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Women's Basketball Coaches
|YEAR AT FGCU:||12th Season|
|ALMA MATER:||Kent State '93|
• Kay Yow National Coach of the Year (2012)
• CollegeSportsMadness.com Mid-Major Coach of the Year (2012, 2013)
• Two-time CollegeSportsMadness.com A-Sun Coach of the Year (2012, 2013)
• Four-time A-Sun Coach of the Year (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013)
• Four A-Sun Regular Season Championships
• One A-Sun Tournament Championship
• Six Consecutive Postseason Tournament Appearances
Division II and NAIA
• Inducted with his 1998 NAIA National Championship team into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame (May 19, 2012)
• One National Coach of the Year Award (NAIA, 1998)
• Mid-Ohio Conference Coach of the Year (1998)
• Division II South Region Coach of the Year (2007)
• 2 National Championship Game Appearances (NAIA, NCAA Div. II)
Karl Smesko, who enters his 12th year on the bench at FGCU, has enjoyed a tremendous run as the head women’s basketball coach at Florida Gulf Coast University. He was selected as the university’s first women’s basketball coach in 2001.
Smesko’s career coaching record, which includes one year at Walsh, two seasons at IPFW and his 11 seasons at FGCU, stands at 349-83 (.808) and he owns a solid 11-3 record (.786) in national tournament games. His record at FGCU is an astounding 288-56 (.837) and his five-season record in Atlantic Sun Conference matchups is 100-12 (.893).
The offensive guru, who was named A-Sun Coach of the Year as well as College Sports Madness A-Sun and Mid-Major Coach of the Year, and his Eagles are coming off the solid 2012-13 season. FGCU became the first school to go undefeated in A-Sun play in back-to-back seasons, finishing the season with the most victories (27) of the 13 Division I institutions in the state of Florida and capturing the program’s third consecutive A-Sun Regular Season crown. Led by 2013 A-Sun Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Sarah Hansen and 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Brittany Kennedy, FGCU also secured the ninth-straight 21+ win in program history and participated in their sixth consecutive Division I postseason tournament (WNIT). Leading the nation and the Atlantic Sun in three-point field goals per game (9.4), for the second year in a row, the Green and Blue ranked in the top 40 in the country in 13 different statistical categories in the final NCAA rankings.
Less than 14 months after tying the all-time NCAA record and setting the 2011-12 NCAA single-game high with 21 three-pointers on 51 long range attempts in their 106-27 over NAIA foe Webber International on Nov. 28, 2011 at Alico Arena, the Eagles knocked down 22 triples in a 97-60 win at ETSU on Jan. 12, 2013. Prior to breaking the record, the Eagles, who own the NCAA Division I single season record for three-pointers (342; 2011-12), were tied for first place all-time with New Mexico State, who drained 21 triples against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 23, 2002. The NCAA Division I record 22 three-point makes are also a program and Atlantic Sun Conference best, as FGCU made 10 treys in the first half and 12 in the second. The Green and Blue hit 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) triples in the final frame in which they outscored the Lady Bucs 46-35.
The 2011-12 campaign was the most historic season in the program’s Division I history, winning the program’s first Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and earning a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. FGCU finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun. The Green and Blue, with their seven trifectas vs. St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, set the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (342), while also setting the Division I record for three-point field goals made per game (10.7).
The Eagles verified the conference’s third-ever unbeaten regular season by cruising through the Atlantic Sun Tournament, taking the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a convincing 67-39 win over second-seeded and 20-game winner Stetson. The Green and Blue’s success at the conference tournament cemented FGCU’s name in the A-Sun record books. Making their first A-Sun postseason appearance in their first year of postseason eligibility, the Eagles became the third team in A-Sun history to win the Atlantic Sun Championship in its first appearance, while also becoming the second team to post an A-Sun undefeated regular season and win the championship title.
For his efforts, Smesko was named the A-Sun Coach of the Year for the third time. FGCU went undefeated through the Atlantic Sun regular season en route to becoming the first A-Sun school to post an 18-0 record in conference play. He was also named Kay Yow National Coach of the Year, CollegeSportsMadness.com Mid-Major and A-Sun Coach of the Year. The Kay Yow Award was established last year to honor the Division I women's head coach who embodies not only a winning spirit but who also displays great character both on and off the court.
During the course of the record setting 2011-12 season, Smesko won his 300th career game on Dec. 19 against USC Upstate. The victory was one of 17 games that the Eagles won by 20+ points during the campaign.
