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2015-16 College Basketball Preview: Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

By Parks Smith on Sep 5, 2015, 8:00a
[Image: GettyImages-461045170.0.jpg]
Daniel Kubus/Getty Images

The last pieces of Dunk City have moved on but Florida Gulf Coast should once again compete for an Atlantic Sun title in 2015-16.

The remnants of Dunk City have finally moved in Fort Myers, Florida and for the first time it seems like the 2015-16 version of the Eagles will truly be Joe Dooley's team.

FGCU ended last season with their first back-to-back home losses since January of 2011. First came the devastating Atlantic Sun semifinal loss to USC Upstate and later came a first round CIT loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Last year was supposed to be "the year" with the Eagles talented seniors Brett Comer, Bernard Thompson, and Jamail Jones. All three are gone now and so is 38 combined points per game between the three of them.

With the huge losses present on and off the court, can the FGCU Eagles fly again in a new look Atlantic Sun this year?

Returning Talent

The biggest piece of the puzzle returning for FGCU is senior and former Rice Owls transfer Julian DeBose. DeBose returns after posting nearly 12 points and 4 rebounds per game a year ago. DeBose spent the summer as an honorary Kansas Jayhawk representing Team USA at the World University Games. He played about 10 minutes during the tournament for Bill Self and finished averaging 4 points and 2.3 rebounds per outing.

DuBose is one of two seniors alongside big man Filip Cvjeticanin. The 6'9 Croatian is a bit of a wild card this year though after sitting out last year due to back surgery. Two years ago he was a solid role player for Dooley though and was contributing nearly 7 points and 3 rebounds per night.

Cvjeticanin will have to primarily battle for minutes with three talented, former transfers. Demetris Morant (UNLV) and Marc-Eddy Norelia (Tulane) both played as sophomores fro FGCU a year ago combining for 12.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Expect those numbers to grow as both are expected to hold down the frontcourt for at least the first half of the season.


The biggest newcomer to watch is 6'5 four star recruit Rayjon Tucker who turned down schools from the ACC, Atlantic 10, SEC, and others to come to Fort Myers. The Charlotte native was ranked as a Top 100 recruit by some and is known for his uber athleticism. He'll likely get a chance to play right away as he's the only traditional small forward on the Eagles roster and there isn't much threat of three guard sets with FGCU's backcourt being rather weak.

Dooley's frontcourt will get quite the shot in the arm after first semester when VCU transferAntravious Simmons becomes eligible for the Eagles. Simmons only suited up for eight games for Shaka Smart but folks in Fort Myers are hoping the 6'9 former offensive lineman will have a Justin Tuoyo-like effect for the Eagles.

Biggest Question

The biggest question in Fort Myers is who brings up the ball for the Eagles? DuBose is certainly capable but he's a big guard who has traditionally played off the ball. The other options on the roster with experience are Christian Terrell and Brian Greene Jr., a combo that combined for just four points a year ago. Freshman Zach Johnson could be the guy after redshirting a year ago. Johnson was thought to be one of the best guards in Florida coming out of high school and had offers from some major programs. Johnson is a bit of a wildcard though because it was never disclosed what was wrong with him a year ago. The school was vague on his redshirt and just said it wasn't his knees, ankles, or legs.

Out-of-Conference Schedule

As always, the Eagles have an interesting non-conference slate this year and one that won't take them away from Fort Myers too often. After finishing up a series at Ohio to start the year the Eagles will then host the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic for a three game tournament against Bowling Green, North Dakota, and Youngstown State. The Eagles will then close November with a trip to Florida and by hosting a non-Division I team in Alico Arena.

December features three road games starting with Texas A&M and Florida International. Later in the month the Eagles will travel to Sioux Falls for a "neutral" floor contest against South Dakota. The home portion of FGCU's December schedule is where it gets interesting as they host UMass, South Dakota State, Louisiana Tech, and LaSalle. We'll really good gauge of where FGCU is at with so much mid-major talent coming through town.

