Friday, March 29, 2013


Florida Gulf Coast University Basketball 2013

                                                           At the Campus-FGCU

For the past two weeks, the world has awakened to the fact that there is a university on Florida’s South West Gulf Coast. There are some Canadians who can be a bit snobbish about their university roots, sometimes referring to Guelph University as “Moo U”, as an example. (For many years, Guelph was an agricultural college. My brother Dick played football there as an OAC “Aggie”.)

Florida Gulf Coast University suffered the same fate here in Florida. Nestled in the hinterland between Estero and Fort Myers off the Ben C Griffin Parkway, the university has been dubbed the “Florida Golf Cart University” by students at the other institutions of finer learning in the state. But no more. The Eagles have definitely landed, and are enjoying their day in the sunshine.

The men’s basketball team has put the university on the map, and the entire area is feeling the love. If you want to buy a FGCU hat or a T shirt at this time, you will have to wait in line for more than an hour. No sooner do the items hit the shelves than they are swept into plastic bags and are out the door. Staff at the stores indicate that sales are six times what they were a year ago.

                                     Catching a few rays, prior to the game against Florida

For those of us who spend our winters here as “snow birds”, all of this comes as a bit of a surprise. Certainly the areas near the beaches come alive during the spring break, and the local constabulary beefs up its numbers for the usual revelry. For the most part, this is a sleepy area, especially compared to the rock and roll Miami-South Beach area on the East Coast of Florida.

Three weeks ago, the team began gearing up for a chance to gain a berth in the NCAA finals. Never before had they earned that opportunity. Last year, they lost to the Belmont Bruins in the final. The Bruins claimed the automatic A-Sun berth into the NCAA tournament. Two of the Eagles were on the floor when the Bruins celebrated their victory, in spiffy new bow ties. Sherwood Brown and Brett Comer were waiting to receive all-tournament honours. They were miffed at the ceremony, and used it as motivation this year.

Coach Andy Enfield has been at the helm for two seasons. He began his work at the University in 2011, and once the team had gained a berth in the 2012 March Madness, the media circus began. Enfield has always made it perfectly clear that he is not in this business for the money. He did receive a $ 5 000 bonus for making it into the tournament. He has also earned an extra ten grand by reaching the round of Sweet Sixteen.

Enfield’s first work in the NBA was with the Milwaukee Bucks from1994 to 1996. He worked as an assistant for Joe Pitino and the Boston Celtics from 1998 to 2000. He left basketball to work in the healthcare field. In 2006, he got back into coaching at Florida State. It is estimated that he will receive between two and three hundred thousand dollars for his work this year. Most pundits agree that he could sign for ten times that amount, once the season ends.

Here is the twist, according to Enfield, as reported in the Fort Myers News-Press: “I didn’t get into coaching for the money. If I wanted to be retired already, I would have gone to Wall Street, and stayed there. I got into coaching because it’s what I love to do. I know I’m underpaid here. I took a pay cut to come here. Assistant coaches at power conferences make more money than I do as a head coach. I took this job as an opportunity”.

Another factor that has endeared the nation to the Cinderella Eagles is that Coach Enfield is married to a former fashion model, Amanda Marcum. She enjoys all sports just as much as he does, and attends most of the games, vainly trying to keep the brood in line. 

Andy Enfield likes to get up in the morning, in the winter, and head to the gym in 75 degree weather. There is no need to keep an ice scraper in the glove compartment. His children and his wife love it in South West Florida. He enjoys the players on the team. It may not be a dream job, but it suits him well, for the moment. 

Go Eagles!  

James Hurst

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