Don’t count out the Eagles just yet
On Dec. 23, a lot of Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball fans gave up on them. They just lost 64-63 to Radford and fell under .500. They were 2-5 in the month and conference play was right around the corner. I heard a lot of people say that this team was not even going to compete in the Atlantic Sun.
Do you remember this? I do.
FGCU was picked to win the A-Sun for a reason this year; they’re that good. In fact, statistically speaking, they are actually better than last year.
I can see some of you now saying, “There’s no way, Justin. This team was 7-7 at the start of the new year. They lost by 24 and 20 points to Nebraska and N.C. State, respectively. There is no way this team is better.”
Well, I hate to prove you wrong, but it’s true. Who am I kidding? I love proving you wrong.
FGCU sits in a tie for first in the A-Sun with a pretty 6-1 conference record, 4-3 last year.
They are turning the ball over less this year. It’s not a pretty number, but 12.7 turnovers a game compared to last year’s awful 16.6 turnovers a game.
See what I’m getting at?
Last weekend, FGCU made a statement. The Eagles had their first real conference test of the year: USC Upstate, which always gives FGCU trouble; and ETSU, against whom FGCU went 1-1 last year.
The Eagles started out with a come-from-behind 63-60 victory over Upstate. The Spartans held a 35-27 lead at the half, and FGCU had to play catch-up. Thanks to Brett Comer, who scored 10; Bernard Thompson, who scored 17, and Chase Fieler, who also added 17, FGCU got the much-needed win.
The Eagles finished off the weekend with ETSU. FGCU came out guns blazing. The Eagles shot 51 percent from the field and beat the Buccaneers by 28, 90-62. The team that was “better” last year lost to ETSU, 85-75.
FGCU is better this year. This weekend will prove that. Thursday, they face off against Mercer in Macon, Ga. They’ve had this game circled all year. Mercer is at the top of the standings with FGCU, and the home team almost always has the advantage. Last year is a perfect example. FGCU lost in Macon, 77-70 in overtime, and won at home, 60-57.
If FGCU can go on the road and beat Mercer, there is no doubt in my mind that they will win the A-Sun. All the doubt will be gone.
That memory of FGCU not being good enough will be gone. It will begin to feel a lot like last March.
I’m ready. Are you?