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A-Sun Annual Preseason Rankings Released
Macon, Ga. - As the 2007-08 season is set to begin, the Atlantic Sun Conference announced the results of its annual preseason women’s basketball poll Tuesday. The FGCU women’s basketball program has been picked to finish sixth in the media poll and tenth in the coach’s poll. League coaches selected Jacksonville to capture its first conference title; the coaches also selected the Dolphins as tournament champions, while conference media members picked ETSU to sweep both regular season and tournament crowns for the first time in school history. Jacksonville senior forward Ashley Williams was chosen as the league’s preseason Player of the Year.
Jacksonville garnered seven first-place votes and 138 points in the coach’s poll to edge out ETSU, which received four first-place nods and totaled 133 points. Defending conference champion Belmont collected one first-place vote, and tallied 124 points, checking in at third position. Kennesaw State and Gardner-Webb rounded out the top-five, accumulating 96 and 92 points, respectively. The Eagles were tabbed tenth, receiving 45 total points and no first-place votes.
On the media side ETSU received 16 first-place votes for 342 points, topping Jacksonville’s 11 first-place nods and 318 points. 2007 champ Belmont received two first-place votes and 282 points, again sliding into third-place. Kennesaw State and Gardner-Webb also finished off the top-five in the media poll with 218 and 216 points, respectively. FGCU, in its first year of conference membership after moving up from Division II, was slotted sixth with 196 points, and received one first-place vote.
Williams, a 2006-07 first-team All-Atlantic Sun selection, averaged 17 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest a year ago in helping the Dolphins to a school-record 21-win season. Joining her on the preseason all-conference team was teammate and fellow 06-07 first-team selection Virginia Gregoire. A pair of other 06-07 first-team honorees were also placed on the preseason squad, Campbell senior center Marlena Murphy and ETSU sophomore guard Siarre Evans. Evans’ teammate and 06-07 second-team All-Atlantic Sun choice Michelle Devault capped the preseason selections.
The Eagles, led by sixth-year coach Karl Smesko, are coming off a 34-1 season, in which they finished the regular season undefeated and ranked number one in the nation. The team won the South Region championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship game. FGCU welcomes back two starters and six letter-winners including four seniors.
Preseason practice for women begins on Oct. 12. The Eagle women will open their 2007-08 season with a home game against Florida State on Nov. 9.
A-Sun Preseason Rankings
COACH’S POLL - Team (1st place votes) Pts.
1. Jacksonville (7) 138
2. ETSU (4) 133
3. Belmont (1) 124
4. Kennesaw State 96
5. Gardner-Webb 92
6. Lipscomb 67
7. Campbell 66
8. UNF 62
9. Mercer 53
10. Florida Gulf Coast 45
11. Stetson 42
12. USC Upstate 18
Tournament Champion: Jacksonville
MEDIA POLL Team (1st place votes) Pts
1. ETSU (16) 342
2. Jacksonville (11) 318
3. Belmont (2) 282
4. Kennesaw State 218
5. Gardner-Webb 216
6. Florida Gulf Coast (1) 196
7. Lipscomb 178
8. UNF 156
9. Campbell 146
10. Mercer 126
11. Stetson 120
12. USC Upstate 42
Tournament Champion: ETSU
ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: Marlena Murphy (Campbell, C); Michelle DeVault (ETSU, G/F); Siarre Evans (ETSU, G/F); Virginia Gregoire (Jacksonville, G); Ashley Williams (Jacksonville, F)
Player of the Year: Ashley Williams, Jacksonville