Eagles Picked to Finish First; Murphy Named Preseason All-Conference
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s basketball squad, led by preseason All-Conference selection senior Shannon Murphy (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS), earned top billing in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ and media polls, the conference announced on Wednesday.

In the coaches’ poll, FGCU’s seven first place votes edged out the three-time defending A-Sun champ ETSU and USC Upstate who each had two votes. In the media poll, the Eagles received 14 of the possible 23 first place votes.

“I think the rankings show the respect our program has earned the past few years; however, rankings won’t help us win a single game,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Right now, our team isn’t at a level to compete with the best in the A-Sun, but we are going to work to make enough progress that we will be ready once conference season is upon us.”

Under the direction of Smesko, the 2010-11 edition of the Eagles return seven players, including three starters from last year’s squad that went 14-0 at Alico Arena, bumping the current home win streak up to 24 games. FGCU’s 24-game home winning streak is the fourth longest streak in the nation behind UConn, Stanford and Lehigh. Murphy, a 2010 Atlantic Sun All-Conference second team performer, is the Blue and Green’s top returning scorer (10.7 ppg). The senior ranked first in the conference and 45th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.71), while also shooting .354 from three-point range and leading the team with 33.0 minutes per game.

“Shannon is one of the best players in the conference,” said Smesko. “She is a good all-around player, but I think we have a few players who have the ability to be all-conference performers this season.”

FGCU’s top rebounder (6.2 rpg) and three-point threat (41.3-percent), junior Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS) is another returning starter, while junior Eglah Griffin (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar HS/Seminole CC) made 15 starts and averaged 7.6 points per contest in 2009-10.

The Blue and Green will kick off the season by hosting the Pirates of Seton Hall at 7:05 p.m. on Nov. 12, in the season-opener for both teams. The Pirates will be the fourth BCS opponent to visit Alico Arena in the program’s brief three-year Division l history. FGCU is currently 2-1 at home all-time against BCS foes with its most recent meeting coming in the form of an 88-86 win over Florida in the season-opener of the 2008-09 season. FGCU also defeated USF in the opening round of the 2008 WNIT and fell to Florida State in the season opener of the 2007-08 campaign.

Season tickets for the 2010-11 season are currently available while single-game tickets can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145 beginning on Nov. 1. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life, with a focus on academic and athletic integrity and a balance between the two for the student-athlete, and maintaining a high level of sportsmanship. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun encompasses six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun consists of some of the most dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.

PRESEASON ALL-ATLANTIC SUN TEAM

Pos.  Name (Class)  School 
G
Shannon Murphy (Sr.)*
FGCU 
Tonisha Baker (So.)  Campbell
Jenna Batsokas (Sr.)
Lipscomb 
Jessica Conner (So.)  Stetson
Tee'Ara Copney (So.)
USC Upstate
F/C  Tara Davis (Sr.)*
ETSU
Sametria Giedon (So.)
Kennesaw State
Brittany Kirkland (Jr.)*
UNF
Chelsea McMillan (Sr.)*
USC Upstate
Haley Nelson (Jr.)*  Belmont

Preseason Player of the Year: Chelsea McMillan, USC Upstate
*-Unanimous Selection

ATLANTIC SUN PRESEASON COACHES' POLL

Place  School (1st Place Votes)  Points 
1.  FGCU (7)  104
2.   ETSU (2)  101
3.   USC Upstate (2)  100
4.   UNF
84
t-5.   Belmont 
71
t-5.  Campbell  71
7.  Jacksonville
53
8.   Kennesaw State
51
9.  Mercer
39
10.  Stetson
32
11. Lipscomb
20

Tournament Champion: ETSU (7 votes)

ATLANTIC SUN PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

Place  School (1st Place Votes)  Points 
1.  FGCU (14)  234
t-2.   ETSU (5)  221
t-2.   USC Upstate (4)
221
4.   Belmont
155
5.   UNF 
137
6.  Campbell  133
7.  Kennesaw State
125
8.   Mercer
102
9.  Jacksonville 98
10.  Stetson
54
11. Lipscomb
38

Tournament Champion: ETSU (15 votes)