Barb Smith named 7th Illinois State women’s basketball coach
Barb Smith has been hired as the seventh head women’s basketball coach in Illinois State history.
Smith, who has 26 years of Division I collegiate coaching experience, was introduced to the media and fans by Illinois State Director of Athletics Gary Friedman at a press conference in the Kaufman Football Building on Monday afternoon.
Smith brings a tremendous pedigree into her second head coaching job and is known as a prominent recruiter, with over ten top-20 nationally-ranked classes.
“We are thrilled to welcome Barb Smith to the Redbird Family as our head women’s basketball coach,” Friedman said. “Her knowledge of the game, depth of experience, leadership, passion and work ethic are highlights of why she is the right fit to lead our women’s basketball program. She has played for and worked with many great coaches and mentors, all of whom provided her wonderful opportunities to develop her own leadership style and philosophy that she will bring to Redbird women’s basketball.”
With over a quarter century of coaching experience, Smith is a true student of the game and knows about the rich tradition of Illinois State women’s basketball.
“I am very excited to be a part of the Redbird family and to join a program that has won no matter who has been coaching and no matter which student-athletes have been here,” Smith said. “It is so supportive, from the administration to the community. This is a great situation, and I am honored.”
Most recently, Smith spent the 2012-13 season at Saint Louis University as the associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator. At SLU, Smith directed and organized all recruiting activities, designed and implemented offensive strategies and was responsible for guard development.
Smith also helped lead Minnesota to a 115-75 record and five postseason appearances, including four NCAA Tournaments during her six-year tenure as an assistant coach. The 2004-05 Golden Gophers were 26-8 and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, while the 2007-08 and 2008-09 squads each won 20 games. Minnesota finished among the top-five, including a pair of third-place ties, in the Big Ten Conference regular-season standings in five of Smith’s six seasons. In addition, three of the Gophers’ recruiting classes were ranked among the nation’s top-20.
Prior to her stint at Minnesota, Smith spent two seasons (2002-04) as the lead assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at California. The Golden Bears produced a top-six recruiting class under her guidance, the highest-ranked class in program history.
During Smith’s five seasons (1997-2002) as the head coach at San Diego State, the Aztecs landed the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history and featured guard Claire Swinbank, the team’s first WNBA prospect. Smith also built SDSU into one of the Mountain West Conference’s top-defensive teams, with the 2000-01 Aztecs finishing second in the league in defense.
Smith enjoyed a successful nine-year run (1988-97) as the lead assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Colorado under Hall of Fame head coach Ceal Barry. The Buffaloes qualified for the NCAA Tournament in eight of those nine campaigns, reaching the national quarterfinals in 1993 and 1995, and advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1994.
Smith helped lead CU to five Big 8 Conference regular-season championships, four Big 8 Conference tournament titles, a Big 12 Conference tournament championship and a preseason WNIT championship. The Buffaloes tallied a 217-65 record and produced three top-10 recruiting classes during her tenure.
Smith played collegiately at Ohio State, where she walked on and then earned a scholarship and the starting point guard position. At Ohio State, Smith played for Naismith Hall of Famer, Olympic coach and current Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. During Smith’s playing career, the Buckeyes won four Big Ten championships and made three NCAA appearances. A native of Perrysburg, Ohio, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in health education at Ohio State and a master’s of business administration degree in organizational behavior at Iona College.