Hometown: Guntersville, AL
Record at UWG: 85-98
Craig Roden has to be credited for transforming a program which endured an 0-26 season the year before he arrived on campus. Roden has gradually returned respect to the Braves’ program through using a sound approach, disciplined play, smart and aggressive defense, and by coaching with a positive attitude.
His leadership and coaching skills contributed to three consecutive winnng seasons for the Braves. His record as West Georgias coach now stands at 94-116 (.464). Each season, West Georgia has raised the victory bar under the Guntersville, Alabama, native. The Braves won eight games in the 1996-97 season, including three within the Gulf South Conference East Division. Roden’s second team in finished 9-17 with a 4-10 mark in the GSC East against a tougher non conference schedule. Both of his first two squads lost six games by 10 points or less.
The 1998-99 season, however, showed improvement in Roden’s rebuilding plan. Playing with no seniors and against a strong schedule, the Braves finished a respectable 11-15, and 6-8 in the GSC East, and a four-way tie for fourth place. 10 of West Georgia’s defeats were by 10 points or less, making the Braves no longer an easy victory on the schedule. An 11-15 finish for the 1999-2000 campaign followed by a 14-12 mark during the 2000-2001 season, as well as the 17-10 mark during the 2001-2002 season showed the Braves were solidly moving toward a level playing field against the rest of the Gulf South Conference contenders. In that season, West Georgia womens basketball found itself in a relatively unfamiliar place, Tupelo, MS for the GSC tournament. In 2002-03, UWG had a 15-11 mark with a 9-7 conference finish, falling just short of the conference tournament that year.
Last season started out as a season to forget for the head coach, as the Braves opened the season winless in their first nine games. But postseason play depends heavily on wins in conference play, which West Georgia did plenty of in 2003-04. UWG finished with a 6-8 record in GSC play, earning a bid to the conference tourney for the second time in three years.
The job Roden has done at West Georgia epitomizes his coaching career at six previous stops ranging from junior college to Division I programs. Prior to his arrival at West Georgia, Roden was the Women’s Head Coach at Crowder Community College in Neosho, MO. He’s also held Women’s Head coaching positions at Snead State Community College in Boaz, AL (1980-84), the University of West Alabama (1984-87), the University of Texas-El Paso (1987-90), and Connors State College in Warner, OK (1990-92). Roden was the Men’s Head Coach at Snead State from 1992-95. Yet wherever Roden has coached, he’s rebuilt the program into a winner. At each stop, he took over a program coming off a losing season, but it didn’t take him long to reverse the fortunes.
It started at Snead (AL) State where the program won only five games the season before. However, under Roden, Snead State rose to uncharted heights. His 1984 squad was ranked 13th in the nation with a 22-4 record. When he inherited the program at his alma mater, West Alabama, the team had won only seven games in the two previous seasons. However, those fortunes changed quickly as Roden led the Lady Tigers to a 51-34 mark in his three seasons in Livingston. Also, West Alabama advanced to the Gulf South Conference Championship game in 1987.
As Head Coach at Texas-El Paso, the Lady Miners won 16 games in Roden’s second season after a 7-16 season prior to his arrival. And in his only season at Crowder, Roden took a program that had endured three straight losing seasons to a berth in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) National Tournament. That included playing a schedule that included 12 games against Top 20 teams, and Roden was awarded NJCAA District 16 Coach of the Year for that success. In his only stint as a men’s head coach, Roden took a Snead State team that was 2-24 prior to his arrival to a 13-13 mark during his second season in 1994. That included the school’s first regional playoff appearance in four years.
Roden received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, with a minor in History, from West Alabama in 1978. He continued work on his Master’s degree (Health, Physical Education, and Recreation) while working as an assistant coach with the Tigers from 1978-80. Roden is the father of two sons–Tyler and Andrew.