Monday, November 11, 2013
Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Start Early!
FGCU Eagles Set the Alarm Clocks Early!
On Tuesday morning, several thousand supporters of the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles and the players, had to rise early for their first basketball game of the season. The event was part of a special day of basketball promoted by the sports network ESPN. Game time? 7:00am. It was advertised as “Breakfast at the Beach”. Hartford supplied the opposition.
At first I thought it was a printing error on the schedule. It is simply not a concept I would ever consider; nonetheless, it is what it is, and the Alico Arena near Fort Myers was packed to the rafters.
The Eagles gained national attention last year as the “Cinderella Team” in the NCAA basketball mix. They played their way into the “Sweet Sixteen”, quite unexpectedly. They knocked off Georgetown and San Diego State to advance last March. It is a relatively young school, with players not expected to be drafted high by the NBA teams.
Call it what you will: a fine mix, great chemistry, a perfect storm. Once they got into the playoffs last season, they had a magnificent run, waking the basketball world. Coach Andy Enfield vowed to stay with the team for years to come, then saw the colour of California money and flew the coop, heading to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He apparently signed for $ 1.5 million a season, just a touch more than the $ 150 000 he had been paid at FGCU.
Some of the key players from last year’s team have moved on. Brett Comer, Chase Fieler, and Bernard Thompson are returning players, and are expected to lead the team this year. Two other outstanding players transferred to FGCU last year, but were ineligible to play, according to NCAA four year transfer regulations. Nate Hicks and Jamail Jones cannot wait to get on the floor.
“We have an enormous amount of talent on this year’s roster as well as an extremely knowledgeable coaching staff. We have the ability to be every bit as successful as we were last season,” Hicks reported to the FGCU newspaper.
Joe Dooley has taken over the coaching duties at the school. He was an assistant the past ten years at Kansas, under coach Bill Self. The Jayhawks won nine straight Big 12 regular season titles, and one national championship under Self and Dooley. Brett Comer described Dooley as being “intense,” and “more vocal and strict” than Enfield. Dooley is more defensive-minded than Enfield, which will involve some adjustment by the players.
The Eagles played their first game on the road last Friday, and lost to a strong opponent in Nebraska. The Cornhuskers started fast, and never trailed, winning 79-55 in their new stadium in downtown Lincoln. But the night is young, and there is a strong movement for more success here in “Dunk City”!
November 12, 2013