There have been several entertaining story lines in the mens NCAA
basketball tournament thus far: Harvard achieving its first win ever
over three-seed University of New Mexico; nine-seed Wichita State
defeating the West Regions top team, Gonzaga, and Ohio States Aaron
Craft hitting a three-point buzzer-beater on Sunday to defeat the
scrappy Iowa State Cyclones.
But the story of the week has to be the South regions fifteen-
seed Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles, who on Friday and Sunday
defeated, respectively, No. 2-seed Georgetown and No. 7-seed San
Diego State. It is another first for the tournament: a 15-seed has
never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. In fact, in the entire history
of the mens NCAA tournament, only seven 15-seeds had even won a
It is not unusual for teams the great and not-so-great to
endure a let down after a physically and emotionally draining win.
But in the case of the Fort Myers, Fla.-based Eagles, they seemed to
respond in the opposite manner. They dropped 81 points on the Aztecs
Sunday night, whose wheels effectively fell off after a 17-0 run
against them in the middle of a second half that was marked by
numerous uncharacteristic turnovers.
After the game, Florida Gulf Coasts coach Andy Enfield was asked
about their next opponent, the perennially powerful, No. 3 seed
University of Florida. He said that he had called the Gators before
the beginning of the season, trying to get a scrimmage on the
schedule, but that it was not to be. He wont need Floridas coach
Billy Donovan to take his call this time.
Witnessing this team on the sidelines or in the locker room, it
is obvious these guys are having great fun, and they appear to very
close knit. This has enabled them to play with an unusual brand of
abandon, and it was more than evident in the second half last night.
With point guard Brett Comer doing his best Jason Kidd imitation
from the top of the key and center Chase Fielers dunks seemingly
channeling Blake Griffin (minus the car), the Eagles were the more
athletic team, effortlessly siphoning off the enthusiasm of the
Aztecs. San Diegos coach Steve Fisher (himself owner of a Fort Myers
residence) was complimentary even if he mistakenly referred to
Florida Gulf Coast as Florida State University. Understandable as
most of America is just getting to know this remarkable team, which
has defeated its first two opponents by a combined 20 points.
The Eagles' captain and motivational leader is senior Sherwood
Brown, who routinely speaks to the team during half-time
intermissions. But following Sunday night's victory, Brown himself
got a boost from San Diego State star Jamaal Franklin, who exhibited
the true essence of sportsmanship when he sought out Brown, embraced
him and told the Eagles' forward that they played a great game and
to keep the dream going. …