Hatters Stand Strong in Preseason Awards

Thursday, October 18, 2012

MACON, Ga. – Two clear favorites emerged in the Atlantic Sun Women's Basketball Preseason Polls. Stetson took first in the Coaches Poll while FGCU gained control of the media poll.

The Hatters' Victoria McGowan, the 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year, picked up the Preseason Player of the Year honors, while FGCU’s senior, Brittany Kennedy was selected as Defensive Player of the Year.

Stetson dominated the preseason coaches poll receiving 98 points and eight first-place votes. Led by McGowan, the Hatters also found senior Shanasa Sanders and junior Sasha Sims on the A-Sun preseason squad.

McGowan led the league in points (563) and assists average (4.7) in the 2011-2012 season and cracked the 1,000 point club during the 2012 A-Sun Women’s basketball tournament. McGowan’s three triple doubles last season led the entire nation. Sanders, a newcomer to the A-Sun last season, managed to snag six 20-point games, while Sims moved into the Stetson record books with 69 career blocks.

FGCU, the 2012 A-Sun Tournament Champions, found two student-athletes on the preseason team with the duo of Sarah Hansen and Brittany Kennedy. Hansen led the Eagles in several categories last season including scoring (458), rebounds (203) and steals (64). Senior Brittany Kennedy grabbed the most votes for A-Sun Defensive Player Year averaging 2.4 steals per game. She also averaged a 1.7 assist/turnover ratio for FGCU that ranked 42nd in the nation.

North Florida earned the third spot in the A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll and No.4 in the media poll.

ETSU and Jacksonville both received 64 votes to tie for fourth in the coaches poll. The Buccaneers junior Destiny Mitchell, a 2012 second team all-conference member, pulled down a career high 20 rebounds against the Eagles last year and has tallied 482 career rebounds. Jacksonville’s Jade Cargill led the Dolphins in field-goal percentage (.389) and rebounds (8.3) and managed to grab nine double-doubles last season.

Kennesaw State came in at number six in the coaches poll and third in the media poll. Sophomore Kristina Wells comes off a break out rookie season for the Owls starting in all 30 games and averaging 9.3 points.

USC Upstate and newcomer Northern Kentucky tied for seventh in the coaches poll. The Spartans Tee’Ara Copney is highly decorated in the A-Sun, cracking the top-25 in conference history in free throw percentage (.886), 3-point field goals (154), 3-point attempts (484) and steals (207).

Mercer senior Ry’Van Buchanan looks to step up as a leader for the Bears after she finished second on the team and tied for 15th in the A-Sun averaging 10.8 points per game while also ranking fifth in the league with a 47.4 field goal percentage.

For the second-time in conference history, the A-Sun let the fans decide preseason awards via Facebook. FGCU dominated the polls, awarding the Eagles with the most votes to win the A-Sun regular season title. FGCU's Brittany Kennedy received the most votes to claim defensive player of the year, while teammate Sarah Hansen edged out the competition to win the A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year as voted by the fans.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.