Focused FGCU still enjoying experience
If the Eagles beat the Aztecs on Sunday, they will become the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16.
03/24/2013 12:01 AM
03/24/2013 12:25 AM
While the partying may still be going on back home in Fort Myers, it’s not here.
Knocking off Georgetown was Friday’s news for Florida Gulf Coast University, but hardly an upset in their minds. The focus on Sunday is San Diego State and a chance to become the first No. 15 team in NCAA history to make the Sweet 16.
If they don’t get there it won’t be because they were still celebrating.
“Everyone back home has been texting me and I’ve been getting things on Facebook,” said FGCU’s sixth man, Eddie Murray, who threw down a couple of highlight-reel dunks in Friday’s 78-68 win. “Fort Myers is kind of rocking and rolling right now. This is a big thing for the city and I’m glad we could deliver.
“But going forward, this morning it was a different feeling. We’re starting to get focused again and getting ready for San Diego State.”
That’s the universal feeling among the 25-10 Eagles. While FGCU has suddenly become everyone’s darling, perhaps even the favorite tonight against an SDSU team built in much their same image, they’d rather lay in the weeds.
“There’s really no pressure on us,” said Murray, who grew up just outside campus and hardly played until Andy Enfield arrived two years ago. “Everything we do from here on out, nothing is really expected of us. But we expect it of ourselves.”
That’s precisely the way Enfield wants them thinking. That’s why he’s not answering most of the 450 texts he received since the buzzer went off Friday, having to first off deal with a cranky 2-year-old, then watch film of the Aztecs, before dozing off for an hour.
But as the Hoyas will tell you through their tears, if anyone dares sleep on FGCU they’re asking for trouble.
“My players, they have unique personalities,” said Enfield, who later told how his courtship with his wife, Amanda, then a supermodel, began at an NIT game in New York. “I think that helps them tremendously in games because they don’t care who we play. They don’t care what stage they’re on. They just have this unique confidence about them to compete.
“This is a time of their lives. They need to enjoy this, embrace the moment. We’re a big underdog. I want them to take a deep breath and remember this the rest of their lives.”
Taking care of Steve Fisher’s 23-10 Aztecs, featuring multi-talented Jamal Franklin, who leads his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, will only enhance that.
“Georgetown is more of a slow-paced team,” said FGCU’s leading scorer Sherwood Brown, the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the year. “San Diego State is kind of like us. They like to get out and run. They shoot a lot in transition like we do.”
Enfield & Co. could force a Sweet Sixteen matchup versus. Florida on Thursday in Dallas if both win on Sunday.
“We’ll prepare for tomorrow’s game like we’ve done all year long,” said Enfield, who took the podium, following up Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who was asked more questions about FGCU than his own Blue Devils.
“I don’t know if we [we are going to win this basketball game]. But if we do things offensively and defensively like we have been doing, there’s a good chance we will win the game.”
After all, it’s worked 25 times so far.
“Our style of play hasn’t really done us wrong so far,” point guard Brett Comer said. “So we’re going to stick with what we do and hopefully we get more stops than San Diego State.
“I’m pretty sure nobody here has really heard of us before this game. We put on a show, though, last night. We had everybody happy and having fun watching us play. So I’m pretty confident.”
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