|O'Regan gets some help from his daughter selling season tix for the Dukes|
We're back with another installment of Comings and Goings looking at James Madison. Liberty on deck. We promise we'll get to your school if we haven't!
The series so far:
Richmond: Comings and Goings
Virginia: Comings and Goings
George Mason: Comings and Goings
William and Mary: Comings and Goings
Kenny Brooks: the Dukes' all-time winningest coach replaced Dennis Wolff at Virginia Tech; Brooks led the Dukes to five NCAA tournaments, was CAA coach of the year three times and hands down, is the best developer of talent in the state
Jen Brown: has joined Brooks as an assistant at Virginia Tech
Sarah Williams: After three years, Williams has moved on pursue her doctorate in philosophy in educational leadership and organization development with a sports administration specialization (a mouthful)
Jazmon Gwathmey: the CAA Player of the Year is a starter for the WNBA's San Antonio Stars
Angela Mickens: the point guard known as "Muff," averaging 11.0 ppg and 6.8 apg, has graduated
Ashley Perez: the 3-point ace averaging 14.4 ppg has graduated into a new role at JMU (see below)
Elemy Colome: the guard who played all of three minutes is no longer with the program
Sean O'Regan: promoted to head coach after serving as an assistant to Brooks for nine years; has been associate head coach since 2012
Bridgette Mitchell: assistant coach; spent two years as recruiting coordinator at Siena; as a player helped Duke reach the 2010 Elite Eight
Ian Caskill: assistant to O'Regan; the former center for the JMU men's team who had an overseas playing career returns to his alma mater
Ashlee McGee: assistant to O'Regan, comes to JMU from Milwaukee; former standout at Austin Peay
Brianna Skeens: joins staff as director of operations; from Florida International
Ashley Perez: a foot injury has delayed her overseas career, so Perez joins O'Regan's staff as assistant director of operations
Amber Porter: eligible transfer from Stetson, who averaged 13.4 ppg as a sophomore; the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year in 2014 and Defensive POY in 2015; has two years of eligibility remaining
Kelly Koshuta: the former Hokie is on the JMU roster but not eligible until 2017-18; a five-star ESPN Hoop Gurlz recruit who played just 20 minutes as a freshman at Tech last year
Lexie Barrier: 5-10 Freshman G scored 1,000 points at Ohio's Ironton High; made a verbal commitment to Virginia Tech prior to Brooks' arrival; Ironton finished 27-1 her senior year, falling in the Division III state semifinals
Kamiah Smalls: 5-10 Freshman G from Neumann-Goretti High in Philadelphia, which won back-to-back Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association titles her junior and senior years
Devon Merritt: 6-2 Freshman F; the biology major and reportedly a future ortho surgeon also played volleyball; led Berks Catholic High to state semifinals last two years
It's not a stretch to say these Dukes lost plenty from last season CAA championship team, most significantly, conference Player of the Year Gwathmey, who started the final 10 games for the San Antonio Stars after being selected in the second round of the WNBA draft. Mickens, second all-time in assists at JMU, will also be missed as will the sweet-shooting Perez.
But nobody in the CAA will be shedding tears for the three-time defending CAA champs, who return 2014-15 CAA Player of the Year Precious Hall, recovered from knee surgery. "She's been full go since early June," says O'Regan, confident the senior can overcome the mental hurdles that follow a season-ending injury. "She's been chomping at the bit."
Da'Lishia Griffin, who led the league in rebounding, returns for her senior year alongside CAA Rookie of the Year Kayla Cooper-Williams, who set a school record for blocked shots last year. The pair provide an enviable presence in the paint. Replacing Mickens will be a chore; the Dukes need consistency from sophomore guard Logan Reynolds and Hailee Baron, each of whom saw time in all 33 games last season.
While Tech transfer Kelly Koshuta will sit out, JMU will benefit inside from the 6-3 Porter, an Atlantic Sun first-teamer in 2015 who could be a key cog in a potentially formidable front line. "She's learning how we do things more and more each day and is buying into our system," O'Regan said. "It should be fun to watch her grow."
Freshmen tend to wait their turn at JMU, but O'Regan sees early promise in all. Smalls is already winning sprints, and O'Regan ranks her among the best conditioned athletes he has seen come into the program. Merritt, he says, has good hands, and Barrier, a high basketball IQ.
Opener: Tennessee at the Convo on Nov. 11 -- Big-time game to start the O'Regan era. How did he get the Lady Vols to come to Harrisonburg? Simply put, he made a slew of calls when he needed to add some games and thought why not Tennessee? He's thrilled that the Lady Vols will be in his home gym; next season JMU will travel to Knoxville.
When told Tennessee would start the home-and-home series at JMU, he even asked, "Are you sure?"
"It's an awesome opportunity for us," he said. "It's certainly created a lot of buzz around the program."