Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mercer Joins FGCU in the Twitter Fun, March 25th

Atlantic Sun ‏@AtlanticSun
Time for the @MercerBears to make #ASunMBB teams 4-0 in postseason play this year. Retweet if you are cheering for the Bears vs BYU.

Mercer Bears ‏@MercerBears
MBB: Here we go! These Bears don't quit. 10-4 Mercer run capped by J. Gollon banker has bears back within 8 (32-23), 5:16. Mercer ball

Patrick McCoy ‏@ASun_Patrick
The Bears on a 17-6 run to cut BYU's lead to 34-28 with 3:59 left in the first half. #Mercer is rallying in the #NIT #ASunMBB

Michael Smith ‏@michaelsmith
Who do the Heat think they are? Florida Gulf Coast University?

SportsNation ‏@SportsNation
These Heat guys sure can dunk, but they're no Florida Gulf Coast. #DUNKCITY

Patrick Pierson ‏@pierson_sid
It was a pleasure spending most of the day with Tom Rinaldi ... amazing fleet of interviews to go along with it. #ThisIsNuts #FGCU

Colleen Sorem ‏@csorem52
“@BrokenRecordATX: @jtimberlake picked @FGCUEagles #DunkCity pic.twitter.com/3fSbr8SLs0”. Love this!! @pierson_sid #DunkCity

ASunCommish ‏@ASunCommish
@MercerBears #ASunMBB Bears closed 1st half with a good run. Cheer on the Bears to extend the nation's longest postseason winning streak!

Mercer Bears ‏@MercerBears
MBB: Bears fighting tooth and nail. Bill Walton loves it. Latest play is an and-one dunk that will send Coursey to the line down 65-59 11:45

Patrick McCoy ‏@ASun_Patrick
Mercer's fantastic season comes to an end. Bears won program's 1st outright #ASunMBB title and posted 2nd straight 20-win season #ASunMBB

Keith Hendrix ‏@Keith_HendrixII
Great season by the @MercerBears comes to a close in the NIT. Can't wait to see their battles with @FGCU_MBB in #ASunMBB play next year.

Patrick Pierson ‏@pierson_sid
#DunkCity Great collection of the postseason dunks! ---> http://deadsp.in/11E0xei  #WeAreFGCU #ASunMBB #DunkTank #TheseDudesCanFly

ASunCommish ‏@ASunCommish
@MercerBears #AsunMBB Nation's longest postseason streak ends. Congrats MU Bears, 2nd straight awesome season by last year's CIT champs!

Patrick Pierson ‏@pierson_sid
Great #Seinfeld header by @eric_adelson of YAHOO! Sports on this one --> http://yhoo.it/ZnZvPN  #DunkCity #FGCU

Patrick McCoy ‏@ASun_Patrick
David Letterman's opening joke tonight was about @FGCU_MBB #DunkCity #ASunMBB

Langston Hall ‏@langston21
Tough loss and tough way to end our season but we appreciate everyone who supported us this year! It means Alot!

Seth Soffian ‏@NewsPressSeth
#dunkcity live debut. 3,500 in Alico Arena @FGCU_MBB pic.twitter.com/sm5haKPXJk

Olivia Walter ‏@ODub153
.@ConanOBrien just talked to Magic Johnson about @FGCU_MBB. My life is complete. #DunkCity

Michael Hill II ‏@mike_hill84
New Facebook timeline looks pretty good... http://instagram.com/p/XTviIeRQ7z/

Marcellus Wiley ‏@marcelluswiley
Lakers keep playing like this and Florida Gulf Coast might beat them

CollegeSportsMadness ‏@CSMadness
What in the FGCU is Going On? http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/6384

Dyrol Joyner ‏@DyrolJoyner
Luv @FGCUEagles T-Shirts. #NCAATournament Darlings pic.twitter.com/x798GOSAlO

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sampling FGCU's Cyber-Support, March 24th

Here is a sampling of the tweets that were posted as FGCU made history in its defeat of San Diego State on March 24th.  Was your tweet in the thread? Keep it up and check back regularly, as we will update daily the tweets that are posted in support of the A-Sun Champion Eagles as they continue their historic flight into March Madness!

