Head Coach B.J. Smith has taken the Redhawks women's basketball program to heights never seen since making their jump to Division I in the early '90's. Since his arrival in Cape Girardeau five years ago, his goal was to turn the struggling Redhawks program with a rich history into not only an Ohio Valley Conference title contender but a perennial NCAA Tournament team.
After coming close in 2004-05 at the OVC tournament finals, his program finally turned the corner as the Redhawks captured their first OVC regular-season championship, sharing it with Tennessee Tech with 16-4 OVC record. Knowing that regular-season OVC titles usually don't transfer to NCAA Tournament berths, Smith directed his team to their first OVC Tournament Championship and with it the NCAA Tournament automatic berth that comes with it. It is the program's first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance.
Along the way, Southeast matched the school record for Division I victories last season with a 22-9 record, the sixth-straight winning season and the fourth under his watch. The team broke the school record for consecutive wins at the D-I level, winning 12 straight games, which at the time was the nation's seventh-longest winning streak.
Over the last four seasons, Coach Smith has recorded the most wins in the OVC and his teams have made the OVC Championship Tournament each of the last four seasons. His teams have reached the OVC semifinals all four years and have played in the OVC Championship Game in three out of the last four seasons including last season.
During the 2004-05 campaign, his team went 22-8, setting the best record by the program since their jump to the Division I level. The team strung together a 10-game winning streak, which is the program's fifth longest winning streak. The team also played for the OVC Championship and was nine seconds away from the team's first NCAA Tournament berth, losing in double overtime to eventual champion Eastern Kentucky.
Before the 2003-04 season, Smith's team was picked as the OVC's preseason favorite to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament after his team played in the championship game the previous season in Smith's first year as head coach. The Redhawks finished 16-13 and was one win away from playing for the OVC Championship and a possible NCAA Tournament berth. The team finished fourth in the OVC regular-season standings with a 10-6 conference ledger.
In his inaugural season as an NCAA Division I head coach, Smith directed his 2002-2003 Southeast squad to what was the most successful season since joining the Division I ranks only 12 years prior. The squad recorded a 19-11 ledger and finished second in the OVC with an 11-5 mark. The Redhawks made their first appearance in the championship game of the OVC Tournament and fell to eventual champion Austin Peay.
Coming into the program, Coach Smith's vision was to bring a winning attitude to the Show Me Center and put up some new banners in the rafters. After four seasons, he accomplished that mission and then some, where it has been at the Show Me Center that Coach Smith has made his mark. During his tenure as coach, his teams have tallied an astounding home won-loss record of 47-7, including a 12-3 ledger last season. The team had amassed an 18-game winning streak against OVC opponents at the Show Me Center until losing an overtime contest to Tennessee Tech last year.
Before accepting the job at Southeast, Smith served as the head coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, where he guided his squad to a second-place finish at the 2002 NJCAA national tournament. The team posted a 35-1 record and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the season in addition to averaging 103 points per game in the national tournament before falling in the championship game.
During his three-year stint at NEO A&M from 1999-2002, he led his teams to three Bi-State Conference Championships and tallied a 58-2 conference ledger. During this time, none of his teams were ever ranked lower than fourth in the NJCAA national poll. In 2001, his team led the nation in scoring with an average of 95 points per game. Smith was named NJCAA Region II Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002.
Smith has always held academics as a high priority for his student-athletes at NEO A&M, where his teams have always boasted a 3.1 grade point average or higher and 100 percent of his players had graduated or were on schedule to graduate when he left.
Smith also served as the women's basketball coach at North Arkansas College (1998-99), where his team finished with a record of 17-14. From 1996-98, he was the associate head women's basketball coach and head track & cross country coach at Phillips University. His women's basketball team was extremely successful as they finished second in the final NAIA poll. Smith started the track and cross country program at Phillips and led them to extremely successful seasons. His teams finished in the top ten nationally in NAIA cross country and top twenty nationally in both men's and women's track.
As a proven recruiter at the collegiate level, Smith has been able to recruit the student-athletes who have proven to be successful on a national level in the classroom and on the court. His recruiting success stems from his ability to recruit worldwide. Currently, his squad hosts four international athletes from Hungary, Brazil, France and Canada.
Due to his junior college background, Smith has had great success in luring the top JUCO talent from all over the country. Since taking over at Southeast, he has successfully recruited six NJCAA All-Americans who have flourished under his direction, including junior forward Missy Whitney, who earned Second-Team All-America honors last season at Three Rivers Community College. Smith is one-quarter Osage-Pottawatomie Indian and was raised in a single parent home by his mother and grandmother, who are one-half and full-blooded Osage-Pottawatomie. Smith is the former director and founder of the Oklahoma Indian All-State Basketball Games and former director and founder of the Northwest Oklahoma All-Star games.
"My upbringing gives me a unique perspective on issues and has allowed me to better understand and relate to many of our players who come from diverse backgrounds locally, nationally and globally," Smith said.
Smith graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., in 1989, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in speech and drama education, as well as his Master's Degree in education.