Madonna Thompson's Lady Bucs have been a staple in the Tuscaloosa community for the last 24 years. Although Shelton State is a two-year institution, Thompson has recruited at a high level and sustained success year after year.
As coach of the Lady Bucs, Thompson has an overall record of 659-139, and has sent 99 players to four-year schools to continue their basketball careers. The Lady Bucs have won 17 conference championships and advanced to the Final Four once (2000). Thompson's two and a half decades of dominance have no ending in sight.
Shelton State (29-1) will renew its quest for a national championship Thursday at 6 p.m. at the NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament in Lubbock, Texas. The second-seeded Lady Bucs have a bye and will play the winner from a Wednesday first-round game.
Thompson's Bucs have two players ascending to the NCAA Division I ranks to continue their basketball careers next season: Kiana Montgomery (Jacksonville State) and Ke'Aija Williams (Troy).
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Thompson's main objectives are to win conference and national championships, but she prides herself on her development of players.
"That’s your ultimate goal at this level," Thompson said. "That’s our measure of success, putting kids at the next level and seeing if they have success there."
Thompson brings energy and intensity to practice and games, often critiquing her players for mistakes.
"I’m just a competitive person and have always been that way," Thompson said.
All former and current Lady Bucs will tell you Thompson has a major intimidation factor.
"You have to have a strong mind to deal with her criticism and critiques. She does it because she wants to see us succeed," Montgomery said.
Savannah Reier, a former Shelton State player who went on to play at Hawaii and is now a graduate assistant coach at Nevada, argues it goes beyond just affecting her players.
"She helped us get a lot of calls on the court because of her animation," Reier said. "She uses her animation as an advantage to both players and referees on the court."
Reier believes Thompson's coaching style goes against the grain for women's basketball.
"Female coaches don't typically coach the way she (Thompson) does; they aren't supposed to act animated, yet she does," Reier said. "She doesn't care what others think about her. After getting to know her, she's fun and truly cares about current and former players."
Now that Reier is a coach herself, she understands Thompsons objectives and has implemented some of her ideas at Nevada.
"She taught me to pay close attention to the details no matter how big or small," Reier said. "Now that I'm in a different program, I can see differences and help my team fix these small issues."
Montgomery, who is from Anniston, wouldn't change the decision she made to become a Lady Buc. She cites Thompson as the reason.
"She has taught me a lot that I didn’t know in high school and if I went to a four-year college, I wouldn’t have learned," Montgomery said.
Williams welcomed Thompson's fiery approach.
"I learned a lot about discipline and looking after yourself (mentally and physically). Do you want to work hard to be successful? You have to want that to be able to play on this team and you have to want it to be coached by her," Williams said.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Madonna Thompson renews quest to win national title at Shelton State