SITimLayden Mar 24, 6:46pm via Web
FGCU coach Andy Enfield told me they practice lobs because chest-level passes are disadvantageous for tall athletes...(and less fun for us)

ASun_Patrick Mar 24, 6:53pm via TweetDeck
Can't say this enough: #DunkCity. Chase Fieler with a huge dunk on the baseline. #ASunMBB

marchmadness Mar 24, 6:57pm via SnappyTV.com
Real-time highlight: FGCU slams it home and has a chance for a three point play. 

#marchmadness - snpy.tv/YBt0uM
espn Mar 24, 6:58pm via Web
Looks like Florida Gulf Coast has been taking notes from Lob City -> bit.ly/106jSyk #FloridaLobCoast (via @jadande)

CapitalOne Mar 24, 7:05pm via Sprinklr
Florida Gulf Coast University aka Dunk City! #RallyCry pic.twitter.com/TcXXR47dXm

EyeOnCBB Mar 24, 7:11pm via TweetDeck
Florida Dunk Coast is back, everybody. Videos and GIFs. Will update as needed cbsprt.co/Y9abmj

MarkFrisch10 Mar 24, 7:21pm via rowi for Windows Phone
Can't imagine how valuable this exposure is for Florida Gulf Coast basketball and the institution itself. Unreal. Congrats to them for this.

ESPNDanaOneil Mar 24, 7:34pm via TweetDeck
Wait this team finished second in the ASun? So was Mercer the Miami Heat?

midmajority Mar 24, 7:36pm via Twitter for Mac
DUNK CITY has taken over Philadelphia. F! G! C! U!

markcstory Mar 24, 7:37pm via Twitter for iPhone
I have ALWAYS said there is no more entertaining brand of basketball than what they play in the Atlantic Sun Conference

YahooForde Mar 24, 7:37pm via Twitter for iPhone
FGCU, love you. Comer, love you. Crazy fearless and loose.

heets_tweets Mar 24, 7:38pm via Web
Brett Comer is just carving up SDSU. You should read @SIPeteThamel piece on him today. 

DShulman_ESPN Mar 24, 7:39pm via Twitter for BlackBerry®
FGCU is a #1 seed on the fun-o-meter. 

espn Mar 24, 7:39pm via Web
Raise your hand if you're becoming a FGCU believer. 

ESPNDanaOneil Mar 24, 7:42pm via TweetDeck
Pretty sure Philly fans would swap the Sixers for Florida Gulf Coast as homecourt team right about now.

SITimLayden Mar 24, 7:42pm via Web
If you think it's very cool to be sitting in the gym in Philadelphia rt now, watching FGCU and SD State, well, you're right.

BFeldmanCBS Mar 24, 7:44pm via Web
Love the FGCU story: a school virtually no one ever heard off till this wk. Element of discovery makes March Madness great

ESPNCBB Mar 24, 7:50pm via TweetDeck
Sherwood Brown people. #MarchMadness

SportsCenter Mar 24, 7:51pm via Web
DEVELOPING: A 15-seed has NEVER advanced to the Sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast (aka "Dunk City") is up 10 with 8:00 left.

AndyGlockner Mar 24, 7:50pm via TweetDeck
Comer is filthy. He just put Tapley in the blender.

BleacherReport Mar 24, 7:48pm via TweetDeck
FGCU has quickly become America's favorite college basketball team. #DunkCity

ESPNCBB Mar 24, 7:53pm via TweetDeck
No 15 seed has ever reached the Sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast up 10 with 7 minutes to go. #HistoryAlert

GregAnthony50 Mar 24, 7:53pm via Twitter for iPhone
I don't root against teams but Florida GC is so much fun to watch #PlaySoHard

midmajority Mar 24, 7:56pm via Twitter for Mac
We are all Eagles tonight, each and every one of us. #AOUEOU

GaryParrishCBS Mar 24, 7:58pm via TweetDeck
They ain't here to run no clock. RT @StevePoliti: For the love of Cinderella -- Run. Some. Clock. FGCU!

ASun_Patrick Mar 24, 8:02pm via TweetDeck
This is insane @FGCU_MBB on a 17-0 run; lead San Diego State 71-52. Similar to 2nd half run vs. G'Town #ASunMBB #DunkCity

SportsCenter Mar 24, 8:02pm via Web

jeffborzello Mar 24, 8:04pm via Web
RT @CollegeHoopsNet: #FGCU is the best thing that's happened to college basketball since the shot clock

MedcalfByESPN Mar 24, 8:10pm via Web
Appreciate the fact that you're literally watching history right now.

