Sweet 16 — yes, the FGCU men’s basketball team has been there. Last season FGCU men’s basketball team made it to the first round of Sweet 16. FGCU defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 96-65 in the first four, and lost to North Carolina 67-83 in the first round of Sweet 16. Dunk City stood up and putted a good fight with NC in the first half of the game. The score was 40-41 NC going into the second half.
With many new comers on the team such as C.J. Williamson, RaySean Scott Jr., Rendijs Feikners and Ricky Doyle, Dunk City is ready to bring home another ASUN championship banner and expecting to advance to the second round of the Sweet 16 this season.
“They’re doing pretty good right now,” Sam Pierre, a former FGCU student who’s in training camp and hoping to return to school next semester said. “Every season they’re coming back harder and harder. They’re progressing.”
Dunk City has what it takes to win the first round of Sweet 16, but as a team, FGCU men’s basketball still has a long way to go. They have to improve in all areas and become at least a number eight seed in order to have a chance to beat a number one seed.
“If we don’t get stuck with another number one seed, we have the chance to make it farther,” Pierre said. “We have the heart. We got the drive, just need to stay committed and finish strong.”
Florida Gulf Coast University is gaining attention and attracting eyes from all over the country. More and more people are starting to notice FGCU due to its sports programs — men’s soccer made it to the second round of NCAA tournament for the first time, women’s soccer won six straight ASUN championship and more.
But even then, there are still a lot of students and former students who have not yet been to one game to support the school. Some students prefer a football team rather than speeding so much in basketball, soccer, softball, baseball and other sports.
“Being that we don’t have a football team or any big sport, basketball is what I kind of look forward to,” said Nick Perez, a student at FGCU who recently went to a basketball game. “The game was a huge turnout; everyone was going crazy. I’m definitely going back this season, and it’s good to show the school spirit.”
FGCU dropped its opening game to the Florida Gators on Friday, Nov. 11 with a score of 59-80, but have not dropped one at home yet this season, and more students are coming out to watch the games because the school is making history and many of them want to be a part of that.
“I went to one game,” Sven Kraakman said. “The hype was really good. Everyone was talking about Sweet 16, and people start finding out who we are.”
After defeating Long Beach on over time by one point 68-67, the FGCU men’s basketball team crushed NAIA Ave Maria 120-60 on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
The Eagles’ 120 points is the most scored in FGCU’s Division I era. The FGCU broke its first record of 111 points in a triple overtime victory over Stetson in 2011.
“We got off a good start, and I thought the guys did a nice job at sharing the ball,” FGCU head coach Joe Dooley said. “It was a good to see some balance and get some guys some minutes especially.”
Zach Johnson did not play that game due to a sore foot. And Demetris Morant took advantage of unmatched Gyrenes. He turned the game into a dunk party, throwing down four dunks in the Eagle’s victory to matched his career-high in points with 14 and four blocks.
“It felt really good to actually score the ball,” Morant said. “We all know that I’m a defensive player, and that’s what I aim to do— be the best I can on defense and worry about offense later.”
Marc-Eddy Norelia, returning for the first time this season after suffering a broken arm, played 18 minutes and scored 6 points on 3 for 5 shooting. Brandon Goodwin became the leading scorer for the Eagles, averaging 18 points per game.
Brandon Goodwin, Christian Terrell and Demetris Morant led the team by scoring a combined 62 points. With 10 minutes left in the game, Dooley rested all of his starters. In the last 3:44 left to play up 107-54, FGCU’s Maxx Bleecher led all walk-ons in scoring seven points on 3 for 3 shooting from the field. He knocked down the triple that broke the Eagle’s DI program record for points scores in a game.
After defeating Georgetown Southwestern 85-82 on the road and returning home to beat Sienna 73-69, the Eagles are now (6-3).