Dec 19, 2014

FGCU basketball adds VCU transfer Antravious Simmons

(via VCU Athletics)
VCU transfer Antravious Simmons has been added to the Florida Gulf Coast basketball roster, the school announced on Friday.

Simmons averaged .7 points and .7 rebounds through the Rams first eight games before deciding to transfer from the program. The 6-foot-9 forward was ranked as a three star prospect and the No. 207 player in the 2013 class (via 247Sports).

He held offers from VCU, Alabama, Clemson, Kansas State, and FIU, among other schools. The South Miami High product is reportedly good friends with FGCU freshman guard Zach Johnson as the two played AAU together on Team Breakdown.

According to ESPN

"Simmons is a true low post player that has great size good footwork and hands. He runs the floor well for his size as well. Simmons does a good job of scoring around the rim with nice feel and touch. He does a great job of providing the passer a good target and does a good job job hitting his hook shot and drop step through contact."

He will start classes in January and will be eligible to play for FGCU following the completion of the 2015 Fall Semester, per the program release. Simmons redshirted his freshman year at VCU before being used sparingly this season. He has three years of NCAA eligibility remaining.

This fills the Eagles' final scholarship opening for the 2015-16 season, assuming there are no other unexpected roster changes.

This story is developing and the FGCU Eagles Nest will have more info soon.
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Dec 16, 2014

Performance of the Week: Kaneisha Atwater vs. Providence

By: Cameron J. Kaiser

If you're like me and attend Florida Gulf Coast University, then you know very well that last week was exam week. If you don't go to FGCU, well, last week was exam week, so the campus was relatively quiet. Same goes for the basketball program, which had their quietest week of the season. Both the men of Dunk City and the women of Raining Threes played one game each this week, both within the friendly confines of Alico Arena. The women once again flexed their muscles by beating the Big East's own Providence, while the men gave a lackadaisical effort against Florida International in their baffling loss to the Panthers.

Friars get grilled by Eagles

FGCU vs. Providence (Thursday, Dec. 11) W 68-58: Before their first match up ever against the Friars, FGCU had a program record of 2-3 against Big East teams. The lady Eagles built a 15 point lead deep in the first half against the Friars, and never looked back. Both teams tallied 33 rebounds and created 18 turnovers, but FGCU shot 51 percent to beat Providence by 10.

Disappointment in Dunk City

FGCU vs. Florida International (Sunday, Dec. 14) L 63-69: After racing out to a 20-6 lead in the first ten minutes of the game, the Eagles dilapidated right before the crowd's eyes. FIU turned up the defensive intensity in the second half, holding both Bernard Thompson and Julian DeBose scoreless. The Panthers out-rebounded FGCU 39-27 for the game, and outscored the Eagles by 10 in the second half on 65 percent shooting.

Performance of the Week

This week's "Performance of the Week" was by far the easiest to select to date. Kaneisha Atwater of the lady Eagles has earned the honor in week four for her record setting performance against Providence.
Courtesy of Captive Photons
Kaneisha Atwater, junior from Fort Pierce, Florida, had a monster night in the Eagles' impressive victory over the Friars of Providence. In 31 minutes of playing time, she put up an FGCU Division 1 record of 33 points, and did it on a nice 11 of 18 shooting. She also led the Eagles in steals with 4.

Atwater set the tone for the Eagles in the first half, scoring 12 of the first 21 points. She totaled 15 before the break, and then proceeded to not let up out of the locker room. Despite only scoring 26 points as a team in the second half, Atwater stayed strong by adding 18 more, sealing the victory over the Friars.

"She's an aggressive player. She's an emotional player. She's a high energy player. She's somebody that you have to respect her three, and then she's super quick with the ball. She's somebody that can provide a lot of defensive intensity, and I mean she's a very high level athlete, and then she has a high amount of competitiveness to go along with it," said head coach Karl Smesko about Atwater's ability as a player.
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Dec 8, 2014

Performance of the Week: Taylor Gradinjan vs. Southern Miss

 By: Cameron J. Kaiser

After two busy weeks to start the season, week three was much less hectic for the FGCU basketball program. Dunk City played a mere two games, while Raining Threes only played one. The lady Eagles beat their lone opponent to push their record to 6-2, while the men won both of their games to improve to 8-1.

Dunk City Dominance

FGCU vs. Florida Tech (Wednesday, Dec. 3), W 77-58: When the 7-0 Panthers of Division II came to Alico Arena, the fans expected to see a blowout. Well, while the final score wasn’t close, the Eagles only held a 3-point advantage at halftime. Led by an astounding 51 bench points, FGCU rallied to outscore the Panthers by 16 in the second half.

