Eagles Wrapup A-Sun Road Trip at Mercer
|Florida Gulf Coast||31||39||70|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MER|
|FG Percentage||.404 (21-52)||.308 (16-52)|
|3P FG Percentage||.538 (14-26)||.111 (1-9)|
|FT Percentage||.824 (14-17)||.533 (8-15)|
HANSEN - 1
ADAMS - 1
MOORE - 1
MURRELL - 1
MEADOR - 1
SMITH - 1
BOYKIN - 1
SMITH - 1
GRANT - 1
FGCU (8-5, 1-0 A-SUN) at Mercer (6-6, 0-1 A-SUN)
Date: Wednesday, January 2, 2012
Time: 5 p.m.
City: Macon, Ga.
Site: Hawkins Arena (3,200)
Live Video: ASun.TV
Live Stats: MercerBears.com
Twitter Hashtags: #ASUNWBB/#FGCU/#PlayLikeAnEagle
Current Streak: W2
On the Road: 3-2
Last 5: 4-1
vs. Mercer: 11th Meeting, FGCU leads 10-0
Last Meeting: Fort Myers, Fla. - Jan. 26, 2012; FGCU 92, Mercer 55
FGCU Head Coach: Karl Smesko (Kent State ‘93)
Career Record: 330-81 (14th Season)
Record at FGCU: 269-54 (11th Season)
Mercer Head Coach: Susie Gardner (Georgia, ‘86)
Career Record: 190-203 (14th Season)
Record at Mercer: 14-56 (3rd Season)
KAY YOW NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
After being a finalist for the 2011 award, FGCU’s KARL SMESKO was named the recipient of the 2012 Kay Yow Coach of the Year award on April 9, 2012. Smesko is the first FGCU head coach to earn a Division I National Coach of the Year honor.
Smesko, who earned his third A-Sun Coach of the Year honor and was also named 2012 CollegeSportsMadness.com Mid-Major and A-Sun Coach of the Year, led FGCU to one of the most historic season in its Division I history, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and earning a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. The Eagles finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun.
The Kay Yow Award was established in 2010 to honor the Division I women’s head coach who embodies not only a winning spirit but who also displays great character both on and off the court.
Yow was a coaching legend who led NC State to 737 wins during her 34 seasons at the school. She was wildly successful in every forum in which she coached, leading gold medal winners at the 1981 World University Games, the 1986 Goodwill Games, 1986 World Championship Games and the 1988 Olympic Games.
2011 - Matt Bollant, Green Bay
2010 - Connie Yori, Nebraska
AT A GLANCE
Coming off a win in their conference opener at Kennesaw State on New Year’s Eve, FGCU is set to play their first game of 2013 on Wednesday night. The Eagles will take on the Mercer Bears in Macon, Ga. in a 5 p.m. matchup.
After facing Mercer on the road, the Eagles will return home to ‘The Nest’ to host Jacksonville and UNF. FGCU will host JU on Jan. 5 (4:15 p.m.), before welcoming the Ospreys into Alico Arena on Jan. 7 (5:15 p.m.).
STARTING 5 QUICK HITS
#5 Sarah Hansen (F)
• 1st in the A-Sun in points per game (17.5)
• Scored in double figures in 12 of the team’s 13 games
• Scored a career-high 30 points in FGCU’s upset of LSU (Dec. 28)
#0 DyTiesha Dunson (G)
• Made her collegiate debut at Richmond on Dec. 19
• Made her 1st collegiate start vs. LSU on Dec. 28
• Scored her 1st collegiate points at KSU on Dec. 31
#21 Jaime Gluesing (G)
• Shooting .438 from the field and .353 from behind the arc
• Started her 2nd career game vs. LSU (Dec. 28)
• Fifth on the team in rebounds per game (2.3)
#24 Brittany Kennedy (G)
• Registered 30 assits in the last five games
• Led the team in assists in 11 of the 12 games she’s played in
• Averaging 8.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists last five contests
#30 Joyce Iamstrong (G)
• 10th in the conference in 3-pt field goal percentage (.358)
• 12th in the conference in field goal percentage (.434)
• Averaging 10.0 points, 3.4 rebounds this season
LAST TIME OUT (Dec. 28): Strong Defensive Effort Pushes FGCU to 62-35 Win at Kennesaw St.
