Rookies, returners make for promising season
The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team took yet another step Oct. 31 toward kicking off the season when it held its annual media day at Alico Arena.
There was a portion of practice that was open to the media, followed by a short press conference session with multiple players and Coach Joe Dooley.
Here are a few key things that stood out while watching the team practice.
• Jamail Jones has carried his resurgence from the end of last season with him through the offseason and will be a key part of FGCU’s success this year.
• University of Nevada-Las Vegas transfer Demetris Morant is poised to be a day-one starter.
• Bernard Thompson has continued to improve his long-range game and will be a deadly weapon for the Eagles from beyond the arc. “I’ve just been working all offseason and the team has as well,” he said. It definitely showed on Friday.
• The amount of movement on the offensive end is very encouraging, a noted improvement from last season. Players’ bodies and the ball are in constant motion in Dooley’s offense. “Ball movement has been one of our keys,” Thompson said. “Since we’re moving the ball, we know the shots are going to be there so we’re focusing on making threes and just being locked in and knocking them down.”
• Junior college transfer Eric Moeller looks like a real threat when it comes to rebounding. He will bring an interior presence that the Eagles lacked all of last season.
• This team has by far the most talent and the most depth of any squad that FGCU has fielded since becoming a Division I program. It could be a special year if the pieces all come together. “It’s going to be real helpful,” Thompson said in reference to the team’s deep roster. “Last year we didn’t have [any] depth, in the guards or the bigs, but most of the team’s playing this year and I think it’s going to be great for us.”
After practice, the media session gave the players a chance to talk about their expectations for the season, and how they feel about where the team is. It’s the final season for the guys who helped build Dunk City, namely Thompson and point guard Brett Comer, and they weren’t shy about what they hope to achieve this year.
Both Comer and Thompson said that anything less than an Atlantic Sun title and an NCAA tournament berth would be considered a failure for this team.
“We’re kind of still getting the hang of our defensive principles and everything,” Thompson said. “But overall I think we’re looking pretty good, all the new players are getting accustomed but I think we’ll be fine throughout the season.”
The depth of this team will be a talking point all season, especially for a team that struggled with injuries and suspensions last season. Comer spoke about just how helpful it will be to have forwards and guards that can come off the bench and make an impact for the Eagles.
“It’s awesome for me,” Comer said. “You know obviously last year we had Jamail and Bernard, but we have so much depth now with guys that finish at the rim so well, and above the rim as well, so you know, having all those guys out there also helps me create offense and take a little pressure off me.”