FGCU at Massachusetts (Sunday, Dec. 7) W 84-75: Dunk City took its show on the road to play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase in Springfield, Massachusetts against the Minutemen of UMass. UMass, who was ahead of FGCU in the RPI ranking going into the contest, was knocked out by Tennessee in the round of 64 in last year’s NCAA tournament. In a game that was tightly contested for its majority, FGCU pulled away and led by as many as 18 with 3 minutes remaining in the game.

Extremely-southern Lady Eagles take on the almost-as-southern Lady Eagles...

FGCU vs. Southern Mississippi (Saturday, Dec. 6) W 78-62: Saturday night pitted Eagle against Eagle, as Southern Miss. came to take on FGCU at The Nest. USM, coming off a 27-7 season, played a physical style of basketball against the lady Eagles of FGCU. As their nickname suggests, FGCU used the long ball to knock out Southern Miss. The lady Eagles of FGCU hit 13 three pointers in their 16-point victory.

Performance of the Week

Week three of the season featured three individual standout performances from the FGCU basketball program. Freshman Christian Terrell of the men's team exploded off the bench against Florida Tech for 22 points, while Bernard Thompson tied a career high by hitting 6 three pointers against UMass. However, the best performance of the week came from red-shirt freshman Taylor Gradinjan of the Lady Eagles in their win over USM.

Courtesy of Captive Photons
On a night where Whitney Knight fouled out early and Stephanie Haas played limited minutes due to an illness, head coach Karl Smesko was forced into giving more minutes to his reserves. Gradinjan, who missed the bulk of the last two seasons due to a right ACL tear, came off the bench and gave FGCU 23 minutes of nonstop energy.

Taylor Gradinjan led the Eagles in scoring and rebounds, setting personal records in points with 23, rebounds with 9, three pointers with 4, and free throws with 7. In the first half, Gradinjan capped off a 17-0 run for FGCU by nailing 2 three pointers in a row, and then in the second half scored 10 points in a row for the Eagles.

"Taylor was knocking down open shots and looking for opportunities to go to the basket, being aggressive getting to the rim," said coach Smesko. "I thought offensively Taylor gave us a huge spark and a huge lift. She's had a couple good days of practice, and she followed it up with a great performance in the game."

Through all of the scoring, Gradinjan's 9 boards might be the most impressive stat from her big night. FGCU is not a team with a lot of size, and rebounding has been their achilles heel so far this season. At a modest 5'9", Gradinjan's activity on the glass provided a huge boost for the Eagles. Southern Mississippi only had 14 second chance points, while FGCU had 17. That, in part, can be attributed to Grandinjan's 8 defensive rebounds.

When asked about her breakout performance, Gradinjan answered humbly. "I just kind of went in and played. Just did my role, played with the team, and stuck to our game plan the entire time."
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Dec 6, 2014

FGCU vs. UMass Basketball Preview: Q&A with Hustle Belt

(via Captive Photons)
In anticipation of Sunday's game between Florida Gulf Coast and Massachusetts, we conducted a brief Q&A with UMass hoops expert Max Moore of Hustle Belt. Be sure to check out and follow them @HustleBelt.

LJ: One of our writers noted UMass' struggle with transition defense against LSU. Has this been a season long struggle you've noticed and something you think the Eagles would be wise to take advantage of? 

MM: Well UMass likes to fly at a uptempo style which means they like to press a lot. As most fans know when a press works its great. There are a bunch of turnovers and easy buckets. However, when your opponent breaks your press they are likely to get an easy bucket. So against teams with good guards who can break a press, than the answer is yes UMass plays suspect transition defense. If FGCU has capable point guards than they may be able to exploit this.

LJ: Most casual college basketball fans were aware of Chaz Williams' tremendous impact at UMass last year. How has his departure changed the dynamic of the offense and has UMass struggled to find other leaders/scorers? 

MM: Obviously losing Chaz is a huge loss and no one would say that it helps the team by not having him. He was the emotional leader last year and played harder than anyone I have seen in a long time. To say his was the fan favorite would be an understatement.

That being said he was a ball-stopper, which isn't exactly what you want from your point guard. There were many times last year, especially later in the season, where Chaz would just try and dribble through entire defenses by himself. Cady Lalanne saw his production dip significantly in the second half of the season last year. With Chaz gone now, Lalanne has been more involved and is the leader of this team. The ball is moving more fluidly, although assist numbers are down. While Trey Davis has struggled to replace Chaz this year I think that as the season progresses he will feel more comfortable in his role.

