MACON, Ga. (Oct. 11, 2011) – The Atlantic Sun Conference released its preseason women’s basketball selections on Tuesday afternoon, and the Lady Bucs were picked to finish second by the media and third by the coaches. In addition, sophomore Destiny Mitchell (Bluffton, Ga.) was named to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team.
ETSU, who has won three of the last four A-Sun Tournament titles, return three starters from a year ago, while also getting red-shirt senior Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) back from injury. The Lady Bucs posted their sixth consecutive winning season in 2010-11, but ETSU had its three-year championship run snapped in the conference semifinals by Jacksonville. After a one-year hiatus, the Blue and Gold look to return to the NCAA Tournament, as the Lady Bucs return nine players from last season’s squad and bring in six newcomers.
One of those returners is Mitchell – who was named Second Team All-Atlantic Sun and Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team in 2010-11. The Bluffton, Ga. native is the Lady Bucs’ top returning scorer (14.5) and rebounder (9.0) from a year ago, despite missing the final six games after dislocating her knee cap against North Florida back in February. Mitchell recorded 11 double-doubles as a freshman, while also collecting three A-Sun Newcomer of the Week honors and one A-Sun Player of the Week accolade.
Joining Mitchell on the preseason all-conference list were Preseason Player of the Year selection, Victoria McGowan, from Stetson and Defensive Player of the Year pick, Larkira Jones, from North Florida. McGowan, along with Belmont’s Haley Nelson, USC Upstate’s Tee’Ara Copney, and Mercer’s Briana Williams were all unanimous selections on the preseason list. Rounding out the selections were UNF’s Brittany Kirkland, FGCU’s Courtney Chihil and Sarah Hansen, Kennesaw State’s Sametria Gideon, Lipscomb’s Anna Bowers, and Stetson’s Sasha Sims.
In the team voting, Florida Gulf Coast swept the top spot in both the coaches and media polls, as the Eagles garnered eight of the ten first-place nods by the coaches and tallied all 19 votes by the media. FGCU finished with 95 votes in the coaches poll to beat out Stetson by eight points, while the Lady Bucs and Belmont were the other teams to receive a first-place vote by the coaches. ETSU was third with 81 points, Belmont was fourth with 64, and North Florida rounded out the top five with 61 points.
Meanwhile, in the media poll, FGCU ran away with the voting as they received 190 points and ETSU – who was picked second – tallied 159 points. Stetson was selected third (149 points), North Florida was fourth with 114 points and USC Upstate (seventh in the coaches poll) capped off the top five on the media side with 108 points.
Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate are now eligible for the A-Sun Tournament, and the Eagles also made it a clean sweep for tournament champion. The Eagles tallied eight of the ten votes by the coaches and all 19 votes by the media to be pegged the preseason tournament champion favorite.
The Lady Bucs will continue with their preseason practices as ETSU gears up for a pair of exhibition games before opening up the season at home against Tennessee Tech in the Preseason WNIT on Friday, Nov. 11.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer hoops, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.