasn't been smooth sailing for DeLisha Milton-Jones since taking over as head coach of the Old Dominion women's basketball team.
She was hired in April, just after COVID-19 lock downs started taking place, and was tasked with moving in the midst of a pandemic. Then, once she arrived in Norfolk she was unable to spend time with her team for months as social distancing measures were put into place.
Finally, she's on the court with her team as they prepare for the upcoming season that gets underway December 3, in a home matchup with William & Mary.
"It's been a whirlwind to say the least," Milton-Jones said. "Taking a job during the pandemic, one could never expect the plethora of unpredictable moments that could pop up on a daily basis, but I think that everyone has come together and shown tremendous resolve and unity through all of this and we've shown each other a tremendous amount of grace because schedules are gonna change, situations are gonna change for people and we just have to be able to adapt."
"I think that overall coming in as a new coach, the team has embraced the fact that I have a difference philosophy from what they've experienced before. Sometimes change is good and I think I'm challenging them in a way that I can open their minds and open up their games so that we can present a different product on the floor but still get the same results."
During practice, Milton-Jones puts her experience as a two-time Olympic gold medalist and 17-year WNBA veteran on display. When walking her players through drills, she often takes the court herself to give the players a visual of how they should be completed.
"I'm very hands-on," Milton-Jones, who was drafted fourth in the 1999 WNBA Draft, said. "Because of my background of playing for so long I've understood over the years that so many people learn in so many different ways. Some people you have to literally walk them through, some people you have to hold their hand, talk to them, show them on video. Others need to see you do it and they do that by imitating you, or imitating what they see, so I try to teach on many different levels and I think that's what the players can appreciate is I take my time and I teach so that everyone has a thorough understanding before we progress to the next drill, or next level."