LJ: How often does UMass play in Springfield and what is the general sentiment from the team and fans about playing off-campus? 

UMass usually plays at Springfield once a year. With Springfield being only roughly 30 minutes away from Amherst I really doubt that any fan is that upset about playing there. Although I do find it odd to do this to the players seeing as it is the weekend before finals week. I would think that they would want to have this game on campus to lessen travel time and give players more time to be on campus to study. Also it might discourage students from traveling also.
LJ: Cady Lalanne has put up an impressive stat line so far this season. How does the big man do the most of his damage and what is the key to containing him? 

MM: Cady does his damage by being the best big man on the court. Seriously he is that good. He could be the A-10 player of the year and is already averaging 15-10 that includes playing four power conference teams plus Harvard. He is a deadly low post player who will score if not double teamed. To contain him you will need to double team him and have a third defender playing some very tight help defense. He does get sloppy with the ball when pressured so having a guard slip down to help would be a good idea. Also he has a tendency to shoot three pointers for some reason. Try to make him shoot as many 20 footers as possible. Other than that you will have to live with him scoring in double figures. He hasn't scored less than 11 points all year and I don't that changing now.
LJ: How do you see this one playing out?

MM: I think this one will be a close one with a lot of basket trading. However, Cady Lalanne will prove just too much for the Eagles and UMass pulls it out 71-68 along with a triple-double from Derrick Gordon. Also the FGSU players will be frightened of this foreign white substance falling from the sky and be too distracted to play (Yes, it is currently snowing as I write this).
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Dec 4, 2014

7-1 start provides optimism for Eagles; are they ready to take the next step?

By: Bryan Cooney

Winning on the road in any level of athletics is a satisfying accomplishment. It can mean many things for a college basketball program looking to establish itself as a legitimate threat in the landscape of the sport. Florida Gulf Coast, through eight games early this season, has tasted defeat only once to Green Bay at a “neutral site” tournament at Germain Arena in Fort Myers, in a game that Joe Dooley was less than pleased with on all fronts. The response from his club on their first trek outside Lee County - 1700 miles away to Sioux Falls, South Dakota? A strong team effort and a 13 point win against South Dakota State, an NCAA Tournament team two of the last three years.

Statement made?

As we all know, one game can mean very little in the run of a long season but for this group of Eagles, a win away from home, albeit at a “neutral” arena against an opponent playing less than an hour from its campus, is a rarity in its D-I history as a program. Since the 2011-2012 campaign, FGCU’s total number of regular season wins on the road out of conference? Two, against Samford and Furman, far from well-known commodities in the college basketball world. That total can be matched in one season this coming Sunday with a matchup against Massachusetts, a perennial contender in the Atlantic 10 year in and year out. It will take a better effort than the one shown against Florida Tech on Wednesday night.

Joe Dooley removed his starters just three minutes into the game, letting reserves battle for playing time and roles for games down the road. One player made the most of his opportunity: Christian Terrell. The 6-foot-2 freshman from Jacksonville poured in 22 points on 8/13 from the field, including 5/8 from beyond the arc, leading FGCU to a 77-58 victory.

“He’s been afforded a great opportunity because he has two great senior guards to teach him, and this year, we’ve talked about this, he’s going to be a really good player because he has to guard them every day in practice, and that’s really going to help him,” Dooley said regarding Terrell and his development going forward.

Having a game where the reserves competed for extended minutes should set up Joe Dooley’s rotation well as the Eagles roll into the difficult month of December. The trip to Springfield, Massachusetts looming on Sunday against UMass kicks it off. Julian DeBose has picked up his production offensively, and has rotated between the starting lineup and the first wave of reserves off the bench, along with Marc-Eddy Noreila throughout the first eight games. Brian Greene, Christian Terrell, and Logan Hovey have become more comfortable in recent showings, rounding out the five reserves I see getting the minutes when called upon going forward.

I was able to watch UMass playing against LSU on Wednesday night and saw one notable area in which FGCU should be able to attack. LSU’s guards raced all over the UMass transition defense after turnovers and loose balls, which should be make Brett Comer's eyes light up. UMass struggled from distance, going 2-13 from beyond the arc, but has two talented bigs in Maxie Esho and Cady Lalanne. They could pose issues for FGCU’s frontline. I expect Joe Dooley to rotate his bigs throughout the ballgame, and give his guards breathers to go uptempo against UMass. I see this game as a potential turning point in the confidence level of the squad going forward. A road 'W' against a quality opponent would be huge for this team heading into even tougher matchups against Xavier and Pittsburgh later on this month.
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Dec 3, 2014

Postgame Reaction: FGCU defeats Florida Tech, 77-58

(via Captive Photons)
Florida Gulf Coast was finally able to put away the pesky Panthers of Florida Tech, but that's not the real story from Wednesday night.

