JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This Friday, Nov. 10, will see the Jacksonville University women's basketball team take to the court for the very first time in the 2017-18 season. Visiting NC State – a team formerly ranked No. 17 and a NCAA Tournament second round contender – will serve as a suitable challenge for a Dolphin team looking to claim its second league title in three years.
Coach Yo Quotes
"I'm truly excited about our squad this year. We have a mixture of upperclassmen and new additions that I think will provide us the balance that we need to be successful on both ends of the floor. We still have a few players that were a part of our championship team and they have done a great job so far this preseason at setting the tone. Although our end goal is to win an ASUN Championship, the immediate game plan is to attack each day, each game with a winning mindset." – Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin
Since taking over the program in 2013, McCuin has seen her team improve its win total from 13 to a record-tying 23 a season ago. In the 2016-17 season alone, the Dolphins set a new regular season win record (22), decorated by 11 non-conference victories and a 14-1 mark at Historic Swisher Gymnasium. The team's RPI peaked as high as 53 on the year, and it was the only ASUN Conference program to receive votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
McCuin enters her fifth Dolphin season with a record of 70-54.
Jacksonville's all-time tally is 228-305.
Recapping Last Season
Jacksonville's latest campaign ended with an at-large bid to the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) – the first at-large ever given to the ASUN – where it fell to the title contender Georgia Tech. The WNIT marked back-to-back postseason appearances for the Dolphins as they received an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2016 after claiming their first ASUN championship.
Former Dolphin guard and graduate assistant Stephanie Edwards returned to the team this past offseason at its newest assistant coach. She spent the 2016-17 season as an assistant coach at Florida Southwestern State College, and helped the team finish its inaugural year in the quarterfinal round of the FCSAA/NJCAA District VIII Championship.
Coach McCuin also welcomed assistant coach LaQuanda Dawkins to the squad this past July. With 20-plus years of experience, Dawkins' basketball tenure features stops in North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Elizabeth City State, Tennessee Tech, Southern Polytechnic State University, Winthrop, Florida International and Iowa.
During the 2013-14 season, SPSU boasted an impressive 15-0 mark at home, en route to a 26-1 record in Dawkins' final two years as its head coach. She also guided Southern Poly to three NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship appearances while compiling an overall record of 83-43.
Buie, Gordon Enter Senior Year with Preseason Buzz
Buie was a unanimous selection to the preseason team, after increasing her scoring average from 8.5 points per game in the 2015-16 season to 12.4 a year ago. She ranked sixth in the ASUN in points and scored 20-plus in five games, three in league play, including a career-high 28 versus Lipscomb.
Heavy on the glass and accurate from the floor, Gordon averaged 9.9 points and a team-high 8.7 rebounds last season. She ranked second in the ASUN in boards, and also set the Dolphins' single-game mark in the category with 20 versus FGCU.
Gordon also finished the season with eight double-doubles and possessed the second-best field goal percentage in the league at 53.5 percent.
Expected to finish the regular season in second place, Jacksonville received two first-place votes in the ASUN Coaches' Poll and finished with 53 points behind Florida Gulf Coast's 62.
The two met in the league semifinals a year ago, where the Dolphins narrowly fell, 68-64. They split the regular season meetings - both winning in their respective gyms – with FGCU taking at 60-57 decision at Alico Arena and Jacksonville a 73-65 victory at Swisher.
With 29 games on the docket, Jacksonville's 2017-18 schedule features some of its stiffest competition yet. Five teams competed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and three advanced to the WNIT.
- Eight of JU's 15 non-conference contests will be played on the road, including the season opener at NC State (Nov. 10)
- Jacksonville will make it first-ever road trip to St. Thibodaux, La., for its longest road trip of the season … at Nicholls State (Nov. 18)
- In-state, non-conference opponents include: Florida (Nov. 28), Flagler (Dec. 10), Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 17), Edward Waters (Dec. 19) and Florida State (Dec. 28)
- 2017 NCAA Tournament teams include: NC State, Troy (Dec. 1), Florida State, Florida Gulf Coast (Jan. 27 / Feb. 3)
- 2017 Postseason WNIT teams include: Alabama (Nov. 16), Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 17), Stetson (Feb. 1/7)
This past offseason, two former 'Phins signed professional contracts to play overseas. Sherranda Reddick, the Dolphins' all-time leading scorer, signed with TK Hannover in Germany, while Briona Brown, the elder sister of Jasmyn Brown, inked her first deal with SBS Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
Reddick graduated in May of 2017 with 1,727 career points, and Brown, who graduated a year prior, ranks fourth in program history with 1,215 points.
- Jacksonville returns three of its five starters in Brandi Buie (Tampa, Fla. / Randolph-Clay), Kayla Gordon (Meridian, Miss. / Meridian) and Jasmyn Brown (Haines City, Fla. / Haines City)
- Mississippi State transfers Shakayla Nevitt (Houston, Texas / Andy Dekaney) and La'Karis Salter (Tallahassee, Fla. / Florida A&M Developmental Research School) will make their Dolphin debuts after sitting out the 2016-17 slate due to NCAA rules
- Alexis Pierce (Savannah, Ga. / Sol C. Johnson) will be the only true freshman on this year's roster
- McCuin added three transfers with plenty of experience in Trudy Walker (Port St. Lucie, Fla. / Fort Pierce Westwood (Eastern Florida State College)), Naqaiyyah Teague (Newark, N.J. / Malcolm X. Shabazz (UNCW)), and Lindsay John (Cholet, France / Lycee Victor Hugo (Tallahassee Community College))
- Overall, Jacksonville's 2017-18 roster features three seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and one freshmen … position breakdown: eight guards, three forwards, one center, and two forward/center combos