Senior Brittany Kennedy finished with a game-high 14 points as the FGCU women’s basketball team used a great defensive effort to open Atlantic Sun Conference play with a, 62-35, win at Kennesaw State Monday afternoon at the KSU Convocation Center. • With the win, FGCU, who owns an RPI as low as 51 and a strength of schedule (SOS) as low as 14, improves to 8-5 overall and 1-0 in the A-Sun, while KSU falls to 4-9 overall (0-1 A-Sun). The victory also improves the Green and Blue’s record in A-Sun openers (4-2), at the KSU Convo (4-2) and in the all-time series with the Owls (10-2). • Kennesaw’s 35 points are the fewest the Eagles have allowed to a Division I opponent since UNF (Jan. 7, 2012) and Belmont (Feb. 11, 2012) managed just 34 points against FGCU. KSU’s effort marks the fourth time this season that the Green and Blue have held the opposition below 50 points. • The Eagles, who are 17th in the nation in three-point field goals per game (7.8) this season, knocked down eight shots from behind the arc, led by a trio of triples from freshman Jaime Gluesing. • Kennedy turned in 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. She also registered six rebounds, six steals and three assists. Redshirt junior Sarah Hansen tallied 13 points, her 12th double figure scoring performance of the season, to go with five rebounds and three assists.
• FGCU leads the all-time series, 10-0
• Sophomore Precious Bridges and junior Kendra Grant give Mercer the second highest scoring combination in the A-Sun. The duo is averaging a combined 29.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. The pairing trails just Stetson’s Victoria McGowan and Shanasa Sanders (29.6 ppg) for tops in the league. Mercer is 4-2 this season when both Bridges and Grant score in double figures in the same game.
• The Bears rank second in the A-Sun Conference in blocks per game (4.0) and third in rebounds per game (40.4).
• Junior point guard Sharnea Boykin is having quite a bounce back season after missing the majority of the 2011-12 campaign due to a head injury. The Atlanta, Ga. native is currently second in the A-Sun Conference in both assists per game (5.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio. Boykin has already handed out four or more assists in eight games this season.
FGCU VS. THE BCS
FGCU’s 63-56 win at Virginia Tech (Dec. 16) and 76-70 win vs. LSU (Dec. 28) marked the Eagles’ sixth and seventh wins over BCS conference opposition in last three seasons.
2012-13: Virginia Tech, LSU
2011-12: Michigan State, Virginia Tech
2010-11: Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Indiana
FGCU IN JANUARY
• FGCU has an all-time record of 76-8 in games played in January.
• Since moving to Division I in 2007-08 the Eagles hold a 40-6 record in the month of January, all vs. Atlantic Sun conference opponents.
FGCU IN ATLANTIC SUN CONFERENCE OPENERS
In their sixth year in Division I and as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Eagles are 4-2 in A-Sun openers, with five of those contests coming on the road. FGCU, with a 62-35 win at KSU (Dec. 31), won their fourth consecutive conference opener, with the average margin of victory being 26.4 points.
STREAK SNAPPED...TIME TO START ANOTHER
Prior to their 60-53 loss to UCF (Dec. 22), FGCU had won 16 consecutive games at ‘The Nest’ at Alico Arena dating back to last season. The Eagles’ 16-game home winning streak ranked 9th in the nation behind Stanford (82), Baylor (45), Kentucky (27), Ohio St. (26), Central Arkansas (19), Chattanooga (18), Mississippi Valley (18) and Fresno State (17).
PROTECT THE NEST
FGCU is 154-11 all-time at home. Since moving to Division I, the Eagles have compiled a 79-5 home record. Some notable home wins for FGCU came over LSU (Dec. 2012), Va. Tech (Dec. 2011), Michigan St. (Nov. 2011), Indiana (Dec. 10) and Florida (Nov. 2008).
The five losses, since moving to Division I, have come at the hands of Florida St. (Nov. 2007), Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 2007), ETSU (Jan. 2009), Florida (Mar. 2011) and UCF (Dec. 2012).
FGCU RANKED #12 IN MID-MAJOR POLL
The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team fell three spots to the No. 12 position in the eighth edition of the 2012-13 CollegeInsider.com Women’s Basketball Mid-Major Top 25 poll, announced on Wednesday (Dec. 26). The Eagles were ranked No. 9 in last week’s poll.
