FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team celebrated another successful season Wednesday night (April 10) with an awards banquet held at the Bell Tower Crowne Plaza.
The banquet was a celebration of the Green and Blue’s 27-7 (18-0 A-Sun) season that saw them set the NCAA Division I record for three-pointers made in a single game (22), win the program’s third straight A-Sun regular season title and earn a spot in a Division I postseason tournament for the sixth consecutive year.
Redshirt-junior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) added to her long list of awards she has accumulated during the season when she picked up MVP honors.
Senior Joyce Iamstrong (Chicago, Ill./Thornton Fractional South HS/Jefferson College) took home Eagle Award honors, while classmate Brittany Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS/Oregon State) was named Defensive Player of the Year. The Eagle Award is given to the player that most personifies the FGCU Women’s Basketball motto of ‘Play Like an Eagle’ (setting screens, taking charges, etc).
Rookie Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon HS) was named Newcomer of the Year and freshman Stephanie Haas (Avon Lake, Ohio/Magnificat HS) walked away with the Most Improved Player award.
Hansen, a DI-AAA ADA Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete member, a College Sports Madness and Atlantic Sun Player of the Year honoree, a College Sports Madness and A-Sun first team all-conference selection, the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year, a Capital One Academic All-America second team pick, a College Sports Madness All-Mid Major first team selection and a Full Court Mid-Major All-American honorable mention honoree, wrapped up her third season with the Green and Blue and sits as one of two players in program history to have recorded 1,400 points and 600 rebounds (Adrienne McNally; 2006-10). With one year of eligibility remaining, she currently ranks first in FGCU history with 1,439 points, while also ranking second in total rebounds (644), steals (185) and offensive rebounds (238), third in defensive rebounds (406) and ninth in assists (186).
The first student-athlete in FGCU history to earn Capital One Academic All-American status, Hansen posted team-highs of 16.3 points and 7.5 rebounds to rank second and seventh, respectively in the A-Sun. She finished in double figures a team-best 31 times, reaching the 20-point mark on nine occasions and recording eight double-doubles, capped by a 12 point, 11 rebound performance against Winthrop in the first round of the WNIT (Mar. 21).
Iamstrong, the 2013 A-Sun Tournament MVP, finished the season averaging 12.0 points and 4.2 rebounds, while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from behind the arc. The Chicago, Ill. native, had a tremendous showing at the 2013 A-Sun Tournament, highlighted by her perfect 9-for-9 shooting display against UNF in the semifinals (tied an A-Sun Championship record for field goal percentage) and her career-high 31 points against Stetson in the title game. The senior sharp-shooter scored in double figures 22 times this season, leading the Eagles in scoring in 10 contests, including five of the last six games. 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, Iamstrong drastically improved her game and was arguably the most improved player in the nation in 2012-13.
Kennedy, one of the 15 players from around the nation on the initial “Players Making the Buzz” watch list for the 2013 Nancy Lieberman Award (annually recognizes the top point guard in NCAA Division I women’s basketball), led the Eagles in steals (2.7) and assists (5.2) and was second on the team in rebounds (5.0). The Spokane, Wash. native, who set program single-season records in assists (173) and steals (88), led the A-Sun in steals and ranked 2nd in the league in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. Kennedy registered a steal in 28 of 33 games she played in, including recording 3+ steals on 16 occasions. The 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year continued to be a lock-down defender and draw the assignment of defending the opposition’s best player, with her best efforts coming against FIU (Nov. 14) and Va. Tech (Dec. 16). Kennedy held FIU’s Jerica Coley, a two-time Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention and two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year that ended the season as the NCAA’s leading scorer with an average of 26.3 points per game, to just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in their matchup. She also shutdown VT’s leading scorer Monet Tellier (13.2 ppg) and held her to two points on 0-for-8 shooting from the floor.
Gluesing led the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.450) and would rank fifth in the nation if she averaged the NCAA minimum 2.0 treys made per game (averages 1.4 triples per). The freshman scored in double figures in nine games and averaged 6.9 points and shot .466 from the field. Gluesing knocked down a trey in 25 games this season and had multi-threes in 15 contests. The Solon, Ohio native’s best performance of the season came at Jacksonville (Feb. 2), when she turned in a career-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, 5-of-7 from behind the arc.
Haas saw action in 32 games off the bench in 2012-13. She averaged 3.9 points and shot 48.9 percent from the field. Haas’ best outing of the season came at Lipscomb when she had a tremendous second half and helped lead FGCU to an 89-38 road win. She finished the contest with a career-high 16 points, on 8-of-13 shooting, to go with four rebounds.
After the welcome by Master of Ceremonies Tom James and the invocation by Iamstrong on Wednesday evening, the crowd of roughly 200 banquet-goers was treated to dinner and a spectacular season highlight video, with the latter coming courtesy of Director of Basketball Operations Mel Thomas.
The team’s four seniors – Betsy Adams (Monticello, Ind./Twin Lakes HS/Valpo), Lerrin Cook (Kearny, Ariz./Ray HS/Yavapai College), Kennedy and Iamstrong – all had the opportunity to speak, sharing their thoughts and memories on their time at FGCU.
Head coach Karl Smesko, the 2013 College Sports Madness A-Sun and Mid-Major Coach of the Year, led his team to a regular season conference crown for the fourth time in the program’s existence as his squad amassed a second consecutive perfect 18-0 conference mark earning him Coach of the Year honors from the conference for the third straight year (fourth in five seasons). The Green and Blue, who had the most wins (27) of any of the 13 Division I institutions in Florida this season, have won 13+ A-Sun games in six straight seasons, are 100-12 in conference play over the last six years and have won 70 of their last 76 Atlantic Sun regular season games (over the past four seasons).
The Eagles, who earned the program’s fifth automatic bid to the WNIT after securing the 10th 21-plus win season in the 11-year program history, finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the nation in five categories, including leading the nation in three-point field goals made per game (9.4) for the second year in a row.
FGCU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL AWARDS
* Player of the Year: Sarah Hansen
* Eagle Award: Joyce Iamstrong
* Most Improved Player: Stephanie Haas
* Defensive Player of the Year: Brittany Kennedy
* Newcomer of the Year: Jaime Gluesing