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The Eastern Echo Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

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Eastern Michigan introduces Sahar Nusseibeh as new women's basketball coach at introductory press conference

Feet in, arms out, eyes up; those were the six words of the day in Ypsilanti, Mich., and ultimately the words that landed the Eastern Michigan University women's basketball head coaching job for Sahar Nusseibeh, who was officially introduced at her introductory press conference on Tuesday, April 2. 

“When we heard the six words on the Zoom, we got off and said we need to hire her,” EMU Athletics Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee said when dwelling on the moment of meeting with Nusseibeh for the position. "I am as excited now as I’ve ever been about a hire.”

Feet in; it's about being two feet in in every situation you deal with, every single member of the program. Arms out; it deals with servant leaders who seek to help others. Eyes up; about giving everyone the respect they deserve and having a confident presence in everything that you do.

“It’s also about vulnerability, being able to look at your sisters and knowing that they will help you," Nuessebeih said. "Feet in, arms out, eyes up; that is what Eastern Michigan women’s basketball will be." 

Wetherbee opened up the press conference by giving his thanks to everyone throughout the search process. One thank you was awarded to former interim head coach Ke'Sha Blanton, who took over the EMU women's basketball program midway through the season after the firing of Fred Castro. 

"I put her in a really tough spot getting rid of a coach in the middle of the year and being short-staffed, she was first class," Wetherbee said. "She always put the student-athletes first, so I really appreciate her and want to support her as much as I can moving forward." 

Nusseibeh comes to Ypsilanti after being the head coach at Canisius University for the past three seasons. During her time at Canisius, Nusseibeh led the Golden Griffins to its first 17-win season since 2008-09, and its first double-digit win season since 2018-19.

Through 12 years of Division 1 coaching experience, Nusseibeh has made stops as an assistant at Bowling Green State University from 2013-16, and Miami University from 2019-21. She also served as an assistant at Holy Cross and Manhattan College.

"If you were to ask me what my dream job was five to ten years ago, I would tell you I'm living it today," Nusseibeh said. "This is my dream job. This is something I've wanted for the past 13 years since I entered coaching."

Wetherbee began searching for a new head coach after deciding to not bring Blanton back after her interim role. 

“She [Nusseibeh] is someone who cares about well-being, someone with high integrity, and someone with high culture," Wetherbee said. "She’s checked all of those boxes in someone that we wanted." 

Becoming the ninth EMU women's basketball coach in program history, Nusseibeh will take over the Lady Eagles who finished the year 7-22 overall and last place in the Mid-American Conference. They have had just one winning season in the past eight and have failed to make the NCAA Tournament since 2012.

Nusseibeh plans to use the community in Ypsilanti as a stepping stone to building a special program at EMU while building a culture that values the community and compliments the people within it. 

"I've seen firsthand that when you do connect, more than them knowing you as a basketball player or us as coaches, how powerful and impactful it can be for both sides," Nusseibeh said. "It's not always sunshine and roses, and when you can have more people in your circle that  have your back, I think it's a win-win." 

On the court, Nusseibeh said it will be a fast and confident team who is on the go at all times. 

“We will be relentless, fluid, and free. It’s a green-light-go mentality. Play with that confidence and no fear," Nusseibeh said. “All we have to do is put our foot on the gas and go." 

The coaching journey for Nusseibeh started when she was a graduate assistant at the University of Cincinnati and held internships with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics.

Nusseibeh is the first active head coach to be hired at EMU since Suzy Merchant took over in 1998.