Gonzaga, receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, along with Chattanooga, Delaware, Green Bay and Toledo hold the top five spots in the poll.
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 and West Coast Conference.
The Green and Blue are the lone Atlantic Sun Conference team represented in the Top 25 and are the only A-Sun school to receive votes.
FGCU IN THE RPI
Outlet (Date) RPI Strength of Schedule (SOS)
NCAA -- --
Real Time (Jan. 1) 56 34
WarrenNolan.com (Jan. 1) 56 34
AWAY FROM HOME
FGCU has a 92-30 all-time record as the visiting team. Since moving to Division I, the Eagles have compiled a 48-23 road record.
FGCU VS. MERCER AT HAWKINS ARENA
The Green and Blue own a 5-0 record at Hawkins Arena against Mercer. The Eagles average 80.0 points per game in Macon, while the Bears average 60.0 points.
The last time the two squads met in Macon, Ga. (Jan. 2, 2012), KELSEY JACOBSON scored a career-high 24 points on a career-high eight three-pointers as the Eagles knocked down 14 triples, en route to a 98-50 blowout win.
FGCU IN LATEST BRACKETOLOGY
With an RPI as low as 56 and a strength of schedule (SOS) as low as 34, FGCU was predicted as the No. 14 seed, playing No. 3 seed Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in College Sports Madness’ Bracketology (Dec. 24).
Surrounding its opponents with a balanced scoring attack, FGCU has knocked down 86 threes this season compared to just 53 from its opponents. Led by Lerrin Cook’s 1.9 trifectas per contest, 12 different players have made at least one shot from long range. The Eagles, who lead the conference in three-point field goals made per game (7.8), have two players (BETSY ADAMS & JOYCE IAMSTRONG; 1.6 & 1.5) ranked in the A-Sun’s top-15 in the same category.
In the program’s 11-year history (323) games, FGCU has made at least one three-pointer in 322 contests, including 210 straight. The last and lone time the Eagles didn’t knock down a three was February 21, 2006 at Lynn. During the current 210-game run, the Green and Blue have knocked down 2,024 money balls while their opponents have knocked down 956 threes. In games that it has drained double-digit threes, FGCU is 119-8 all-time and 74-6 since moving to Division I in 2007-08.
The FGCU women’s basketball team knocked down an all-time NCAA record and 2011-12 NCAA single-game high 21 three-pointers on 51 long range attempts in their 106-27 over NAIA foe Webber International on Nov. 28, 2011 at Alico Arena. The Eagles’ 21 three-point ranks them tied for first place tie all-time with New Mexico State. The Aggies drained 21 triples against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 23, 2002. The 21 threes are also an A-Sun record, as FGCU made six treys in the first half and 15 in the second.
FGCU’s three-point prowess has been the program’s calling card from day one and the 2012-13 version of the Eagles is no different. Through games played on Dec. 30th, FGCU ranked 17th in the nation with an average of 7.8 threes per game. As a team, FGCU has drained double-digit threes in two games this season.
RANK TEAM 3-PT FG/GAME
1. Missouri 9.8
2. Creighton 9.0
3. Boston U. 8.9
4. Youngstown St 8.8
6 UConn 8.7
17. FGCU 7.8
THREE IS THE KEY
• The Green and Blue are 8-4 on the year when they drain six or more shots from beyond the arc.
• FGCU is 6-4 this season when they knock down more three-point shots than their opponent.
The Eagles, who own the A-Sun’s single season record for three-pointers (350; 2010-11), set a pair of NCAA records last season (2011-12).
FGCU, with their seven trifectas vs. St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (Mar. 18, 2012), set the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (342) and three-pointers made per game (10.7).
FGCU’s 350 trifectas in 2010-11 weren’t a NCAA record because the Eagles were ineligible to set NCAA records due to the 4-year reclassifying period.
1,000-POINT CLUB’S NEWEST MEMBER
SARAH HANSEN became the 6th player in program history to score 1,000 career points when she scored a layup with 12:59 remaining in the first half in FGCU’s 79-49 win over Maine at Alico Arena on Dec. 1.
Hansen, who currently has 1,112 points, ranks 4th in the FGCU record books behind her former teammate Shannon Murphy (1,185).
