MACON, Ga. – Winners of four Atlantic Sun regular season championships in the last five seasons, the FGCU women’s basketball team earned a few more honors on Tuesday, March 5. The conference announced their postseason honors, with FGCU taking home several awards.
Redshirt junior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) earned Player of the Year honors and her second consecutive first team All-Atlantic Sun selection, redshirt senior Brittany Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS/Oregon State) took Defensive Player of the Year and a first team All-Atlantic Sun selection, head coach Karl Smesko won his fourth A-Sun Coach of the Year and rookie Jaime Gluesing (Solon, Ohio/Solon HS) snagged a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshmen team.
Hansen and Kennedy give FGCU their first A-Sun Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors, while Kennedy also gives the program its second unanimous first team All-Atlantic Sun selection.
“I am very happy and proud that our players were recognized by the conference,” said Smesko. “I would like to recognize a player myself. Joyce Iamstrong has had such a great season. Her play and leadership have made such a difference to our team.”
Hansen, who was also named College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Year on Friday, does it all for FGCU, as she leads the Eagles in scoring rebounding, blocks and minutes. The A-Sun’s leader in scoring, she became the first student-athlete in FGCU history to earn Capital One Academic All-American status. The 2013 A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year has started every game this season and scored in double figures in 28 of 30 games, highlighted by a career-high of 30 points in FGCU’s win over now-No. 22 LSU.
“Sarah has had a tremendous season.” said Smesko. “She is a great all-around basketball player and after being named A-Sun Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season, she’s an even better student.”
Kennedy has played in 29 of 30 games for the Green and Blue this season, helping FGCU to the program’s ninth consecutive 21+ win season. 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), Kennedy, first in the A-Sun in steals per game and second in assists & assist-to-turnover ratio, has anchored the FGCU defense and helped the Eagles hold opponents to 52.5 points (48.4 in league play) during the regular season. Limiting team’s leading scorers well below their averages, Kennedy has recorded a steal in 27 of 30 games this year.
“BK is an amazing point guard.” Smesko said. “She is a great leader who gets it done on both ends of the floor.”
Gluesing, the A-Sun’s leader in three-point percentage, would rank sixth in the nation if she averaged the NCAA minimum 2.0 treys made per game. (averages 1.5 triples per). The freshman, who has scored in double figures in seven conference games, averaged 8.1 points and shot .490 from the field and .493 from behind the arc in A-Sun play. Gluesing has knocked down a trey in 22 games this season and has multi-threes in 14 contests.
“Jaime has had an excellent freshman season,” said Smesko. “She is a really good athlete and an excellent shooter.”
Smesko, who was named College Sports Madness A-Sun Coach of the Year on Friday, claimed 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 A-Sun Coach of the Year honors for the third straight year (fourth in five seasons). The 25-5 Eagles, who own the nation’s third longest winning streak (19 games), behind Baylor, Notre Dame and Delaware, have the most victories of the 13 Division I schools in the state of Florida. FGCU has now won 39 consecutive A-Sun games overall and 36 straight regular season conference contests, the 36 victories ranking as the second-longest streak in the country behind defending national champion Baylor.
The No. 1 seeded Eagles return to the court on Wednesday, Mar. 6 when they take on No. 8 seed Kennesaw State (7-23, 3-15 A-Sun) at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena in the first round of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament. Tip-off for the third meeting between the teams is set for 12:00 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on ESPN3.com. The game can also be heard live online at FGCUAthletics.com with David Moulton on the call.
Player of the Year: Sarah Hansen, FGCU
Defensive Player of the Year: Brittany Kennedy, FGCU
Freshman of the Year: Queen Alford, Jacksonville
Coach of the Year: Karl Smesko, FGCU
First Team All-Atlantic Sun
*Brittany Kennedy, FGCU
Sarah Hansen, FGCU
Precious Bridges, Mercer
Kendra Grant, Mercer
Victoria McGowan, Stetson
Second Team All-Atlantic Sun
Queen Alford, Jacksonville
Tiara Hopper, Northern Kentucky
Tee’Ara Copney, USC Upstate
Shanasa Sanders, Stetson
Sasha Sims, Stetson
Atlantic Sun Freshmen Team
*Queen Alford, Jacksonville
Jaime Gluesing, FGCU
Alex Banks, Lipscomb
Rianna Gayheart, Northern Kentucky
Brittany Starling, USC Upstate
*- Unanimous Choice