The Salukis’ upcoming game against Bradley University will mark the 10th game since ex-head coach Missy Tiber resigned from her position.
She resigned Jan. 21., with SIU director of athletics citing her disappointment with the team not meeting her expectations and after some soul-searching, that it was time to leave the university. When asked, interm-coach and longtime friend of Tiber, Adrianne Harlow was vague about the resignation.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” Harlow said. “It’s something that we’ve kind of said we weren’t going to discuss with the media. It just wasn’t a good day for anybody.”
Harlow and Tiber have been coaching together for the 12 years, and Harlow was also coached by Tiber during her Hall of Fame college career at West Liberty State.
The two shared the bench together at Tusculum College and Belmont Abbey College, where they had a career coaching record of 167-71. Harlow now without Tiber for the first time in 16 years, said she has reflected on her experiences she has accumulated taking over for her friend as head coach.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Harlow said. “Number one, how I could have been a better assistant. You’re sitting there as an assistant and you think you’re helping sometimes, and sometimes you’re hindering, and maybe you say too much, or you’re not giving good feedback when it’s needed. If I go back to being an assistant,I think I’ll be better at it because I’ll know more about what a coach needs.”
Under the two coaches, the university has not seen the success the duo has had in the past. In the last four years, the Salukis have had a record of 21-93 under Harlow and Tiber. Since Tiber resigned, the team has lost their last nine games with Harlow as interm-coach.
Saluki freshman guard Rishonda Napier said despite the tough start, she was impressed with Harlow’s transition.
“Coach Harlow has stepped up and done a great job,” Napier said. “She is always positive and coaches us to win. She makes us feel like every time we play we have a chance to win, and that’s what we need from her.”
Despite a poor record, the team brought in one of the best recruiting classes in SIU history with its 2011 class, which ranked 36th nationally on ESPN’s Hoopgurlz. The class included freshman Saluki center Dyana Pierre, sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin and sophomore guard Ariel Haynes.
Harlow said Macklin’s progression as the team’s leading scorer has made her a target for opponents.
“When you are a freshman you can make a lot more mistakes and get away with it because you’re a freshman,” Harlow said. “Now she is supposed to be the go-to girl and other teams have keyed in on her and it’s a lot of pressure, it’s hard to handle. Even still, she is very young, but as she can learn that now as a sophomore that will help her so much as a junior and senior.”
Now the Salukis are in need for seniors as there are none in the 2013 roster. They are led in nearly every statistical category by freshman and sophomores, and despite the team’s current 12-game losing streak, Harlow sees a bright future for the team.
“I told them the other night how Wichita State was, who basically started off the same way we were,” she said. “They went up from freshmen to seniors through the hard times and now they are number one (in the Missouri Valley Conference). They were sitting in your seat and you guys can do that same thing if you stay together, work hard and be coachable. Then you can have that potential.”
The words from Harlow appear to be ringing true within the team, as players said they are giving everything to prove they are not what their record shows.
Macklin has averaged 18.3 points per game in the last three contests. “Once you set your mind to something you just try to go out there and do it,” Macklin said. “If you love something so much you will keep getting up after everything, and I know we have battled some losses and some struggles, but in the end we have to be the ones to go out there and play and give our all. That’s what I’m concerned about right now, just going out there and busting our butts giving back to this program and just trying to help change everything.”