The Pirates went through drills and met with the media the day before taking on Rutgers in East Lansing, Mich.
Sharon Baldwin-Tener arrived at East Carolina University with the best of credentials and the reputation of a program-builder. In her eight years with the Lady Pirate program, she has exceeded expectations. Given the task of resurrecting a proud and tradition-rich program, she has quickly left her mark and has molded ECU into a championship contender. Additionally, in just eight seasons, Baldwin-Tener has become the winningest head coach in program history, picking up her 111th victory at East Carolina with a 65-61 road over Hampton Dec. 12, 2009.
What Baldwin-Tener has done since she accepted the position has been clear not only in the community but also across the country. The squad's RPI rating has improved nearly 175 spots and attendance has quadrupled. For the past two seasons, East Carolina led Conference USA in attendance.
The Smyrna, Ga. native took East Carolina to new heights in 2009-10, guiding the Lady Pirates to their first-ever WNIT bid after finishing the regular season with 20 wins and reaching the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament. ECU also earned its first-ever postseason victory that wasn't in a consolation round by rallying from 18 points down with six minutes left to post an overtime victory at Drexel in the first round of the WNIT.
East Carolina would end up with 23 wins at the conclusion of the campaign, the second-most in a single season in school history. The Lady Pirates also continued their strong play at home, finishing 12-2 for the second-straight year. ECU picked up five wins over 2008-09 postseason qualifiers as part of an 11-2 non-conference record, the best in program history. Additionally, the Lady Pirates set new single-season records for points (2,430) and three-point field goals made (187).
2009-10 marked the eighth-straight season in which ECU had an All-C-USA honoree as sophomore Ashley Clarke earned Second-Team and All-Defensive Team accolades. Clarke helped the Lady Pirates finish in the top 50 nationally in five statistical categories and ended up as C-USA's assists per game leader (5.3).
Baldwin-Tener continued to steer the program in the right direction in 2008-09, leading the Lady Pirates to 17 regular season victories, the most since she inherited the squad in the summer of 2002. Coupled with a Conference USA Tournament first round victory over UAB, East Carolina produced a final record of 18-13, marking the second-most wins in a single season for the program under Baldwin-Tener.
The Smyrna, Ga. native also oversaw the continued and successful individual development of her players, as seniors LaCoya Terry and Jasmine Young, as well as freshman Jean Best, earned All-Conference USA accolades. Terry and Young ended their careers as two of the top-five scorers in program history, while Best turned in a solid rookie campaign, blocking the eighth-most shots (47) in a single season on the Lady Pirate career ledger.
The 2002-03 season signified the bright beginning to Baldwin-Tener's career with the Lady Pirates, as she immediately showed the impact that she would have on the program. She took a team that had won just six games a year prior to her arrival in Greenville and doubled its win total. Baldwin-Tener led the squad to 12 victories and East Carolina's first berth in the Conference USA Tournament.
Highlights from that first season include a triumph over SEC foe Alabama in the championship game of the U.S. Cellular Classic and perennial NCAA Tournament squads Memphis and Louisville. The Lady Pirates also played in the title contest of all three regular season tournaments in which they participated.
Baldwin-Tener's presence was felt not only in an increased number of wins, but also in the marked improvement of player development. Jennifer Jackson blossomed in the new up-tempo style implemented by the head coach. Under Baldwin-Tener's tutelage, Jackson raised her scoring average from just under six points per game as a freshman, to 18 as a second-year player. Additionally, Jackson became the first ECU athlete in program history to earn All-C-USA honors (Third-Team) and first to garner league player-of-the-week laurels.
Baldwin-Tener's "sophomore" campaign indicated that she would continue to build on what she had started a season prior. She led the Lady Pirates to a 14-14 record and a second-straight C-USA Tournament appearance.
