FGCU Women’s Basketball Season Preview: 2020-21

Of all the great women’s teams that have passed through the program since its inception, this upcoming squad might be the most interesting. The intrigue isn’t based on past success or high expectations though. Rather, it is based on the the overwhelming amount of unknown and uncertainty that surrounds the team heading into this year. In what has to be some sort of (unfortunate) record, the women’s squad is without a whopping 10 players who were with the team last year. Those 10 players include all 5 starters and most of the rotation/bench contributors from a season ago. With so much turnover, it would be easy to write the Eagles off for this coming season and call it a rebuilding year. But if there is anyone fit for being in this position, it’s Coach Smesko. Through the years, he has mastered the art of retooling on the fly, rather than rebuilding. While this year may be his biggest challenge yet, there are still plenty of reasons to like this roster and give this team the benefit of the doubt.

Roster

#0 Tomia Johnson: 5’6″, Fr, G#11 Maddie Antenucci: 5’10, Fr, G/F
#1 Kierstan Bell: 6’1″, So*, G#15 Tyra Cox: 5’8″, rJr, G
#2 Alyssa Blair: 5’11”, Sr, G#20 Tanner Bryant: 5’11”, Jr, G/F
#3 Andrea Cecil: 6’1″, Gr, G/F#21 Kierra Adams: 6’0″, rFr, G
#4 Tishara “TK” Morehouse: 5’3″, Jr, G#24 Seneca Hackley: 5’9″, Fr, G
#5 Aaliyah Stanley: 5’6″, So*, G#32 Emma List: 5’10”, rJr, G
#10 Sheahen: 5’7″, Sr, G
*Denotes possible redshirt year

Potential Starting 5

With this team in particular, it’s extremely difficult to project a starting 5. In addition to the abundance of new and unproven faces, there is still some lingering uncertainty around the status/eligibility of FGCU’s most high profile transfer, Kierstan Bell. Because of this. We will list starting 5 predictions for both scenarios (If Bell is available/unavailable this season).

  • “TK” Morehouse
  • Kierstan Bell
  • Tyra Cox
  • Emma List
  • Andrea Cecil

This lineup is assuming that the NCAA grants Kierstan Bell a waiver, allowing her to begin her 3 years of eligibility with FGCU starting this season. If Bell can play, she is probably the biggest lock to start and dominate for this team. At 6’1″ Bell possesses elite athleticism and Basketball IQ. In addition to Bell, Andrea Cecil is another high profile transfer joining the team for her graduate season. Cecil also stands at 6’1″ and possesses the size and athleticism to lock down one of the forward spots and also play some on the wing and in transition. Coach Smesko has always been able to make it work with undersized teams. Having 2 players over 6’0″ tall in the starting lineup (and a 3rd coming off the bench) is something Smesko has really never had to benefit from. By all accounts coming out the program, “TK” Morehouse will be manning the point and really implementing her fast, quick-hitting style. Tyra Cox has the most experience of any returning eagle and should slide into the starting lineup, providing a sweet balance of defensive and offensive production to the squad. Lastly, there is no returning player who has gotten as much praise from Smesko this offaeason as Emma List, who projects to be a big part of this team. In addition to these individuals, Tanner Bryant should make a huge impact whether she’s in the starting lineup or not. Returning seniors, Sheahen Dowling and Alyssa Blair, will also provide a ton of experience and quality play to the team. FGCU will also benefit from the presence of Kierra Adams (another 6’0″ player) and Aaliyah Stanley. The incoming freshman class is also very strong for the Eagles this year with Maddie Antenucci, Seneca Hackley, and Tomia Johnson joining the squad.

OR

  • “TK” Morehouse
  • Kierra Adams
  • Tyra Cox
  • Emma List
  • Andrea Cecil

Essentially, the only difference here is the ineligibility of Kierstan Bell. Taking bell out of the lineup opens a lot of possibilities. Tanner Bryant, Kierra Adams, Aaliyah Stanley, Sheahen Dowling, and Alyssa Blair each have an obvious case to start for this team in place of Bell. We chose to go with rFr guard Kierra Adams because of the added height and projected development from her redshirt reason with the Eagles last season.

Potential Most Improved

Emma List

As stated, List has received a ton of praise from coaches and players alike. Coach Smesko specifically stated “Emma has taken a huge step forward this off-season. [I believe] she has been playing at an All-Conference level in practice. She can shoot it, she’s an exceptional passer, and she can make all kinds of plays.” Emma is entering her redshirt Junior season and is poised to grab hold of a leadership role this season.

Tanner Bryant

Bryant has been a spark of energy for the Eagles so far in her career. The 5’11” Junior guard/forward combo is now set to earn loads more playing time and compete for a starting spot. Regardless of where she is in the lineup, you can expect Bryant to play a huge/important role for the Eagles this year.

Tyra Cox

Cox’s development will we key for the squad this season. While no returners possess an abundance of experience, Cox has the most out of her counterparts. The 5’8″, redshirt junior guard is skilled on both ends of the floor and should bring a ton of competition for the opposing team.

Schedule

Non Conference

  • 11/27 vs. Missouri State: 5:30 PM
  • 11/28 vs. Arkansas: 2:30 PM
  • 11/29 vs. Davidson: 11:30 AM
  • 12/6 vs. Temple: 2:00 PM
  • 12/13 @ UCF: TBA
  • 12/17 vs. Webber International: 7:00 PM
  • 12/20 @ FIU: 12:00 PM
  • 12/21 @ FIU: 12:00 PM

Conference

  • 1/2 @ North Alabama: 3:00 PM
  • 1/3 @ North Alabama: 3:00 PM
  • 1/9 vs. Liberty: 2:00 PM
  • 1/10 vs. Liberty: 2:00 PM
  • 1/16 @ Bellarmine: 2:00 PM
  • 1/17 @ Bellarmine: 2:00 PM
  • 1/23 vs. Lipscomb: 2:00 PM
  • 1/24 vs. Lipscomb: 2:00 PM
  • 2/6 @ Stetson: 1:00 PM
  • 2/7 @ Stetson: 1:00 PM
  • 2/13 vs. Kennesaw: 2:00 PM
  • 2/14 vs. Kennesaw: 2:00 PM
  • 2/20 @ Jacksonville: 1:00 PM
  • 2/21 @ Jacksonville: 1:00 PM
  • 2/27 vs. North Florida: 2:00 PM
  • 2/28 vs. North Florida: 2:00 PM

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