FGCU Men’s Basketball prepares for ASUN Tournament
Coming into the season as the heavy favorites to make it back to a third straight NCAA, the Eagles enter the NCAA tournament as the regular season champions and enter the ASUN tournament as the top seed.
It was a relatively strange start to the season as FGCU struggled in the non-conference schedule but started conference play with an 11-0 record to clinch the regular season championship. They dropped two home games to Kennesaw State and Lipscomb, but responded with a quality win on the road at Stetson.
“One of the things that happened was we were able to get our defense tightened up for the most part,” said head coach Joe Dooley. “There were a couple of games that we were not consistent. It is a good accomplish by our guys and it is time for post season.”
The (1) FGCU will host (8) USC Upstate in the first round on Monday at 7 p.m. at Alico Arena. In the previous two meetings, FGCU defeated the Spartans by 17 points in both meetings this season. FGCU had a 75-48 lead with a little over two minutes to go, but the Spartans cut a 27-point deficit to a more reasonable 17.
In the second meeting, USC Upstate dominated the Eagles early on starting the game on an 11-0 run and led by as many as 18, but FGCU scored 59 points in the second half to come away with the win.
“We have to come out with a lot of energy and defense,” Goodwin said. “I think we let their guards for Upstate get comfortable and get a lot of confidence going in their shot and their rhythm. I think we have to run them off like line and play better defense.”
Also on the top half of the draw, (4) NJIT will host (5) UNF at 7 p.m. in the first round with the winner of that game playing against the winner of the Eagles game. Those two teams split their two games with The Highlanders winning 91-59 in Newark, but the Ospreys winning by 11 on their home court.
The lower half will consist of (2) Lipscomb versus (7) Stetson on Monday at 7:30 P.M. The Bisons won both those meetings earlier this season and the winner of that game will face the winner of (3) Jacksonville vs. (6) Kennesaw State at 7 P.M. Those teams split as well, with the home team winning both games.
The semifinals of the ASUN tournament will be played on Thursday and the championship game will be held at the highest seed remaining on Sunday at 3 P.M. on ESPN.
“Every team in this conference has the capability of beating anyone,” Johnson said. We want to make sure we’re preparing the same way, approach each them the same way and that will put us in the best position.”
Through the first 31 games, the Eagles have not had one game this season where they have had all 12scholarship players active. Michael Gilmore missed the first half of the season from sitting out after transferring from VCU last year and had four different players in Darnell Rodgers, Christian Carlyle, Ricky Doyle and RaySean Scott all suffering concussions. Scott recently missed a couple of games after being ill and Carlyle has not played in the last five games with a foot injury.
That doesn’t even include Doyle’s back injury earlier this season as well as the suspensions of both Doyle and Goodwin for an altercation after practice that had the two out for the game at UNF.
Five years after making their historic Sweet 16 run, FGCU is appreciative to get to play at home and realize the importance of the fans.
“Our fans are the best in the conference,” Terrell said. “They have always been there to support us and we feed off their energy.”