ESPNCBB Mar 24, 8:13pm via TweetDeck

SportsCenter Mar 24, 8:14pm via Web
BREAKING: Florida Gulf Coast upsets San Diego St, becomes first 15-seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to Sweet 16. #DunkCity

SiriusXMCollege Mar 24, 8:17pm via TweetDeck
Congratulations to @FGCU_MBB on becoming the first #15 seed EVER to advance to the Sweet 16! #MarchMadness @SiriusXMSports

MrCFB Mar 24, 8:27pm via Mobile Web (M5)
FGCU has just over 11,000 undergraduates in student body. Watch applications go through the roof!

SportsCenter Mar 24, 8:31pm via Web
Less than 1% of 8.15 million @ESPNFantasy Tournament Challenge brackets picked Florida Gulf Coast to make the Sweet 16. #DunkCity

ESPNStatsInfo Mar 24, 8:31pm via SocialOomph
Florida Gulf Coast was picked in 0.95% of the 8.15 million Tournament Challenge brackets to reach the Sweet 16.

ASun_Patrick Mar 24, 11:10pm via TweetDeck
#ASunMBB @GaryParrishCBS breaks down @FGCU_MBB's rise in the NCAA Tournament and upcoming foe in Florida cbssports.com/collegebasketb… #DunkCity

BrettComer0 Mar 24, 10:31pm via Twitter for iPhone
Sweet 16!!!!!!!!!!!! What's up?

GaryParrishCBS Mar 24, 8:51pm via Echofon
FGCU lost to Lipscomb twice. "They're our kryptonite," said FGCU's Eddie Murray. "Glad we don't have to play them in the Sweet 16."

CoachEnfield 12:58am via TweetDeck
Quiet time on the plane ...What a feeling. Thank you to our players who have bought into what we want to do. Couldn't ask for a better group

pierson_sid 1:15am via TweetDeck
Line of the night from Sherwood Brown in the holding room prior to presser "I'm gonna need to take online classes"  #Sweet16Problems

AndyGlockner 12:54am via TweetDeck
Honest Q: Is FGCU the most wildly entertaining/compelling NCAA team since 1990 Loyola Marymount?

nikebasketball Mar 24, 8:15pm via Nike Publisher
Play fearless, make history. @FGCU_MBB is picking up speed. #WeAreFGCU pic.twitter.com/EAOLuul4Bb

ASun_Patrick 2:41am via TweetDeck
It's late but worth noting, @FGCU_MBB has five of the seven latest posts on @Deadspin. deadspin.com/latest #DunkCity #ASunMBB

ESPNStatsInfo Mar 24, 8:14pm via Web
Florida Gulf Coast is still the only undefeated team in NCAA Tournament history

timothycrosby 7:47am via Web
RT @NDN_Adam
FGCU_MBB makes front page of the nation's paper #FGCU #DunkCity pic.twitter.com/ezYIshPpvE #ASunMBB

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Take Five with A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart

College basketball's "most wonderful time of the year," A-Sun hoops, conference realignment, the gridiron and the future of college athletics are all topics addressed by Atlantic Sun Conference Commissioner Ted Gumbart in this inaugural "Take Five" blog.

1. We are in the midst of March Madness, when interest in college basketball peaks. How do A‑Sun schools benefit from all the attention focused on basketball during March?

It is amazing to see the continued growth in the public fascination with “brackets,” “bubble teams,” “championship week” and all the madness surrounding conference basketball tournaments and postseason play. Whether we look at TV ratings, on-line viewing data, website hits, and now social media data – nothing compares with the public and media interest in our activities around tournament time. Noting that this is when the spotlight burns the brightest, the teams that have a successful finish to the season provide great national exposure for their universities overall. The emotional connection to a winning basketball team provides not only a means to solidify affiliation with the university, but it inspires multiple development benefits, from an increase in overall student applications, to increased alumni giving, to building an increased season ticket base to support the program’s continued growth. We recognize these benefits and aim to capitalize on them to the greatest degree possible.

