Thursday, January 14, 2016
It's Basketball Time, Baby!
The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles opened their Atlantic Sun Conference season with a flourish last Saturday with a 29 point win over the Stetson Hatters. The margin of victory was not expected, although the Eagles were expected to win.
They came out of the gate strongly, leading 32-14 with six minutes remaining in the first half. From that point on, they simply played fundamental basketball, taking advantage of the Hatter errors, playing soundly to half time.
At the half way point, the Eagles were shooting a remarkable 71% from the floor. Stetson, on the other hand, shot 21% from the floor. Time after time, Stetson shooters were thwarted under the basket. Demertis Morant had five blocked shots in the first half. Zach Johnson led the Eagles with 11 points at half time, and finished the game with 17 points.
Zach Johnson, with David Moulton
For your information, I sit in a media row under the basket. Directly behind me, there is a section of about 1 000 quite rabid Eagles' fans. They believe it is their group responsibility to cheer on their boys, but also to unnerve the opposition if the opportunity arises. Here are a few examples, in loud unison chants;
When the score was 27-7, and the Hatters could not do anything right, the rabble chanted, “Single digits!”.
When there was 13:21 left on the clock, they shouted, “Warm up the bus!”. (I was reminded of the hockey fans at Oswego, New York, when the game was out of reach. They quietly removed their car keys from their pockets and rattled them, to signal the bus driver to get moving. The Habs fans start that obnoxious “Na na na na business”.)
Adding even more insult to injury, with 6:18 left in the game, they sarcastically chanted, “Let's go Hatters!”
And with three minutes left, the old...”If you're winning and you know it, clap your hands! That would be followed by much applause. Then “If you're losing and you know it clap your hands!” And that, of course, was followed by silence.
The point of the matter is that it is great entertainment, both on and off the court.
The Hatters were led by 5' 11” Divine Myles, a slashing point guard. He drove the lane several times, fearlessly, with some good results. He wore a fashionable orange Mohawk stripe, and could handle the ball as well as anyone on the court. A sophomore, he hails from Mobile, Alabama. Another key performer on the Hatters was a freshman from Beverly Hills, California, Derick Newton. Each had 11 points. They had one player, Kevin Ndahiro, listed on their roster from Ottawa. He did not dress for this game.
The Head Coach of the Hatters knows the game. Corey Williams played his college ball at Oklahoma State, and broke into the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, winning the title in 1993. He also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves before embarking on an extensive coaching career.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Coach Joe Dooley of the Eagles sent out replacements. Two freshmen, walk-on players at that, scored their first career points, erupting the crowd and the bench. Even the stars on the home team are thrilled when the men from the trenches get to share the sunshine. Great teams also play better when the non-starters make them work hard during practices.
The Eagles play twice this week at home: same great crowds, more than 4 000, cheerleaders, dancers, baton twirlers, mascots....all the hoopla!
College Basketball! Working to March Madness!
January 12, 2016.