GETTIN’ LOVE FROM ESPN
In the ‘Weekly Wrap’ by ESPN’s Graham Hayes, the SARAH HANSEN Eagles got some love for their 76-70 upset of LSU (Dec. 28).
Here’s what Hayes said:
SHE ALSO STARRED
Sarah Hansen, Florida Gulf Coast: This is why it isn’t easy for good mid-major programs to convince major programs to pay them visits. Florida Gulf Coast beat LSU 76-70 on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., an upset at least as measured by name recognition. The leading scorer a season ago on a Florida Gulf Coast team that reached the NCAA tournament in its first season of eligibility, Hansen totaled 30 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals against LSU. The Eagles use the 3-point shot and are suffering for it this season (28 percent accuracy, compared to 37 percent a season ago), but Hansen is an all-around scorer who showed it in a win people will notice.
MAKE IT UNCOMFORTABLE
FGCU is nationally known for their 3-point prowess, but one thing that gets overlooked when people talk about the Eagles is their defense. The Eagles lead the A-Sun conference in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 56.8 points per contest.
On Dec. 31 at Kennesaw State the Green and Blue held the Owls to 35 points. Kennesaw’s 35 points are the fewest the Eagles have allowed to a Division I opponent since UNF (Jan. 7, 2012) and Belmont (Feb. 11, 2012) managed just 34 points against FGCU. KSU’s effort marked the fourth time this season that the Green and Blue have held the opposition below 50 points.
WHEN PREPARATION MEETS OPPORTUNITY
After averaging just 1.3 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 6.0 minutes of action as a junior transfer in 2011-12, JOYCE IAMSTRONG put in a lot of work on her game over the summer and is arguably the most improved player in the nation.
This season, Iamstrong is averaging 10.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 29.1 minutes. The Chicago, Ill., native is also shooting .813 from the charity stripe, .434 from the field and .358 from behind the arc, a drastic improvement from her first year in the Green and Blue.
HANSEN’S BIG NIGHT
Against LSU on Dec. 28, SARAH HANSEN finished with a career-high and game-high 30 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, 2-of-4 from long distance and a perfect 14-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Her performance marked the second 30-point performance in FGCU’s Division I history (11th all-time) and the first since Feb. 12, 2009 (Adrianne McNally vs. Kennesaw St.). Hansen’s perfect night from the free-throw line tied her for first place in the FGCU record books for percentage in a single-game and is the most free-throws made in a game without a miss.
Freshman DYTIESHA DUNSON, who started working at backup point guard after sophomore phenom WHITNEY KNIGHT was hurt only three days before the start of practice this fall, played in her first collegiate game at Richmond (Dec. 19) after missing the first nine games of the season due to a knee injury. Dunson, who had successful knee surgery in early November for a torn meniscus, played seven minutes and finished with two boards and a steal against the Spiders.
BALL SO HARD
FGCU is currently first in the A-Sun in scoring defense (56.8), scoring margin (+8.8), assists (15.0), steals (11.2), turnover margin (+5.08), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0) and three-point field goals made per game (7.8).
FGCU’S BIG 3
SARAH HANSEN, BRITTANY KENNEDY and JOYCE IAMSTRONG have combined to account for 57.4 percent (37.6 points per game) of FGCU’s scoring. The trio is also shooting .479 (172-of-359) from the floor and .313 (35-of-112) from long distance.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
Averaging 65.5 points per game (3rd in the A-Sun), the Eagles lead the league with a +5.08 turnover margin. Brittany Kennedy, who ranks 1st in the A-Sun in assists (6.0), is first in the conference in assist/turnover ratio at 1.8. SARAH HANSEN is fourth in the A-Sun with a 1.0 ratio, while ranking fifth in the league at 3.2 assists per game.
MAKING ‘THE BUZZ’
Redshirt senior point guard BRITTANY KENNEDY is among 15 women’s basketball student-athletes from around the nation on the initial “Players Making the Buzz” watch list for the 2013 Nancy Lieberman Award, it was announced the week of Dec. 17. The honor annually recognizes the top point guard in NCAA Division I women’s basketball and is sponsored by the Detroit Rotary Club.
The “Buzz List” is simply a collection of names that have been brought to the award committee’s attention from the public. The list is strictly developed to encourage dialogue amongst their website visitors and the basketball community. It does not represent any type of endorsement of any player listed or negative connotation of any player not listed.
