What’s the deal with Dunk City?
By Jordyn Matez
If you haven’t been paying attention to the FGCU men’s basketball program thus far in the season, some might say you’re not missing much. With a 5-13 overall record and a disappointing 0-3 record in the ASUN conference, hopes are not high for Dunk City.
This seems to be a direct contrast to what was expected of FGCU going into the season. Coming into the season, the program was predicted to place second overall in the ASUN conference.
Though conference play has only just begun, the Eagles sit ninth (and last) in conference rankings.
Part of the reason men’s basketball was seemingly destined for greatness in the 2018-19 season was the addition of four promising transfers to the Eagles’ roster prior to the start of the season. These transfers included Haanif Cheatham, who transferred to FGCU from Marquette and was expected to be a key starter for the team, and Schadrac Casimir, a transfer from Iona College.
While Cheatham has struggled to make his presence known as an Eagle and has yet to play a game since the matchup against Colgate in early December, Casimir seems to be the key transfer that FGCU fans were looking for.
Casimir is in the top three for the Eagles in four separate offensive categories: points (211 overall for the most on the team and 11.7 per game, putting him at second behind Cheatham), field goals (62 of 135 made for the most on the team and a .459 field goal percentage for fourth place), three-point field goals (37 of 78 made for the most on the team and a .474 percentage to put him at second) and free throws (50 of 57 made and a .877 percentage, both leading the team).
Decardo Day and Troy Baxter Jr. are also new to the team, with Day transferring from Iowa Western and Baxter playing as a redshirt sophomore after taking a season off due to NCAA ruling.
Both have proven to be strong players on the team, though neither have made as much of a statement as Casimir.
Little is known on Cheatham’s current state or why he has been absent since early December, but the team may be struggling without him.
The Eagles haven’t seen much action from any player recently, however, whether they be newcomers or returning players.
FGCU currently holds a five-game losing streak, not having seen a win since mid-December when they narrowly defeated Keiser University 87-85.
A win against Keiser was perhaps not what the Eagles needed to succeed, however, and there was much less riding on the players’ shoulders in the game against the Seahawks than their upcoming schedule.
FGCU is currently in the midst of a massive lineup of conference games, with two coming up in the next week alone. The Eagles will have to face conference rivals Kennesaw State and Stetson University on Saturday, Jan. 19 and Monday, Jan 21.
The one silver lining the Eagles have going for them is that Kennesaw and Stetson are both 0-2 in conference play, putting them at eighth place in the ASUN conference. If there is a team FGCU can defeat, it may be one of these two.
In fact, FGCU defeated Stetson 76-60 in their final match of the 2017-18 regular season, a key game in what would eventually earn the Eagles an ASUN championship win.
The last time FGCU and KSU met was also in the 2017-18 season, where the Owls escaped with a narrow 93-97 win.
There is still plenty of time for the Eagles to pull it together and climb back to the top of the ASUN conference, but they’re going to need a pretty strong team makeover to do so.
FGCU will return to the court in Kennesaw Georgia to battle the Owls on Friday, January 19 at 4:30 p.m. Eagles fans everywhere will hope for a crucial win that would furthermore snap this devastating five-game loss streak — which may be just what the team needs in order to gain its momentum back.