Smesko also saw the program nearly earn its first-ever top-25 national ranking as on March 6, 2012 it earned the No. 26 spot in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. The Eagles would finish the 2011-12 season at No. 37 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, while also finishing ranked No. 4 in the final version of the CollegeInsider.com Women's Mid-Major Top 25 poll. FGCU concluded its season with an RPI of 59, 67 spots ahead of the next closest A-Sun member.
Smesko led the Green and Blue through a solid non-conference slate as the Eagles faced six teams that made postseason appearances the year before, including two of which won their conference tournament. FGCU went 5-1 in those games, including a hard-fought 59-58 win over reigning Big Ten champ Michigan State at Alico Arena.
He coached an A-Sun first team selection in Sarah Hansen, who also earned Full Court Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention accolades, the A-Sun and DI-AAA ADA Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the A-Sun Tournament MVP and a Capital 1 Academic All-District 4 first team selection, in 2011-12. Kelsey Jacobson, who finished her career ranked first on the FGCU and A-Sun career lists in career three-point field goals made (330), and Whitney Knight earned A-Sun second team and All-Freshmen team honors, respectively. Courtney Chihil, Eglah Griffin and Knight all joined Hansen on the 2012 A-Sun All-Tournament Team as the Eagles won their tournament games by an average of 22 points, en route to capturing the conference tournament title.
On May 19, 2012, Smesko and his 1998 NAIA National Championship team were inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. Walsh University (29-5) became the first unseeded team to win an NAIA National Championship when it came from behind to defeat Mary Hardin-Baylor, 73-66, in the Division II title game at Sioux City. He was one of the 22 inductees in the 7th induction class of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.
Smesko, who was ranked fourth on a list honoring the top Mid-Major head coaches in NCAA Division I by the National Women’s Basketball Insider website in August on 2010, led the Blue and Green to a 28-4 overall record (17-3 A-Sun) in 2010-11, en route to being named A-Sun Coach of the Year and securing the program’s eighth 21-plus win season in the nine-year program history, along with a second Atlantic Sun Conference regular season crown and a fourth consecutive automatic bid to the WNIT. During the 2010-11 campaign, the Eagles led the nation in three point field goals made per game, as Shannon Murphy picked up first team all-conference honors and Sarah Hansen earned second team all-conference and was named to the A-Sun All-Freshmen squad. FGCU also extended their home winning streak to 42 games in 2010-11, which at the time was the third longest in the nation behind UConn and Stanford, before dropping a highly competitive game to SEC foe Florida, 74-69, in front of a Alico Arena record crowd of 4,543 in the second round of the WNIT.
Smesko saw Chelsea Lyles earn first team all-conference honors, while Adrianne McNally and Shannon Murphy were named to the second team, as the Eagles posted 24 wins in 2009-10, to secure the program’s seventh 21-plus win season in the eight-year program history, along with a second place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference. FGCU received the program’s first invitation to play in the preseason WNIT, where they advanced to the second round with a win over UTEP before falling to New Mexico and Georgia Tech, and also secured their third consecutive postseason WNIT automatic bid. By participating in the 2010 postseason WNIT, FGCU became the first A-Sun school to make three consecutive WNIT appearances. During the 2009-10 season, the Blue and Green also extended its home winning streak to 24 games, which ranks as the fourth longest home winning streak in Division I women’s basketball heading into the 2010-11 campaign.
In 2008-09, Smesko, who was voted A-Sun Coach of the Year, led the Eagles to a Regular Season Atlantic Sun Championship with a 17-3 record. FGCU led the A-Sun in scoring, scoring margin, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, and three-point field goals made during the 2008-09 season. The Eagles also cemented a place in the All-Time A-Sun record books by winning 17 conference games. The Eagles lost to eventual champion USF in the second round of the WNIT and finished the 2008-09 season with an overall record of 26-5, with first team all-conference selections Adrianne McNally and Chelsea Lyles and A-Sun Freshman of the Year Kelsey Jacobson leading the way.
In the Eagles first Division I season, Smesko led the women’s basketball team to a second place finish in the A-Sun with a 13-3 record. They were the fifth best offensive team in the A-Sun as well as the second best defense. They were second in free throw percentage and third in field goal percentage. The Eagles, who saw Delia De La Torre and Chelsea Dermyer earn second team All-Atlantic Sun honors, lost to UF in the second round of the WNIT and finished the 2007-08 season with an overall record of 22-8.
He guided the Eagles to the Division II NCAA tournament twice. The 2006-07 team finished the regular season undefeated and ranked number one in the nation. The team won the South Region championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship game. The Eagles were National Runner up and finished with a 34-1 record. Smesko was named South Region Coach of the Year. Coach Smesko is one of an elite group of coaches who has taken a team at two different universities to the national championship game (Smesko guided Walsh University to an NAIA National Championship in 1998).