Award criteria include floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills - all of which personified Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman during her career. Sportswriters from across the country determine the list of the final nominees and also the award winner and finalists, who will be announced in April. The winner will be honored at a luncheon on April 17 at the Detroit Athletic Club.
Past winners of the Lieberman Award include Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame, 2012), Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga, 2011), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut, 2009), Kristi Toliver (Maryland, 2008), Lindsey Harding (Duke, 2007), Ivory Latta (North Carolina, 2006), Temeka Johnson (LSU, 2005), Diana Taurasi (Connecticut, 2003-04) and Sue Bird (Connecticut, 2000-02).
2013 Players Making the Buzz - Nancy Lieberman Award
Rachel Banham, Minnesota; Alex Bentley, Penn St.; Calli Berna, Arkansas; Tiffany Bias, Oklahoma St.; Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame; Ariana Elegado, Cal Poly St.; Jamierra Faulkner, Southern Mississippi; Chelsea Gray, Duke; Ny Hammonds, UNC-Charlotte; Brittany Kennedy, FGCU; Taleya Mayberry, Tulsa; Lindsey Moore, Nebraska; Mo Moran, Boston Univ.; Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall; Odyssey Sims, Baylor
SHAKE AND BAKE
Senior BRITTANY KENNEDY and redshirt junior SARAH HANSEN give FGCU one of the top scoring tandems in the conference. The duo is averaging a combined 27.6 points, 13.6 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 5.1 steals per game.
A-Sun Top Scoring Tandems
McGowan/Sanders (Stetson) - 29.6 ppg
Bridges/Grant (Mercer) - 29.4 ppg
Hansen/Iamstrong (FGCU) - 27.6 ppg
Thacker/Hopper (NKU) - 23.7 ppg
Cargill/Sneed (JU) - 23.5 ppg
• The duo has reached double figures in same game five times with FGCU going 5-0.
PUT THE CLAMPS ON ‘EM
The reigning A-Sun Preseason Defensive Player of the Year BRITTANY KENNEDY has lived up to the honor thus far this season. The Spokane, Wash. native averaged 2.4 steals per contest (60 steals; 25 games) as a redshirt junior in 2011-12 - good for first in program single-season history and third-best in the A-Sun - and is on pace to eclipse that total this year.
This season she has recorded 38 steals in 12 games (3.2 per game; 1st in A-Sun) and averages 5.8 rebounds a game. Kennedy ranked 59th in the nation in steals thru games played on Dec. 30.
Kennedy, known for her lock-down defense on opposing guards, held Jerica Coley, a 2012 Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention and the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year that averaged 23.4 points per game, to just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in their matchup on Nov. 14. She also shutdown VT’s leading scorer Monet Tellier (12.9ppg) and held her to two points on 0-for-8 shooting from the floor (Dec. 16).
Kennedy most recently shutdown Kennesaw State’s’ third leading scorer (10.7 ppg) who had recorded four straight double-digit scoring performances. Ashley Holliday, was frustrated all afternoon (Dec. 31) by Kennedy and turned in five points, zero assists and 11 turnovers.
After leading the Eagles to a 1-2 record at the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam over Thanksgiving weekend, Sarah Hansen was named to the Paradise Jam All-Tournament Team after averaging 17.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in FGCU’s three games in the Virgin Islands. She also shot 21-of-40 (.525) from the field and 8-of-9 (.889) from the charity stripe.
USVI Paradise Jam Women’s Reef Division All-Tournament Team
Sarah Hansen - FGCU | Nicole Hamilton - Hampton | Brittany Hrynko – DePaul
Ashley Bruner – South Carolina | MVP: Aleighsa Welch – South Carolina
Out of the 13 Division I schools in the state of Florida, the Eagles (8-5) rank t-fifth for the most victories in the state.
Florida State (11-1)
CORNDOGS, JACKIE! CORNDOGS!
The Eagles defeated Warner 100-31 on Nov. 10, 2012 at Alico Arena, which was the 10th time in the history of the program and 3rd time since moving to Division I that the team has scored 100+ points in a single game.
Prior to the Warner game the last time that FGCU broke the century mark was Nov. 28, 2011 vs. Webber International (W, 106-27).
AND THE WEEKLY AWARDS GO TO...
