FORT MYERS, FLA. – The FGCU women’s basketball team will begin the 2009-2010 season by participating in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), hosting UTEP in the first round on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.
"This will be a great season opening matchup for us," said head coach Karl Smesko. "UTEP has some very talented returners from last season's squad. It is an honor to be selected to participate in such a prestigious tournament and we will try our best to be ready. This should be another big event at Alico Arena."
The Preseason WNIT field includes 11 teams that played in the postseason last spring: Arkansas-Little Rock, Bowling Green, Florida Gulf Coast, Georgia Tech, Marist, New Mexico, North Carolina A&T, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Winthrop. They will be joined in the Preseason WNIT field by Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Northern Colorado, Towson, and UTEP.
The winner of the FGCU-UTEP game will play the winner of the Northern Colorado-New Mexico contest in the second round on either Sunday, Nov. 15 or Monday, Nov. 16. The semifinals will be Nov. 18-19; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 22. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the second weekend, Nov. 20-22. All games are hosted by participating schools, and sites are announced by the end of the preceding round.
The other first-round games will be Eastern Illinois at Ohio State, Arkansas-Little Rock at Oklahoma State, Towson at West Virginia, Winthrop at Georgia Tech, Chicago State at Bowling Green and North Carolina A&T at Marist. Four of the 16 teams appeared in the 2009 NCAA Tournament (Georgia Tech, Marist, North Carolina A&T, Ohio State).
This year will mark the 16th-annual Preseason WNIT, and the first time that the Eagles will participate.
The remainder of FGCU’s 2009-2010 schedule will be announced at a later date.
The Lady Eagles are coming off a great 2008-09 season in which they won the Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championship, advanced to the second round of the Postseason WNIT (lost 88-81 in OT to eventual champ USF), and finished 26-5 overall.
For more information, contact WNIT Director Renee Carlson at (970) 672-0557, or visit the website at www.womensnit.com.
2009 Preseason WNIT Field
- Arkansas-Little Rock is coming off its best win total in school history and returns all five starters from its 26-7 team.
- Chicago State has posted more wins in the past two years than at any other time, and welcomes back four starters from its 16-13 team.
- Bowling Green returns honorable mention All-American Tracy Pontius and nearly everyone else from a 29-5 team that won its fifth straight MAC regular-season title.
- Eastern Illinois vaulted to a 24-9 record last year, its most Division I wins in school history, and the incoming class of freshmen received national recognition.
- Florida Gulf Coast gets every player back from its second straight postseason appearance. The Eagles, in only their second year of Division I, finished the season on a 17-1 stretch and a 26-5 record overall.
- Georgia Tech (22-10) topped 20 wins for the third straight season, and also earned its third straight NCAA Tournament berth. The Yellow Jackets return four starters and are an early-season Top-20 team.
- Marist will kick off All-American Rachele Fitz’s senior season with its first Preseason WNIT invitation. Marist (29-4) has won six straight Metro Atlantic titles and become a staple in the NCAA Tournament.
- New Mexico welcomes back all but two players from a 25-11 team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the Postseason WNIT and won at least 20 games for the 11th time in 12 years.
- North Carolina A&T is coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 15 years. A senior class of five players looks to build on a school record for wins that last year’s 26-7 team posted.
- Northern Colorado has high expectations in the Big Sky with all five starters returning from a young team that went 12-18 last year.
- Oklahoma State signed three top junior college players to support Andrea Riley, who averaged 23.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, and 4.2 rpg last year. The Cowgirls expect bigger things for 2009-10 coming off their 17-16 season in the Big 12.
- Ohio State, picked No. 3 in early polls for this fall, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after capturing the Big Ten Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The Buckeyes return two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender, as well as Big Ten Freshman of the Year Samantha Prahalis.
- Towson is a program on the rise, winning its first Colonial Athletic Association Tournament games in school history in 2008 and 2009. The Tigers welcome back their top five scorers from a 17-13 team.
- UTEP, which went 18-12 last year with its youngest team in school history, has everybody back, including three players lost to season-ending injuries and the Conference-USA Player of the Year (Jareica Hughes) and Freshman of the Year (Dietra Caldwell).
- West Virginia also was young and injury-bitten last year, but looks forward to getting three returning starters back on the court from an 18-15 team that showed promise of things to come with some upset victories.
- Winthrop made the postseason (WNIT) for the first time in its Division I history last year as the automatic berth out of the Big South. The Lady Eagles (16-16) recorded back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in school history.