Season Outlook

The Eagles have just as much talent as anyone in the ASun on paper but can it all come together with so much inexperience and injury question marks on the roster? FGCU will most definitely be picked among the best in the conference come media day but is there big man rotation enough to vault them over defending conference champion North Florida and conference newcomer NJIT? Both teams have loaded rosters coming back and for now the Eagles will likely be looking up to them until they can prove themselves in what should be a fun 2015-16 campaign.
does FGCU have another message board?
No one cares about this team anymore. And for good reason. One of the worst teams in the nation comes into town and we get our ******* pounded without lube by them. Shut this program down.
I don't suppose you're talking about this? Didn't know there was a team with jackrabbits as a mascot: [Image: sds.png]

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Deondre Parks scored 15 points, including 7 of 10 from the free throw line, to help lead South Dakota State to a 56-52 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday.

Mike Daum added 14 points, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, for the Jackrabbits (10-2), who have won four of their last five games.

South Dakota State trailed 47-46 with 3:42 left, but Jake Bittle made a layup sparking a quick 5-0 run that gave the Jackrabbits a four point lead which they held to the end.

Christian Terrell scored a layup for the Eagles (6-5) to cut the South Dakota State lead to 51-49 with 1:25 to go. But the Jackrabbits made 5 of 6 at the free throw line over the final 40 second to close it out.

Marc Eddy Norelia scored 26 points and had 11 rebounds to lead Florida Gulf Coast.
(11-21-2015 07:51 PM)jsmith2215 Wrote: [ -> ]No one cares about this team anymore. And for good reason. One of the worst teams in the nation comes into town and we get our ******* pounded without lube by them. Shut this program down.

I guess you're talking about this one:

Ohio beats Florida Gulf Coast 85-75 on strength of Simmons
November 14, 2015 4:33 PM
AP - Sports

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) -- Jaaron Simmons scored 20 points-13 from the free-throw line-and Ohio beat Florida Gulf Coast 85-75 in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.

With less than two minutes to play the Eagles' Christian Terrell hit a layup to cut the lead to 76-70. Forced to foul to stop the clock, however, Simmons made 7 of 8 free throws to preserve the win.

Simmons was 13 for 17 from the free-throw line, had seven assists and four rebounds. Kenny Kaminski had 17 points nine rebounds for the Bobcats.

Marc Eddy Norelia had 21 points and nine rebounds for Florida Gulf Coast which trailed most of the game.

Ohio dominated the boards with a 45-31 rebounding edge.

The Bobcats' Wadly Mompremier had 12 rebounds-seven on the offensive end-and had 12 points.

[Image: oab.png]

But, the Ohio Bobcats are currently 7-3, 1st Mid-American - East, so they're not the worst team in the nation.
A Sun Standings as of 01/24/2016:
Atlantic Sun     Conf     All
North Florida     5-0     16-6
Fla Gulf Coast    4-0     13-7
Jacksonville      3-2     11-11
N.J.I.T.          2-2     11-9
Stetson           2-4     8-13
Lipscomb          1-3     5-16
S.Car. Upstate    1-4     7-15
Kennesaw St.      1-4     5-16

FGCU still in position to challenge for the auto-bid. Certainly not the worst team as the poster above suggested.

FGCU Player Name     G     Min     FGM     FGA     FG%     3PM     3PA     3PT%     FTM     FTA     FT%     Off     Def     Reb     Ast     TO     Stl     Blk     PF     Pts
Marc-Eddy Norelia     20     30.9     6.0     11.6     51.7     0.0     0.1     0.0     3.2     4.7     68.1     3.0     5.8     8.8     1.1     2.0     1.1     1.0     1.8     15.2
Christian Terrell     20     27.5     5.0     10.9     45.9     1.5     4.2     35.7     2.4     3.2     73.4     1.2     3.4     4.6     1.9     1.5     1.4     0.5     2.3     13.9
Zach Johnson     20     23.7     4.0     7.6     52.3     0.6     1.6     38.7     1.6     2.3     67.4     0.4     2.3     2.7     3.1     2.2     0.9     0.4     2.2     10.1
Julian DeBose     18     27.3     3.3     8.3     40.3     1.2     2.9     40.4     1.0     1.7     60.0     1.0     1.9     2.9     1.4     1.3     1.1     0.6     2.1     8.8
Slippin' a bit. Then again, the leaders aren't really runnin' away that much:

