Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FGCU enjoying Philly's embrace

Florida Gulf Coast’s Chase Fieler hangs from the rim after a spectacular dunk during Friday night’s win over Georgetown.

Associated Press

Florida Gulf Coast’s Chase Fieler hangs from the rim after a spectacular dunk during Friday night’s win over Georgetown.

PHILADELPHIA — Since Florida Gulf Coast became a national darling Friday night, a fake Twitter account has been created for guard Sherwood Brown with more followers than his actual Twitter account. And coach Andy Enfield's cell phone showed 450 text messages, including one from a high school classmate with strategic advice.

This is life as Cinderella. And the 15th-seeded Eagles are doing it in Philadelphia, a city that embraces underdogs and Eagles — and it's even better when they're one and the same.

During Friday's upset of second-seeded Georgetown, the Wells Fargo Center crowd went into a frenzy for the school few had known about hours earlier.

"I feel like a lot of people out here in Philly make it seem like we're actually their home team," Brown said.

Florida Gulf Coast, which faces seventh-seeded San Diego State at 7:10 tonight, is the seventh 15th seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the round of 32. No 15th seed has ever reached the Sweet 16.

"That should be a goal of ours," Enfield said. "Thanks for telling me."

There's a heightened sense of awareness about the Eagles, so they won't take anyone by surprise. There's also a groundswell of support that accompanies the national spotlight — Charles Barkley interviewed Enfield and Brown on Saturday — and it becomes more difficult to say nobody believes in them.

"That's where you got to trust the maturity of your guys," said Creighton assistant coach Steve Merfeld, who coached 15th-seeded Hampton to an upset in 2001. "They got to let it go and move on to the next game, and they got to believe they can beat (San Diego State). And they can. That's the challenge of the coaching staff right now: to not allow them to be satisfied."

It's clear confidence is not an issue. Point guard Brett Comer had the audacity to hurl a risky alley-oop pass in the final minutes of what was becoming a close game. Brown flexes and blows kisses to the crowd. Before winning the Atlantic Sun tournament final to clinch their spot in the NCAA Tournament, forward Eddie Murray said the team played freeze tag to get loose.

So it made sense that with the Eagles on the verge of history, they huddled around a TV on Saturday watching discussion about today's game. Because why not have fun while it lasts.

"There's really no pressure on us," Murray said. "Everything we do from here on out, nothing is really expected of us. But we expect it of ourselves."

FGCU enjoying Philly's embrace 03/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday


    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  2. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. Signs point to Jameis Winston dressing vs. Bills


    TAMPA — The Bucs didn't sign another quarterback Wednesday, which would suggest they are confident that Jameis Winston can be active as a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday at Buffalo if he doesn't start.

  5. FSU doesn't feel need for ongoing reminder of last year's beatdown at Louisville


    Of course Florida State remembers what happened against Louisville last year. The 63-20 loss was one of the worst defeats in Seminoles history.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson looks back at the action from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Murray State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)