RICHMOND, Ky. – Three coaches have joined the Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball staff, head coach Chrissy Roberts announced today. Melissa Kolbe, Kent Miller and Candice Finley will serve on Roberts’ first EKU staff. In May, Roberts was selected to replace Larry Joe Inman who announced his retirement after 20 years on the Eastern sideline.
“I am extremely fortunate to have three first-class individuals join me at Eastern Kentucky,” said Roberts. “I have known Melissa, Kent and Candice for a long time and they are familiar with my expectations for this program in the classroom, in the community and on the court. The enthusiasm, energy and pride that they will bring to EKU will be felt not only in the athletic department and the Eastern Kentucky campus, but across the entire Richmond community as well.”
Along with Roberts, Kolbe has spent the past six seasons as an assistant at East Carolina University. Kolbe’s responsibilities included recruiting and working with the team’s guards. With Kolbe’s help, the Lady Pirates finished higher than predicted each of her first five seasons on the staff.
In Kolbe’s first season, East Carolina made its first-ever Conference USA tournament appearance. A year later, the Lady Pirates finished 14-14 overall, the program’s first non-losing season since 2000-01 and only the fourth non-losing season in 11 years. ECU returned to the C-USA tournament in 2004 and 2005. During the 2005-06 season, East Carolina went 17-12 and finished with an 8-8 conference mark, its best-ever up to that time. The Lady Pirates capped the season with the first C-USA tournament game victory in program history.
The rebuilding process at East Carolina culminated in 2007. The Lady Pirates went 19-14 overall and finished third in C-USA with an 11-5 mark. ECU went on to capture its first C-USA tournament championship and earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in 25 years. The trip to the Big Dance was only the second in school history.
Prior to joining the ECU staff, Kolbe spent one season as an assistant at Mercer University. Kolbe served on Sharon Baldwin-Tener’s staff at Mercer and joined Baldwin-Tener at East Carolina when she was selected as the Lady Pirates’ head coach in 2002. While at Mercer, she assisted with recruiting and served as the academic coordinator. She was also involved with workouts, scouting and administrative duties. She helped Mercer increase its win total by 10 games from the previous season, one of the biggest turnarounds in NCAA Division I that season. The Bears also advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun tournament in 2002.
Kolbe’s collegiate coaching career began at Valdosta State in 1999. She served two seasons at Division II Valdosta State before joining the staff at Mercer.
The Cleveland, Ohio native enjoyed a highly successful playing career at Wittenberg University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Kolbe helped lead her team to three conference championships and two appearances in the NCAA tournament.
Miller is joining the Lady Colonel coaching staff for the second time. Miller spent five seasons (1994-1999) as an assistant to Inman. Miller helped EKU claim three Ohio Valley Conference regular season championships in a four-year period. He was part of the staff that led the Lady Colonels to their first-ever OVC title in 1995 and led Eastern to its first-ever OVC tournament championship and NCAA tournament appearance in 1997.
Miller left EKU to be the head girl’s basketball coach at Madison Central High School. From 1999 to 2005, Miller led the Indians to four district titles in six seasons. His 2001-02 squad captured a second straight 44th District championship and advanced to the finals of the 11th Region tournament. He compiled a 92-76 record at Madison Central.
In 2005, Miller began a two-year stint as the boy’s basketball coach at Model Laboratory School. Miller’s 2006-07 team finished as the runner-up in the district tournament and earned a spot in the region tourney. He served as an assistant with the men’s team at Georgetown College last season, helping the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, a No. 1 ranking in the NAIA and a trip to the final four.
Before starting his first stint as an assistant at EKU, Miller spent nine seasons as the head junior varsity and assistant varsity boy’s basketball coach at Bryan Station High School in Lexington.
Miller earned two bachelor’s degrees from EKU. The first, in police administration, came in 1981 and the second, in education, was earned in 1985. In 1991, he completed his master’s degree at Eastern in education with an emphasis in school health. Miller spent the 1984-85 season as a manager for the Colonel men’s basketball team under former head coach Max Good.
Finley, a former Lady Colonel and a 2001 second team all-conference selection, returns to her alma mater as an assistant coach. Finley was a freshman when Roberts was a senior. The two helped Eastern capture the 1998 Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship.
Finley began her collegiate coaching career last season when she joined former EKU assistant Meghan Brown’s first staff at Southern Connecticut State University. Finley helped SCSU continue its winning tradition. The team posted the program’s seventh straight winning season in 2007-08. Finley coached forward Kate Lynch, a two-time Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Week and a first-team all-conference selection, and guard Logan Lentz, a two-time conference freshman of the week and an all-rookie team selection.
Before embarking on a collegiate coaching career, Finley spent four seasons as the head coach at Romulus High School in Romulus, Mich. She led Romulus to a Mega White Division championship in 2004 and a pair of district titles in 2004 and 2007. In 2007, Finley was named Downriver Coach of the Year.
She also served as a coach with the Michigan Crossover AAU/Nike Travel Team program from 2003 to 2007. She helped the team win the 2004 Boo Williams Nike Invitational championship and two Michigan AAU state titles in 2005 and 2007.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from EKU in 2002, Finley played professionally in Luxembourg for one season before returning to take the reins of the Romulus High School program.
Finley was a four-year letterwinner and a three-year starter for the Lady Colonels from 1997 to 2001. She concluded her career with more than 1,000 points, nearly 500 rebounds and more than 100 steals. She earned second team all-conference honors after leading Eastern in scoring (13 ppg) and rebounding (5.5 rpg) her senior season. She finished her collegiate career having made 45.4 percent of her shots from the field. She stands 19th on EKU’s all-time scoring list.
In addition to her OVC championship, the Detroit, Mich., native won three state titles at Bishop Borgess High School.
“We are all excited about the future direction of EKU women’s basketball and look forward to building on the strong tradition and foundation that has been laid,” Roberts said. “We are all committed to working hard every day to proudly represent Eastern Kentucky University and competing for OVC championships.”