Adrienne Shibles hired as Dartmouth women’s basketball head coach

She will replace Belle Koclanes, who departed last winter after eight seasons with the team.

by Will Ennis and Ethan Weber | 5/25/21 2:05am

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Shibles takes over as head coach of the Dartmouth women's basketball team following 13 seasons at Bowdoin College.

Source: Courtesy of Adrienne Shibles

On May 3, interim athletics director Peter Roby ’79 announced the hiring of Adrienne Shibles as the new head coach of Dartmouth’s women’s basketball team. Shibles will replace former coach Belle Koclanes, who departed in February following eight years at the helm.

Shibles joins Dartmouth with over 20 years of collegiate head coaching experience already under her belt. Her most recent station was at Bowdoin College in Maine, where she served as the head coach for 13 years. In her time there, Shibles led her teams to much success, winning 80 percent of her games, qualifying for 11 Division III NCAA Tournaments and reaching eight Sweet Sixteens and two Final Fours. Over the last three years, the Polar Bears have put up an 87-7 record. 

Prior to joining Bowdoin, Shibles served as the head coach at Swarthmore College for nine seasons. She described how the various competitive landscapes she has experienced have shaped her coaching strategy and philosophy. 

“Swarthmore was a total rebuild and Bowdoin, when I took over, was fairly established in the Division III landscape,” Shibles said. “Two different challenges, but at both, we found ways to be successful, to win a lot of games.” 

As a result of the different styles of programs she has coached, Shibles feels that she has formed a recipe for success that centers around recruiting talented student-athletes and building a high-functioning program culture. 

Mitchell and her teammate Katie Douglas ’22 cited Shibles’s track record of winning as the primary reason why they are excited to see her join the program. The team’s last competitive season, in 2019-20, saw the Big Green finish with a 10-17 record, including a 4-10 record in conference play. The program has not finished a season with a conference record above .500 since the 2008-09 season, when they went 13-1 against the Ivy League.

“She knows how to build a championship culture and a winning team,” Douglas said. “We just wanted someone that knows how to win and can help us win so we can get this program moving in the right direction.”

Shibles has already begun to meet with the players on campus in person, as well as virtually or over the phone with those who are away this spring. On campus, she said that she has gotten meals and coffee with her players, while also running some workouts. She said that she had already met with each of her players within a week of her hiring.

The restrictions imposed by the pandemic have not made the transition to a new coaching job any easier, however. According to Douglas, only four of the team’s players are in Hanover and are approved to work out this spring, making these other methods of team-building all the more crucial.

“That was my priority in taking this position: getting to know the people within the program and starting to build those relationships in order to create the trust that I think is so important for a high-functioning team,” Shibles said. 

Once more of the team is on campus, Shibles looks forward to getting her players together.

“The biggest reason I love coaching is to watch the improvement of the student-athletes day in and day out, not just as athletes but as leaders, as tacticians, as people,” Shibles said. “So I’m looking forward to really getting to know them, working with them and seeing that growth.” 

Shibles’s emphasis on individual growth will be particularly relevant in her first season, as the Big Green will have a young team with a distinct lack of playing experience. Next year’s freshmen and sophomores will both be playing in their first collegiate seasons. Shibles said that she is excited for that challenge, emphasizing that if the team focuses on everyday improvement, on-court success will follow in due time.

“Obviously I love to win,” Shibles said. “But I’m very much a process-oriented coach, so our focus will be on each and every day getting one percent better.”