Monday, February 13, 2017


Eagles Basketball-Crunch Time

It is indeed crunch time for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Men's Basketball team. The Eagles began the season as a favourite to repeat as the defending conference tourney champion. With just a handful of games remaining before the playoffs begin, the Eagles will face some stiff opposition from teams that are a little desperate.

There have been a few bumps along the road this year for the Eagles. Likely not much different from most other American College teams. There are the elite teams, of course, who lose only one or two games during the regular season to earn a top spot in the seedings for “March Madness”, and a trip to the NCAA Championships. The teams from the ASUN Conference have to claw their way in to the finals.

After splitting a pair of home games last week, the Eagles have just three games remaining, two on the road. They finish the regular season on the 23rd, with a home game against Stetson. The Atlantic Sun Championships begin with quarter final games on the 27th of February. The Eagles would love to finish at the top of their division. There is a distinct home advantage in basketball, especially with the Eagles. The sound is deafening at the Alico Arena, modestly referred to as “The Nest” for the Eagles.

When the teams took the court for their game last week, I became aware of the fact that one of the team's leaders was not dressed. Christian Terrell, a six foot five Junior guard hobbled along with his teammates wearing a “boot”, one of those protective foot gear. He had twisted his ankle the previous day in practice. I knew that did not bode well for the Eagles.

                                                        Christian Terrell

FGCU was entertaining the Lipscomb Bisons. The Eagles had an 8-1 record, while the Bisons stood at 7-2. At the halfway point in the game, these evenly-matched teams were deadlocked in a 28-28 draw. Both teams did not shoot well, even with open looks: shooting percentage for each team was 34.4%. Lipscomb had the reputation of being a good three point shooting team, and they had made four of thirteen chances at halftime. The Eagles had made one shot in seven attempts outside the arc.

The Bisons got a huge boost from Josh Williams midway through the second half. He sunk two 3 point shots to move the Bisons up 49-40. Brandon Goodwin and Marc-Eddy Norelia each scored to even the game in the dying seconds, but the Bisons stubbornly hung on to win 65-60.

Norelia netted his 1000th point of his career early in the first half, and has been a consistent scorer throughout his career at FGCU.

The Eagles are most fortunate to have Brandon Goodwin starting this year. He has been named ASUN “Newcomer of the Week” five times this year, a league record. He is a team leader, and leads the team in scoring. At six feet, two inches, he battles under the boards for rebounds most effectively, averaging more than four per game.

The basketball world is indeed enormous here in the US of A. Even though the Eagles lead their own conference, they are ranked 81st in the nation, in the top 175 teams. FGCU is one of 31 teams to win at least 20 games.

The “Nest” will be rocking a week from now with just a few games to play. One of those games might just be a return match with the Bisons. That would be some match!!

James Hurst
February 13, 2017

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