It didn’t take Saint Vincent long to find a new men’s basketball coach to replace D.P. Harris, who left March 7 to coach at NAIA St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla.
After receiving more than 100 applicants, Saint Vincent officials trimmed the list to six finalists and then to three before hiring an assistant coach from Harris’ staff.
Terrance Smith, a 2001 Saint Vincent graduate and a current faculty member, was named the program’s head coach Friday. He spent the past five seasons as an assistant.
He was the school’s leading scorer until Tony Washam passed him in 2001.
“With Terrance Smith as head men’s basketball coach, we look forward to continue the winning ways of Bearcat basketball,” Saint Vincent President Br. Norman Hipps said.
Smith is a native of Raleigh, N.C. who grew up in Sharon and then played high school basketball in Westerville, Ohio.
At Saint Vincent, Smith was a two-time NAIA All-American for the Bearcats and still ranks as the team’s second-leading scorer of all time. He scored 1,819 points from 1997-2001. He played for the late Bernie Matthews.
“I am extremely excited about this opportunity,” Smith said. “This is my alma mater. This is where I played. I’m overwhelmed with the support that I’ve received, and I’m very appreciative of the opportunity. This is a successful program and a wonderful place.
“I learned a lot from Coach Matthews and Coach Harris. I observed how they handled things and will adopt some of that to my style. At the end of the day we’re a different coach and different personality.”
When it comes to recruiting, Smith won’t be changing a lot. He said what Saint Vincent has done over the years has worked.
“We’re looking for a hard worker, someone who is just as dedicated to academics and athletics,” Smith said. “Academics are first. We want someone committed to both.
“We’re going to look wherever. We’ll try to hit the local areas harder than we’ve done in the past, but not going to limit our areas. Florida is a good area for us, and we want keep that.”
Smith served as a member of the U.S. Army. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a 12-year military career.
There he learned about discipline, something he will demand from his players.
During the course of his time in the military, he earned a number of medals and ribbons, including a Meritorious Service Medal, multiple Army Commendations and Army Achievement Medals and Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals with Combat Stars.
Smith earned an master’s degree in project management from Grantham University, and his DBA in project management from Walden University.
Smith serves as an assistant professor for the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government, primarily in the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program. He is also the director of the Kennametal Center for Operational Excellence (KCOE) program on campus.
“Working at Saint Vincent and with our team for the past five years naturally helps with the familiarity with the players,” Smith said. “The relationships we’ve already built will be important in this process. The expectations remain the same as always, to win the conference and get to the NCAA Tournament.”
“We were a little too focused on them, whereas we should have been more focused on what we had been doing all season,” Paden admitted. “Defensively, we totally fell apart. Offensively, it was the most we’ve scored all season.”
Paden’s coaching staff includes former teammate Sharee Daniels, Sara Miller (who graduated last year) and Terrance Smith.
“They were all great, a perfect combination,” Paden said. “Sara Miller motivated the girls and helped out a lot during times of adversity. For her to have just played with these girls last year and now on the coaching staff it really showed her love and dedication to our program and is a great example of how we are so family oriented. Our alumni come back and not only visit, but help to contribute to the future of our program.
“Sharee Daniels being there really brought back a lot of memories for us and we were able to share stories from our own FDR experiences with the ladies. At times we would even have to calm ourselves down, because we would sometimes think we wanted it more than them. We had to redirect that energy and figure out ways for them to want it just as bad as us, if not more.
“Terrance brought somewhat of a militant vibe to our practices and games, but it was great. (It was) just what we needed, especially in the very beginning of the season. He did a great job with helping me whip these girls into shape in the weight room and in conditioning practices. He’s very animated and vocal, so his energy always automatically excites the girls and gets them going.”
The Presidents are excited at the prospects for next season. Eight players will return, include three starters. Roosevelt will get an added boost for next year with an invitation to the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions Dec. 18-21 in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Next year, the potential is endless,” Paden said. “I want to continue to build the program and instill in these young ladies to just fight, stay focused, work hard in the classroom and on the court and go after their dreams. Anything is possible if we put the work in.”