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Women's basketball: FGCU portraits

See larger Shayla Ball
■  5-11 JR G
■  Hillsboro, Ore./Clackamas CC
■ A first-team All-NWAACC player at Clackamas, Ball has played in 19 games and averages 0.8 points in 4.6 minutes.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL

Shayla Ball
■ 5-11 JR G
■ Hillsboro, Ore./Clackamas CC
■ A first-team All-NWAACC player at Clackamas, Ball has played in 19 games and averages 0.8 points in 4.6 minutes.

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  • Brittany Kennedy
■  5-7 JR G
■  Spokane, Wash./Oregon State
■ Kennedy became eligible after the first semester following a redshirt year after transferring from Oregon State. She has played in all 24 games since, starting 23. An excellent ballhandler and passer and a calming on-the-floor presence, Kennedy is FGCU’s best on-ball defender. She averages 6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
  • Shayla Ball
■  5-11 JR G
■  Hillsboro, Ore./Clackamas CC
■ A first-team All-NWAACC player at Clackamas, Ball has played in 19 games and averages 0.8 points in 4.6 minutes.
  • Sarah Hansen
■  5-10 SO F
■  McKean, Pa. 
■ Hansen, who redshirted her true freshman season, has followed up last year’s A-Sun All-Freshman campaign with another slam-dunk season. In fact, she’s the first-ever Eagle to be a unanimous selection as an All-Atlantic Sun first-teamer. Hansen can fly the floor, drive quickly, hit 3-pointers, find open teammates and come up with steals. Her 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds are team highs.
  • Whitney Knight
■  6-3 FR G
■  Winston-Salem, N.C. 
■ The former Duke commitment and FGCU’s all-time highest rated recruit, Knight has made an immediate impact although coach Karl Smesko has been careful not to rush her. A team favorite, Knight averages 8.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 17.2 minutes. She has played in every game, starting three.
  • Joyce Iamstrong
■  5-9 JR G
■  Chicago/Jefferson College
■ After earning MCCAC all-conference honors at Jefferson College, Armstrong has averaged 1.3 points and 0.5 rebounds in 6.2 minutes off the bench this season for the Eagles.
  • Amber Rechis
■  5-8 R-FR G
■  Martin, Tenn. 
■ Rechis is a remarkable shooter. No other way to describe it. She has made 37 of 65 3-point attempts for a 56.9 percentage (too few attempts to place her in the NCAA rankings). Coach Karl Smesko turns to her for instant offense and is excited about her prospects for next season. She averages 5.0 points in 10.2 minutes.
  • Kelsey Jacobson
■  5-8 SR G
■  Barnesville, Minn. 
■ A third-year starter who was the A-Sun’s Freshman of the Year, Jacobson is second in the country in 3-point makes among active players, her 329 just two behind, ironically, St. Bonaventure’s Jessica Jenkins. A second-team all-conference selection, Jacobson manned the point much of the first half of the season as the Eagles awaited Brittany Kennedy’s eligibility. Despite that, she averaged 9.9 points and 2.1 rebounds.
  • Lerrin Cook
■  5-10 SR G (Redshirting) 
■  Kearny, Ariz./Yavapai College
■ Cook is redshirting because Coach Karl Smesko is loaded with senior guards and believes she can make major contributions as a fifth-year senior next season. Cook played in all 32 games as a junior, averaging 3.0 points in 5.9 minutes while making 24 of 40 3-point shots (60 percent).
  •  
Courtney Chihil
■  5-8 SR G
■  Tripp City, Ohio
■ A fourth-year starter, Chihil is considered the Eagles’ most versatile and unjustly unheralded player. Chihil was the A-Sun Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and has won conference academic honors all four years. She averages 9.8 points and 3.9 rebounds but does so much more. Her 53 steals are third on the team and her 3.2 assists are second. Chihil has made 37 percent of her 3-point attempts.
  • Eglah Griffin
■  5-8 SR G
■  Fort Myers (Dunbar HS)/Seminole CC
■ A third-year starter after a big season at Seminole Community College, Griffin is one of FGCU’s most athletic players and best shooters. The passionate player averages 9.0 points and 3.1 rebounds and has made a whopping 46.2 percent of her 3-point attempts. She’s extremely aggressive on the boards and in the open court.
  • Nicoya Jackson
■  5-6 SR G
■  Houston, Texas/Southwestern Christian
■ Jackson has been a hit ever since stepping on FGCU’s campus. An explosive finisher despite her diminutive size, Jackson also is an excellent ballhandler, shooter and passer. She has manned the point and 2-guard position, usually off the bench. Despite missing five games with injury and starting just 10 times, Jackson’s 10 points are second most on the team and she averages 3.8 rebounds.
  • Anthi Chtazigiakoumi
■  6-1 FR F
■  Athens, Greece
■ The Eagles’ second-tallest player, Chatzigiakoumi came to FGCU with international experience, having played for Greece in the U-16 European Championships in 2007 and for her country’s National U-16 team from 2007-09. She averages 1.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 5.9 minutes and Coach Karl Smesko believes she has lots of potential.
  • Sarah Whitfield
■  5-11 SR F
■  Eugene, Ore./Lane CC
■ Also a strong 3-point shooter (33.3 percent), Whitfield gives FGCU a bit of size at the top, mostly from the bench. She’s played in every game and has three starts. Whitfield averages 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12.0 minutes.

Portraits of the Florida Gulf Coast University women's basketball team. The Eagles play in their first NCAA tournament Sunday, March 18, 2012.

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