BALTIMORE, Md. – After finishing tied for third and reaching the championship semifinals in its first year in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Elon women’s basketball team has been selected fourth in the 2015 CAA Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll. The conference released the poll, along with the Preseason All-CAA Teams, today, Oct. 27, in conjunction with CAA Basketball Media Day at the Center Club in Baltimore. Phoenix guard Shay Burnett was selected to the Preseason All-CAA Second Team, becoming the first Elon player to earn CAA preseason honors.
Elon made a splash in its CAA debut going 19-13 overall and 11-7 in conference play under Head Coach Charlotte Smith. The Phoenix advanced to the semifinals of the CAA Championship and earned an at-large bid to the WNIT, for their first-ever appearance in the tournament. Elon will be led by sophomores Shay Burnett, who averaged 10.5 and 5.4 rebounds en route to CAA All-Rookie honors, and Malaya Johnson, who posted 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Guard Essence Baucom brings her 4.5 assists and 6.7 points per game to the backcourt.
The Phoenix returns four of its five starters from seven of its last eight games of the 2014-15 season, including the WNIT appearance. The 2015-16 squad returns nine other experienced players from last year’s team and welcomes two newcomers. Head coach Charlotte Smith begins her fifth season at the helm of the Elon program with a 69-56 career record and two post-season appearances in the last three years.
James Madison, the two-time defending CAA champion, was picked to win it all again in 2016 according to a vote of the league’s 10 head coaches. The Dukes were the overall favorite while Drexel was picked second, Hofstra was chosen third, and Elon was selected fourth. Delaware was picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll followed by William & Mary in sixth. Rounding out the 10 teams, in order, were: UNCW, Towson, College of Charleston and Northeastern.
Back to lead JMU is redshirt senior guard Jazmon Gwathmey, who was named the 2015-16 CAA Preseason Player of the Year. Gwathmey, the two-time CAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, contributed 9.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season and earned a spot on the All-CAA Third Team.
The Preseason All-CAA First Team was comprised of: JMU’s Gwathmey and Mickens, Drexel’s Curran, Hofstra’s Durant, and College of Charleston’s Bre Bolden (14.2 ppg/3.0 steals/g).
Voted to the Preseason All-CAA Second Team were: Burnett, Delaware’s Erika Brown (14.2 ppg/3.1 rpg), Northeastern’s Samantha DeFreese (13.9ppg/7.0ppg), Drexel’s Rachel Pearson (11.0ppg/3.9rpg), and William & Mary’s Marlena Tremba (12.5 ppg/3.1 rpg).
Receiving honorable mention were: Delaware’s Courtni Green (14.2ppg), Towson’s Dominique Johnson (13.2 ppg), James Madison’s Ashley Perez (9.2ppg), and UNCW’s Naqaiyyah Teague (7.1ppg/8.0rpg).
Conference play tips-off on Jan. 3 and concludes on March 2. All 10 teams head to the 2016 CAA Women’s Basketball Championship, March 9-12, at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.
In addition to the preseason poll and awards, the CAA announced that Elon’s home game on Sunday, Feb. 21, against Drexel at 3 p.m. will be televised on the American Sports Network (ASN).
Season tickets for the 2015-16 season are currently on sale through the Elon Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online here or call the ticket office at 336-278-6750.
2015-16 CAA Women’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
1. James Madison
6. William & Mary
9. College of Charleston
2015-16 CAA Women’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference Teams
Bre Bolden, CofC%^
Sarah Curran, Drexel*
Ashunae Durant, Hofstra&^
Jazmon Gwathmey, James Madison#
Angela Mickens, James Madison^
Erika Brown, Delaware^
Shay Burnett, Elon
Samantha DeFreese, Northeastern#
Rachel Pearson, Drexel^
Marlena Tremba, William & Mary#
& 2014-15 CAA Rookie of the Year
% 2014-15 CAA Defensive Player of the Year
*1st Team All-CAA in 2014-15
^ 2nd Team All-CAA in 2014-15
#3rd Team All-CAA in 2014-15
CAA Preseason Player of the Year: Jazmon Gwathmey, James Madison
Honorable Mention: Courtni Green, Sr., G., Delaware; Dominique Johnson, Sr., G; Towson; Ashley Perez, Sr., G, JMU; Naqaiyyah Teague, Jr., G, UNCW