After the starters (Comer, Thompson, Jones, Morant, and Hicks) were on the floor for three minutes, Joe Dooley had seen enough and promptly subbed in five new players. They didn't see any time for the rest of the 1st half and didn't check back in until 16:31 left in the 2nd half.

We don't know if Dooley was simply trying to rest the starters, especially Comer and Thompson, against a D-II who they should have easily handled. Or if he was sending a message to step up the hustle and intensity.

Regardless, the "twos", as the announcers put it, showed some promise. And good thing, because they will be the main group of players running the show next season for Dunk City. Let's get into some of my post-game thoughts.

• Christian Terrell is going to be a superstar for years to come in Fort Myers. The freshman guard finished with 22 points and 3 rebounds. His confidence impressed me most of all. After air-balling a three point attempt in the 1st half, he confidently knocked one down from long range just a few possessions later.

• The Eagles answered the call. After sitting on the bench for about 20 minutes, the starters proved to be efficient in the 2nd half and went on a 21-8 run to put the game out of reach for Florida Tech.

• Marc-Eddy Norelia has added the mid-range jumper to his multifaceted game. We've heard about him working hard in the gym all off season to improve his jumper, and it's great to see it paying off. This adds another dimension to the Eagles' offense.

• FGCU needs to be dominate from the whistle and put teams like this, and Nova Southeastern, away early. Because in other situations, their talent alone won't be enough to pull out a win.

And a few from our writers.
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Dec 2, 2014

FGCU Basketball Recruiting Weekly Wrap: Thanksgiving Edition

(via HoopSeen)
Each week, the FGCU Eagles Nest will be bringing you statistics, videos, and more from Florida Gulf Coast's group of 2015 commits. This week, the trio of Eagles signees were all in action over the week of Thanksgiving.

Reggie Reid: 2015 PG - Harlem High School (Ga.)

Tuesday, Nov. 18
68-64 win vs. Evans
23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists

Friday, Nov. 21
70-64 win vs. Grovetown
22 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists

Saturday, Nov. 22
50-44 win vs. Lakeside
32 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists

Rayjon Tucker: 2015 SF - Northside Christian Academy (NC)

Monday, Nov. 24
66-62 win vs. Calvary Baptist
24 points, 14 rebounds

Friday, Nov. 28
60-48 win vs. Stephenson
17 points
Saturday, Nov. 29
54-53 loss vs. Greenforest Christian
20 points

Elijah Long: 2015 PG - John Carroll HS (Md.)

*USA TODAY ranks John Carroll as the No. 24 team in the country

Monday, Nov. 17
76-44 win vs. Chapelgate Christian Academy

Wednesday, Nov. 19
59-41 win vs. Friends School
Stats: 6 points
QUOTE: "...set the tempo on the defensive end and never let Friends get into their halfcourt offense comfortably" (via Prep Hoops Maryland)

Friday, Nov. 21
57-51 win vs. Boys Latin School
Stats: 24 points

Monday, Nov. 24
60-25 win vs. Severn

Wednesday, Nov. 26
52-50 win vs. St Paul's

Monday, Dec. 1
54-52 win vs. Gilman
Stats: 17 points
VIDEO: Elijah Long Sinks Three Pointer

AVG: 15 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals, leads the team in charges taken (provided by Coach Tony Martin)
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Dec 1, 2014

Performance of the Week: Julian DeBose vs. Marist

 By: Cameron J. Kaiser

After a busy opening week for FGCU, it’s only natural that the second week was even more hectic. The men’s and women’s teams played a combined seven games in seven days over the Thanksgiving week.

The men of Dunk City were featured in the Gulf Coast Showcase, no more than five miles from campus at Germain Arena, while the women of Raining Threes headed to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam. In addition to the holiday showcase, the men also went on their first road trip of the year in Sioux Falls to take on South Dakota State.

Gulf Coast Showcase

FGCU vs. Marist, W 58-43 (Monday Nov. 24): Despite lacking the depth that FGCU possesses, the Red Foxes took advantage of the Eagles’ slow start. At halftime, the score was locked at 21. However, the second half was a different story. FGCU went on a 13-0 run out of the break and that’s all they needed to push their record to 4-0.

