FGCU Finishes 9th in 2012 WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s basketball added to its banner 2011-12 campaign on Tuesday, this time for its efforts in the classroom as the 13-member squad’s cumulative 3.474 grade-point average (GPA) landed the Eagles ninth on the final 2012 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division I Top 25 Team Honor Roll.

Even more impressive, FGCU was one of just five teams on the Top 25 list that also advanced the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Green and Blue’s first-ever NCAA postseason berth in their first year of eligibility saw the Eagles go a perfect 18-0 in the Atlantic Sun to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament where they stormed to the title for the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

“It is great to be recognized for our academic achievements,” said head coach Karl Smesko, who has directed FGCU to a 129-28 record in five years at the Division I level. “We have some very bright young ladies on our team. Coach Dermyer, Scharlow, Lyles, and Thomas all did a great job monitoring our players’ academics. Our academic support from Brynn Richter has been excellent as well.”

Out of FGCU’s 13 players, 12 earned A-Sun All-Academic honors earlier in the month for holding a 3.0 GPA for the entire school year. Senior Courtney Chilhil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS) earned an A-Sun Presidents Award (3.8 GPA or higher for graduating senior), while classmate Sarah Brolsma Whitfield (Eugene, Oregon/South Eugene HS/Lane CC) was presented with an A-Sun Commissioner’s Award (3.6-3.79 GPA or higher for graduating senior).

“I want to congratulate Coach Smesko, his staff, and our terrific group of young women for collectively defining what the term ‘student-athlete’ truly represents, with their fantastic results both on the court and in the classroom,” said FGCU Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh. “We strive to pursue excellence athletically and academically, and our women’s basketball program is a prime example that both can be done at a high level. Including our wonderful faculty and academic support staff, we congratulate all involved with this tremendous achievement.”

Chihil and redshirt sophomore Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) have piled up academic awards since the end of the season. Chihil was named as the A-Sun Co-Female Student-Athlete of the Year and the conference’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, while also being named to the Division I-AAA Athletics Director’s Association (DI-AAA ADA) Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete team for the second consecutive year and the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District 4 Women’s Basketball first team.

Hansen was named the inaugural A-Sun Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year, as well the DI-AAA ADA Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year on top of joining Chihil on the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District 4 Women’s Basketball first team.

FGCU’s WBCA academic honor caps the most historic season in its Division I history in which it advanced to the NCAA Tournament and earned a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. Led by three-time Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year Karl Smesko, FGCU finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun. The Eagles verified the conference’s third-ever unbeaten regular season by cruising through the Atlantic Sun Tournament, taking the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a convincing 67-39 win over second-seeded and 20-game winner Stetson. The Green and Blue, with their seven trifectas vs. St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Raleigh Regional, set the NCAA single-season record for three-pointers in a season (342).

WBCA Division I Top 25 Team Honor Roll
1. Green Bay** – 3.616
2. South Dakota State** – 3.610
3. DePaul** – 3.604
4. South Dakota – 3.595
5. American – 3.563
6. Youngstown State – 3.550
7. Utah Valley – 3.524
8. North Dakota – 3.505
9. FGCU** – 3.474
10. St. Francis (N.Y.) – 3.456
11. Montana State – 3.435
12. Northern Colorado – 3.421
13. Western Carolina – 3.406
T14. New Mexico – 3.403
T14. Northern Iowa – 3.403
16. North Dakota State – 3.402
17. Montana – 3.399
18. IPFW – 3.398
19. Bradley – 3.396
20. Denver – 3.387
21. Bucknell – 3.382
22. Yale – 3.352
23. Sacred Heart** – 3.349
24. Bowling Green – 3.347
25. Eastern Washington – 3.337

**-Advanced to the NCAA Tournament