Florida Tech Women’s Basketball Returns Friday
By Florida Tech // November 4, 2012
Women’s College Basketball
BREVARD COUNTY• MELBOURNE, FLORIDA— Florida Tech is coming off its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and looks to continue its success in 2012-13. The Panthers will open the season with their Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 9 to 10 at the Clemente Center.
“The first official games of the season will be here at the Classic,” head coach John Reynolds said. “It’s the Sunshine State Conference versus two schools from Puerto Rico.
Rollins will join us in matchups against UPR-Rio Piedras and UPR-Mayaguez.
They [UPR-Rio Piedras and UPR-Mayaguez] have been better the past few years, so it should be good competition.”
The Tip-Off Classic will begin FIT’s 2012-13 campaign at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Panthers open the four-team invitational against the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. Rollins will face the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez at 3 p.m.
On Nov. 10, the SSC teams will switch opponents. Rollins will face UPR-Piedras at 2 p.m. and FIT will battle UPR-Mayaguez at 4 p.m.
The Panthers non-conference schedule does not get any easier after their Tip-Off Classic. FIT will travel to Fort Lauderdale to compete in the Nova Southeastern Classic from Nov. 17-18.
The Panthers will face two tough NCAA South Region opponents in Alabama-Huntsville and Clark Atlanta. Following the Nova Southeastern Classic, FIT will drive north to face South Carolina Aiken on Nov. 25.
“When I look at the schedule this year, and our non-conference games, we have seven tough regional games against quality opponents,” Reynolds said.
“We have matchups with Alabama-Huntsville, Fort Valley State–twice, Clark Atlanta and South Carolina Aiken. We set up the [non-conference] schedule this way to get us ready for conference play.”
Fort Valley State has been to the NCAA Tournament 17 times over the last 27 seasons, won ten conference championships and recorded 21 or more wins over the last 15 seasons.
FIT has won four of the last five meetings with the Wildcats, including two straight since 2010. The two will play a home-and-home with Fort Valley State hosting the first game on Dec. 19. They meet a second time, just 11 days later, on Dec. 30 at FIT’s Holiday Classic.
FIT will host Fort Valley State, Palm Beach Atlantic and Nova Southeastern in its Holiday Classic from Dec. 29-30. The Panthers and Nova Southeastern will matchup with both non-conference squads.
The Panthers will open Sunshine State Conference play on Dec. 1 at Barry. The Buccaneers and FIT have split the last 10 meetings, winning five each. The Panthers will host Rollins on Jan. 9 for their home conference opener.
“As tough as the non-conference schedule is, the conference schedule is going to be twice as difficult,” Reynolds said of the strength of the SSC.
“I think each team in the conference is capable of beating everyone else. It is the most parody I have seen in the SSC in my tenure here [at Florida Tech].”
The 16-game conference schedule will conclude on March 2 at home against Tampa. The conference tournament is set for March 7-10.
The Panthers will enter the season with a revamped starting five. FIT lost four of its five starters from a season ago, including its top two scorers in Ashton McClairen and Briauna Hagins. But Reynolds is impressed with what he has seen from his players this off-season.
“I am very happy with the commitment of our players over the off-season,” Reynolds said.
“Both Rita [Acevedo] and Jasmire [Brown] have stepped up and filled the leadership roles, and have committed to being successful.
Kayk Wilson returns for her sophomore season and has come out of her shell to be another one of our leaders.”
FIT has 9 players returning
FIT returns nine players, four of whom played in all 29 games last year. Brown, who made 24 starts, is the only regular starter from last year’s roster to return. Brown was fourth on the team with 8.2 points per game and second with 55 steals.
Reynolds added seven new faces to the 2012-13 roster, including four transfers and three freshmen.
“I think our team has depth at each position, especially when I look at the three and four position players,” Reynolds said. “We have Jami Chappell and Ashley Hampton, a newcomer. [Hampton] is a graduate student who had over 1,400 rebounds and 2,000 points coming out of high school.”
FlT looks to fill a void in the low post with size. Rebounds came easy for FIT over the past four seasons when Hagins wore the Crimson and Gray.
Hagins, who graduated this past spring, finished her career with 1,068 rebounds, 340 of them coming last season.
“Ida Gustafsson is your typical, big European player,” Reynolds said of the center. “She can put the ball on the floor, makes threes and rebounds the ball.”
Two transfers from Division I Troy University will join the Panther squad. Rosie Hynes and Peggy Smith are two of the four transfer players added by Reynolds.
Hynes adds more than just Division I experience. The Manchester, England native is coming off her fourth stint with a Great Britain national team.
“Rosie Hynes, who just arrived to campus a few weeks ago, was playing with Great Britain’s U20 national team in Hungary for the FIBA European World Championships,” Reynolds said.
“Rosie is a complete basketball player who gives us another solid point guard along with Rita. I think we are two to three players deep at each position. Our depth should be our best strength this year.”
The Panthers will play in two exhibitions prior to the season opener. FIT will host the Chilean National Team on Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. before it hosts Webber International on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. Both exhibitions will be played at the Clemente Center and are free to the public.