2. The A-Sun has initiated a Basketball Improvement Program. What are the ultimate goals of the program?

The A-Sun Basketball Improvement Program is designed to raise the level of achievement – and thereby the university-wide benefits derived from that success – in a comprehensive manner for the entire membership. In the simplest terms, we aim to raise the overall level of play in the A‑Sun to the point where we have men’s and women’s teams annually competing for at-large NCAA bids. We’ve noted the great positive benefits that accrue to the university when basketball teams have success. The next step is getting all of our schools to work together towards a unified goal. We know raising the level of basketball in the A-Sun will require investments, but our Presidents Council has committed to this. We have committed to postseason play the past three years and seen record-setting participation for A-Sun schools. In that period we’ve had eight different schools playing postseason basketball, we’ve hosted eight postseason games the past two years, with three home postseason games set this week. Plus, we’re winning! Five different teams have won games in postseason play just the past two years, highlighted by Mercer’s men claiming the 2012 CIT Championship. We are building a foundation where the team and institutional goals are rightly set on reaching postseason and performing well once there. We’re also investing a great deal into our television production capabilities to help share the success of our teams on the floor with the broadest audience possible. We also have invested in expert guidance in building this plan by hiring our basketball consultant, Mr. Greg Shaheen. The goals are reachable, and commitment to a cohesive plan will absolutely allow us to continue our positive trajectory and move up to a nationally recognized basketball conference.

3. Conference realignment continues to be an issue of national focus. How do the changes in conferences such as the Big Ten, Big East and Atlantic 10 affect others, and specifically the A‑Sun?

I have consulted my magic crystal ball and have seen the future. I’m just not at liberty to divulge that future because each time I look, the outcome is different. In all seriousness, conference realignment affects everyone except maybe the Ivy League. We are all affected either through changes in membership, or through the implementation of strategies to retain and or expand current membership. We are no different. A few years ago we decided to be deliberately pro-active in maximizing growth opportunities for our student-athletes, teams and institutions. We have expanded not only through full membership, with Northern Kentucky adding a very well-rounded program that fits our desires for top level basketball, but through the addition of sports as well. The A-Sun was the first in the nation to sponsor sand volleyball after it was recognized by the NCAA, and we now have an automatic bid to the national championship – the only conference in the country that provides that opportunity to its student-athletes. We merged with the National Lacrosse Conference to form an A-Sun women’s lacrosse program that will determine an NCAA automatic qualifier this spring – an opportunity that wouldn’t exist without the efforts of our membership. Next spring we begin men’s lacrosse through a collaborative effort between schools from the A-Sun, Southern, Big South and A-10, and our A-Sun champion is eligible for qualification into the NCAA championships in our first season. We strongly believe there are many ways to work within the NCAA rules governing conference structure to preserve and enhance competitive and promotional opportunities for our student-athletes, teams and universities. We plan to continue a strong leadership role in building opportunities.

4. Football is a sport that more A-Sun schools are either playing or expressing an interest in playing. Could football become an A-Sun sport?

No doubt – football could certainly become an A-Sun sport. We are in the service industry and aim to deliver what our clients – our member universities – desire from the marketplace. The increase in the number of football-playing institutions, as well as expansion of the FCS postseason championship bracket, both present obvious growth opportunities for us. We’ve accomplished a great deal in building championship opportunities with various models, including swimming and diving (the A-Sun is a partner in the four conference operation of the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association along with the Big South, Southern and Mid-Eastern Athletic conferences), lacrosse and sand volleyball. We could simply declare football a sport and build up, we could find partners that could form a new football league, we could execute a collaborative model, or even work with an existing AQ league to build towards a shared commitment in providing two AQ opportunities. We continue to work on various future outcomes and have not ruled out anything regarding the initiation of football as an A-Sun sport.

5. With college athletics getting much publicity recently in areas such as compliance and infractions, conference realignment, big money television contracts, and differences between Division I members that invest $100 million in athletics versus $10 million or less, what do you see in the future as to how college athletics operates?

Well that is the proverbial $64,000 question for sure. You know how my crystal ball works, but overall I see continued overall success for the college model of athletics. Despite the issues that might have carried the broadest recent headlines, the NCAA and college athletics are wildly successful. The learning laboratory that intercollegiate athletics provides is incomparable. The graduation success rates continue to climb and student-athletes continue to graduate at a higher level than student bodies overall. Athletics successfully teaches so many life skills, and team participation is a kind of glue that keeps the students in school and on track for graduation. Remember, Division I includes more than 400,000 student-athletes. We are committed to our role as educators and we are extremely proud to be part of an enterprise that truly is, as we say in the A-Sun, Building Winners for Life.

