FORT MYERS, Fla. – As the 2013-14 season approaches, the FGCU women’s basketball team has earned its first set of preseason accolades. Senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane High School) has been named the College Sports Madness Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Player of the Year, while head coach Karl Smesko has earned the title of Preseason Coach of the Year.
The defending Atlantic Sun Regular Season Champions picked up two major awards for the second-consecutive year. Prior to the 2012-13 season, senior Brittany Kennedy was named Defensive Player of the Year, with Smesko earning the top coaching nod.
Hansen enters her senior campaign as one of FGCU’s most decorated athletes. She currently stands as the all-time program leader with 1,439 career points and ranks among the top three in 15 statistical categories. Hansen earned Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year and College Sports Madness Player of the Year awards after a pheneomenal junior year. Last season, the guard was a first-team all conference honoree after ranking among the top statistical performers in the league. Hansen averaged 16.3 points per game with 7.5 rebounds per contest and shot over 48 percent from the field, while grabbing 74 steals and recording 28 blocks in 34 games.
In addition to the Player of the Year awards, Hansen’s junior year ended with an abundance of accolades. The awards include an Atlantic Sun Player of the Week nod, three College Sports Madness Player of the Week awards, a Full Court Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention, a position on the 2013 Capital one All-District-4 First-Team and her second-consecutive FGCU Most Outstanding Student-Athlete Award.
Academically, Hansen has excelled in the classroom as a chemisty major and mathematics minor. She maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.92 and has amassed four 4.0 semesters as an Eagle. Hansen was recognized as a unanimous selection for the Atlantic Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year and earned Capital One Academic All-America Second-Team honors as a junior.
Hansen returns for her final season with the Green and Blue with an improved shot and a continued sense of leadership for the Eagles.
Smesko was named the College Sports Madness Preseason Coach of the Year for the second-consecutive year. Following a 2012-13 season where his team finished 27-7 and a perfect 18-0 in Atlantic Sun action, Smesko was named Coach of the Year by several outlets. The 12th-year head coach was recognized by the Atlantic Sun and College Sports Madness as the conference Coach of the Year and saw acclaim from from College Sports Madness as the Mid-Major Coach of the Year. It was the fourth time he was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year and his second College Sports Madness Mid-Major Coach of the Year nomination. Smesko also earned the Kay Yow National Coach of the Year award in 2012 after his team went a remarkable 29-3 with a flawless 18-0 conference record.
Smesko has led the Eagles to four Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championships and has been named the A-Sun Coach of the Year in four of the last five seasons. He holds a record of 288-56 in his time with FGCU with a 100-12 mark in six years of Atlantic Sun action.
Hansen, Smesko and the rest of the Eagles will open the 2013-14 slate on Friday, Nov. 8, with a 6 p.m. contest at FIU. The Eagles’ first home contest against Bethune-Cookman is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. Atlantic Sun action will begin on Saturday, Jan. 4, when the Eagles host 2012-13 regular season runner-up Stetson.
2013-14 women’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.