GREEN  For the second time in 24 months, the Malone women’s basketball team is welcoming a new head coach.

The university announced that one of its own, former Green standout and 2014 Malone graduate Selana Reale, was taking over the program from Rick Tice, who will remain at Malone, taking on an expanded administrative role as assistant athletic director.

Two years ago, Tice came down from his post in the athletic department to lead the program and compiled a 33-23 mark in his two seasons, guiding the Pioneers to an NCAA Tournament berth in his first year at the helm.

Reale, who served as an assistant coach on Tice’s staff for the last two seasons, is a Green High School gradate who was named to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Second Team in 2013-14 after helping lead the Pioneers to a 21-10 record.

"I feel like we have a lot of work to do from this past year," Reale said. "We had a lot of underclassmen playing a lot of minutes and big freshman class coming in, so it’s going to be about laying foundation for the program."

Real, who spent one season coaching at Green Middle School during her time in graduate school, recalled playing for former Green coach Tony Wittmer and said that her time playing for the Bulldogs growing up was when her love of basketball took root.

"I got to play under Tony Wittmer and he taught me what it looked like to work hard," Reale said. "I wanted to play hard for him all the time and I really enjoyed the sport."

Now that she has a chance to put her own imprint on the Malone program, Reale envisions her team playing a slightly different style than the one the Pioneers played under Tice. While that approach helped the Pioneers to a Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and the program’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional in the 2016-17 season, the first-year head coach believes that she can tailor her approach to the game to the roster she has to work with in her first season on the bench at her alma mater.

"It will be a little different approach, but we’re going to look at new kids coming in and fit an offense around the team we have," Reale said. "I would like to run more and get out in transition, but ultimately you’re going to do what it takes to win the game, so if we have to walk the ball up and run sets every time down the court, that’s what we’ll do."

As part of running a successful non-Division I program, Reale knows many of her players will come from Ohio and specifically from Northeast Ohio. Smaller schools often have rosters heavy in local talent and she says that in recruiting, the program will look for players with strong ties to their family and to the area. However, the wealth of talent in the area means that it’s heavily recruited by Division I and non-Division I schools alike, so keeping good players close to home is a challenge for schools such as Malone.

With the offseason for college basketball officially underway with the conclusion of the postseason at all levels, Reale and her coaching staff now have the spring, summer and fall to implement their system and begin working with returning players while they wait for their incoming freshman class to graduate high school and join the program.

"What I want to work on is just our mindset, because I think we have to get a lot mentally tougher, whether it’s (for) the next play or drill or lifting or conditioning, just be mentally a lot tougher," Reale said.

As the 28th-ranked scorer in program history and a top 10 player on the all-time Malone career assists lists, Reale has strong ties to the program she’s now tasked with leading. She also remains rooted to the community where she grew up, as she still lives in Green. What all of those ties will add up to remains to be seen, but Malone is eager to see what’s next for a team that has trended in a positive direction over the past two season.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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