Commissioner Gumbart is working his 28th year in college athletics, his 22nd year in conference administration and his seventh as commissioner of the A-Sun.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Which of the following performances is worthy of the Crons Achiever Award for February?

Crons sponsors the monthly "Achiever Award," which is presented to the school recognized by a fan vote for the most notable achievement from the month prior. Below are the descriptions of each submission, along with the poll in the right-hand sidebar.
Mercer Men’s Basketball
The Bears achieved the program’s first outright Atlantic Sun regular season championship with a win over Stetson on the final day of the regular season. Mercer capped the season with a 21-10 (14-4 A-Sun) record, reaching the 20-win mark in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. The Bears also posted the school's first back-to-back winning seasons since 1984-85 and 1985-86.

Andre Dorsey, Kennesaw State Men's Indoor Track and Field
Sophomore Andre Dorsey, the 2013 Most Valuable Performer of the meet, highlighted this year’s championship with a point total of 36. Dorsey claimed two titles on day two, winning the triple jump with a distance of 16.04m and the high jump at 2.18m, while also placing in the long jump (4th), shot put (5th) and weight throw (5th).

At the NCAA Championships, Andre Dorsey claimed second team All-American honors at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championship with an 11th place triple jump of 15.72m. He became the first Kennesaw State track and field athlete to earn All-American honors since joining the Division I ranks in 2006.

Dorsey’s jump of 15.72m is his second best lifetime jump, falling just short of his 16.04 mark that was set at the 2013 Atlantic Sun Championship.

FGCU Baseball
FGCU became the first team to sweep Florida on its home turf since 2009. The Eagles took all three games of the series with the No. 7 Gators on Feb. 22-24. The sweep propelled the Eagles onto the national scene and into a number of national polls, topping out at No. 23 with Baseball America

In game one, reigning and preseason A-Sun Pitcher of the Year Ricky Knapp threw a 92-pitch complete game in an 8-2 win. The Eagles followed with a 8-3 victory on Saturday to clinch the series. With the series sweep in doubt in the bottom of the 10th with no outs and the bases full of Gators, junior righty Harrison Cooney worked out of the jam, setting up the go-ahead three-run home run from junior Sean Dwyer in the top of the 11th.

Shanasa Sanders, Stetson Women's Basketball
Sanders had an incredible month of February, earning two A-Sun Player of the Week awards and averaging a team-high 17.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

She opened the month with a 23-point outburst at UNF, then recorded an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double at Jacksonville, helping the Hatters rally on the road for a 21-point win. She also scored her 1,000th career point in the Jacksonville game and later earned her first career Player of the Week honor.

The next week she helped Stetson to a pair of home wins, scoring 17 points vs. ETSU and 23 again vs. USC Upstate, once again claiming the league’s Player of the Week honor.
She added 18 points at Northern Kentucky, 17 points at Lipscomb, and 16 points at home against Kennesaw State.

For the month, Sanders shot 49% from the floor, 35% from behind the arc, and 81.5% from the free throw line. She scored 16 points or more and grabbed five or more rebounds in seven of the Hatters’ eight games. She helped lead Stetson to a second-place finish in the regular season and helped set a program record for most conference wins in school history (14).

Charlene Charles, Jacksonville Women’s Track and Field
Charles was named the Most Outstanding Field Performer after leading Jacksonville to its eighth consecutive Track & Field Championship. She became the first athlete in A-Sun history to win the long jump three times after leaping a season-best of 19-04.25 to capture the title for the third time in the last four years. She also jumped 5-07.00 in the high jump to finish in second place. Her record-setting pentathlon performance earlier in the season ranked 14th nationally and qualified her for the NCAA Championships.
Charles is a communications major with a 3.81 GPA.

As the Official Motivation and Apparel Brand of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Crons sponsors the monthly "Achiever Award" to recognize what A-Sun fans deem the most notable performance from each month.

The Crons Brand provides what it calls “high quality motivational apparel, merchandise, and accessories to inspire people to get better and constantly strive for their goals.” It also strives to reinforce positive messages to athletes about what it takes to be a winner and the importance of working harder than anyone else in order to reach their full potential.

