Head coach Missy Tiber of the University of North Alabama women’s basketball team received a contract extension on Tuesday, Sept. 10, that keeps her at UNA through the 2024 season. Tiber received the extension 58 days before the start of the 2019-2020 season.
“It is just a testament to the hard work everyone has put into this program these last five years,” Tiber said. “That’s from the players to the coaching staff to the administration, just for believing in what we are trying to do. It is an honor to be extended, and I am really glad to be here.”
Tiber is in her seventh season at North Alabama and has a 99-71 record and a 45-14 record over the past two years. Tiber led the Lions to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in 38 years.
The last time a head coach accomplished this feat was after Gary Elliott took over as coach in 1979 and topped the 20-win mark at the end of the 1981 season. He would only coach until 1982 when he moved on to take over as an assistant men’s basketball coach.
“I think it is huge [to have back-to-back 20-win seasons],” Tiber said. “We started our official practices and I told this team that we can be extremely proud of our accomplishments, but now those are just great experiences. Now it is new opportunities for us and we have to continue to get better.”
Tiber took over the Lion’s program during the summer of 2013, before she started her reign at UNA, she had to work her way through the Division-II ranks.
She began her coaching career at her alma mater West Liberty State as an assistant coach. After six years she moved onto Belmont Abbey College where she became the head coach and led the team to a 61-19 conference record, won two regular season conference championships and made it to the Division-II tournament.
Tiber then proceeded to Tusculum College, a team at the bottom of their respective conference and compiled an 86-34 record and 52-11 over her final two years. Finally, after her four-year stint there she broke through to Division-I with a job at Southern Illinois University. She served has the head coach at SIU four years before accepting the head coaching position at North Alabama.
“I was an assistant coach under my college head coach and I learned a lot from him,” Tiber said. “Until you move down a couple inches and become a head coach, I don’t think you understand the responsibilities and pressures that come along with [being a head coach]. Lots of success and a lot of failures; you learn from each of them. The biggest experience was my four years at SIU, those were difficult times but those years made me the coach I am today.”
The Lions ended last season with a 21-9 overall record. The team suffered a first-round loss in the ASUN tournament, but rebounded in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament where they beat Georgia State and Southern Mississippi before losing to North Texas in the semi-final game.
“I think there is a lot of great basketball left in this team,” Tiber said. “We return all our starters from a season ago and we have added a nice few additions. We know that the experiences that are under our belt will make us a better basketball team this year and for years to come.”
Tiber and the Lions open the season with two games at home against Virginia University of Lynchburg and Mississippi Valley State before going on the road against Iowa.
“The sky’s the limit for this team this year,” said Tiber. “As long as we do it together, if we can stay injury free and care more about this team than anything else, which this team does, we will make it. Sometimes you will face adversity and it is human instinct to want to do things individually but if we stick together and stay healthy, I want to see this team compete for a championship.”
The Lions have 28-game regular season schedule before the ASUN Conference Tournament. 16 of the regular season games are against ASUN Conference opponents. North Alabama had a 10-6 conference record a season ago.
The Lions began the 2018-2019 season with a seven-game win streak before falling to Xavier on the road in overtime. UNA plays three of its first seven at home this season, including Iowa State, Iowa and Samford in their non-conference play. The Lions open the season Nov. 7 against Virginia University of Lynchburg at Flowers Hall