Northwest hires Michael Smith as women’s basketball coach

SONY DSCNorthwest Missouri State Director of Athletics Mel Tjeerdsma announced Friday the hiring of Michael Smith as the seventh head coach in the history of Northwest women’s basketball.

“I would like to thank President Jasinski and Athletic Director Mel Tjeerdsma for this wonderful opportunity to reconnect with Bearcat Nation,” Smith said. “I was blessed to be a part of the Northwest family many years ago and had high hopes of someday returning to such a special place to continue my career.”

Smith will be formally introduced at a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Monday, May 13, inside the Northwest J.W. Jones Student Union. Tjeerdsma shared his excitement about Smith re-joining the Bearcat family.

“Michael has quickly proven himself as one of the top women’s basketball coaches in the MIAA,” Tjeerdsma said. “Not only is he a great basketball coach but he understands the culture of Northwest and we are excited for him to return as our head coach.”

Smith, 39, returns to Northwest after five seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at Truman State where he posted a 68-68 record. A native of Sturgeon, Mo., Smith spent two seasons from 1996-98 as a graduate assistant for the Bearcats under the late Wayne Winstead – the all-time winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest.

During his tenure at Truman State, the Bulldogs increased their win total each season and advanced to the MIAA Tournament the last three seasons. He helped lead the Bulldogs from the bottom of the conference with an 8-19 record in his first season to a 20-6 record in 2012-13 which included 11 weeks ranked in the WBCA Top 25 Poll. It was the most wins at Truman since the 1998-99 season as Truman State narrowly missed the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since the 1999-2000 campaign.

Under the guidance of Smith, the Bulldogs saw nine players earn all-conference honors, and his basketball teams have shined in the classroom as well. Truman State finished sixth in Division II following the 2010-11 season in cumulative grade-point average with a team GPA of 3.57 and all 13 team members posted a cumulative GPA of 2.95 or higher, with nine surpassing the 3.30 mark. Three team members also earned the MIAA’s Academic Excellence Award for earning a 4.00 GPA.

“The last few weeks I have been able to learn more about Michael, his values, principles and the respect his players and peers have for him,” Tjeerdsma added. “The dedication he has for women’s basketball and the desire to see his players succeed on the court and in the classroom leaves no question that he will be a perfect fit.”

Prior to his time at Truman State, Smith served as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR) beginning in 2006. In his first year, the Trojans went 21-10, which was a school record in wins, and had the third best scoring defense in Division I, holding opponents to just under 53 points a game.

UALR set another school record with 23 wins in 2007-08 and captured the school’s first Sun Belt Conference West Division championship. They also received a bid to the WNIT tournament and finished with the third best scoring defense in Division I once again at 52 points per game.

After two seasons as a graduate assistant at Northwest, Smith served as an assistant coach at Angelo State (Texas) from 1998 to 2002. During his time at ASU, the Rambelles earned two Lone Star Conference South Division Championships and one Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship. While at ASU the Rambelles also advanced to the NCAA South Central Region tournament in 2002 before Smith was named the head women’s basketball coach at Moberly Area Community College (MACC).

During his tenure at MACC, the Lady Greyhounds were ranked nationally in the Top 25 poll 27 weeks between 2003 and 2006 and peaked as high as No. 2 in the 2005-2006 preseason ranking. The Lady Greyhounds made consecutive NJCAA National Tournament appearances for the first time in 15 years and won the consolation championship at the tournament in 2005.

Smith was named Region XVI and District L Coach of the Year twice at MACC, in 2005 and 2006. Four Lady Greyhounds also earned NJCAA All-America honors with one WBCA All-America selection.

Smith received his Bachelor of Science from Central Methodist in 1996 with an emphasis in physical education and health. He earned his master’s degree from Northwest in 1998 in physical education and health as well.

— Northwest Sports Information —