Crons communicates this message through four separate product categories: Team Gear, Lifestyle Apparel, Nutritional Products, and School Programs. Crons is a national brand with its message-themed and motivational merchandise and apparel already in use by more than 500 schools and organizations in 25 states. 

Crons perpetuates its message through its Achievers Program, designed to teach students the importance of setting and achieving goals. The program focuses on fostering skills that will help young people set smart, measurable goals now and in the future – leading to academic, personal and professional success.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Resurgent Stetson Claims Second Title in Three Years


Stetson looked on last year as Florida Gulf Coast celebrated its 2012 General Shale A-Sun Basketball Championship.

The Hatters wanted to make sure they didn’t experience that again.

They accomplished that and won their second A-Sun tournament title in three years, a 70-64 defeat of FGCU on Saturday at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena.

The win clinches the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and is a program-best 24th this season for the Hatters.

“We knew what it feels like last year to sit there and be the second-place team, and we didn’t want to feel like that again,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “I felt like we stuck together, and we didn’t get frustrated. We felt like they were the ones who got frustrated.

“This is the one that counts. They all count, but this is the one you grow up working for, and this is the one you play for because we’re going to the NCAA tournament.”

Florida Gulf Coast had won 41 straight games against conference competition, but the Hatters halted that streak with a strong second half.

The Eagles drop to 27-6 and will wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

“It’s extra special because it’s special, and we’re going to the NCAA tournament,” Bria said. “I don’t care who we beat. They’re just another team in our conference, and they were in our way.”

The Hatters trailed by 13, 40-27, at the half and had been beaten by 17 and 19 points by FGCU during the regular season. There was no quit in the Hatters, who methodically cut into the Eagles’ lead.

Sasha Sims led the charge with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds, while Victoria McGowan and Cherisse Burris each had 14 points. Shanasa Sanders added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Sims and McGowan were named to the all-tournament team.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” McGowan said. “We knew we had to come out and win. We knew no one believed in us, but we believed in ourselves.”

FGCU’s Joyce Iamstrong was named the tournament MVP after scoring 31 points in the championship game. She had 23 and 22 points in the first two rounds. She was especially strong in the first half with 19 points and hit five 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

But the Hatters reversed the momentum after the first half, outscoring the Eagles 43-24 in the second half.
After shooting just 9-of-26 in the first half, the Hatters connected on 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) in the second. They were only 4-of-11 from 3-point range in the game but made up for that at the free-throw line, hitting 20-of-25 attempts.

“This is a special group,” Bria said. “I hope I get to experience a group like this again but you never know. It will be hard to top them.”

Florida Gulf Coast Breaks Through with NCAA Tournament Berth

Brett Comer produced an MVP performance for the Eagles against Mercer.


After Friday’s win over Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast head coach Andy Enfield said his team enjoys the atmosphere of a big game, especially at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena.

The Eagles proved him right again Saturday.

Playing in front of a crowd of 3,494 at Hawkins Arena, the Eagles knocked off top seed and tournament host Mercer, 88-75, to win the 2013 General Shale A-Sun Basketball Championship title. With that win, the Eagles (24-10) earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

And the Eagles certainly enjoyed themselves playing in front of the big crowd and quieting the Mercer fans for most of the second half.

“It was huge, you know,” tournament MVP Brett Comer said. “It’s something we really thrive on. It’s fun for us; we enjoy that type of situation. It’s a lot of fun for us. It’s really great.”

Comer was dynamic in the title game, scoring 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting as he controlled the action for most of the second half. The Eagles also showed off their depth with four other players in double figures: Sherwood Brown (16), Chase Fieler (15), Christophe Vardiel (12) and Bernard Thompson (11).

Brown and Fieler joined Comer on the all-tournament team.

That group helped the Eagles break open a two-point game at halftime with an 11-2 run and outscore the Bears 50-39 in the second half.

“Before anyone had to say anything, we just all had the same look and knew what we had to do,” Fieler said of the halftime speeches that did come after those looks across the locker room. “We just knew we had to outplay them and come out and work hard and get rebounds, and we just made some shots.”

That kind of internal leadership from the players has been important to the Eagles’ turning around their program so quickly.

This year was just the team’s second year of eligibility for the NCAA tournament – they reached the A-Sun tournament championship game last year – and it is also Enfield’s second season as the team’s head coach.

