FGCUAthletics.com
Women's Basketball Set to Open 2011-12 Season at Seton Hall
Thursday, November 10, 2011 | by Mike Hill (@mike_hill84)
Photo Credit: Dennis Snyder
Photo Credit: Dennis Snyder
Florida Gulf Coast (0-1)
at
Seton Hall (1-0)
11/11/2011 | South Orange, N.J. - Walsh Gymnasium | Attendance: 631
1st2ndFinal
Florida Gulf Coast153651
Seton Hall193857
Stats at a GlanceFGCUSHU
FG Percentage.290 (18-62) .455 (20-44)
3P FG Percentage.242 (8-33) .333 (4-12)
FT Percentage.500 (7-14) .619 (13-21)
Offensive Rebounds197
Defensive Rebounds1926
Total Rebounds3833
Turnovers1719
Steals87
Bench Points1513
Statistical LeadersFGCUSHU
PointsHANSEN - 14
CREW - 20
ReboundsHANSEN - 13
MORRIS - 7
AssistsJACKSON - 5
CREW - 3
StealsCHIHIL - 4
HENRY - 3
BlocksHANSEN - 1
KNIGHT - 1
ASHMEADE - 3

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast women's basketball team will open its 2011-12 campaign on the road at Seton Hall Friday night at 7 p.m. in Walsh Gymnasium.

DATE/TIME: Friday, November 11, 2011/7 P.M. ET
SITE: South Orange, N.J. - Walsh Gymnasium
LIVE STATS: SHUPIRATES.com
LIVE VIDEO: SHUPIRATES.com
SERIES: Second Meeting; FGCU leads 1-0
LAST MEETING: Nov. 12, 2010 - FGCU 64, Seton Hall 57 at Alico Arena
VS. BIG EAST: 2-1

SCOUTING THE PIRATES
• The Pirates begin year two of the Anne Donovan era against the same Eagles club they faced to begin the 2010-11 campaign. SHU welcomes back leading scorer Jasmine Crew, who averaged 11.6 points as a junior. Senior Tajay Ashmeade also returns for her senior year and will look to build on her averages of 3.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. The Pirates finished last year with an 8-21 record.

• Seton Hall was looking forward to having BIG EAST All-Freshman Team member KaDeidre Simmons back running the point after posting 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists last year. However, a torn ACL will sideline Simmons for the entire 2011-12 season.

• Seton Hall is 28-10 all-time in season openers. The Pirates are 26-7 since 1978 in home openers in Walsh Gymnasium and 19-4 when they begin the season at home. SHU was edged by Florida Gulf Coast, 64-57, in last season’s debut and topped Temple, 72-59, in its first home contest.

• The Pirates have played just two games in their history against a team currently in the Atlantic Sun Conference. SHU fell to Florida Gulf Coast last year, and in 2004 the Pirates knocked off Campbell, 59-41, in the opening round of the USC Tournament in Columbia, S.C.

• Seton Hall’s newcomers include Alexis Brown, Chizoba Ekedigwe and Breanna Jones. Brown and Ekedigwe were both McDonald’s All-American game nominees. Brown, a 5-8 guard, guided Potter’s House HS to a No. 6 ranking in the Powerade Fab 50 with a final record of 36-2 as a senior. Jones, a transfer from Hampton, will make her debut for the Pirates this season. She played in 31 games, making 20 starts for Hampton, where she averaged 4.4 points and 5.5 rebounds.

AT A GLANCE
For the second time in program history, FGCU will open its season on the road when it takes on BIG EAST member Seton Hall on Friday night in South Orange, N.J. Opening just the 10th season in program history, the Eagles are 7-2 all-time in season openers. FGCU has opened at home in each of the previous four years as Division I member, hosting Seton Hall in 2010 (W, 64-57), UTEP in 2009 (W, 66-54), Florida in 2008 (W, 88-86) and Florida State in 2007 (L, 93-53).

UP NEXT
Following the Seton Hall game, the Eagles will head to Miami, Fla. for a game against FIU on Monday, Nov. 14 ... tipoff is 6:00 p.m. for the third matchup between the teams (FGCU leads all-time series 2-0).

D-1 TESTED & NOW APPROVED
On August 12, 2011, all 14 of FGCU’s Division I sports became postseason eligible when the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved the recommendation from the NCAA Division I Administration Cabinet to elect FGCU to Division I active membership. FGCU began its transition into Division I in 2007-08. The Eagles are now eligible for Atlantic Sun postseason play and NCAA Tournament.

EAGLES INK A PAIR TO NLI’S
FGCU announced Thursday (Nov. 10) that Katie Meador and Taylor Gradinjan will join the Eagles next season. Meador, a 5-11 wing at Salem Communuity High School in Salem, Ill., averaged 19.3 points and 9.6 rebounds and recorded 14 double-doubles as a junior. Gradinjan, a 5-9 guard, was a first team All-State selection as a junior at Cudahy High School, averaging 20.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.3 assists per game. 

PICKIN’ UP PRESEASON HARDWARE
The FGCU women’s basketball squad, led by preseason All-Conference selections senior Courtney Chihil and redshirt sophomore Sarah Hansen, earned top billing in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ and media polls, the conference announced on Oct. 11.

In the coaches’ poll, FGCU’s took eight of the 10 first place votes, with ETSU and Belmont each picking up one vote. In the media poll, the Eagles received all 19 first place votes.

