Florida Gulf Coast is back in the NCAA Tournament! Dunk City! Woo! Remember them, and all the cool stuff they did in 2013? They're back in the tournament after winning the Atlantic Sun tournament, beating Stetson in the final Sunday.
If we're being completely honest, this Florida Gulf Coast squad bears pretty much no resemblance to the one you remember from 2013. Only one player, senior reserve Filip Cvjeticanin, remains from 2013, and he didn't play a ton then and doesn't play a ton now. Andy Enfield, the coach of that FGCU team, left after the season for the USC job, replaced by longtime Kansas assistant Joe Dooley. Dooley has completely remodeled the team, which is now less about high-flying transition offense and more about effective, methodical defense.
Is this a bit of a bummer? Yes, surely. But they're still about as likely to ruin somebody's NCAA Tournament dreams as they were back in 2013. Like that team, this was the second-best in the Atlantic Sun conference, but beat the top team in the league's tournament. Except this time, that win was an 89-56 beatdown of North Florida on North Florida's court.
The Eagles might be less fun this time around, but they were still capable of shellacking their conference's best team. Maybe they're capable of March magic again. Besides, if you want to keep calling them "Dunk City," you totally can.
Here's everything you need to know about the school that brought us one of the best stories in recent NCAA memory and their 2016 edition.
How could they pull an upset?
One good thing about FGCU from an upset perspective is they take things slowly. They're 260th in pace, averaging just 67.2 possessions per game. As a likely 15- or 16-seed, they'll be playing one of the best teams in college basketball, so each possession they play will give their opponent more opportunity to show their advantages. FGCU is comfortable operating at a slower pace, which should help that.
The Eagles do their best work from within the two-point arc. Even with their conference tournament in the books, the Eagles took under 500 threes this season. Right now only 43 teams have attempted fewer than 500 threes, and that number will only drop.
But they've been effective from short range, thanks in large part to Haitian-born Tulane transfer Marc Eddy Norelia. He averages 17.2 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. He's a multifaceted big man who can score with his strength, with post moves, or with his jumper. The majority of his buckets aren't even assisted.
Our seven favorite things about FGCU 2013
This happened three years ago, but whatever. It's still wonderful and amazing that a new school nobody had heard of with no NCAA tournament trips to its memory made the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed.
1. This dance
2. This dunk
3. This dance
4. This dunk
5. This picture Chase Fieler took from his Fort Myers dorm room
6. This soda (champagne?) shower
7. This dance
More Appropriate Names for FGCU, 2016
If FGCU wins a game in this tournament, they won't do it by dunking all over their opponent like three years ago. So we've concocted some other names, all of which definitely have the potential to catch on as viral hits. Come on, guys, I need your help here.
- Perimeter Defense Town
- Nifty Postmovesburg
- Methodical Temposville
Remember to credit Rodger Sherman when tweeting out these hot FGCU nicknames, all of which will surely go viral. You're welcome.
Could FGCU actually pull an upset?
It'd be a toughie. The 2013 FGCU team went 13-3 in conference, and had already proved their mettle by winning against the eventual ACC champion Miami. This FGCU team went 8-6 in conference, and lost both of their games against power-conference schools. Their marquee win is the victory over North Florida in the tournament, and their 10-point loss to Texas A&M is the closest thing they have to a victory over an NCAA Tournament team.