ECU blazed out of the gates, winning 14 of its first 18 games, including an eight-game winning streak that spanned the end of December through the majority of January. The run included victories over Atlantic Coast Conference foe Wake Forest, in-state rival UNC Wilmington and WNIT participants Arkansas State, South Florida and Charlotte. The Lady Pirates also stretched No. 22 TCU to four overtimes in a loss that still stands as the longest game in C-USA history.
The 2003-04 squad was known for its aggressive, up-tempo style of play at which they played for 40 minutes, and sometimes more, each contest. Though often outsized, ECU out-rebounded 16 of 28 opponents. This phenomenon was also evident nationally, as the Lady Pirates produced the 22nd-highest rebound margin in Division I. East Carolina ended up out-rebounding its foes by an average of 6.3 boards per game. Additionally, Jackson became the 19th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career.
In addition to team accomplishments, Baldwin-Tener also established herself as one of the best in the nation at developing post players. Senior Courtney Willis had arguably the best season ever for a Lady Pirate. She became East Carolina's first All-C-USA First-Team selection while averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds per contest with 14 double-doubles to her credit. Willis also finished in the top four in C-USA in five statistical categories - offensive rebounds (first), rebounding average (third), scoring (fourth), field goal percentage (fourth) and defensive rebounds (fourth). Additionally, her 40 points and 21 rebounds against TCU were the second-best point output and greatest number of rebounds in a game in the league for 2003-04.
The third season of the Baldwin-Tener era was a record-setting year of sorts, as the Lady Pirates finished eighth in the C-USA standings, its highest ranking since joining the league. Baldwin-Tener also recorded her 100th-career victory with a 60-47 win over Memphis on Jan. 7, 2005. ECU secured important wins over NCAA Tournament participant Louisville and WNIT qualifier South Florida on its way to earning a spot in the C-USA Tournament for the third-straight season. The Lady Pirates also tangled with eventual national champion Baylor, as well as WNIT runner-up West Virginia.
Player development continued to be a focal point for the head coach. Without a true center holding down the front court, Baldwin-Tener molded Shanita Sutton into one of C-USA's premier post players. Sutton nearly tripled her points per game average from four her junior campaign to 11.4 as a senior. She also finished eighth in the conference in field goal percentage and shots blocked. As Sutton's ECU career came to a close, she ranked seventh on the Lady Pirate career blocked shots ledger. Jackson also became the second player in school history to be named to an all-conference team for three-consecutive years, collecting All-C-USA Second-Team honors. Baldwin-Tener utilized her strong post moves and smooth shooting stroke to mold a player that finished her collegiate career with 1,490 points.
Baldwin-Tener continued to take the program to unprecedented heights in 2005-06. East Carolina notched a record of 17-12 to produce its first winning season since 2000-01 while also advancing to its fourth-straight C-USA Tournament. The squad made history by winning its first-ever contest in league tourney play after dispatching UAB. The 17 wins were also the most in a single-season for the program since 1991-92, when that Lady Pirate group turned in a 21-8 mark.
2005-06 also was a year for records as Baldwin-Tener notched her 50th win at ECU with a 74-54 triumph over Memphis on Feb. 10. The Lady Pirates also collected the 500th win in school history, dismissing Mississippi Valley State, 69-60, and Dec. 30. Additionally, East Carolina finished higher in the league standings than predicted, earning a sixth-place tie after getting a 12th-place nod in the preseason.
Under Baldwin-Tener's watchful eye, freshman Jasmine Young and junior college transfer Cherie Mills broke into C-USA, earning all-conference honors. Mills ended the year ranked among the league leaders in seven statistical categories and recorded 32 blocked shots on the season. Young, who tallied 153 assists, found herself among the nation's leaders in assists per game, checking in at 27th. The Richmond, Va. native also became the first Lady Pirate in the program annals to earn C-USA Freshman-of-the-Year accolades.