For the first time in conference history, the A-Sun let the fans decide preseason awards via Facebook. Belmont’s Haley Nelson was picked as the Preseason Player of the Year, while the Bruins were also picked to win the regular-season title. Chihil was tabbed the fan’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Hansen was also named to the CollegeSportsMadness.com Preseason Atlantic Sun All-Conference First Team.

EARLY START
The Green and Blue’s opener on Nov. 11, marks the second earliest calendar start. The 2007-08 season began on Nov. 9 with a home game vs. Florida State.

FGCU IN NOVEMBER
• FGCU has a 37-11 all-time record in games played in November.

• Since moving to Division I in 2007-08 the Eagles hold a 12-6 record in the month of November.

FGCU IN SEASON OPENERS
The Eagles own a 7-2 record in season openers, but FGCU is 0-1 in season openers on the road.

AWAY FROM HOME
FGCU has a 77-27 all-time record as the visiting team. Since moving to Division I, the Eagles have compiled a 33-20 road record.

A-SUN REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS...AGAIN
For the second time since moving to Division I in 2007-08, FGCU captured a regular-season championship. The Eagles won the 2010-11 A-Sun regular season crown with a 17-3 record against conference competition.

The Green and Blue won their first league regular-season title in 2008-09 with a 17-3 conference record. The Eagles finished the 08-09 campaign with a 26-5 overall record and lost to eventual champion USF (88-81 OT) in the second round of the WNIT in Tampa, Fla.

The Eagles have won 13+ A-Sun games in four straight seasons. FGCU is 64-12 (.842) in conference play over the last four years and has won 27 of its last 32 Atlantic Sun regular season games over the past two seasons.

FOUR-STRAIGHT POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
The Eagles qualified for their 4th-straight postseason, advancing to the WNIT Second Round. FGCU, who has received four automatic bids to the WNIT, holds a 3-4 record in the postseason tourney, including wins over USF, George Washington and Drexel.

SEVEN CONSECUTIVE 21-WIN SEASONS
The Eagles posted its seventh-straight 21-win season in 2010-11, going 28-4. FGCU’s 28 wins were fourth most wins in program history.

The lone season that the Green and Blue failed to win 21 games was during the 2003-04 campaign, where the Eagles went 18-8.

Over the seven-year span, FGCU has accumulated 202 wins and 45 losses.

FGCU RANKED#8 IN MID-MAJOR POLL
The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team earned the No. 8 spot in the first edition of the 2011-12 CollegeInsider.com Women’s Basketball Mid-Major Top 25 poll, announced on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The Mid-Major Poll is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast Conference.

The Green and Blue, who earned the No. 10 spot in the final Mid-Major poll, are the only Atlantic Sun Conference team represented in the Top 25, while ETSU received 17 votes.

FGCU VS. BCS OPPONENTS
FGCU is 5-9 all-time against BCS foes after falling to SEC foe Florida and picking up a wins over BIG EAST opponent Seton Hall, ACC foe Virginia Tech and Big Ten opponent Indiana last season. Four of the Eagles’ five wins over BCS opponents have come at Alico Arena.

GETTIN’ LOVE FROM ESPN
In the first edition of the mid-major top 10 written by ESPN’s Graham Hayes, the Eagles picked up the No. 5 spot. The mid-major top 10 returns with the same ground rules. All conferences beyond the BCS six (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) qualify for consideration.

Here’s what Hayes said about FGCU:

5. Florida Gulf Coast
Finally eligible for the NCAA tournament after completing the transition to Division I, FGCU might not waste much time availing itself of the new opportunity. Five of the six main rotation players return from a team that went 28-4 a season ago, including leading scorer Sarah Hansen and 3-point wizard Kelsey Jacobson. Newly eligible Oregon State transfer Brittany Kennedy and a freshman class highlighted by top-100 signee Whitney Knight and Greek foward Anthi Chatzigiakoumi suggest depth won’t be an issue.

Key player: Courtney Chihil. Any 5-8 player who leads a team in rebounding (5.8 per game) and leads a conference in assist-turnover ratio (1.89) is worth singling out for attention. The one rotation loss, Shannon Murphy, was a big one, but Chihil could soften the loss. She does everything else.

NEW TO THE COACHING STAFF...FAMILIAR TO THE PROGRAM
Coach Smesko’s young and talented staff got even younger when former FGCU standout Chelsea Lyles was added named an assistant coach in July 2011.

Lyles played for coach Smesko from 2008-2010 where she helped the Eagles win one A-Sun regular season crown and earn back-to-back WNIT automatic bids. A two-time A-Sun All-Conference first team selection, she led the Eagles to a 50-12 overall record and 34-6 conference record in her two seasons in the blue and green. Lyles ranks fifth in the FGCU career record books in field goals made (273) and three-point field goals made (113), and sixth in points (839) and rebounds (337).

The recipient of the FGCU Athletic Department’s 2009-10 Most Outstanding Female Student-Athlete Award, Lyles led the Eagles to non-conference wins over UCF, Cornell, George Washington, Texas El-Paso (UTEP), Tulsa and Florida.

FRESH FACES
Five newcomers join the Eagles for ’10-11. That list includes two true freshmen (Whitney Knight and Anthi Chatzigiakoumi). Transfers Joyce Iamstrong, Autumn Lau, and Shayla Ball also join the program.