Nusseibeh departs Canisius; Named Head WBB Coach at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan University Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee announced the hiring of Sahar Nusseibeh as head coach of the women’s basketball program today, March 28. A rising star with three seasons of experience as a Division I head coach, Nusseibeh (pronounced noo-SAY-beh) arrives in Ypsilanti with an extensive coaching resume which includes a pair of stops as an assistant coach within the Mid-American Conference.

Nusseibeh will address the media Tuesday, April 2, at 10 a.m. inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center. The event will be streamed live at and on the Eastern Michigan Athletics mobile app.

“I am thrilled to welcome Sahar as the next head coach of our women’s basketball program,” said Wetherbee. “Her extensive coaching experience, particularly within the MAC, will undoubtedly bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our team. I am confident that under Sahar’s leadership, our women’s basketball program will thrive both on and off the court, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact she will make on our student-athletes and the EMU community.”

The ninth full-time head coach in program history, Nusseibeh had been the head coach for the past three seasons at Canisius University in Buffalo, N.Y. The Uniontown, Ohio, native has helped resurrect a program that won a combined five games in the two seasons prior to her arrival to a 17-victory campaign in 2023-24. The Golden Griffins’ 17 wins were the most since the 2008-09 season and it marked the school’s first season with double-digit wins since 2018-19.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as Eastern Michigan University’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach,” Nusseibeh added. “I thank Scott Wetherbee, his leadership team, as well as President Smith for their trust in me and the amazing staff that will join us. We cannot wait to get started. We will lay a foundation rooted in love, trust, and respect. We will be intentional in all we do, as we work to build this program to new heights. This program will strive to epitomize success on the court, in the classroom, and throughout our community. Greenlight…Go. Let’s soar!”

Nusseibeh is the first active women’s basketball head coach to be hired at Eastern Michigan since Suzy Merchant in 1998. Merchant was the head coach at Saginaw Valley State University (1995-97) before taking over the EMU program and leading it to its first MAC Tournament Championship in 2004.

A long-time assistant coach with 12 years of Division I coaching experience, Nusseibeh took over the Canisius program after spending time as an assistant coach at the College of the Holy Cross (2011-13), Bowling Green State University (2013-16), Manhattan College (2016-19), and Miami University (2019-21).

One of the top young coaches in the country, Nusseibeh was named in 2016 to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s (WBCA) inaugural “Thirty Under 30” list, which recognizes the top 30 up-and-coming coaches 30 years old-or-younger at all levels of the game. A graduate of the NCAA’s Women Coaches Academy, she has also participated in the WBCA’s Center for Coaching Excellence.

The 2023-24 season at Canisius was a historic one for the program as the Blue and Gold finished with 17 wins. Canisius’ 11 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) wins also were the most since the 2008-09 campaign when CU won 14 games during conference play and advanced to the WNIT. The Griffs lead the MAAC in three-point field goal percentage at .338 (229-of-677), ranked second in defensive rebounds per game (11.4), and tied the program record for three-pointers made in a game with 15 at Binghamton (Dec. 8). As a team, the Griffs finished fifth after being picked ninth in the MAAC Preseason Poll.  

From Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, Nusseibeh coached the Griffs to five consecutive road wins, marking the first five-game winning streak for Canisius since the 2015-16 season and five-game road winning streak since the 2008-09 campaign.

In the postseason, Nusseibeh led the Blue and Gold to a 58-55 win over Manhattan, advancing the team to the semifinal round of the MAAC Championship for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign. She also helped the Griffs earn a pair of postseason awards as guard Athina Lexa was tabbed the MAAC Sixth Player of the Year, becoming the second Canisius player to ever earn the honor, while forward Sisi Eleko was named a unanimous All-MAAC First Team selection and selected for the All-MAAC Championship Team.

Individually, Eleko set the program record for rebounds by a sophomore and ranked second all-time for rebounds in a single season with 328. Eleko led the MAAC in both points-per-game (15.9) and rebounds-per-game (10.6). Lexa, meanwhile, ranked top-15 in the MAAC for both points-per-game (11.7) and total points (362).

During her second season at the helm, Nusseibeh helped Canisius earn two all-conference accolades as Dani Haskell was named to the All-MAAC Third Team and Sisi Eleko was tabbed to the All-MAAC Rookie Team. The 2022-23 season saw the Griffs finish the season ranked second in the MAAC and 84th nationally for free-throw percentage at 73.9 percent. The Blue and Gold also saw their overall and conference win total increase by three compared to the 2021-22 season.

Individually, Eleko finished the season with 96 field goals made, which is the fifth most all-time by a freshman in program history. The Montreal, Quebec, native also made 53 free throws, tying her with Rachel Decker for the fifth-most made free throws in a season by a freshman.  

