Obviously, the Sun Belt Conference coaches dont expect much to change for FIU junior guard Jerica Coley this season.
After all, they voted Coley the conferences Preseason Player of the Year the season after Sun Belt media voted the Honorable Mention All-America the 2011-12 Sun Belt Player of the Year.
As far as the team Coley leads, the coaches voted FIU, a 23-11 team last year that got to the conference tournament semifinals, to finish second in the Sun Belts East Division behind the heavy overall favorite, Middle Tennessee State.
Coleys biggest fan and coach, Cindy Russo, said during Tuesdays Sun Belt womens basketball media day that Coleys work ethic hasnt changed.
Shes stronger, shes understanding the game better, Russo said. Jerica is the type of individual who works all the time like shes a freshman vying for a couple of minutes in the game.
Minutes, she gets by the game load. Coley averaged 39.4 per game last season, leading the Sun Belt in that as well as scoring (23.4 points per game, sixth in the nation) and blocks (1.9 per game).
Combine FIUs next two high scorers last year and you get 24.9 points per game, only 1.5 points more than Coley by herself.
Also, Coley ran the offense as the point guard. Despite the graduation of second-leading scorer Fanni Hutlassa, Russo hopes the rest of the team better will be able to take the heat off Coley.
We will definitely miss Fanni. She thought she could win every game. Were going to miss that confidence. And, as a four, she could shoot the three, Russo said. Jerica has to understand that she is everybodys bulls-eye. Were going to have a well-balanced team. Hopefully, Jerica can come in the back door. Were not going to go out and run everything through Jerica.
It also relaxes her and gets other people involved. I dont care what you do, itll be hard to stop her.
Last years third-leading scorer, senior forward Finda Mansare, voted to the preseason All-Sun Belt second team, has been nursing a sprained ankle. Russo said Mansare will be back in time for the Nov. 11 season opener against North Florida.
Mansare averaged 11.7 points per game, shot a team-high .481 from the field and pulled down 6.4 rebounds per game.
Without a doubt, Finda has to step up and be a better leader, Russo said. She is the senior in the post area. She works hard. Her frustration level has to stay at a minimum.