By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
The Furman women’s basketball team has high hopes after being ranked second in SoCon preseason polls released Oct. 22. The poll was conducted among women’s basketball coaches in the SoCon.
Furman sits behind University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, who amassed seven of the eight first place votes, and is one point ahead of East Tennessee State University and Samford.
Two Paladins also received preseason honors. Senior forward Holli Wilkins and junior point guard Whitney Bunn were named to the Preseason All-SoCon Team alongside eight other players. Wilkins, a three-year starter, averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, and Bunn led the Paladins in scoring with 14.5 point per game.
Fans got an early peek at the team Oct. 23 in the annual purple-white scrimmage at Timmons Arena. Three starters from last year’s 19-14 team (Wilkins, Bunn and junior guard Allison Beasley) are healthy and returned to play in the game.
The Paladins start off a six-game home schedule with an exhibition against Queen’s College (N.C.) Nov. 5 at 7:00 p.m. Matchups in the home stretch include battles against both larger schools like Clemson and Winthrop and smaller ones like Davidson and Converse.
Along with the new freshman faces on the team, the Paladins filled a new coaching position as well. In July, Jessica Kern joined the women’s basketball coaching staff as an assistant coach. Kern formerly coached at Lincoln University (Pa.), a Division II school, and won a school record 22 games last season and led her team to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship game. She was also named CIAA Coach of the Year last season.
Off the court, the women’s basketball team also won the Boundary Breaker Award at Furman’s annual Recognition Night for its inaugural “Life After Basketball” program. The initiative, created by head coach Jackie Carson, allowed team members to network with professionals in a variety of career fields and advance the players’ move into the job world after graduation.
In other team news, Furman standout Brittany Hodges, who graduated last year, agreed to terms with Olivais/UrgiCentro-SAN Combra, a professional women’s basketball team in Portugal’s Liga Feminina. A two-time all-SoCon player, Hodges is second in both career field goal percentage (52.7 percent) and blocked shots (185) for Furman. She also set the single-game rebounding record (24) in the season opener versus Davidson last year.