MEN'S BASKETBALL | Florida Gulf Coast First Obstacle
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 22:03
The news that second-seeded Georgetown has drawn a little-known, well-coached, possibly underseeded squad in its first-round game has many citizens of Hoya Nation cringing with unpleasant flashbacks of upsets past.
That’s understandable given the team’s recent tournament history. But who are the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast? And does the Hilltop really need to fear them?
The short answer: maybe.
While FGCU is new to the Big Dance, Georgetown definitely can’t expect its opponents to be dazed by the bright lights of the big stage. The Eagles played a tough nonconference schedule, complete with a win at eventual two-seed Miami and a close loss to the Big East’s St. John’s.
Blowout losses to Duke and Virginia Commonwealth aren’t particularly impressive on the resume, of course, but the games give the Atlantic Sun squad valuable experience against big-time opponents.
“We will not be intimidated,” Head Coach Andy Enfield told the Associated Press after the Eagles’ Atlantic Sun tournament victory. “We’ve seen it all. We’re going to have fun with it. Whoever we play, we’ll give it our best shot.”
Senior guard Sherwood Brown paces the Eagles on offense at just over 15 points and six rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Bernard Thompson chips in 14 points and nearly three steals, and classmate Brett Comer dishes the ball to the tune of 6.3 dimes per game.
Enfield, who has drawn praise for bringing home the A-Sun title and NCAA berth in only his second year at the helm, will likely attempt to frustrate the Hoyas with a two-three zone for at least some of the game. Georgetown showed its vulnerability to an aggressive zone scheme in the Big East championship against Syracuse, when Orange Head Coach Jim Boeheim moved his back line up to crowd Georgetown star Otto Porter Jr. and close out on the Hoyas’ three-point shooters.
Still, the Florida Gulf Coast zone isn’t the Syracuse zone, and the Wells Fargo Center isn’t Madison Square Garden. Georgetown may have some trouble early, especially if freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera continues his cold spell, but the Hoyas’ superior talent should be too much to handle as the game progresses.
Look for Head Coach John Thompson III to turn up the heat on the Eagles’ backcourt — specifically Comers, who turns the ball over 3.6 times per game. The Hoyas have shown an increased willingness to push the ball in the second half of the season, so FGCU miscues could turn into Georgetown buckets very, very quickly. If the Hoyas can rattle the Eagles early, force turnovers and get out in transition, pencil this in as an easy win against an overmatched team.
If the Blue and Gray don’t manage that, however, we might be treated to something more along the lines of ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s prediction: The famed “bracketologist” expects a brutally ugly game to be tied at 50 with four minutes to play before Georgetown pulls out a win.
Should Georgetown advance, it would get the winner of No. 7 seed San Diego State and No. 10 Oklahoma in the round of 32. But Thompson III isn’t worried about that — not yet, anyway.
“As a head coach, I’m just worried about Florida-Gulf Coast,” he said on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. “You have numbers next to each team’s name, but everybody’s good. Everybody’s playing well. Everybody has confidence in how they go about their business. So this isn’t the time of year to start looking at names on jerseys.”