In her first season at Canisius, Nusseibeh led the squad to a MAAC opening-round win, becoming the first No. 11 seed to win a game in the tournament’s history. Two Golden Griffins also received all-conference accolades as sophomore Dani Haskell was named an All-MAAC Third Team honoree and freshman Athina Lexa was a unanimous selection to the All-MAAC Rookie Team.

The 2021-22 campaign saw the Griffs set a program record for three-pointers made in a contest with 15 in an 81-78 win versus Siena on Jan. 29, 2022. The team was also one three-pointer shy of tying the program record for three-pointers made, set during the 2008-09 season (252). Canisius also led the MAAC and ranked 28th in the nation with its 251 three-point field goals made.

Individually, freshman Rhay Porter’s 43 blocks were the most by a Canisius freshman in the Division I era.

As the defensive coordinator at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Nusseibeh was responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of team and individual defensive concepts. She also worked on game planning the team’s defensive strategies and was in charge of all defensive play calls and in-game adjustments during timeouts and in-game action.

During her tenure, three Miami players received all-conference honors as Lauren Dickerson was named All-MAC Second Team, Savannah Kluesner was named All-MAC Third Team and Peyton Scott was named MAC All-Freshman Team. Dickerson became Miami’s all-time leading scorer in addition to breaking five other Miami career records and one single-season record. Kluesner broke the program record for single-season double-doubles (14) and Miami’s single-game block record (7).

Prior to joining the RedHawks’ staff, she spent three seasons (2016-19) as the associate head coach, recruiting coordinator, and defensive coordinator at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y.

During her time at Manhattan, Nusseibeh played a key role in recruiting and coaching five All-MAAC selections, two MAAC All-Rookie Team honorees, and the 2019 MAAC Women’s Defensive Player of the Year. Nusseibeh led the Jaspers’ defensive efforts which saw Manhattan rank among the top five in the MAAC in scoring defense, blocked shots, and turnovers forced in three straight seasons. In her final year at Manhattan, the Jaspers ranked 17th nationally in scoring defense (56.3 points per game allowed), while also placing in the top 100 nationally in field goal percentage defense (75th), steals per game (76th), blocked shots per game (63rd) and turnovers forced (79th).

Nusseibeh was a part of the Bowling Green coaching staff for three seasons (2013-16) and helped lead the Falcons to a 2013-14 Mid-American Conference regular-season crown after the team went 30-5 overall and 17-1 in league play. She recruited and coached five All-MAC honorees, including an All-America selection, and she played a key role in helping Bowling Green earn three-straight WBCA Top-25 Team Academic Awards.

Nusseibeh came to BGSU after spending the previous two seasons at the College of the Holy Cross. She helped the Crusaders win a total of 37 games over those two years, and the team advanced to the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament both years. Among a myriad of duties, Nusseibeh was the team’s post coach and also was the program’s video coordinator.

In 2012-13, Holy Cross finished 18-14 overall.  The fourth seed for the league tournament, the Crusaders advanced to the title game before falling to Navy.

The 2011-12 Crusaders had a 19-15 record, upsetting top-seeded American in the PL Tournament’s semifinal round. Holy Cross was invited to the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) and posted a first-round win in that national postseason tournament.

Prior to joining the Holy Cross program, Nusseibeh spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at the University of Cincinnati. While with the Bearcats, she coordinated video, served as the team’s post coach, and was the academic liaison between the players, academics department, and coaches.

In addition, Nusseibeh served internships with both the Atlanta Dream (2007) and Washington Mystics (2009) of the WNBA. Additionally, she spent time in Colorado working with USA Basketball, helping prepare the U-19 and World University Games teams that competed in Thailand and Serbia, respectively.

She was among just 30 assistant college basketball coaches to take part in the U.S. Marine Corps Coaches Leadership Workshop in Quantico, Va. The three-day, invitation-only program is designed to teach small-unit leadership. She has also attended numerous other professional development events, including the 2017 BDS Agency Head Coaching Training Center, the “A Step Up” Assistant Coaching Symposium in Charlotte, N.C., and the Assistant Coaches Immersion Program in Denver, Colo.

Nusseibeh played four seasons at American University from 2005-09, and was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team in her initial season. She made 116 career appearances with 39 starts, helping the Eagles to the conference regular-season titles in both 2007-08 and 2008-09.

Off the court, Nusseibeh served as the president of the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) during her senior season and was a women’s basketball team representative to that committee throughout her undergraduate career.  She also participated in the WBCA’s “So You Want to Be a Coach” program.

The 37-year old Nusseibeh attended Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio, playing basketball for the storied Vikings program.

She graduated cum laude from AU in 2009, earning her bachelor’s degree in International Relations/International Business. She received her master’s degree in Business Administration from Cincinnati in May of 2011.

Tagged with: