Temple women’s basketball assoc. coach reflects on guards’ recent success

Way Veney is in her 12th season at Temple, and two of Temple’s top three scorers are guards.

Way Veney, Temple women’s basketball associate head coach, watches from the sideline during the Owls’ 76-75 win against Houston in McGonigle Hall on Saturday. | NICHOLAS DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As she sat down after a Friday morning practice, associate head coach Way Veney reminisced about one of Temple  University women’s basketball’s most successful seasons in her tenure.

“We played at Duke against Oregon, who obviously went on to be one of the better teams in the country, but we played them down to the buzzer,” Veney said about a game in 2016-17 season. “I felt like that was one of the bright spots in our program since I’ve been here.” 

Veney, now in her 12th season, works with the guards, two of which are among Temple’s leading scorers this season. 

Redshirt-sophomore Ashley Jones averages 16.7 points per game, and sophomore Marissa Mackins averages at 13.8 points per game. 

Freshman guard Asonah Alexander averages 27.8 minutes a game and leads The American in assists to turnover ratio. 

Veney adapts her coaching style to fit whichever guard she is working with, she said. She doesn’t start with technical skills until she’s built their confidence first, she added.

When teaching Mackins, Veney works on shooting three-pointers and helps her work on “forgetting” bad shots. Mackins is shooting 35.1 percent from three, which leads the team. 

“[Veney’s] energy is very different, and the way she loves the game is incredible,” Mackins said. 

As a freshman, Mackins averaged 8.7 points per game and shot 31.8 percent from the three-point range. 

“Coming in, I was just starting out as just a point guard and having her as a position coach and as a mentor really helped me out, not just as a person, but as a player, too,” Mackins said. 

In her work with Jones, Veney helps her read and react to defenses. Jones is shooting 42.5 percent from the floor, which is tied for second on the team. 

“On the court, she’s helped me with offense, pretty much everything, all-around game,” Jones said. “I just feel like she tries her hardest to get me to be the best player I can be on the court.”

Veney’s wants Alexander to shoot the ball more, she said. 

Alexander averages 5.3 points per game and shoots 37.2 percent from the floor. 

“She needs to look to be more aggressive,” Veney said. “Kids are all different, each player is different and you focus on different intricacies with each one of them.”

Veney took the job at Temple shortly after the university hired coach Tonya Cardoza in 2008. 

“It’s funny, I had just accepted a position at George Washington [University],” Veney said. “[Cardoza] got the job three days after I accepted the job at GW and asked me would I come with her, and I had to call GW and tell them no.”

Before she became a coach, Veney was a starting guard at East Carolina for two seasons and competed in two Women’s National Basketball Association tryout camps in 2000 and 2001.  

When her playing days ended, she wanted to start coaching because she “played like a coach on the floor,” she said. 

Veney coached former guard Alliya Butts, who graduated in 2019. Butts is second in team history in scoring and averaged 14.4 points per game in her career. She also shot 32.7 percent from three-point range on her career and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc her junior year. 

Butts became the first Owl to make The American Athletic Conference First Team in 2016.  

“For as many players as I’ve coached, if I see that I’ve reached one of them, it makes a huge difference,” Veney said. 

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