FGCU vs. San Francisco, W 62-47 (Tuesday Nov. 25): In the semi-finals, the Eagles took on a physical San Francisco team. The Eagles got off to a much quicker start, and beat the Dons in dominating fashion, 62-47. FGCU led by 26 at one point in the second half.

FGCU at Green Bay, L 45-59 (Wednesday Nov. 26): In the championship, FGCU took on the Green Bay Phoenix. In a battle featuring two of the top mid-major point guards in Brett Comer and Keifer Sykes, the Phoenix got off to a 15 to 0 lead that proved insurmountable. The Eagles’ perfect season was lost, but their record still stood at an impressive 5-1.

Wings Up, literally! First game played outside of the friendly confines of Fort Myers

FGCU at South Dakota State, W 71-58 (Sunday Nov. 30): Although the Eagles were considered the road team in the Gulf Coast Showcase championship, their first 'real' travel trip took them to the freezing temperatures found in South Dakota. The Eagles played somewhat of a sloppy game, committing 20 total fouls, but dominated the Jack Rabbits offensively in the second half.  

Dunk City’s record currently sits at a gaudy 6-1.

U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam

FGCU vs. Wichita State, W 56-39 (Thursday Nov. 27): In the first game of the Paradise Jam, the Eagles dominated the Shockers in the opening half, holding them to 13 points. They played solid defense all game, swiping 12 steals. FGCU cruised to the victory to move to 4-1 on the season.

FGCU at Clemson, W 86-61 (Friday Nov. 28): After falling to the Auburn Tigers in the previous week, the Eagles gained a little bit of figurative redemption by hammering the Clemson Tigers by 25. FGCU was led by Whitney Knight, who scored 28 points in only 24 minutes.

FGCU at Ohio State, L 83-90, 2 OT, (Saturday Nov. 29): In the final game of the tournament, the Eagles were locked in a battle for the ages with the Buckeyes. In a back and forth contest that featured 4 ties and 5 lead changes, FGCU eventually got into foul trouble, and ran out of steam in the second overtime period.

Despite their loss on the final day, the Eagles were named champions of the Paradise Jam due to their large scoring margin. Their record now sits at a solid 5-2.

Performance of the Week
Courtesy of Captive Photons
Unlike the first week where most of the games featured one stand out performance to lead the way, the second week was more about the team collectively getting it done. Bernard Thompson had a great game against San Francisco, and Whitney Knight had a huge game in limited minutes against Clemson, but the second annual performance of the week has to go to Julian DeBose for his FGCU debut against Marist.

Despite a slow start, Julian DeBose found his footing as the game progressed. Maybe it was because he was tired of watching his teammates have all the fun during his three game suspension. Maybe it was because he was amped up to play his first game in the Blue and Green after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. Or maybe, and I think this is the most likely, DeBose is an athletic specimen that is simply really good at putting an orange ball in a hoop.

Whatever option you want to go with, Julian DeBose turned in an explosive night in what started as a lackluster game for the Eagles. He broke onto the scene with 15 points, and they all came in the second half. He hit a three right out of the break that generated some life in the fans at Germain Arena, and then got everyone out of their seats by flying through the lane for a monster and-one dunk.

DeBose, while not known as a great defender yet, had 2 steals. He also used his length to come up with 3 blocks in the game.

“I think that Julian can be an outstanding defender. We’ve talked about this, and I think he’s long, he’s lanky, he’s athletic, and I think he can be one of those guys that can be a lockdown type defender,” said head coach Joe Dooley in regards to DeBose’s defensive potential.

Julian Debose capped off his stellar debut by stealing an inbounds pass from Marist, and then dunking it to nail the coffin shut.

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Nov 30, 2014

Team effort powers FGCU to 71-58 win over South Dakota State

(via Captive Photons)
Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson have seemingly taken turns putting on dominating performances in the first few games of the season but neither could find much production in the first half against South Dakota State.

The senior guards combined for just two points and two assists before the break. But other Eagles, mainly the FGCU big men, were able to step up and contribute to keep the Eagles tied at halftime, and eventually give them the win, 71-58.

Eagles center Nate Hicks, who has shown incredible toughness in his return from an ACL tear, manned the paint and recorded 9 points and 9 rebounds. And despite being in some foul trouble, the ever energetic Marc-Eddy Norelia snatched 10 boards to go along with his 8 points.

