JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – College basketball season is upon us. On Tuesday the men’s and women’s teams at Jacksonville University held their preseason media day.
The women’s program is coming off of a Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. In the 2016-17 preseason poll, coaches’ picked the Dolphins to repeat as ASUN Champions.
“I told the girls we’re not going to be able to sneak up on anybody anymore,” said women’s head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “Now we have to come out and go through the front door and play.”
Jacksonville went 22-11 last year and now the goal is to build the program into a consistent winner.
“The next step is creating separation among the conference,” said McPhee-McCuin. “Trying to dominate instead of just winning games. I think there’s a difference. Last year we were happy if it was a one point win. Obviously I would still be that way, but if we’re going to grow as a program we have to start to separate ourselves.”
On the men’s side the Dolphins are entering year three under head coach Tony Jasick. Last season Jacksonville went 16-16. It was the Dolphins first .500 record since the 2010-11 season.
Now the challenge is to build upon that while mixing in a few new bodies with seven returning players.
“You adjust your style of play a little bit based on your team every year,” said Jasick. “I certainly think that our three pillars will be the focus of what we’re trying to do every day. We want to play with great energy, have a toughness the way we go about things and be an unselfish group.”
A season ago JU finished in a three-way tie for second place in the ASUN. They did so despite dealing with a host of injuries. Now that the likes of Andris Misters (torn ACL) and Darius Dawkins (micro-fracture) are returning the Dolphins are expecting to compete for the conference crown.
“You would certainly hope that it does provide a little motivation for your team as they go through the summer and fall,” said Jasick. “Obviously we want to have guys in our program that are self-motivated, regardless of what happened in the past. But I do think that being as close as we were and having that taste on their mouth has led to a more spirited summer and fall moving forward.”