Audra Smith is in her fifth season as the head coach of the Clemson women’s basketball program and is coming off of a 2016-17 season in which the Tigers showed dramatic improvement. In Smith’s fourth year at the helm, the Tigers won 11 more games than the 2015-16 season and finished the year with a 15-16 overall record, the program’s best record since 2003-04. That included a win over Virginia Tech in the first round of the 2017 ACC Tournament, the program’s first conference tournament win since the 2014 season.
The Tigers were 11-2 in nonconference play in 2016-17, the program’s best nonconference record since 2003-04. The team’s only two nonconference losses came to top-25 teams (No. 6 South Carolina and No. 25 Oregon). The season concluded with Kobi Thornton being named to the 2017 ACC All-Freshman, the first Clemson player to earn the conference’s rookie award since 2012. Danielle Edwards was an All-ACC Academic Team selection for the second consecutive year in 2017. Also, Ivy Atkism was named to the AllState WBCA Goodworks Team in 2017, becoming the first Clemson basketball player, male or female, to earn that accolade.
The program went 13-19 in Smith’s first season, 2013-14, and the 13 wins were the most by the team since 2009-10. She also led the team to win a game in the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2009. Offensively, the team shot .413, the highest since 2006-07, and had the fewest turnovers since 2003-04. The team recorded a win over NCAA Tournament participant Georgia Tech in Atlanta, as well as three wins over WNIT Participants (Miami, Creighton, South Florida).
In her second season, the Tigers won the first nine home games of the season, including a thrilling overtime victory over Virginia Tech to open ACC play. Clemson was one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2014-15, with nine freshmen on the roster, and again in 2015-16, with six freshmen, six sophomores and one junior.
During Smith’s time at UAB, the Blazers were 57-39 over her last three seasons, and had a winning record in conference play in each of the past four. The 57 wins over three seasons were the most in any three-year period at UAB in 17 years. In nine seasons as the head coach at UAB, Smith compiled a 138-138 record. She took over a program that had accumulated a 29-54 record in the three seasons prior to her arrival, and brought the program up to .500 in year two and to postseason play in year three.
Known for tenacious defense, Smith's UAB teams finished in the top-50 nationally in scoring defense each of her final three seasons. In 2011-12, the Blazers ranked third in the nation at 49.1 points allowed per game. In 2012-13, UAB ranked in the top-50 nationally in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense, steals per game, and turnovers forced per game. They allowed fewer than 60 points in 22 of 31 games this season. Smith’s final three seasons leading the Blazers ranked as the three best in school history in terms of scoring defense.
Her UAB program finished with a winning record in each of her last four seasons, including a Women's Basketball Invitational tournament title in 2010-11, a 19-11 record in 2011-12, and an 18-13 mark and WNIT bid in 2012-13.
Under Smith, the UAB team and players established 25 school records, three players earned Conference-USA Player-of-the-Year honors, and her players garnered 12 All-Conference USA selections. Academically, UAB had 25 selections for conference academic honors in her final three seasons alone, and 39 overall.
Smith, the sixth head coach in Clemson history, has experience in the Atlantic Coast Conference, working as an assistant coach under Hall of Famer Debbie Ryan at Virginia. As an assistant from 1994-2004, the team reached the NCAA Tournament in nine of her ten seasons. Smith was named Recruiting Coordinator at Virginia in 2000, and helped secure four top-20 classes nationally in five seasons. She has shown the ability to recruit nationally, as her 2012-13 roster featured players from eight different states.
During Smith's career as a student-athlete, Virginia was 113-18 in four seasons, made three trips to the Final Four and won two ACC Championships. One of her teammates at Virginia was current South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
After graduating from Virginia with a degree in sociology, Smith worked in her hometown of Milledgeville, Ga., before joining Ryan's staff in 1994. She played her high school basketball at Baldwin High School in Milledgeville, where she was named Miss Georgia Basketball in 1988.
Smith is married to former Virginia basketball player Anthony Oliver, who played for the Cavaliers from 1988-92. The couple has a son, A.J., and a daughter, Adria. A.J. is a freshman on the Clemson men’s basketball team, and Adria is enrolling at Clemson in January 2018 and will be a member of the Clemson volleyball team.
From Milledgeville, Ga.; Attended Baldwin HS; Named Miss Basketball in Georgia in 1988
1988-92: Played at Virginia (Class of ‘92, Sociology) under Debbie Ryan as forward and center; Team went to three Final Fours and won two ACC Championships
1992-94: Worked in hometown
1994-96: Restricted Earnings Coach at Virginia
1996-2004: Assistant Coach at Virginia; Named Recruiting Coordinator in 2000
2004-13: Head Coach at University of Alabama at Birmingham
April 8, 2013 to Present: Head Coach at Clemson