Women's Hoops looks for best start in program history on Monday

Jan. 1, 2006


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After recording the second largest margin of victory in program history, the Dolphins women's basketball team(3-5, 0-1 A-Sun) will look for their best start in program history as JU travels to North Florida (2-7, 0-1) on Monday at 7 p.m. The Dolphins went 2-1 in their most recent homestand with victories over Savannah State (70-55) and Bethune-Cookman (69-40) and will be in search of their fourth win in six games.

Head coach Jill Dunn: Jill Dunn enters her second season as head coach of the Jacksonville University women's basketball program after leading JU to its most overall and conference wins in three seasons, despite the loss of their top two post players. No stranger to the Atlantic Sun Conference, Dunn spent the previous three years helping Georgia State to three consecutive A-Sun Conference titles from 2001-04. Before joining Georgia State, Dunn was the top assistant coach at Miami University (Ohio), during the 2000-01 season. Prior to her one-year stint in Miami, Dunn served as the head coach at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., from 1998-00. In her final season with the program, the Lady Catamounts posted 12 wins which was the most in 15 seasons at WCU and the most ever by a second-year head coach in the Southern Conference. Before being elevated to the head spot at Western Carolina, she was the top assistant coach during the 1997-98 campaign. Dunn's coaching career began at the University of South Carolina, where she was as an assistant coach from 1994-97. Dunn's success began as a player at Georgia Southern, where she was a three-year starter from 1989-93. She earned Second-Team All-Southern Conference honors and led the Lady Eagles to the SoCon Tournament championship game and a berth in the NCAA Tournament as a senior.

A look at the latest action: Sophomore forward Ashley Williams (18), freshman guard Virginia Gregoire (18) and junior guard Nakina Alford (13) each scored in double-figures to lead the Dolphins to their second largest margin of victory in program history, 69-40, over Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 29 at Swisher Gymnasium. JU led from start to finish as the Dolphins shot 47.0 percent from the floor (27-57), including 41.0 percent (7-17) from beyond the arc. Bethune-Cookman dropped its fifth consecutive contest after shooting only 21.0 percent (11-52) from the field. Williams increased her double-digit scoring streak to eight consecutive games while adding 11 rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Gregoire finished with a season high 18 points in her first collegiate start after hitting 9-of-12 shots from the field.

The A-List: A solid presence is being felt under the basket this season and it has been none other than sophomore forward Ashley Williams. The North Florida Community College transfer has made the biggest impact for the Dolphin newcomers in 2005-06 as she has become one of the Atlantic Sun Conference's top scorers. Last week, Williams continued her double-digit scoring streak by tallying 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, including 6-of-6 from the line against Bethune-Cookman. Williams has now scored at least 10 points in every game this season. Williams currently ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 17.6 points per game, leads the conference with a .644 field-goal percentage, third with 1.43 blocks per game, fourth with 9.3 rebounds per game and is fifth with 2.43 steals per game. Williams tied a program record with 27 points (12-of-14 from the floor), nine rebounds, four steals and blocked shot in a 98-60 loss to USF on Nov. 23. Williams accounted for nearly half of the Dolphins' offense as she continually scored in the low post against taller defenders, including a game-high 13 points at the half. Williams also tied the program record with 19 rebounds (Kat Sungy) against Savannah State on Dec. 12.

I wish I were a Carpenter: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter has come alive in 2005-06 after adjusting to a new squad and a different offensive strategy. Against Florida Atlantic, Carpenter narrowly led the Dolphins to their first win to open Atlantic Sun Conference play after falling in a 24 point hole. In the first half, she led JU with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field as the Dolphins trailed 45-26 at the half. In the second frame, Carpenter was a catalyst for a Dolphin rally as JU used runs of 15-3 and 19-7 to pull within three points with 12 seconds remaining. Carpenter led the offensive assault by finishing with a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds, including a career-high 11-of-12 effort from the free-throw line. She has continued her hot hand by leading all scorers with 17 points against Central Michigan on Dec. 19. Carpenter is currently sixth in the conference in scoring (14.3 ppg), sixth in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and seventh in assists (3.14 apg).

Dolphin notables: Sophomore forward Ashley Williams has tallied at least 10 points in each of her first eight games. Senior guard Sheena Carpenter scored a career-low two points vs. Bethune-Cookman. Freshman guard Virginia Gregoire tallied a season-high 18 points against Bethune-Cookman, in her first collegiate start. She also tallied a season-high three steals in the contest. She has now tallied double-figure scoring in two consecutive games. Freshman guard Regina Omoite connected on a season-high 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc against BCC. Junior guard Jenarie Davis tallied a season-high seven points vs. Bethune-Cookman. Against Bethune-Cookman, JU tallied its second largest margin of victory in program history (29). The program record of 32 came against Savannah State on Dec. 19, 2001. The Dolphins also tallied a season-high 14 steals against the Lady Wildcats.

