Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

Get to know Florida Gulf Coast

ESTERO

Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield couldn't believe the turnout on Monday night as close to 4,000 fans packed into Alico Arena for a pep rally to celebrate the best story of the NCAA Tournament, both this week and in a long, long time. • The 15th-seeded Eagles — who knocked off second-seeded Georgetown and seventh-seeded San Diego State to become the first 15 seed in Sweet 16 history — are enjoying the national spotlight, putting their school that is located near Fort Myers on the map in the past four days. • Here's a quick primer to properly educate you on FGCU, so young a university that it welcomed its first students in 1997, after its current players were all born. Read up, and you can hold your own at the office water cooler.

1All the Enfield stories. FGCU's second-year coach spent five years as an FSU assistant before coming to the Eagles in 2011, and before that he was an NBA assistant for the Bucks and Celtics, and yes, he has a degree from Johns Hopkins, an MBA and was a partner in a software contract management company called TractManager, which was once valued at more than $100 million. He left college as the NCAA career leader in free-throw percentage (431 of 466, for 92.5 percent) … and he loves Taco Bell.

2Enfield is going to be getting a raise, very soon. He makes $157,500 in his FGCU contract. His recent success will almost assuredly draw much larger offers from much larger programs, so the question is this: What can the Eagles do to keep their beloved coach in Estero?

3 They really like to dunk. Alley-oops especially —- even in tight, late-game situations — but there are putbacks, two-handed dunks, you name it. They've proudly earned the nickname "Dunk City"; deadspin.com compiled all their NCAA Tournament dunks into one highlight video, and tightly edited, it was 2 minutes, 41 seconds long. Enjoy.

4 Brett Comer — rhymes with homer — is a joy to watch. The 6-3 sophomore point guard from Winter Park is fearless and visionary on the court. He had double doubles in both NCAA Tournament games, getting 14 assists in Sunday's win against San Diego State. How did so many bigger colleges miss him, especially when he played with Duke and NBA star Austin Rivers in high school?

5 They may have converted Urban Meyer. Meyer's daughter Gigi plays volleyball at FGCU, and she told the New York Daily News that her father called and texted her after the win, saying "I'm an Eagle. Go Eagles!" So yes, Meyer, now at Ohio State, will be cheering against the team he won two national titles coaching. File that under spending more time with the family.

6 The fan base still has growing to do. Let's give Cinderella some numbers. How about specialty license plates in the state of Florida? The Gators have 102,103, according to the latest data; Florida Gulf Coast has 1,378. And more than half of those (822) are right at home in Lee County … where the Gators have 2,289.

7Yes, Enfield's wife is a former supermodel. Amanda Marcum Enfield has been on covers of Maxim, Elle and Vogue and in ads for Victoria's Secret. She's getting the Katherine Webb treatment during games, but you'll find her watching closely over the Enfields' children —- daughters Aily and Lily and son Marcum.

8The crowd in Arlington is more than the Eagles are used to. There will be tens of millions of viewers who will be rooting for the same FGCU team that played a home game before 676 fans in beating Toledo in November (in fairness, it was right before Thanksgiving). The Eagles played five games to fewer than 1,000 fans this season; America's Darlings play in a 4,500-seat arena, in which they averaged 2,290 for home games this season.

9Lipscomb University can be proud this week. The school in Macon, Ga., has the honor of beating FGCU twice this season, certainly the highlight of a 12-18 season. The Eagles lost to three other teams with losing records: East Tennessee (10-22), Stetson (15-16) and Maine (11-19). Let's just say FGCU came together at the right time.

10They like to be called FGCU. Athletic director Ken Kavanagh wants FGCU to be like UNLV or UCLA, existing primarily on its letters. He has lobbied for ESPN to stop calling them "Florida GC" on its ticker and scoreboards.

 
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