Fernandez displeased with AP awards

Jose Fernandez is not pleased.

The USF women’s basketball coach has taken the program to new heights in the form of an NCAA Tournament berth and two back-to-back, 19-plus win seasons. On Tuesday, the team racked a new first accolade: Jessica Dickson was an honorable mention on the Associated Press All-American Team.

But what was a historic first was also a slight disappointment to the fourth-year coach.

“I think (Dickson) is one of the top players in the country,” Fernandez said. “But then again, I’m biased.”

Dickson averaged 22 points per game this season, third in the nation and tops in the Big East. Dickson averaged more points per game than All-American first-team members Courtney Paris (21.8) of Oklahoma, Cappie Pondexter (21.5) of Rutgers and Ivory Latta (18.5) of North Carolina. In fact, Dickson the only player in the top six players in scoring not to be on the first, second or third teams set by the Associated Press.

“Without a doubt,” said Fernandez when asked if Dickson deserved more. “Here’s the thing: Here’s a kid that gets double and triple teamed every night.”

Of the 15 players on the three teams, none come from teams ranked outside of the top 19 in the Associated Press poll. To Fernandez, Dickson’s absence from any of the teams is a result of USF’s lack of national attention.

“The bottom line is we’re still South Florida,” Fernandez said. “Until we go to the NCAA Tournament every year and we make a name for ourselves, we aren’t going to get the respect we deserve.”

According to Fernandez, the Bulls made it to the tournament this season because of Dickson’s determination.

“What Jessica’s done for this program the past three years speaks volumes,” he said.

Despite making it to the WNIT last season, when the year started, Dickson and USF were put on the back burner.

“She didn’t get a lot of recognition before the season,” Fernandez said.

As a result, Dickson put in extra time in practice working on her jumper and improved her field goal shooting from 39 percent to 42 percent and her three-point shooting from 31 to 35 percent.

But Fernandez isn’t worried about what getting snubbed did to his star player’s psyche.

“Jessica feeds off that stuff. Guess what she’s going to do?” Fernandez said. “We start individual practices on Tuesday; she’s going to be in the gym starting Tuesday all the way until December.”

Fernandez is sure that next year will be different.

“Next year she’s going to be surrounded by post play that’s going to take some weight off her shoulders,” Fernandez said. “It’s going to be a lot easier for Jessica to be successful individually.”

He also said he’s sure she’ll get respect where it matters most.

“Jessica Dickson will be a first-round draft choice.”