Florida Gulf Coast University Redefines 'Cinderella'

By Hartman, Christopher | The Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 2013 | Go to article overview

Florida Gulf Coast University Redefines 'Cinderella'


Hartman, Christopher, The Christian Science Monitor


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 single game.

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. …

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Florida Gulf Coast University Redefines 'Cinderella'
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