Detroit Mercy’s women’s basketball program has a new leader. AnnMarie Gilbert was announced as the 12th head coach of the Titans on Friday, April 24 by Athletic Director Robert C. Vowels, Jr.
It’s Gilbert’s fourth head coaching stop in college basketball and second in Division I. She has amassed 287 coaching wins and tallied eight straight 20-win seasons as a head coach in 18 seasons. She has also guided teams to numerous postseason victories, including a run to the Division II National Championship game.
“Detroit Mercy is pleased to have Coach Gilbert join us and use her extensive experience to continue our tradition of academic and athletic excellence in women’s basketball and our 16 other NCAA Division I sports,” said Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi. “Over her 26 years of coaching, she has demonstrated that student-athlete success in the classroom and on the court are intertwined.”
“AnnMarie Gilbert was our first choice because of her depth of experience as a head coach at Division I, Division II and Division III and because she is an excellent recruiter,” Vowels said. “She has done a terrific job as head coach at Virginia Union, Eastern Michigan and Oberlin and as an assistant coach at Michigan State. Coach Gilbert and the student-athletes will strive for excellence on the court and in the classroom.”
Gilbert was highly successful in her most recent position as head coach at Division II Virginia Union University, where she guided the Lady Panthers to a 135-18 record and an academic GPA of 3.3 over five seasons. Her tenure there included five trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament and a national title game appearance in 2017. Gilbert helped Virginia Union capture three conference championships (2016, 2018, 2019).
“I am humbled and honored to return to Detroit, to become the new head women’s basketball coach at the University of Detroit Mercy,” Gilbert said. “I would like to personally thank Athletic Director Robert Vowels, the Detroit Mercy search committee, alumnus Mark Misko and President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi for this great opportunity.
“Michigan is a recruiting gold mine rich with talent. I am excited to connect with the players, alumni, fans, local high school and AAU programs. I look forward to building a winning culture, instilling a spirit of excellence and restoring pride in Titan women’s basketball.”
She has guided her teams to eight straight 20-win seasons, from her final three seasons at Eastern Michigan to all five at Virginia Union. The Lady Panthers posted a school-record 28 wins in each of her first four seasons and went 23-4 in 2019-20 before the campaign ended due to the coronavirus pandemic with the team poised to make another run in the NCAA Tournament.
Gilbert is a three-time Coach of the Year, earning the honor in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) in three straight seasons (2016-18). She coached the CIAA Player of the Year in four out of five seasons and one of her student-athletes, Kiana Johnson, was voted the 2016 NCAA Division II Player of the Year after leading the nation in scoring.
In her first season in 2015-16, Gilbert coached the Panthers to the biggest turnaround in school history going from 9-18 to 28-3 and leading Virginia Union to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament during her first season as head coach. The following year, Gilbert guided Virginia Union to the NCAA Division II national championship game for the first time since 1984 as the Lady Panthers finished the year ranked No. 2 in the country.
Gilbert was also appointed to the WBCA Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as the NCAA Subcommittee on Diversity, Retention and Professional Developing in Coaching and was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator (SWA) during her tenure at Virginia Union.
“I have been extremely blessed during the past five seasons I have spent at Virginia Union,” Gilbert said. “To have achieved an overall 135-18 record, while coaching four different CIAA Players of the Year, two Defensive Players of the Year, one national player of the year, three All-Americans, one Elite Eight appearance and one national Division II title game appearance, three CIAA tournament championships, earning five consecutive NCAA regional bids along with three Coach of the Year honors was truly magical.
“I hope to bring that same winning tradition to Detroit Mercy.”
Prior to Virginia Union, Gilbert was the head coach at Eastern Michigan University from 2007-2012, where she compiled a 94-64 record in five seasons. She guided the Eagles to three consecutive 20-plus win seasons (2009-12) in her final three seasons and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 after guiding EMU to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament championship, with her star player Tavelyn James receiving the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the best player in the country under 5-8.
In 2011, Gilbert guided the Eagles to a school-record 24 wins and a berth in the WNIT, where EMU knocked off Michigan in the first round of the WNIT. With Gilbert at the helm, Eastern Michigan had the second-best turnaround in the nation in 2009-10, going from eight wins in 2008-09 to 22 wins and a WNIT berth.
Gilbert spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach on the staff at Michigan State and was the staff’s recruiting coordinator from 2005-07. During her tenure, she helped the Spartans to a record of 120-44 and five NCAA Tournament appearances in five seasons, including one Big Ten title, one Big Ten tournament title and an NCAA Final Four and national championship game appearance in 2005.
As the recruiting coordinator for MSU, Gilbert consistently brought top talent to East Lansing. In November of 2006, Gilbert was instrumental in signing five exceptional student-athletes to National Letters of Intent, including three players ranked in the top 100 nationally. As a class, it was ranked among the top 20 in the country by several recruiting publications.
She began her coaching career at her alma mater, Division III Oberlin College in Ohio, first as an assistant coach for the women’s program in 1992-93 and then as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team in 1993-94 before assuming the head coach duties for the women’s team in 1994. She spent eight seasons as the head coach at Oberlin (1994-2002) and guided the program to six appearances in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) postseason tournament during her tenure.
Gilbert played for two seasons (1986-88) at Mid-American Conference member Ohio University, gaining Most Outstanding Defensive Player and All-MAC honors in 1988. She transferred to Oberlin for her junior and senior seasons (1989-91), where she was a two-time Kodak first-team All-American, a two-time NCAC Player of the Year, the Honda Division III Athlete of the Year and the Champion USA/WBCA Player of the Year in 1991.
Gilbert led the nation in scoring as a junior (31.1 points per game) and was the nation’s second-leading scorer as a senior (31.3 ppg). She set the NCAA Division III record for points in a game with 61 against Allegheny on Feb. 6, 1991. She is still the Oberlin record holder for points in a season (778, 1989-90), field goals in a game (28) and field goals in a season (319).
In just two seasons at Oberlin, she registered 1,527 points to become the school’s leading scorer, a record which stood until 2002. During her career, Gilbert set 24 school records and 10 conference records as a player while also setting 10 NCAA Division III records. She received an invitation to the Pan Am Games trials in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1990.
She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Oberlin in 1991 and earned a master’s degree in sports management from Cleveland State University in 2014.