Sunday, March 09, 2014
Eagles Come Up short Against Mercer Bears
Once again last Sunday, the city of Fort Myers came out in force to show their support for the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles. It is Spring Break time at the university; nonetheless, the students also packed the arena to cheer for the Eagles. Again on Sunday, a record number of 4 702 basketball fans filled the seats at the Alico Arena.
Throughout the game, security personnel watched the FGCU students with a jaundiced eye. The kids were loud, but never completely unruly. I have become accustomed to some of the chants they use during the game. “This is our house”. “Go Home, Mercer”. When one of the opponents violated a dribbling rule, they shouted, “You can’t do that”. These are all very effective, somewhat unnerving for the opposition.
On Sunday, unfortunately, the Eagles came up a little short against the Mercer University Bears, losing 68-60. Both teams had advanced to the Atlantic Sun Conference Final, and, due to the fact that the Eagles had the first seed, the game was played in Fort Myers. The Eagles had disposed of the Stetson University Hatters, and the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. Mercer, the second seed in the eight team tourney, eliminated Jacksonville and USC Upstate to reach the final.
Because of the loss, the Eagles failed to gain a berth in the NCAA Championships. They will play in the National Invitational Tournament, held each year in New York City. Opponents will be determined next Sunday, following the NCAA Selection Show. Last year, the Eagles were the “Cinderella” team in the Tournament. The Eagles won the “Best Upset” award for their win over Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The selection was part of the ESPN “Espy Awards” held in Los Angeles last July.
Following the season last year, Coach Andy Enfield left the team to take the coaching position at the University of Southern California. The powers-that-be decided to hire Joe Dooley from Kansas. As an assistant coach for the Jayhawks, for ten years, Dooley was involved in the NCAA finals every year, winning the title in 2007-2008. He had also been head coach at East Carolina from 1995 to 1999. He most certainly is a student of the game, and his teams always enter the arena well prepared.
The Eagles trailed by 16 points at half time. They received few breaks at the rim, and had some questionable charging fouls, always difficult to call at this level. Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer led the Eagles with 14 points, while Chase Fielder just missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. The Eagles shaved the lead to one point in the second half, but lost momentum and never gained the lead.
Anthony White and Langston Hall led the Bears with 15 points apiece, while Daniel Coursey added 13 points. Hall was selected as the Atlantic Sun “Player of the Year”, while Coursey was chosen as the “Defensive Player of the Year”. Comer and Thompson, both Juniors from the Eagles, were nominated to the First All Star Team. All in all, a tremendous experience for players and fans alike. With fine recruits, and great returning players, the future looks bright for the young Eagles.
Daniel Coursey-Mercer Bears
Congratulations to the Carleton Ravens, once again the best university basketball team in Canada. The team has won 10 National Championships, a truly incredible feat under coach Dave Smart. Well done!