Tiber guides North Alabama to season of success in D-I

FLORENCE, ALA. – Missy Tiber just completed her sixth season as head basketball coach at the University of North Alabama. It is one she will not soon forget.

The former Bellaire High hoop standout led the Lady Lions to a most memorable campaign.

First, it marked North Alabama’s transition from the NCAA D-II ranks into D-I. That is no small jump.

But it is also one that Tiber guided her Lions through in much better fashion than anyone could have expected.

North Alabama compiled a sparkling a 21-9 mark and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Basketball Invitational Tournament, falling to North Texas, 56-53. Moreover, the Lions were picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Atlantic Sun Conference. They came home in third.

“I am unbelievably proud of my players and staff. We accomplished a great deal this year,” Tiber said. “The camaraderie with this group is super. It is a great feeling coming to practice every day really enjoying the people you coach with and the players you coach. It was enjoyable every day.

“You never know how the move to D-I basketball is going to play out. I was cautiously optimistic,” added the former West Liberty University player and assistant coach. “We only had a handful of Division I players on our roster. We were able to win some games we probably should have lost and maybe lost one or two we could have won.”

North Alabama wasted no time making its presence felt on the D-I landscape. The Lions traveled to Nashville in their opener and defeated Vanderbilt.

Tiber, age 46, is now 99-71 at the Lions’ helm. She came to North Alabama after serving as the head women’s basketball coach at Southern Illinois University from 2009-13.

While this past season was one of much success for the Lions, it may prove to be just a prelude to bigger and better things in 2019-2020.

“All five of our starters were juniors. We just had two seniors,” Tiber noted. “We bring back 10 players and we signed one recruit already. We are looking to add a few more players to next year’s roster.

“I enjoy recruiting but it is really cut throat at this level,” she continued. “I am really excited about the future of this program. Hopefully, we continue to build on all we accomplished this season.”

Tiber is a 1994 graduate of West Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science degree. She also has a Master’s degree in Sport Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Tiber began her coaching career as an assistant at West Liberty before becoming head coach at D-II Belmont Abbey College. Her teams amassed an overall record of 81-36 and a conference mark of 61-19.

Belmont Abbey proved a springboard to landing the Tusculum University head position from 2005-09. She took a program at the bottom of the South Atlantic Conference and compiled a record of 86-34 and a conference mark of 40-20. Tusculum was 52-11 overall and 26-4 in conference play her last two years at the helm, winning back-to-back conference championships.

Tiber’s top assistant is Adrienne Harlow. She was a three-time all-WVC honoree at West Liberty. Her 843 career assists are fifth most in NCAA Division II history.

BUBBA’S BITS

FORMER BELLAIRE High and Marshall University grid standout P.J. Woods has landed a new administrative/athletic position. Come Aug. 1, Woods will become assistant principal and athletic director at West Muskingum High School in Zanesville. He formerly served as Philo High athletic director.

I WAS fortunate to cover the Morgantown at Linsly baseball game Wednesday. I was fortunate in the respect that former Linsly baseball coaching great and OVAC Hall of Famer Gary Sprague stood with me for the entire contest. Not only is he one of the best baseball minds I have encountered, he is also one of the classiest.

THE 24TH Annual Belmont Mountaineer Athletic Club Golf Classic is set for Thursday, July 18 at Moundsville Country Club. For more information, call John Budinscak at 740-695-2944 or John S. Marshall at 740-695-4262.

IN LAST week’s column we mentioned some local officials who officiated in the OHSAA state tournament last month. Derek Gaudio, a St. Clairsville High grad, worked a Division I girls’ semifinal contest. He is now an Akron resident.

OHIO STATE women’s basketball team turned in a disappointing 14-15 campaign. Former River High all-Ohioan Jensen Caretti played in 23 games for the Buckeyes. The junior guard averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

DR. BILL Welker has been named to the board of directors for the National High School Coaches Association. He will serve as the Folkstyle wrestling consultant. The former Pennsylvania prep mat state champion has been involved with Folkstyle wrestling for more than 60 years. The Wheeling resident was the wrestling rules interpreter for the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission for 28 years ad also served on the National Federation of State High School Association’s national wrestling rules committee from 2012-15.

THE ADRIAN (Mich.) College women’s softball team continues its winning ways this spring. The Bulldogs are 13-9. Former St. John Central and Bethany College softball star Ashley Marinacci is Adrian’s head coach.

CHAZ ROE has recorded three holds in four appearances this season for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Steubenville native has a 3.00 ERA this season, fanning three batters in three innings of work. Roe is the son of former Buckeye North High and University of Kentucky grid star Don Roe. Chaz was selected in the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies.

CONGRATULATIONS GO out to Dr. Jerry Liberatore. The longtime St. John Central Lady Irish hoop coach was presented the Ohio District 12 Service Award Friday for his passionate and dedicated commitment to the school.

THE INDIANA State baseball team entered play with a superb 22-4 record. The Sycamores are coached by former Skyvue High athletic great Mitch Hannahs.

ONE OF the great sporting events plays out this week at Augusta, Ga. My pick is for Tiger Woods to win The Masters.

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