Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Basketball
Protecting the Nest
How time flies! It was Hallowe’en when I attended an open practice for the Eagles before the start of the regular basketball season. Coach Dooley put the boys through the paces for more than an hour, then let them loose for a few moments to chat with the local media.
Bernard Thompson told me that he was excited to start the season. “Our depth is going to be really valuable to us this season. I don’t think anyone is going to be tired at the end of a game. Sure, we did just finish a good practice. We went through everything, trying to get all the new players used to our style. Ball movement is critical, to get the open shots.”
In a blurb I received yesterday from the team, it appears that Bernard hit the nail on the head over a month ago. For the second time in three weeks, he has been recognized as the “Men’s Co-Player of the Week” in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He led the Eagles to a pair of wins, shooting 77% from three point range.
The coach is impressed. “Bernard is a great player, and he’s really starting to get into a rhythm offensively the past few games,” he noted. “It’s another great and well deserved honour for him, and it’s once again a testament to the players around him, in particular Brett Comer. They do a terrific job of getting Bernard the ball in spots where he can continue to score and knock down open shots”.
Comer is the NCAA active career assist leader now with 681, averaging eight assists per game. That mark is third in the nation, and he is tied for the national lead with 72 assists. He also protects the ball well, averaging just 2.1 turnovers per game.
Newcomer Marc-Eddy Norelia has been a welcome addition to the team this year. He is averaging double figure points, and leads the A-Sun Conference with an average of 8 rebounds per game.
The team is off to its best start as an NCAA Division One team. They are 8-1 heading into a week’s break for exams, always a bit of a harrowing time, memory serving me correctly. Those exams can certainly cut into one’s social calendar as well.
The Eagles return to action on Sunday, December 14th, when they host cross-state rival FIU for an afternoon tilt at Alico Arena.
Thompson also told me in the pre-season interview that it was “crunch time” for the Eagles, and particularly for the players who had transferred to the team. “They can’t be timid at this time. We are an athletic team with very high potential. This is the best team since I’ve been here. We are better prepared this year. Last year, we weren’t consistent with our half-court defence. The coach is trying to teach me to be a leader, to pay attention to details. There is great chemistry with all of the players on this team.”
The ultimate goal is to play in the madness in March. “That’s where I want to be,” Bernard stated emphatically.
Pass me my sunglasses. I’m heading to the Arena!
December 9, 2014