"The other guys started scoring the ball and did their thing, and it opened up the court for us, made them more of targets," Comer said of himself and Thompson. "We have so many weapons on our team that some nights it's not gonna be us, it's gonna be other guys."

And on Sunday evening, FGCU really had all the other guys to work with. For the first time this season, Florida Gulf Coast was at full strength. Logan Hovey seems to be nearing full health. Jamail Jones returned from his three game suspension, joining Julian DeBose (who missed the first three contests). They're Eagles, and Joe Dooley let 'em fly.

"It was kind of the game plan since we have everybody here now we could throw bodies at guys on the other team to tire them out," Thompson said. "It was great to have everybody, so we could sub in, sub out real quick if people needed a breather."

But no team can contain one of the best mid-major backcourts for too long. The Jackrabbits were no exception. FGCU went on a 10-0 run to star the half as Comer tallied 12 points in the second half and did a phenomenal job facilitating the ball inside. Thompson suddenly got hot and nailed 3/4 from three en route to his 11 points after the break.

What impressed head coach Joe Dooley more, however, was the Eagles' defensive effort. They held SDSU to just 27 second half points on 7/31 (22%) shooting. The only real damage South Dakota State was able to inflect was from the free throw line, knocking down 12 of 15 from the charity stripe in the 2nd half.

"We did a better job of not giving up easy baskets...we just simplified," Dooley said. "The guys were a little bit more aggressive, more solid."

Florida Gulf Coast now heads home to battle Florida Tech on Wednesday, before heading to UMass on Sunday. With DeBose and Jones back from suspension, as well as Hovey and Hicks healthy, Dunk City has become a very deep and dangerous team.

"It takes some of the pressure off Bernard and Brett," Dooley said. "The big thing for us will be having practice time together. We haven't had a practice recently with everybody yet."
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Nov 24, 2014

FGCU defeats Marist, 58-43, in DeBose's debut

(Courtesy of Captive Photons)
By: Cameron J. Kaiser

It wasn’t pretty at times tonight, but the Eagles are 4-0 for the first time in the Division 1 era. FGCU took on the Marist Red Foxes tonight in their first of three games in the Gulf Coast Showcase, and won by a final score of 58-43.

Despite being a solid defensive team that thrives in the Princeton-zone set, Marist did not have a primary source of offense due to injuries to their starting backcourt.

Even with the loss of senior Jamail Jones due to a three game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules, this was the type of game that seemed destined to be blowout in the Eagles favor. 

FGCU got off to a rough start against the Red Foxes, making only one field goal in the first six minutes of the game. Marist led 11-4 all the way till the 10:15 mark in the first half when a jumper from Bernard Thompson ignited a 10-0 run that was capped off by a monster dunk from Marc-Eddy Norelia with two Marist defenders draped on his back. However, FGCU was not able to keep the pace up and pull away. As unlikely as it seemed, the Eagles went into the half with the score tied at 21.

Whatever FGCU head coach Joe Dooley said to his crew at halftime must’ve worked, because the Eagles came out looking like the team we have seen for much of the first three games.

Fresh off his three-game suspension, red-shirt junior Julian DeBose got the scoring started for FGCU in the second half with a corner three for his first bucket as an Eagle, then followed that up with a monster put-back, and-one dunk for an old fashioned three-point play. FGCU went on a 13-0 run to start the half, and never took their foot off the gas pedal.

From then on, the game became a showcase for FGCU to show off why they’re known as Dunk City. Sophomore Demetris Morant had a high flying jam courtesy of a nice inside pass from Norelia to push the lead 18, then sophomore Brett Comer brought the house down with a two handed jam off a fast break that he started with a steal.

DeBose, who led the Eagles with 15 points, closed the casket on the Red Foxes with a steal on an inbounds pass that led to an exuberant dunk with 50 seconds left. FGCU outscored Marist 37 to 22 in the second half.

“From the beginning we turned it over, we missed some easy ones around the rim, and then we got sped up and took some poor shots,” said coach Dooley in regards to his team’s slow start. “I thought that once we settled down and got the ball to the high post, once we settled in offensively we played a little bit better.”

The Eagles will play the winner of Hawaii against San Francisco on Tuesday night at 8:30. Both teams are considered much better than Marist, so FGCU can’t afford to get off to another slow start.

When asked if FGCU will come out with a higher level of energy on Tuesday, Brett Comer responded, “I think we have to. We will lose if we don’t come out with more energy.

FGCU is the first team in the Atlantic Sun conference to start 4-0 since Central Florida in 2004.
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