Women’s basketball picked sixth in A-Sun preseason coaches’ poll
The JU women’s basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the 2011-12 edition of Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll.

FGCU, eligible for the A-Sun tournament for the first time this season, was selected first for the third straight year with 95 points and eight first-place votes. Defending tournament champion Stetson was second with 87 points. ETSU (81), Belmont (64) and UNF (61) rounded out the top five. JU, USC Upstate, Mercer, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb made up the rest of the poll.

“All we are focusing on right now is getting better every day,” JU head coach Jill Dunn said. “The girls are working hard and our goal is to make sure we are ready to make a run when conference play begins.”

In the media poll, FGCU was first again with 190 points and all 19 first-place tallies. ETSU was slotted second with 159 points, while Stetson (149), UNF (114) and USC Upstate (118) rounded out the top five. Belmont, JU, Kennesaw State, Mercer and Lipscomb comprised the rest of the poll.

The Eagles were also picked to win the A-Sun Tournament in both polls and Stetson’s Victoria McGowan was selected as the preseason “Player of the Year” to highlight the all-conference selections.

JU returns 10 players from the 2010-11 squad that posted a school-record 5-1 start en route to double-digit wins for the sixth straight season (15). They reached the A-Sun title game for the third time in the last four seasons, but fell to the hot-shooting Hatters.

Seniors Crystal Bell and Jessica George are two of the top returners for the Dolphins.

As a junior, Bell led the team in steals with 55, which is tied for fifth highest single-season total all-time. She scored in double-digits 13 times, reaching the 20-point barrier in three contests.

George tallied a career-best 17 points and 35 minutes in the A-Sun quarterfinals against UNF en route to earning all-tournament team honors.

The Dolphins will also count out their newcomers, led by junior college transfer and local native Tracie Sneed.

Sneed transfers back home after playing the last two seasons at Santa Fe State College in Gainesville, Fla. She helped the Saints win conference titles in both seasons, a first in program history. Sneed was a four-year starter locally for Andrew Jackson High School, earning all-state and all-conference accolades each season.

JU hits the court for the first time on Nov. 5 for an exhibition game against USC Aiken at 1 p.m. in Swisher Gymnasium.