Tuesday, February 04, 2014


FCGU Eagles Keep On Rollin'

There is something very special about American college basketball. There is a hint of excitement, a buzz in the stands, an expectation of something special about to take place. In the case of the last game against Stetson, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles wasted no time in getting the fans into the game.

There is the usual hoopla before the game, as expected. The introductions, the cheerleaders, the flags, the anthems. As is often the case, the anthem singer’s microphone crapped out on her about three bars into the song. To its credit, the crowd took over, and belted out the Star Spangled Banner to accompany the vocalist. A job well done, and a bit rare in this nation that does not often sing with the singer. It then took less than three seconds to get the fans on their feet at the start of the game. Brett Comer spotted Eric McKnight cruising near the basket, lobbed him the ball, and watched the twine stretch as he slammed the ball through the ring! Welcome back to Dunk City, everyone.

Comer is a special player, a treat to watch. He plays fearlessly, now sporting a protective mask to protect his broken nose. But that does not deter him from slashing to the basket when the situation presents itself. Quite often he does not see the result of his efforts as he is sent sprawling across the floor after putting up a shot. Twice, in the dying minutes of the game, he scored to help the Eagles keep pace. Both critical baskets, but I am certain he did not see the ball go in the hoop as he was pasted in his attempt. And no foul called.

As the Eagles brought the ball up the court with time running out, and the score tied, Comer drained the clock down to less than 10 seconds. The Eagles had a set play in order, with McKnight setting a high post to allow Comer to get to the basket. Stetson read it well, and shut the door on Comer. He tossed the ball over to Bernard Thompson. The crowd followed the arc of the ball as it sailed, from beyond the arc, through the rim with 2.4 seconds remaining. The deal was sealed when Stetson lost the ball with an errant pass.

The Florida Everblades and the Eagles use a similar tactic to treat their fans: they shoot and throw tee shirts into the stands. The Everblades get the fans ready by showing a clip from “The Simpsons”, with Homer, shirtless, rubbing his belly and singing, “It’s Tee Shirt Time”. The Eagles send the cheerleading crew on the court, twirling the shirts. They also have a gun crew to fire shirts to the upper regions of the Alico Arena. Popular treasures for the fans.

Chase Fieler spent 38 minutes on the court, resting but 2 minutes. He does not often play that much, but was filling a gap left when Filip Cvjeticanin, 6’ 9” forward was asked to sit out for a while for violating team rules. Fieler also had a fine game, posting 15 points, hauling down 14 rebounds. It was his sixth double-double this season.

The Eagles’ record now stands at 14-9, but they are 8-2 in the A-Sun Conference. They play Jacksonville on Thursday night in a game promoted as a “pink” game. Fans are encouraged to wear a different coloured shirt for several of the home games. Their game against the University of North Florida on Saturday night is a “Greenout Game”. The stands will be awash in green in support of the Eagles.

                                                   She just caught an FGCU Tee Shirt!!

You may find the odd fan wearing a different coloured shirt. But this is a dedicated and hearty lot. Many are in their mid seventies, more than a little grey at the temples. We are, after all, in South West Florida. I assure you about half of the men in the audience are retired high school basketball coaches. I would not be surprised to see Bill Latchford, Pat Glancey, Brian McFarland and Ken Smith quietly applauding for the Eagles.

Great entertainment. Ten bucks a pop. Worth every penny!

James Hurst

February 4, 2014   

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