MCC women’s hoops now in hands of a national champ

A former national champion is taking over the head coaching position with the Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball program.

Steve Garber, who compiled a 230-69 record in eight seasons at Illinois Central College, returns to the coaching ranks after taking a year off. The MCC athletic deparment announced the hiring of Garber in a release Sunday.

“You don’t have to look far to see that his experiences as an assistant and as a head coach will allow him to continue to be successful as he transitions to lead our women’s basketball program,” said MCC Director of Athletics Dan Huntley. “Steve is energized and ready for the tasks that are in front of him here at MCC as we seek to bring back the winning mentality to the women’s program.”

Garber, who captained Illinois Central to the NJCAA Division II national title in 2006, will try to pick up the pieces left over from troubled times in the MCC women’s basketball program. The Tigers had scholarship reductions and a postseason ban in 2011 after rules violations led to the firing of former head coach Larry Roberts, and his replacement – former Iowa State standout guard Alison (Lacey) Otzelberger – has since moved on.

Marshalltown went 11-20 last season, including a 6-10 mark in Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division II action, prior to Lacey getting married and moving with her husband T.J. Otzelberger as he took the assistant coaching job at the University of Washington.

Huntley says Garber is the person to turn things around in Tiger Country.

“I am extremely confident that Steve will right the ship quickly,” Huntley said. “He is familiar with our conference and region, has coached in our building and already has some great rivalries with other conference coaches due to their competing against his strong Illinois Central teams.

“At this time, Steve provides a great fit for our department by bringing in a competitive edge and reputation in women’s basketball. Steve has coached and learned from some of the best in the game and it has surely paid off.”

Garber’s Illinois Central teams advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament three times during his tenure as head coach, defeating Kirkwood in the 2006 championship game. The Cougars also advanced to nationals in 2005 and 2008.

He received the 2006 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s women’s basketball Coach of the Year award, was a three-time district coach of the year, two-time region coach of the year and the 2006 National Tournament Coach of the Year.

Garber served as an assistant for three seasons at the University of Maryland and seven more at Illinois Central before taking the reins.

“It’s very refreshing to see the vision of the department and the women’s basketball program,” Garber said of MCC. “I’d like to thank Dan and the entire department for such a tremendous opportunity. I’m very excited for the upcoming season and what is in store for the team.”

The MCC athletics website says the 2013-14 season begins with the Kirkwood Jamboree on Oct. 13 – a little more than one month away.