The culmination of Baldwin-Tener's building process occurred in 2007 as East Carolina accomplished another first - their first-ever Conference USA Tournament title. For the first time since 1982, the Lady Pirates would be represented in the NCAA Tournament field of 64. Certainly aiding ECU's cause was its third-place finish in the league standings, earning the Lady Pirates their first-ever first-round bye in the event. East Carolina posted a program-best C-USA record of 11-5 to earn the No. 3 seed. After sending home SMU in the quarterfinals and edging UAB in the semifinals, the Lady Pirates fell behind in the second half to Rice, but rallied to notch the 79-70 win in the championship game at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.
Both Mills and Young repeated as All-C-USA Second-Team performers while Young earned All-Defensive and All-Tournament Team honors as well. Another sophomore broke onto the scene as well, as LaCoya Terry was named C-USA Tournament MVP.
Prior to her appointment at East Carolina, Baldwin-Tener served one season as head coach at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. She took over a program that won only six games a season prior and led the Bears to a 16-13 record and berth in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament. The overall record represented one of the biggest turnarounds in Division I that season. For her efforts, Baldwin-Tener was named Atlantic Sun Coach-of-the-Year and oversaw four players that earned All-Atlantic Sun academic designation.
Baldwin-Tener's aforementioned penchant for being a program-maker rang true in the three years she spent at Life University. She literally built the program from the ground as the NAIA-affiliated University did not sponsor women's basketball until her arrival. In two seasons of competition, the Lady Eagles compiled a stellar record of 53-14.
In the program's first season (1999-2000), Baldwin-Tener led Life to a 22-11 mark as the Lady Eagles advanced to the NAIA Sweet Sixteen, only to fall to eventual national champion Oklahoma City. As a result, the new head coach was named the Naismith Georgia NAIA Division III Coach-of-the-Year.
Life began Baldwin-Tener's second season at the helm with a sparkling No. 7 national ranking, a mark that would only move upward as the year went on. The Lady Eagles put together a remarkable 31-3 record, including a 19-game winning streak, and advanced to the Elite Eight of the national tournament before falling to Southern Nazarene. Life would end the season as the No. 1 team in the final NAIA national poll. Baldwin-Tener added more hardware to her resume that season as she was named the WBCA NAIA National Coach-of-the-Year for the first time and earned her second-straight Naismith Georgia NAIA Division III Coach-of-the-Year honor.
While getting her coaching start at her Alma Mater, the University of Georgia, Baldwin-Tener gained seven years of experience as an assistant coach under head coach Andy Landers. Serving as Landers' top assistant, Baldwin-Tener gained a national reputation as a strong recruiter, and was responsible for landing All-Americans Rachel Powell, Kedra Holland-Corn and the dynamic twin sisters Coco and Kelly Miller. Georgia's recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the nation in 1993 by the Blue Star Report and was recognized as the No. 2 class by the same publication in 1997.
During her time at Georgia, the Lady Bulldogs won two Southeastern Conference titles and advanced to the NCAA Final Four on two occasions, including participation in the 1996 national title game against conference rival Tennessee. Her efforts did not go unrecognized, as she was named the Naismith National Coach-of-the-Year that same season.
Baldwin-Tener enjoyed a successful playing career at both the high school and collegiate levels. At Wills High School in Smyrna, Ga., she averaged 21 points per contest as a senior and was named the 1985 Georgia Class AAAA State Player-of-the-Year. Out of high school, Baldwin-Tener signed with Kennesaw State University and played there for two seasons before transferring to Georgia. At Kennesaw, she was an all-district and all-conference selection, averaging 18 points per game as a freshman before upping that mark to 20 as a sophomore. Baldwin-Tener is ranked 12th on the Owls' career scoring list with 831 points and her 12 steals against Tennessee Temple in 1985 are still a school single-game record.
Baldwin-Tener earned a bachelor's degree in education from Georgia in 1991 and completed her master's of education in 1997, also at Georgia. She currently resides in Greenville with her husband Matt, son Luke (5) and daughter Samantha (3).