TA alum Kirby Burkholder tabbed preseason CAA player of the year

jmu logoJames Madison women’s basketball was picked by the league’s head coaches to win the 2013-14 Colonial Athletic Association title, as announced at CAA Basketball Media Day Tuesday while senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) was voted the Preseason CAA Player of the Year.

Drexel, the 2013 Women’s National Invitation Tournament champion, was chosen to finish second, ahead of Northeastern, Towson and 2013 CAA champion-Delaware. Hofstra finished sixth in the poll, and CAA-newcomer College of Charleston tallied a seventh-place selection. UNCW and William & Mary rounded out the voting in eighth and ninth, respectively.

The Dukes return eight players from last year’s CAA semifinal team and Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal squad.  In 2012-13, JMU went 25-11 overall with a 15-3 record in league play.

Burkholder, who finished the 2012-13 season averaging 15.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, is joined by sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) on the Preseason All-CAA First Team. As a freshman, Hall earned 2013 CAA Rookie of the Year honors after she dropped in 9.6 points per game and snagged 3.1 rebounds per game.

Junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) and redshirt-sophomore guard/forward Jazmon Gwathmey(Bealeton, Va./Liberty H.S.) will continue to make an impact for the Dukes after strong 2012-13 seasons.  Giggetts averaged 7.5 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore starter, and Gwathmey added in a solid 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.  Gwathmey also led the Dukes in blocks last season, swatting away 34 on the year on her way to being named CAA All-Rookie.

Redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) returns to the court after sitting out the 2012-13 season due to injury. Redshirt junior center Lauren Okafor (Hamden, Conn./Hopkins School) makes her debut for Madison after sitting out last season due to transfer eligibility rules.

JMU women’s basketball hosts an exhibition game on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 12 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center against Lenoir-Rhyne. The Dukes open the 2013-14 season when the University of Virginia comes to town on Friday, Nov. 8, for a 7 p.m. tip-off.



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