A Sun Standings as of 02/11/2016:
Atlantic Sun     Conf     All
North Florida     7-2     18-8
Jacksonville      7-2     15-11
Fla Gulf Coast    5-4     14-11  
N.J.I.T.          5-4     14-11
Lipscomb          4-5     8-18
Stetson           3-6     9-16
Kennesaw St.      3-6     7-18
S.Car. Upstate    2-7     8-18
North FL looks like the team to beat this year, but FGCU is right there.

Atlantic Sun     Conf     All
North Florida     9-4     20-10
N.J.I.T.          8-5     17-12
Fla Gulf Coast    8-5     17-12
Jacksonville      8-5     16-14
Lipscomb          7-6     11-19
Kennesaw St.      6-7     10-19
Stetson           3-10     9-21
S.Car. Upstate    3-10     9-21
Well, FGCU overcame some stumbles during the season to win the ASun auto0bid to the NCAA tourney. No longer Dunk City, but they will still be there playing in one of the First Four play-in games against Farliegh-Dickenson. It will not get any easier, as the winner of that game faces #1 Seed North Carolina. But for now, congrats to the eagles for getting back to the tournament, and good luck!

(7) Stetson 78
(4) Fla Gulf Coast 80

Team 1 2 OT
STET 35 34 9
FGCU 30 39 11

FGCU returning to NCAA Tourney, tops Stetson 80-78 in OT
March 6, 2016 10:18 PM
AP - Sports

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Zach Johnson sat out last season at Florida Gulf Coast for medical reasons, with doctors so concerned about his health that some wondered if he would ever play college basketball.

He's better than ever now - and he and the Eagles are headed to the NCAA Tournament.

Antravious Simmons scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Johnson capped his 19-point effort by blocking a potential game-tying shot at the rim with four seconds left in overtime, and fourth-seeded FGCU won the Atlantic Sun's automatic berth to the NCAAs by beating seventh-seeded and upset-minded Stetson 80-78 in the conference title game Sunday night.

''I'm just excited I can get the seniors a chance to go,'' Johnson said during the on-court celebration. ''A lot of them haven't been. And me, I'm a freshman, I haven't had a chance to go.''

Next week, that'll change. FGCU became the fifth school to punch its ticket into the field of 68.

Marc-Eddy Norelia scored 16 and Christian Terrell added 15, including a spinning layup with 56.4 seconds left in overtime for FGCU (20-13), which is headed back to the NCAAs for the first time since the team's ''Dunk City'' crew made a stunning run to the Sweet 16 in 2013.

''Great college atmosphere,'' FGCU coach Joe Dooley said. ''I think the league looked great on TV tonight ... a really good college basketball game, and I'm really proud of our guys.''

Derick Newton scored 22 for Stetson (12-22), which knew its season would end win or lose because the school is ineligible for the NCAAs this season.

Grant Lozoya and Divine Miles each scored 11 for the Hatters, but Miles' layup was the one Johnson blocked in the final moments.

''We still had a lot in the tank,'' Stetson coach Corey Williams said. ''But they stepped up and made big plays, too.''

FGCU trailed for much of the second half before using a 10-0 run late in the regulation to build a five-point lead. But the Hatters - helped by a pair of big 3-pointers from Lozoya and Leo Goodman - closed the half on a 9-4 run, then forced Johnson into a contested miss at the rim with 6 seconds left to force overtime.

FGCU scored the game's first 10 points, a run that started with a dunk from Demetris Morant and ended with a dunk from Johnson. However, Stetson recovered and went on a 16-4 run to take its first lead on a 3-pointer by Goodman.

And the teams stayed close from there. Stetson led 35-30 at the half, and neither team was up by more than five the rest of the way.

