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Men’s basketball prepares for conference play

Men’s basketball prepares for conference play
(Photo courtesy of Linwood Ferguson)

With high expectations going into the 2017-2018 season for FGCU, the Eagles have faced quite some adversity, as they enter enter conference play with a 9-8 record.

Even more stunning is that the Eagles are only 6-8 versus division one opponents this season as three of their wins have come against NAIA members this season.

When looking at the non-conference schedule, their were 5 quality games against opponents that people may see in March and the lone win for the Eagles came on the road vs Texas Arlington. They were competive against #11 Wichita State in a game that FGCU led in the second half and one of their games vs Middle Tennessee, but really struggled on the road versus Middle Tennessee and we’re blown out at Rhode Island.

Other surprising losses came against in-state opponents FAU and FIU; two teams the Eagles have beaten in the past.

The good news however for FGCU is with conference play opening on Saturday night, it is a fresh start for the favorites in the ASUN.

“We need to take it a game at a time, one play at a time and own the moment,” said senior guard Brandon Goodwin. “We want to set ourselves up as best as we can for conference tournament down the road.”

For FGCU to get there, they will need the help from the Preseason ASUN Player of the Season, Goodwin, who is currently leading the team in points. Also, two players who have eclipsed the 1000 point mark in their career this season in Zach Johnson and Christian Terrell will need to be big in conference play.

With the loss of Demetris Morant and Marc-Eddy Norelia to graduation last season, a main issue for the Eagles has been on the boards. With Michael Gilmore missing most of the season due to transfer rules and constant foul trouble from the other bigs for FGCU, Terrell is the leading rebounder at 5.5 rebound per game and Goodwin sits at 5.4.

“We don’t rebound the ball nearly the way we need to rebound the ball,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “We give up way to many (rebounds). We turn and look at the rim and not hitting a guy and not pursuing the ball like we need to.”

The Eagles will need to rebound well on Saturday as Stetson is next to last in shooting percentage from the field in the conference. They do though have two solid guards in Divine Myles and Angel Rivera who have given FGCU trouble over the years. The two of them combine to score nearly 25 points per game which is nearly a third of the Hatters scoring.

Stetson comes in with an 8-8 record with quality wins over Green Bay and South Alabama.

Overall, the Eagles have beaten Stetson is 17 of the 24 head-to-head meetings including in the ASUN tournament the past two seasons.

Following the game vs the Hatters, FGCU will remain home for matchups with NJIT and USC Upstate before heading to Lipscomb to play the Bisons in Tennessee.

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