Introducing Stephany Smith

First impressions played a part in Stephany Smith's hiring to be the seventh head coach in the history of Alabama basketball, and Smith made another good first impression at her introductory press conference in Tuscaloosa Wednesday.

"The University of Alabama has been a dream of mine since I started in this profession about 16 years ago because the first job I had was about 58 miles east of here (at UAB)," Smith said.

"Why is it a dream?," She added, "Because a dream to me is something that is limitless, and I think that Crimson Tide women's basketball is a limitless opportunity. This is my dream, to have this position and to be the head coach of this women's basketball team.

"My next dream is to win a national championship. With all the facilities and all the support and the things that Coach Moore and Marie Robbins, and Wendell Hudson have showed me, that job can get done.

"And I promise you, I promise the city of Tuscaloosa, and the University of Alabama, Coach Moore, his administration, but most importantly the women to my left (returning players), you will get every piece of Stephany Smith that I have. And if that is not enough, I'll find a way to give you more and we will get it done."

Smith spoke with an unmistakable confidence about the direction of the program, her triangle offense and Dean Smith style defensive philosophy.

Although impressive, she was not a polished orator. She spoke with a distincly Southern accent and once commited the no-no of referring to the squad as the Lady Tide (undoubtedly due to her previous stint as head coach of the Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders).

Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore introduced Smith, saying, "It's a pleasure for me today to convey to you, when Stephany walked into my office, how very comfortable I felt with here and how strong she came across to me and her desire to coach at the University. That meant a lot. I think it meant a lot to Wendel (Hudson) and Marie (Robbins). Her attitude and approach to the job. It was a very easy decision for us to make this offer."

The returning players didn't give away much of a reaction as Smith was speaking, but returning center Dee Merriweather came away exicted.

"She seems like she's really dedicated to this program and to us, on and off the court," she said. "It's been hard not knowing. I guess the worst part's over now. We know who our coach is. I'm just going to continue to do the things that I've been doing giving them all that I have and if that's not enough dig a little deeper and try to find more."

"I'm very impressed. She's just so positive and that's what we need right now. We're all excited about what's to come."

Smith brought one assistant, Melanie Walls, with her from Middle Tennesse and will immediately begin work on filling out her staff. Other immediate duties include filling the Tide's recruiting class.

"I have been in touch with the two signees that have already signed letters of intent and am bridging the gap and making sure everything's still smooth for them to make the transition to Tuscaloosa," Smith said. "There was one young lady who had already verballed that we had touched base with already as well and two additional people that we sent out scholarship papers to yesterday. As you well no I can't comment on that (specifically)."

Smith takes over the Crimson Tide following an eight-year stint as head coach at Middle Tennessee State University, where she compiled a 153-88 overall record.

During her tenure at MTSU, she guided the Lady Raiders to the postseason five times including three appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Smith led her MTSU squads to 48 victories over the past two seasons posting back-to-back 24 win campaigns. Her last two Lady Raider teams also captured Sun Belt Conference tournament crowns and recorded upset victories in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament over ACC powers North Carolina (2004) and North Carolina State (2005).

A native of Brookhaven, Miss., Smith graduated from Harding University in Searcy, Ark., with a bachelor's degree in 1988 before earning her master's in education from Harding in 1989. After a year as a graduate assistant with Harding, Smith spent four seasons as an assistant coach at UAB before joining the MTSU staff in 1993 as an assistant coach.

At Middle Tennessee, she served three years as an assistant before being elevated to associate head coach for one year prior to taking over the Lady Raider program in 1997.

Prior to coaching, Smith was a standout player at both Harding and Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Wesson, Miss. She is the daughter of Ralph and Betsy Smith and has three brothers (Ralph, Richard and Cameron) and a sister (Sydney).

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