Thursday, December 01, 2016


Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Men's Basketball 2016

Last night the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles scored the first 16 points in their game against Ave Maria. The finished the game with 120 points, registering their third straight victory. The margin of victory was sixty points, one of those games that you appreciate every now and then. A cakewalk.

Two nights previously, the result was anything but a “slam dunk”. The lead changed hands several times approaching the final buzzer. Christian Terrell made the front end of a “one and one” foul shoot, but missed the second shot to send the game into overtime. The Eagles and their opponents from Long Beach, California, were tied at 60 after the buzzer sounded.

                                      Christian Terrell, and the winning score!

In the overtime, with 15 seconds remaining, the Eagles trailed by one point. They pushed the ball into the Long Beach court, and Zach Johnson fired a pass into the left corner to Terrell. Terrell put the ball on the floor, evaded a 49er defender, and dropped a nifty layup over two defenders. Game. Set. Match. 68-67 Eagles.

Full credit goes to the Long Beach squad, in the middle of a horrendous travel schedule. They had just traveled 5 000 miles in the first leg of their road stand: Wichita, North Carolina and Louisville, then UCLA and Washington. They will travel over 23 000 miles in the course of the “non-conference slate of games”.

                                                           Evan Payne

One of their key players, Evan Payne, from Akron Ohio, is the second leading scorer on the team. He collapsed in the offensive zone in the first half, and spent the rest of the game nursing a sore ankle.

The Eagles evened their season at 3 and 3, and are preparing for a busy schedule in December with 9 games. They had one significant loss in November against 13th ranked Michigan State, losing by one point 78-77. They have a full schedule until the end of February when the contest the ASUN Championship. From there, the ultimate goal would be to get into the national championships, the round of 64 teams, and move up from there.

The Eagles did not play particularly well against Long Beach. Caoch Joe Dooley put it this way: It seemed like we were on our heels all night. We weren't sharp, and part of that was due to their aggressiveness. We had bad shot selection, and coupled with 18 turnovers, that's a recipe for disaster, and it almost cost us.”

The Eagles shot a dismal 43.6% in the game, with 6 out of 20 shots hit from beyond the arc. They shot 70% from the foul line.
The 49ers shot well in the overtime, converting 3 of 5 attempts. But it wasn't enough, and they ended up shooting 38.5% for the entire game. They turned the ball over fewer times, but failed to convert in key situations.

Alico Arena was not jumping as loudly as it usually is with most of the students away on their Thanksgiving Break. The cheerleaders were there to fire up the crowd, tossing tee shirts, and firing a few to the cheap seats in the grandstands. Once this season unfolds a little more, all games will be sold out, and it will rock from start to finish. Put the head sets on the babies, Ethel, she's gonna be a loud one!
The Eagles play their first January game on the 19th against USC Upstate. See you there!

James Hurst
December 1, 2016.

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