Two RedHawks Earn Preseason All-MAC Women's Basketball Honors
Gamecocksonline.com Junior guard Cindi Merrill Junior guard Cindi Merrill
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Oct. 7, 2004

CLEVELAND--Miami University's defending Mid-American Conference champion women's basketball team has been honored by the MAC News Media Association with two selections to the preseason all-MAC East Division team. Junior Cindi Merrill (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville), a 2004 second-team all-MAC pick, and sophomore Amanda Jackson (Springfield, Ohio/South), a 2004 MAC all-freshman honoree, were among a total off 11 MAC women's basketball standouts to earn the distinction.

Miami is represented on the MAC East preseason team for the fourth straight season and placed multiple players on the team for the first time. According to head coach Maria Fantanarosa, the honor is a fitting tribute to what the players accomplished in 2003-04.

"Cindi and Amanda were both important factors in our success last season, and it's exciting that the league media has recognized their ability," Fantanarosa said. "They will have to prove themselves again this season in what should be another highly-competitive MAC race."

Merrill is Miami's leading returning scorer after averaging 13.7 points per game in 2003-04. A four-time MAC East Player of the Week--the most ever by a Miami player in a single-season--a year ago, Merrill recorded Miami's three highest single-game scoring performances, including a career-best 29-point effort in a defeat of Western Michigan. Merrill, who ranked sixth in the MAC in scoring, led the RedHawks with eight 20-point games in 2003-04. Armed with explosive moves to the basket and an accurate high-arching jumper, Merrill also was recognized as the team's top defender in 2003-04.

Jackson made an impressive debut during her freshman campaign, starting the last 23 games of the season and averaging 12.6 points per game. Her 391 points were the second-most scored by a RedHawk freshman, and her 84 steals were the most by a Miami frosh since 1978-79. The 2003-04 runner-up for MAC Freshman of the Year, Jackson ranked among the MAC's top 10 in scoring (8th/14.2), steals (3rd/3.1) and free throw percentage (2nd/.853) in conference play. She scored in double figures in each of the last seven games of her freshman season and swiped three or more steals in a game 13 times in 2003-04.

Joining Merrill and Jackson on the MAC East team were Marshall's Sikeetha Shepard-Hall and Kent State's Lindsay Shearer and Malika Willoughby. The preseason all-MAC West team was comprised of Ball State's Kate Endress, Bowling Green's Ali Mann, Eastern Michigan's Ryan Coleman and Nikki Knapp and Western Michigan's Casey Rost and Carrie Moore.

Miami, which opens the season on Nov. 19 when it hosts Indiana State University in the first half of a women's and men's basketball doubleheader, is the reigning MAC Champion after posting a 22-9 overall record and 14-2 league mark a year ago. The RedHawks, who return six letterwinners and three starters, saw their first postseason action since 1982 last year when they advanced to the second round of the Postseason WNIT.