Seniors Betsy ADAMS and Brittany Kennedy, redshirt junior Sarah Hansen and freshman KATIE Meador are the Eagles that have earned weekly awards so far this season.
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS A-SUN PLAYER OF THE WEEK & A-SUN PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Sarah Hansen, FGCU (Jan. 1)
• Second Career A-Sun Player of the Week award
• Fourth CSM A-Sun Player of the Week honor
• Recorded a career-high 30 points in FGCU’s 76-70 win vs. LSU
• Shot a perfect 14-of-14 from the charity stripe vs. the Tigers
• Led the Eagles to its second win (7th all-time) over a BCS opponent this season
• Grabbed her 12th double figure scoring performance in a win vs. Kennesaw State
A-SUN NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK:
Betsy Adams (Dec. 18)
• 1st Career Newcomer of the Week award
• Finished with a game-high 19 points at Va. Tech (Dec. 16)
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS A-SUN PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Sarah Hansen (Dec. 17)
• 3rd Career College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week award
• Recorded 19 points, six boards and four assists at Va. Tech (Dec. 16)
A-SUN PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Sarah Hansen, FGCU (Nov. 20)
• First Career Player of the Week award
• Averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in two contests
• Turned in a 25-point, 11-rebound effort in FGCU win vs. FIU
• Added 19 points six rebounds and four assists at Charlotte
• Shot 51.7 from the field and 85.7 from the charity stripe
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS A-SUN PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Brittany Kennedy (Nov. 13)
• 1st Career College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week award
• Recorded 11 points, nine assists, six steals and five rebounds vs. Warner (Nov. 10)
A-SUN NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK:
Katie Meador (Nov. 13)
• 1st Career Newcomer of the Week award
• Picked up a double-double (11 pts, 12 rebs) in her 1st collegiate game vs. Warner
The Green and Blue’s opener on Nov. 10, marked the program’s second earliest calendar start. The 2007-08 season began on Nov. 9 with a home game vs. Florida State.
PICKIN’ UP PRESEASON HARDWARE
The FGCU women’s basketball squad, led by Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Brittany Kennedy and Preseason All-Conference choice Sarah Hansen, earned top billing in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason media poll and finished second in the coaches’ poll.
For the second time in conference history, the A-Sun let the fans decide preseason awards via Facebook. The Eagles were picked to win the regular season title and Kennedy was tabbed the fans’ Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
In the media poll, the Eagles took 14 of 19 first place votes, with Stetson picking up the other five. This marks the fourth consecutive year that the media selected the Green and Blue to win the regular season crown and the second year in a row that the press has predicted FGCU to win the A-Sun Tournament championship. In the coaches’ poll, FGCU took two of the 10 first place votes to finish second with 89 points, while Stetson received the remaining eight votes and finished first with 98 points.
The Eagles also received preseason accolades from College Sports Madness. Head coach Karl Smesko was selected as the preseason A-Sun Coach of the Year, while Hansen was named to the All-Conference first team and freshman guard DyTiesha Dunson was tabbed as the Preseason Freshman of the Year.
EAGLES SIGN A PAIR TO NLI’S
Head Coach Karl Smesko announced the signings of two student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on Nov. 27. Morgan Blumer and Haley Laughter will join the program for the 2013-14 academic year.
Blumer, a 5-11 wing at Milton High School in Milton, Wisc., chose FGCU over Indiana, Minnesota and UNLV. A first-team all-state performer, Blumer led Milton in scoring (20.6 points), rebounds (9.9), steals (3.4) and blocks (1.9) as a junior. She earned Associated Press all-state first-team honors and was a member of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 2 All-State team. Blumer also earned unanimous first-team All-Southern Badger Conference honors for the Red Hawks, who finished 17-7 overall and finished second in league play.
Laughter, a 5-11 forward, is a three-time NCISAA All-State selection from Carolina Day School. She averaged 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals for the 30-2 Wildcats, who won the NCISAA 2-A championship last season. The two-time All-WNC selection and reigning Carolinas Athletic Association Player of the Year, chose FGCU over College of Charleston, Liberty, Drexel and UNC Asheville.
The Eagles suffered a pair of significant injuries that will sideline two players that were expected to contribute for the 2012-13 season.
Sophomore guard WHITNEY KNIGHT and freshman Taylor Gradinjan both suffered ACL tears that will sideline them for the year.
