FORT MYERS, Fla. – Excitement is in the air as head coach Karl Smesko and his FGCU women’s basketball squad officially returned to the court to open preseason practices on Sunday night when they assembled at Alico Arena for their first official practice of the 2011-12 season.
The Eagles, who led the nation in three-point field goals made per game (10.9) last year, began their 2011-12 campaign Sunday night with a film session followed by practice. The team will take the court again five days a week leading up to their season opener at Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J. on November 11.
Under the direction of Smesko, who is in his tenth year as the head coach of the Green and Blue, the 2011-12 edition of the Eagles return eight players, including four starters from last year’s squad that went 18-1 at Alico Arena. Redshirt-sophomore Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS), a 2011 A-Sun second team All-Conference performer and All-Freshmen team honoree, is the Green and Blue’s top returning scorer (13.3 ppg), rebounder (5.8 rpg) and field goal shooter (.524).
“The first day of practice is always exciting,” Smesko said. “Hopefully, we made some progress. The fun for me is to see the individual and team improvement on a daily basis.”
FGCU opens the program’s 10th season by hosting a Nov. 4 exhibition against NCAA Division II foe Eckerd. The Eagles will then open the regular season with a trip to Seton Hall on Friday, Nov. 11 to take on second-year head coach Anne Donovan and the Pirates. Seton Hall is coming off an 8-22 season, where they finished 1-15 in BIG EAST play. The Eagles defeated Seton Hall, 64-57, in the 2010-11 season opener for both squads on Nov. 12, 2010.
FGCU is 8-2 all-time (3-1 in Division I) in season openers, including 0-1 in season openers on the road. FGCU fell to Lake Superior State, 70-49, in their lone road season opener on Nov. 15, 2003.
Season tickets are now on sale and can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145. Tickets are also available on www.FGCUAthletics.com/tickets.