Stetson was ineligible for the NCAA Tournament this year because of a subpar Academic Progress Report score, caused in part by the effect that two players who transferred to other schools had on that score. So if the Hatters won, the A-Sun would have seen regular-season champion North Florida get the automatic berth into the NCAAs.



Stetson: The Hatters played 34 games this season, the most in school history. ... Stetson plans to add one scholarship player for 2016-17, plus bring back all 12 of its current players. ''We're going to take a week off,'' Williams said. ''We're going to get back to work because we want to get back here.''

FGCU: Redshirt senior Filip Cvjeticanin and assistant coach Michael Fly are the only members of the Eagles' roster and coaching staff who were at FGCU during the NCAA run in 2013. ... FGCU reached the 20-win mark for the fourth consecutive season.


Stetson was previously in the A-Sun title game in 1987 and 1994, losing both. FGCU has reached the A-Sun championship game four times in five years of eligibility since joining the conference, winning in 2013 and losing in 2012 and 2014.


Stetson: Season complete.

FGCU: NCAA Tournament, First Four play-in game against Farliegh-Dickenson, with the winner to take on #1 seed North Carolina.
Wow, they killed 'em. But I suspect UNC will be a little different. Hope they can give them a game. Who knows? I wouldn't be unhappy if FGCU beats UNC.

1 2 T
Fairleigh Dickinson (18-15)
19 46 65
Florida Gulf Coast (21-13)
40 56 96

Florida Gulf Coast rolls in First Four, again eyes a shot at NCAA tournament history
by: Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer

DAYTON, Ohio -- The “Dunk City” moniker didn’t really fit this time.

But Florida Gulf Coast found plenty of other ways to rack up points in its return to the NCAA tournament, and it once again looks like a team that isn’t content to simply be in the field.

[Image: i?img=%2Fphoto%2F2016%2F0315%2Fr63464_12...;amp;w=570]
Marc Eddy Norelia scored in a variety of ways for Florida Gulf Coast, and the Eagles ran by Fairleigh Dickinson in the First Four. AP Photo/John Minchillo

The Eagles are a few years removed from their famous postseason run in 2013, they have a new coach on the sideline in Joe Dooley and there’s only one holdover in the rotation from the first No. 15 seed in history to advance to the Sweet 16. A victory in the First Four pales in comparison to those historic upsets, but Florida Gulf Coast proved once again that it can be a dangerous opponent in the postseason on Tuesday night at UD Arena by cruising 96-65 past Fairleigh Dickinson to set up a matchup with North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the East Region.

The degree of difficulty is certainly going to go up against the Tar Heels, and Florida Gulf Coast showed a few weaknesses on the free-throw line and against full-court pressure that could be a problem against a top seed with that much firepower. If the Eagles had shot better than 59 percent from the charity stripe, which was below even their regular-season mark of 65 percent, and cut down on their 18 turnovers, an already lopsided game might have been over at halftime.

But the same strengths that overpowered the Knights could put North Carolina at least on notice on Thursday.

Florida Gulf Coast is an intriguing team thanks to its abundance of athleticism, an aggressive defense that is more than willing to crash the boards and an ability to score with regularity inside the paint. But it’s the versatility of forward Marc Eddy Norelia that made life miserable for Fairleigh Dickinson and will likely be the key if the Eagles are going to make any more history.

The 6-foot-8 forward was able to use his size to finish at the rim and showed a feathery touch from the elbow to keep defenders off-balance while knocking down his first seven field goal attempts, as the Eagles maintained a double-digit lead seemingly from start to finish. The Tar Heels will have better athletes to throw at Norelia and keep him from getting just about whatever shot he wants from the floor, and Power Five programs Texas A&M and Florida were both able to hold him in check with a combined 10 points in those two early-season matchups. But Norelia has been flourishing down the stretch and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds before grabbing some rest late in the blowout of the Knights, which could prove invaluable against the Tar Heels considering just how much the Florida Gulf Coast offense flows through him.

That attack didn’t electrify the crowd with a bunch of dunks in the return to the Big Dance. But that hardly mattered to this revamped version of the Eagles.
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