Taking care of the ball: One of the staples of improvement for the Dolphins last season was turnover margin. Last season, JU averaged 17.1 turnovers per contest, compared to 19.0 by its opponents. The Dolphins' turnover margin (+1.89) ranked second in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Florida Atlantic (+2.14) and Troy (+1.07) were the only other members to post a positive turnover margin on the year. That trend changed in the early part of the 2005-06 season, but the squad is beginning to show steady improvement. The Dolphin's inexperience showed up on the stat sheet as JU averaged 24.5 turnovers compared to 18.5 by its opponents in the first four games of the season. In the last four games, JU is averaging 18.4 compared to 18.3 by its opponents. Currently, the Dolphins are averaging 21.5 turnovers per contest, compared to 18.4 by their opponents The following is the average turnovers per contest in JU history:

1999-00: 25.1 2000-01: 23.3 2001-02: 28.2 2002-03: 25.7 2003-04: 19.7 2004-05: 17.1

JU in the A-Sun: The Dolphins are currently ranked second in rebounding offense with 41.1 rpg, blocked shots (4.25 bpg) and rebounding margin (+2.1), third in free-throw percentage (.664), fourth in scoring margin (-2.2), assists (13.38), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.62), field-goal percentage (.400), and three-point field-goal percentage (.324) and fifth in scoring offense (63.4), rebounding defense (39.0), field-goal percentage defense (.396) and three-point field-goal percentage defense (.326).

Injuries continue: No matter what the year, it seems that injuries are the center of attention for the JU women's basketball program. Last season, injuries took their toll on the Dolphins' post players when center Kara Donnell had missed the first half of the year while recovering from a knee injury in the preseason. After suffering another setback in her first practice, she is out indefinitely. Forward Yolisha Jackson has missed 17 games when she reinjured her left knee against Mercer on Jan. 6. This year, sophomore guard Crystal Ayers will miss the entire season due to surgery on her right knee. Ayers was penciled in to start at point guard after transferring from Okaloosa-Walton Junior College. Junior forward Talia Johnson has also missed the first three games of the year with a knee injury. She will be out indefinitely. Johnson was the Dolphins' most experience post player heading into this season. Freshman center Precious Robinson has added to the low-post injury woes by missing the past three games with an ankle injury.

In select company: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter became only the second Dolphin in program history to be named to the preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference team in November. She joins former forward Kat Sungy, who earned the honor prior to the 2001-02 season. Last season, Carpenter was the focal point for the Dolphins offense despite the squad being beset by injuries to the post. Since taking over the point guard position as the playmaker for the offense, Carpenter averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest. Carpenter led the squad with an average of 14.4 points and 3.4 assists, while also shooting 40.9 percent from the field. In the A-Sun, Carpenter ranked sixth in points (14.4 ppg), assists (3.37 apg) and assist/turnover ratio (0.93) and sixth in free-throw percentage (.764). In the Dolphin career record book, she is fourth in points (622), fifth in assists (157) and third in free throws made (121) despite playing in only her second season with the program.

A couple of returners: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter was named to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference Team. Carpenter, who is the first Dolphin to be selected for the honor since forward Kat Sungy in 2001, joins Stetson guard Nefertiti Walker (Preseason Player of the Year), Florida Atlantic guard Shontavia Williams, Gardner-Webb guard Sequenta Blackman and Gardner-Webb forward Shameka Smith. Carpenter, the squad's lone senior, led the Dolphins with an average of 14.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Her points and assists per game ranked sixth in the Atlantic Sun Conference, while also finishing sixth with a 0.93 assists-to-turnover ratio. Also rounding out the returners for the Dolphins are junior guard Nakina Alford, junior center Talia Johnson and junior guard Jenarie Davis.

The land of opportunity: Not only is JU attempting to make a name for itself with its performance on the floor, several former players and coaches have gotten opportunities to advance their careers after spending time with the program. Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick, an assistant coach last season with Dolphins, was hired for the same position at Charlotte on May 25. Rebecca Montz and Yolisha Jackson, who each finished their JU careers last season, were hired as graduate assistants at Centenary College and Kennesaw State, respectively.

And a few new faces: Leading the infusion of youth for the Dolphins this season will be five freshmen and two junior college transfers. During their prep career, the class combined to win three state titles, six regional championships and 16 district crowns, while also combining for a 305-57 overall record. Forward Kelly Ford (University Christian), guard Virginia Gregoire (Deerfield), guard DaVina Hamilton and guard Regina Omoite (North Miami Beach) and center Precious Robinson (Orlando Christian) make up the incoming freshmen. Guard Crystal Ayers (Okaloosa Walton JC) and forward Ashley Williams (North Florida CC) will join the squad as transfers.