College basketball

Former Mustang Shibles guides Bowdoin women to Final Four

Polar Bears earn second Final Four appearance in school history
By Zack Miller | Mar 12, 2018
Courtesy of: Brian Beard/Creative Images Photography Bowdoin College women's basketball coach Adrienne Shibles, middle, talks to her team during a timeout.

Brunswick — It has been 14 years since the Bowdoin College women’s basketball team was one of the four left standing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament, and the Polar Bears again are one step from the school’s second national championship appearance, and this time the Maine squad is guided by a familiar former Midcoast sports standout.

Adrienne Shibles, a 1987 graduate of Mount View High School of Thorndike, led the Polar Bears of Bowdoin to a 66-48 victory over the Jumbos of Tufts University of Medford, Mass. in the quarterfinals on Saturday, March 10, to help her squad advance to the Final Four.

“It’s amazing and I’m very grateful,” Shibles said. “I’m very excited for the team. They are a great group and we’ve put ourselves in a great spot. We are gunning for that national championship.”

Bowdoin College avenged a loss against the Jumbos — a 60-48 defeat — in the semifinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament.

“It was a tough loss against Tufts [in the conference tournament],” Shibles said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do, but sometimes you need adversity to move forward. That loss propelled us to a good place.”

The Polar Bears (28-2) will fly to Rochester, Minn. on Wednesday out of Logan Airport in Boston, Mass. for their semifinal game on Friday, March 16 at 8:30 p.m., where Bowdoin will face the Knights of Wartburg College of Waverly, Iowa (31-0) — who defeated East Texas Baptist 65-61 in the quarterfinals — in one of the two semifinal clashes. Amherst College (31-0) of Amherst, Mass. and Thomas More College (30-1) of Crestview, Ky. will play in the other semifinal game on Friday.

The Knights are in their second Final Four in the past three years. Wartburg and Bowdoin did not meet during the regular season.

“All of Wartburg’s starters are seniors,” Shibles said. “They are a high-tempo, shooting team.”

The Polar Bears only have three seniors on their roster, but that has not stopped the team from hunkering down and working hard toward their goal.

“The team has been really focused and grounded,” Shibles said. “We had practice [Monday] and they were really excited, but I have been pleased with their intensity. We are preparing just as we would for any other game. We are soaking it all in, but staying focused.”

Coach Shibles has coached the Polar Bears since the 2008-09 season, and has compiled a 222-62 record. This will be Shibles’ ninth NCAA tournament appearance as the women’s basketball coach.

“Bowdoin has been a special place for me,” Shibles said. “The community is a special place and it has been a wonderful ride to where I am now.”

Shibles grew up in Knox and attended Mount View High School where she played basketball, and, as a senior, helped lead the Mustangs to a state championship appearance, which they lost to Messalonskee of Oakland 38-36.

“I really feel my roots in Waldo County made me who I am today,” Shibles said. “It was a special way to grow up. Those towns would shut down [for the high school basketball tournament]. The support from the community was very special.”

According to the Bowdoin College website, the winter of 2017-18 was the 10th by Shibles at the helm of the Polar Bears. No coach in program history has enjoyed a more impressive start to their career, as Shibles had previously gone 194-60 (.764 winning percentage) with a NESCAC title and eight NCAA tournament appearances to begin her Bowdoin career.

In her first year at the helm of the Polar Bears in 2008-09, Shibles enjoyed a phenomenal campaign, guiding the team to their eighth NESCAC championship, ninth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and 24-5 record overall. For her efforts, Shibles was named the NESCAC and WBCA New England coach of the year.

Additionally, the 24 victories were the most by a first-year coach in program history. In 2011, Coach Shibles led the Polar Bears to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. In those two seasons, the Polar Bears racked up 46 wins, including four NCAA victories.

Shibles took Bowdoin back to the NCAA tournament in 2014 after opening the season with 15 consecutive victories. The Polar Bears advanced to the NESCAC finals in 2015 and made a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 before ending their season at 25-5. Bowdoin again advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2016, ending the season at 22-7.

In her first three seasons, Shibles accumulated 70 wins — the most by any coach in program history in their first three years — the 2009 NESCAC championship.

A 1991 graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Shibles was a two-time captain of the women's basketball team and a 1,000-point scorer, as she graduated with a degree in history and American studies.

After coaching basketball at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. and basketball and soccer at Colby College in Waterville, Shibles enrolled in a graduate program in Exercise and Sports Studies at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she earned a master's degree in 1996. While at Smith she worked as assistant and then head basketball coach at Elms College in Chicopee, Mass.

At Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, she sparked a dramatic turnaround that saw the Garnet go from 7-17 one year prior to her arrival in 1997 to a school-record 23 wins and Centennial Conference championship just four years later.

In her last five seasons at Swarthmore, Shibles averaged more than 19 wins per year, qualified for the Centennial Conference tournament four times, claimed the 2001 conference title and earned the program's first NCAA tournament bid.

Overall, in nine years at Swarthmore, Shibles accumulated a school-record 138 wins against 96 losses and was named the WBCA District 4 coach of the year in 2001.

Shibles and her husband, Kirk Daulerio, who have two children, Madeline and Elsa, moved their family back to Maine in 2006, where she became the Dean of Athletics and co-curricular programs at Gould Academy in Bethel.

While coaching the girls basketball team to three straight tournaments, she also served as the school's athletic director, managing a program of 40 teams, including nationally competitive on-snow squads.

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Zack Miller
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Zack has been covering the Midcoast sports world for the past three years. He earned a bachelor's degree in Media Studies from the New England School of Communications, where he majored in Sports Journalism. Zack is a major fan of the Boston Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox and of course the Patriots, as well as a die-hard Penn State Football fan. He also enjoys spending time with friends and family. He currently resides in Rockland, with his wife Meagan.

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