TUESDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2007
Women's Basketball selected first in A-Sun Preseason Coaches' Poll

Oct. 9, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

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After enjoying the most successful season in program history last season, the Atlantic Sun Conference coaches have taken notice as the JU women's basketball team was selected first in the 2007-08 Coaches' Poll for the first time in program history.

JU, who received six first-place votes, was selected to finish first in the poll with 138 points and was also selected as the tournament champion. East Tennessee State, who earned four first-place votes, was predicted to finish second with 133 points.

"We are excited to receive the first place vote from the conference coaches in the preseason poll, which we know is based on last year's record and success," said JU head coach Jill Dunn. "This season, we are focused on continuing last year's momentum and our goal is to finish as the regular season and tournament champion."

Defending champion Belmont (124), who received one first place vote, Kennesaw State (96) and Gardner-Webb (92) rounded out the top five. Lipscomb (67), Campbell (66), North Florida (62), Mercer (53), Florida Gulf Coast (45), Stetson (42) and USC Upstate (18) made up the rest of the poll.

In the media poll, ETSU got top billing and was selected as the tournament champion with 16 first place votes and 342 points while JU ranked second with 11 first place nods and 318 points.

Senior forward Ashley Williams became the first player in program history to be named preseason MVP after surpassing her own single season record with 509 points. She also became the first Dolphin to earn consecutive first team all-conference honors after tying for the conference lead with an average of 17 points per contest.

"Being selected as the preseason Player of the Year is a great accomplishment for Ashley and our team," Dunn said. "It is a sign of respect she has earned from the other coaches. I know she is looking forward to her senior year and leaving her mark on the JU record book."

Junior guard Virginia Gregoire, who also earned first team all-conference honors last season, received her first preseason accolades after ranking third in the conference with 14.6 points per game. She also notched conference tournament honors to cap off her break out season.

"VG really came into her own last year as the season progressed," said Dunn. "She is more comfortable with her role and one of her individual goals is to be selected first team all-conference, which she is working hard to accomplish for a second straight year."

Williams and Gregoire join senior forward Michelle Devault (ETSU), sophomore guard Sierra Evans (ETSU) and senior center Marlena Murphy (Campbell) on the preseason squad.

Last season, JU finished with a program-record 21-9 overall record which tied them for sixth in the nation for greatest turnaround (10 games) from the previous year. The Dolphins turnaround was sparked in part by a program-record 13-1 record at home - including a program-best 10-game winning streak which is still in tact.

The Dolphins, who begin practice on Friday, open the 2007-08 season with an exhibition contest at Swisher Gymnasium against St. Leo on Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.