“The turnaround started with creating a culture of credibility within our program,” Enfield said. “Our coaching staff has done a tremendous job, and our players have followed. It has developed from creating leadership within our team. Last year, we were young and inexperienced and had never been in situations like this before, and we didn’t know how to handle success or failure last year. We were talented. We just didn’t know what we were doing.

“Once that leadership from within came … they were able to create an internal culture, and it had nothing to do with the coaches. Once you get that and you only worry about your teammates and your team, things can happen in a positive way, and something special can happen.”

The special thing coming up for the Eagles will be their first trip to the NCAA tournament, and Florida Gulf Coast was the first team to clinch a spot in this year’s tournament. Enfield said the team’s tough schedule, including games at Duke, VCU, Iowa State and St. John’s, along with a win over Miami, will prepare the Eagles for what is to come.

“Certainly, we beat Miami this year by 12, and we played at Cameron against Duke,” Enfield said. “We played at St. John’s. We played at VCU. We were up at halftime at St. John’s. We were up at Iowa State. We’ve had a tough schedule. If we go to the NCAA tournament, we’re not going to be intimidated. The NCAA tournament is no more intimidating than Cameron Indoor Stadium or opening night at VCU. And Iowa State is one of the toughest places to play, so we’ve seen it all, and we’ve been to two A-Sun championship games.

“So the NCAA tournament, we’re just going to go have fun with it and compete, and whoever we play, we’re going to give it our best shot.”

Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman praised the Eagles and said they deserve anywhere to a No. 12 seed in the tournament. Enfield agreed.

“I think our RPI is excellent. With our RPI and our win over Miami, which is leading the ACC, and our schedule, I would expect it to be anywhere from a 12 to 14,” Enfield said. “I think 14, we probably deserve higher than that. I’m not on the committee, so I don’t know what they judge. I certainly don’t think we deserve a 15 or 16. I think it’s higher than that based on our season.”

Friday, March 8, 2013

Eagles Soar Back Into Championship Final

A-Sun Player of the Year Sherwood Brown has the Eagles playing for a championship.


The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles got a taste of the General Shale A-Sun Basketball Championship game last year, but it wasn’t one they enjoyed.

They will get a chance to wash that taste out of their mouths at noon on Saturday in this year’s championship game at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena. The Eagles (23-10) will play top seed and host Mercer for the right to go the NCAA tournament.

They earned that chance with a 72-58 win over Stetson late on Friday night.

“It’s the two teams with the best record in conference play, and we’re both 23-10 (overall) now,” FGCU Head Coach Andy Enfield said. “They beat us by one game during the regular season. We split during the year. We beat them in the semifinals last year, so we’ve won two of the last three, and those games all came down to the last 10 seconds. I expect another close game tomorrow.”

In the regular-season meetings the home team won each time, and both games were close. Mercer won in overtime at home in January, and FGCU won by three at the end of February.

Mercer, however, is undefeated at home this season and has won 17 straight games overall at Hawkins Arena. Still, the last A-Sun team to win the tournament on its home court was Georgia State in 2001.

“Mercer has great players, and this is a great atmosphere to play in, and we’re looking forward to it,” Enfield said after his team’s game finished after 10 p.m. “Even though it’s on short rest, we’re excited to be in the championship game, and we’re going to do our best.

“We feed off this environment, and we enjoy playing here.”

The turnaround is quick for the Eagles, but they did benefit from an off day on Thursday. In last year’s championship game, they were playing their third game in three days.

“I think yesterday’s off day really helped us out a lot,” said Sherwood Brown, who led the Eagles with 18 points. “It’s always tough to play a late game and then turn around and play a game early the next day. But we’re just going to go to the hotel and get some rest and come out and be ready to play.”

The Eagles know they have a tough game ahead of them with one of the best defensive teams in the conference taking the court Saturday.

“It’s going to be a good game,” said Chase Fieler, who scored 11 points. “We have to play good defense and get all the 50-50 balls. They’re really big inside, but our guards always rebound well. Just rebounding and playing good defense, that will be the key.”

Focus could be another factor. Knowing the winning team will be headed to the NCAA tournament will be added motivation for the Eagles and the Bears.

“It’s hard to not think about it, but we have to win first to do that,” Brown said. “We have to try to keep our focus on winning this game. That’s the most important thing.”