A New Chapter Begins

Nov. 15, 2004

The Jacksonville University Athletics Department wanted direction for the women's basketball program when they hired Jill Dunn as head coach in April of 2004. The search didn't have to go very far as JU selected the top assistant coach from one of the most successful programs in its own conference.

First-year head coach Jill Dunn

A proven winner as a player and coach, Dunn will look to create the blueprint to make the Dolphins a legitimate contender in the A-Sun. In three years with Atlantic Sun member Georgia State, Dunn helped the Lady Panthers to three consecutive A-Sun titles and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. She also had stops in Miami (Ohio), Western Carolina (including two years as a head coach) and South Carolina.

After inheriting a Dolphin program that had only reached the conference tournament one time, Dunn assembled a bright, young staff with the energy and drive to help her build a program.

"I wanted a strong recruiting staff which could help me teach on the court and manage the players," said first-year head coach Jill Dunn. "I think its important for a coaching staff to have playing experience and good coaching criteria in order to relate well with the players."

First assistant Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick excelled as a player at Wake Forest and professionally in France before helping Geogia Tech to one of its most successful seasons in the program's history.

Andrea Williams brings nine years of college coaching experience at all levels of college basketball with stops at Edinboro, Waynesburg College, Tampa and Navy.

The young staff now has the challenge of teaching a relatively young program how get to the top of the conference standings.

In 2003-04, the Dolphins finished 3-24 overall and 1-19 in the conference but lost six games by single digits, including one overtime loss. The squad returns all but one starter from last season, including redshirt senior forward Yolisha Jackson, senior guard Rebecca Montz, junior guard Sheena Carpenter and redshirt sophmore forward Talia Johnson. Also returning to the core will be redshirt junior center Kara Donnell, who sat out the 2003-04 season with a knee injury. Senior forward Lauren Woodman and sophmore center Chamara Warrick round out the Dolphin returners.

With a nucleus of seven players, Dunn and her coaching staff looked to fill holes in the roster. Despite getting a late start in recruiting, junior college transfers Ashley Stinson and Nakina Alford and freshman Edita Brbutovic were added and will see signinficant playing time during the season.

Stinson, a power forward from Cowley Community College, helped lead the Lady Tigers to a 28-6 overall record and a GRAC title after averaging 11.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.

Alford, a sophomore from Iowa Western CC, led the Reivers in scoring with 14.0 points per game, while also tallying 2.0 rebounds per contest. Brbutovic, a freshman from Jonkopling, Sweden, has played nearly a decade of club basketball in Europe while also competing for Sweden in the Olympic Youth Championships in Spain and the Swedish Junior National Team.

"I like the fact that we have some versatility on the roster with a mix of slashers, three-point shooters and talented newcomers," said Dunn. "We have returners with experience, a new coaching staff with energy and high goals. The challenge will be putting it all together to build a foundation."

THE GUARDS The Dolphins will be deep at the guard position with a pair of versatile returning starters in 2004-05 with two returning starters, who can play both positions, and a pair of newcomers.

Senior Rebecca Montz

Senior Rebecca Montz started all 27 games in her first year with the program and ranked seventh in the conference in three-point field goals made (46) and eighth in thee-point field goal percentage (.329). Junior Sheena Carpenter also provided a spark by ranking second on the squad in assists (2.45 apg) and third in points (8.7 ppg) and rebounds (4.3 rpg).

"We need to have those two on the floor at the same time because they are a good combination," Dunn said. "Rebecca is one of the top three-point shooters in the conference and knows how to run an offense. Sheena is one of quickest and most athletic guards in the conference."

Sophomore Nakina Alford and walk-on sophomore Jenarie Davis will also provide depth for the Dolphins off the bench. Alford played one season at Iowa Western Community College and Davis spent the 2003-04 campaign at Florida Community College in Jacksonville.

"Nakina is a good three-point shooter and has shown the most improvement during the offseason," Dunn said. "Jenaire brings some added spark because she is very quick, puts pressure on the ball and also shoots the ball well from the perimeter."

Walk-on freshman Samantha Daniels was a late addition to the squad and will provide depth.

THE FORWARDS A mix of youth and experience will provide the Dolphin coaching staff with an abundance of options at the forward position.

Senior Yolisha Jackson returns as JU's top scorer from last season and will look to establish herself in the program record books. In the career record books, Jackson ranks first in free throws made (297), second in points (957) and rebournds (524) and field goals made (316) and third in blocks (45) and steals (92).

Senior Yolisha Jackson

Sophomore Talia Johnson excelled in her first full season by ranking third in the conference with 1.6 blocks per game. Redshirt sophmore Ashley Stinson will also see time at the power forward position.

"Yolisha has proven that she can score and rebound but her leadership will be key for us this year," said Dunn. "Talia runs the floor well, blocks shot and is capable of hitting the high-post shot. Ashley will bring versatility because she can shoot the three and has good post moves despite her size (5-9)."

At the small forward spot, senior Lauren Woodman and freshman Edita Brbutovic will battle for the starting nod. Woodman, who served as a full-time starter in 2002-03, was used mostly off the bench last season but brings chemistry to the floor. Brbutovic averaged 16.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest for Högsbo in the Damligan (Sweden's highest women's basketball league) last season.

"Lauren is a great leader on the court and brings a vocal presence which a lot of our players don't have," Dunn said. "Edita is not your typical freshman because she's older and comes in ready to play due to her experience in Europe."

Junior Randa Blenden, a walk-on who plays on the JU softball team, was also a late addition to the squad but could work her way into the lineup.

THE CENTERS A pair of returners with different styles of play will make up the center spot for the Dolphins this season.

Redshirt junior Kara Donnell returns to the lineup after recovering from knee surgery which forced her to miss all of last season. The 6-foot-1 center averaged 9.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game as a sophomore and ranks in the top five in the JU record books in blocks, field goal percentage, rebounds, free throws made, field goals made and points.

Junior Kara Donnell

Sophomore Chamara Warrick will also see time in the middle after working extensively on her post play with Kirkpatrick in the offseason. The 6-foot-5 Jacksonville native does not posses the power of Donnell in the block but her height will give her an advantage amongst conference centers.

"Kara is very powerful, can rebound and is one of our most physical players," said Dunn. "Chamara brings a different look inside when we lob the ball into her, no one but her can get it."