Bellaire’s Tiber enjoying D-I coaching success
FLORENCE, AL. — The University of North Alabama has transitioned quite nicely into the world of Division I women’s basketball.
The Lions recently completed their second season at the NCAA’s highest level, posting a sparkling 21-9 record. It also marked the first time in school history the program has recorded three consecutive 20-plus win seasons.
Missy Tiber is the architect of North Alabama roundball success.
The former Bellaire High and West Liberty University hoop standout has been the Lions’ head coach for the past seven seasons. She has compiled a solid 120-80 at the Florence-based school.
While the 2019-20 campaign once again proved fruitful for the Lions, it ended somewhat prematurely. UNA advanced to the ASUN Conference Tournament semifinals and was in the hunt for a post-season berth until the coronavirus pandemic shut down college basketball as well as life as we know it.
“The season went well. We had some real big wins,” Tiber said. “We also had some close losses to big-time programs like Iowa and Iowa State which were confidence boosters and another step in our growth process.
“We also had two of our players finish as the No. 1 and No. 2 scorers in program history and our senior class set a record for most wins,” she added. “There were a lot of positives this season for our players and program.”
While a second successive 20-plus win campaign has now solidly established North Alabama as a quality D-I program, the truncated ending of the season did yield some disappointment for Tiber.
“I told our players when we took the floor for the last tournament game to play like it was their last game of the season. We didn’t realize it would be,” Tiber offered. “We were in line for an NIT bid. We definitely would have been playing in some post-season tournament.
“It was a tough pill to swallow, especially for our five seniors who really helped to build this program to the level it is at,” she continued. “But we aren’t the only ones going through this. Everybody is dealing with this pandemic. They (NCAA) made the right decision to stop play.”
While Tiber must replace the school’s most successful senior class which pocketed a record 85 careers wins, she feels good about the 2020-21 season.
“Next year will obviously be somewhat of a rebuild. When you lose the seniors that we do, it is a lot to replace,” Tiber offered. “But we do have some nice talent coming back. We have the conference newcomer-of-the-year returning as well as the freshman of the year. I also like our recruiting class coming in.
“Our players know how to win and winning breeds more winning. I like where our program is at and where it is heading,” she added. “Our attendance has been super and all the people here are truly hospitable. I really like everything about this place.”
Tiber, 47, led the Lions to a 21-9 mark a year ago, their first season as a D-I member. In the process, they earned the No. 4 seed in the ASUN Tournament with a 10-6 league record after being picked to finish eighth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
She has more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 18 seasons as a head coach. Tiber owns a 306-236 career record. She won her 300th game on Feb. 3, 2020, with a 57-55 road win at NJIT.
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.
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