Knight, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee injury during preseason workouts, was expected to see her role significantly increase. She appeared in all 32 games for the Eagles in 2011-12 and averaged 8.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 17.1 minutes. Knight, an A-Sun All-Freshmen team selection and 2012 A-Sun All-Tournament team honoree, finished the season ranked first on the team, second in the conference and 68th in the nation with 1.7 blocks per game, which placed her second in the single-season FGCU record books. FGCU’s first-ever top 100 recruit, Knight closed out her rookie campaign with a solid performance against St. Bonaventure in the first round of the Raleigh Region of the NCAA Tournament (Mar. 18, 2012) with eight points, four rebounds and a block in just 15 minutes.
Gradinjan, who suffered her injury during the Eagles’ game against South Carolina at the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam (Nov. 23), was averaging 4.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game, but was starting to turn the corner. She scored eight points in just six minutes in the 60-58 Thanksgiving Day loss against DePaul and earned her first collegiate start the next day against South Carolina. Gradinjan had four points and three rebounds in 21 minutes against S.C. before suffering the injury.
HI, MY NAME IS...
The 2012-13 roster features nine new faces for the Eagles, making up over 60 percent of the roster.
Coach Smesko and company welcome in a stellar recruiting class, which includes transfers Jenna Cobb (New Holland, Ohio/Miami Trace HS/Butler) and Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./ Twin Lakes HS/Valpo) and freshmen Amanda Moore (Seymour, Ind./Seymour HS), DyTiesha Dunson (Albany, Ga./Westover HS), Jamie Gluesing (Greendale, Wisc./Solon HS), Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat HS), Bethany Murrell (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine HS), Katie Meador (Salem Communuity HS/Salem, Ill.) and Taylor Gradinjan (Cudahy HS/ Cudahy, Wisc.). Adams, a fifth-year senior, will be able play this season, while Cobb has to sit out the year due to NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
The 2012-13 FGCU roster includes players from 10 different states/countries. There are no players from the state of Florida on the Green and Blue’s roster for the fourth time in program history.
Year Players from Florida
COBB WILL SIT OUT 2012-13
Junior Jenna Cobb will sit out the 2012-13 season due to transfer rules. Cobb joined the Eagles during the offseason after a two stellar season at Butler. Voted to the 2011-12 Horizon League All-Defensive Team, she started 28 games and averaged 6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals (3rd in conference) in 29.8 minutes per game.
The Eagles returned six players, including a pair of starters from last year’s squad, in Sarah Hansen and Brittany Kennedy, that went 13-0 at Alico Arena. Hansen excelled both athletically and academically in 2011-12, earning Full Court Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention honors, the A-Sun and DI-AAA ADA Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, the A-Sun Tournament MVP, a Capital 1 Academic All-District 4 first team selection and FGCU’s first unanimous A-Sun All-Conference first team selection in program history. She finished the season averaging a team-best 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds and ranked second on the team in steals (2.0) and blocks (23).
Kennedy led the Eagles in steals (2.4) and was second on the team in rebounds (4.8). She ranked 2nd in the conference in steals (in A-Sun Regular Season games) and registered a steal in 20 of 24 games she has played in. Kennedy showed flashes of being a lock-down defender during the season when she held A-Sun leading scorer Briana Williams (Mercer) to 3 points and 7 points in their two meetings and forced 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year Victoria McGowan (Stetson) into 12 turnovers in two games. Kennedy also helped limit 2012 A-Sun Freshman of the Year Taylor Mills to six points, on 3-of-10 shooting, and five turnovers in their A-Sun semifinal matchup.
FGCU also returned redshirt senior Lerrin Cook, senior Joyce Iamstrong and sophomores Whitney Knight and Anthi Chatzigiakoumi.
UNFORGETTABLE: THE 2011-12 SEASON
The 2011-12 season was the most historic season in FGCU’s Division I history, as they advanced to the NCAA Tournament and earned a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. FGCU finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun. The Eagles verified the conference’s third-ever unbeaten regular season by cruising through the A-Sun Tournament, taking the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a convincing 67-39 win over second-seeded and 20-game winner Stetson.
The Eagles also set the NCAA record for three-pointers in a season (342) and three-pointers made per game (10.7) last season.
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