#29 Florida Gulf Coast Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #1 Atlantic Sun Conference
#29 Florida Gulf Coast Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview
Florida Gulf Coast Team Page


Florida Gulf Coast had a breakthrough season in the 2014-15 season as they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament getting a win over a power five team in Oklahoma State in the first round. The Eagles bring back a very senior laden squad for this upcoming season and they will be looking to make the next step and bust through to the Sweet 16.

2014-15 Record: 31-3, 14-0
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Karl Smesko
Coach Record: 345-67 at Florida Gulf Coast, 406-94 overall

Whitney Knight, the reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year, is back for Florida Gulf Coast to lead an offensive attack that does not hesitate to attack you from the perimeter. Knight averaged 14.8 points per game and was lethal from behind the three-point arc, shooting 41.2 percent. Kaneisha Atwater is another senior in the backcourt who returns this season. Atwater averaged 14.2 points per game last season and is going to make her biggest impact from attacking the basket versus the perimeter. The team defense is also very impressive as the Eagles, despite playing a smaller lineup with four guards, limited opponents to just 53.7 points per game last season.

The lack of size down in the post is always going to be somewhat of a concern for Coach Karl Smesko. Opponents did cause Florida Gulf Coast to have a -1.1 rebound margin. Free throw shooting is another issue that needs to be addressed as the Eagles shot just under 70 percent from the charity stripe. The schedule is going to bring some tight contested non-conference games against the likes of Mississippi State and George Washington. The three-point shooting, if it could gain a couple of percentage points and get closer to 38 percent, will also elevate Florida Gulf Coast offensively to a level where they could be nearly unstoppable.

Final Projection:
There is a very nice balance to the non-conference portion of the schedule for the Eagles as they will play fellow mid-major power George Washington on December 3rd up in Washington D.C. Florida Gulf Coast took the first matchup in the season opener on the Eagles home floor as they beat the Colonials 88-75. A win here will set the tone right away for the resume of Florida Gulf Coast in their quest for a top six seed in the NCAA Tournament. Neutral site battles with Mississippi State and Arizona down in San Juan, Puerto Rico just before the holidays will also provide significant opportunities as well for the Eagles to build up their NCAA tournament resume. In the end, the opportunity is there for Florida Gulf Coast to win 30 plus games and earn a high enough seed to make a run to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament if they were to get the right draw on Selection Monday.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Whitney Knight, Redshirt Senior, Guard, 14.8 points per game
Kaneisha Atwater, Senior, Guard, 14.2 points per game
Stephanie Haas, Senior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
DyTeisha Dunson, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Katie Meador, Senior, Forward, 4.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.9 (39th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 53.7 (10, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.4 (44, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.6 (33, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game:  9.6 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.2 (44, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.6 (157, 3)
Rebound Margin: -1.1 (210, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.4 (81, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (5, 1)


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