The 2006-07 squad ranked in the top 20 nationally in a remarkable 12 categories: #1 in win-loss percentage, #1 in scoring margin, #2 three-point field goals per game, #2 scoring defense, #3 three-point field goal percentage, #5 scoring offense, #6 assists per game, #8 field-goal percentage, #8 field-goal percentage defense, #11 steals per game, #18 turnovers per game, and #20 in rebound margin.
In his first season at FGCU, Smesko guided the 2002-03 Eagles squad to a 30-1 record. The Eagles followed with an 18-8 mark in 2003-04 and a 21-9 mark in 2004-05. Smesko led the Eagles to the NCAA tournament and a 29-2 record in 2005-06. FGCU advanced to the regional semifinals with a win against Rollins.
Prior to taking the helm at FGCU, Smesko spent two seasons turning around the program at Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne from 1999 to 2001. Inheriting a team that had posted a 2-24 the previous season and an 8-44 record the previous two seasons prior to his arrival, Smesko sparked an 11-win improvement and a 13-14 record in 1999-2000. In his second season Smesko’s team posted the third-most wins in school history with a 19-8 mark.
Smesko started his college coaching career at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio in 1997-98. He led the Cavaliers to the 1998 NAIA Division II National Championship with a 29-5 mark, a 12-win improvement over the previous year. Smesko, whose team had been predicted to finish sixth in the nine-team Mid-Ohio Conference, was named the Mid-Ohio Conference and NAIA National Coach of the Year. It was the first national championship in school history. He spent the 1998-99 season as an assistant coach for the University of Maryland in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference.
Smesko, a native of Bath, Ohio who now resides in Fort Myers, was a 1993 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Kent State and earned his master’s degree from Walsh University in 1998.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: Head Coach at Walsh University (1997-98); Assistant Coach at the University of Maryland (1998-99); Head Coach at IPFW (1999-2001); Head Coach at Florida Gulf Coast University (2001-Present).
COACHING RECORD: 29-5 in one year as head coach at Walsh University (1997-98); 6-21 in one year as an assistant at the University of Maryland (1998-99); 32-22 in two years as head coach at IPFW (1999-2001); 288-56 in 11 years as head coach at FGCU (2001-Present).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in Broadcast News Journalism from Kent State in 1993; master's degree in Education from Walsh University in 1998.
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: 1998 NAIA DII National Champions, 2006 NCAA Division II South Regional Semifinal, 2007 NCAA Division II National Runner-Ups, 2008 WNIT Second Round, 2009 WNIT Second Round, 2010 WNIT, 2011 WNIT Second Round, 2012 NCAA Division I Tournament, 2013 WNIT.
|A-Sun Tournament Championships:||2012|
|A-Sun Regular Season Championships:||2009, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|All-Time:||349-83 (.808/14 yrs.)|
|FGCU Record:||288-56 (.837/11 yrs.)|
|NCAA Tournament (including Div. II):||6-3 (.667)|
|A-Sun Regular Season:||100-12 (.893)|
|A-Sun Tournament:||5-1 (.833)|
|A-Sun All-Conference Selections (1st & 2nd Team)||11|
|A-Sun Player of the Year||1 (2013; Sarah Hansen)|
|A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year||1 (2013; Brittany Kennedy)|
|A-Sun Freshman of the Year||1 (2009; Kelsey Jacobson)|
|1997-98||Walsh||29-5||-||-||NAIA DII National Champions|
|1999-00||IPFW||13-14||9-11 (8th, GLVC)||0-1 (Quarterfinals)||-|
|2000-01||IPFW||19-8||12-8 (5th, GLVC)||-||-|
|2005-06||FGCU||29-2||-||-||NCAA Div. II South Regional Semis|
|2006-07||FGCU||34-1||-||-||NCAA Div. II National Runners-Up|
|2007-08||FGCU||22-9||13-3 (2nd, A-Sun)||-||WNIT Second Round|
|2008-09||FGCU*||26-5||17-3 (1st, A-Sun)||-||WNIT Second Round|
|2009-10||FGCU||24-7||17-3 (2nd, A-Sun)||-||WNIT|
|2010-11||FGCU*||28-4||17-3 (1st, A-Sun)||-||WNIT Second Round|
|2011-12||FGCU*#||29-3||18-0 (1st, A-Sun)||3-0 (Champions)||NCAA Div. I Tournament|
|2012-13||FGCU*||27-7||18-0 (1st, A-Sun)||2-1 (Runners-Up)||WNIT|
|Totals||14 Seasons||349-83 (.808)||3 NCAA, 5 WNIT, 1 NAIA|
* - Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Champions
# - Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Champions