Randy Norton to replace Audra Smith

By on April 30, 2013

UAB Director of Athletics Brian Mackin announced Monday that Randy Norton will replace former coach Audra Smith as head of the school’s women’s basketball program.

Audra Smith elected to leave UAB to take the Clemson job. KyleThompson/ Staff Photographer

Audra Smith elected to leave UAB to take the Clemson job. KyleThompson/ Staff Photographer

The news came two weeks after Smith decided to leave UAB, where she spent nine years as head coach. She took the same position at Clemson University.

Smith served as head coach from 2004 until last year, when the team went 18-13 and earned a trip to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, eventually losing in the first round at Auburn.
UAB went 138-138 under Smith, but the team’s 57-39 record over her last three seasons was the best in school history over such a span.

Aside from this year’s WNIT appearance, Smith’s teams made postseason appearances two other times, including in 2011 when the Blazers won the Women’s Basketball Invitational.

UAB was Smith’s first head coaching job, and she showed gratitude at her introductory press conference at Clemson. “This opportunity would not be possible if not for my former administration at UAB who took a chance on me nine years ago,” said Smith.

Smith was hired on April 7, 2004 to replace the legendary Jeannie Milling. Milling was 265-230 at UAB, with over 400 wins for her career, but was relieved of her post in 2004 following a 9-19 season, the third straight losing season for the Blazers.

Smith came into a difficult situation. Not only was she taking over a program that had gone just 29-57 in the past three seasons, but she was also replacing a coach that had been there for 17 years.

Injuries plagued her first season as coach. Only three players played in all 28 of the team’s games, and Blazers finished 7-21.

Things only got better from there. The next season Smith coached the team to its first 500 record in five years. The season after that saw the Blazers finish 19-13, which earned them a WNIT berth.

But her best years were her last at UAB, including a 20-15 season in 2011 that ended with a WBI championship.

At her press conference, Smith mentioned how excited she was for her new opportunity at Clemson. “This is the most incredible day of my professional career,” said Smith. “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach at a premier BCS institution.”

Next year’s UAB team will be without Smith and her coaching staff, which went with her to Clemson. The team also loses three starting seniors from last year’s squad, but leading scorer and rebounder Karisma Chapman will return for her senior season.

At Clemson, Coach Smith replaces Itoro Coleman who in three year’s as the Tigers’ coach went 25-63.

Ramsay Archibald

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