GAME PREVIEW: No. 6 FGCU Set For A-Sun Semifinal Showdown With No. 2 Mercer
Friday, March 02, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (pierson_sid)
Thompson produced his 22nd double figure performance in last night's win over USC Upstate. (A-Sun Photos)
Thompson produced his 22nd double figure performance in last night's win over USC Upstate. (A-Sun Photos)
Florida Gulf Coast (15-16 (8-10ASun))
Mercer (22-11 (13-5ASun))
3/2/2012 | Macon, Ga. - University Center | Attendance: 3497
Florida Gulf Coast303262
Stats at a GlanceFGCUMER
FG Percentage.438 (21-48) .412 (21-51)
3P FG Percentage.333 (7-21) .353 (6-17)
FT Percentage.650 (13-20) .556 (10-18)
Offensive Rebounds913
Defensive Rebounds2123
Total Rebounds3036
Bench Points2511
Statistical LeadersFGCUMER
PointsBROWN - 14
ReboundsBROWN - 5
AssistsCOMER - 5
HALL - 2
StealsFIELER - 2
BlocksFIELER - 1

No. 6 FGCU (14-16, 8-10 A-SUN) vs. No. 2 Mercer (22-10, 13-5 A-SUN)
ROUND: Semifinals
DATE: Friday, March 2, 2012
CITY: Macon, Ga.
SITE: University Center (3,200)
TIP-OFF: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Comcast Sports South - Ch. 70 (SWFL)
TALENT: Matt Stewart (P-B-P) & Sonny Smith (Analyst)
RADIO: ESPN 770AM - Fort Myers
www.770ESPN.com & www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TALENT: David Moulton (P-B-P) & Mark Miller (Analyst)
TWITTER: @fgcueagles/#FGCU/#MaconMadness
SERIES: Mercer leads, 9-1
LAST MEETING: Jan. 30, 2012 - Mercer 75, @FGCU 66
UP NEXT WITH A WIN: Saturday, March 3 - 7 p.m. vs. No. 1 Belmont or No. 4 ETSU

Sixth-seeded FGCU will look to become the sixth team in the 33-year history of the Atlantic Sun Tournament to make the championship game in its first-ever conference postseason appearance when it takes on second-seeded Mercer on Friday night in the semifinals. The game will be televised live on Comcast Sports South - channel 70 in southwest Florida - with Matt Stewart and Sonny Smith on the call. The Eagles' 71-61 win over third-seeded USC Upstate in the quarterfinals on Thursday night marked the sixth time in the last seven years of the A-Sun Tournament that the No. 6 seed has won a game. The No. 6 seed has also advanced to the championship game the last two years (UNF - 2011, Mercer - 2010).

A trio of Eagles earned postseason honors from the Atlantic Sun when awards were dished out on Monday evening. Junior SHERWOOD BROWN - one of two players in the A-Sun in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding - earned a spot on the All-Conference second team, while rookies BRETT COMER and BERNARD THOMPSON occupied two of the five spots on the A-Sun All-Freshmen team. Brown is the team leader in both scoring (12.8) and rebounding (6.0), figures that are ninth in the A-Sun. A unanimous All-Freshmen choice, Thompson averages 11.9 points, while leading all conference rookies in rebounding (5.2) and steals (1.9). Comer leads the A-Sun in assists (5.6) and is second among freshman nationally, while producing 8.4 points per contest. FGCU has placed a player on the All-Conference second team two years in a row and at least one rookie on the All-Freshmen team three consecutive years.

On March 31st, the FGCU men’s basketball program got a new look for its 10th season in program history when ANDY ENFIELD was named head coach. Enfield, who spent the previous five years as an assistant with Florida State, is the second head coach in FGCU’s brief history. While at FSU, Enfield was a part of two teams that advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and back-to-back clubs that lead the NCAA in defensive field goal percentage.

• First A-Sun Tournament Berth in First Year of Eligibility
• First A-Sun Tournament Win
• Division I Record For Wins (14)
• Most A-Sun Wins (8)
• Single-Season Record For A-Sun Road Wins (4)
• Program's First Road Wins at Lipscomb, Kennesaw State and Jacksonville
• First Time in D-1 Era With a .500 Record in February (13-13 - Feb. 13)

Led by fourth-year head coach Bob Hoffman, Mercer's blend of youth and experience helped the Bears (22-10) earn the No. 2 seed after a 13-5 campaign in the A-Sun. The Bears opened the 2012 A-Sun Tournament on their home court with a 61-53 win over No. 7 Lipscomb to advance to the semifinals for the third consecutive year. Like FGCU, the Bears sport a balanced scoring attack that features six players at 8.3 points per game or better. A-Sun All-Conference first team choice Langston Hall leads the way at 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists from the PG position.

HOW WE GOT HERE: #6 FGCU - 71, #3 USC Upstate - 61
MACON, Ga. - Behind a 24-10 run to open the second half, the sixth-seeded FGCU men’s basketball team erased a seven-point halftime deficit with a strong final 20 minutes to defeat third-seeded USC Upstate, 71-61, on Thursday night in the final Atlantic Sun Tournament quarterfinal contest at the University Center. • Playing its first-ever A-Sun Tournament, FGCU (14-16) advances to Friday’s semifinals to face tournament host and second-seeded Mercer (22-10). • As it has been all year, balance was theme for FGCU, as five players reached double figures for the ninth time this season (9-0). Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL led the way with 14 points and six rebounds off the bench, marking the 12th time this season the team’s leading scorer has come off the pine. Varidel and Cvjeticanin, who rank third and second in the A-Sun in three-point percentage, respectively, combined to go 6-of-11 from deep. • Just a week removed from giving up 15 three-pointers to the Spartans in an 87-74 loss on Feb. 23, FGCU held USC Upstate to just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc. Full court pressure and a terrific one-on-one defensive job by junior SHERWOOD BROWN on A-Sun Player of the Year Torrey Craig were crucial in the Eagles limiting the Spartans to a 26.8 percent shooting clip (11-41) in the second half. • After shooting 25 percent in the first half, the Green and Blue shot a healthy 53 percent (16-30) in the final stanza that was keyed by a 6-of-9 performance beyond the arc. The Eagles, who were swept by the Spartans in the regular season, out-scored USC Upstate 50-34 in the second half.

One of just two players in the Atlantic Sun that ranks in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding, junior SHERWOOD BROWN has upped his game since being inserted back into the starting lineup 12 games ago. Over the last 12 games, Brown has reached double figures 11 times with a trio of 20-point efforts and a pair of double-doubles. The Orlando product's 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds over the 12 games have put him into ninth in the A-Sun in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (6.0)

FGCU's freshmen class has made a huge impact in their first season, accounting for 48 percent of the scoring (34.9), 36 percent of the rebounds (12.9) and 65 percent of the assists (8.7). At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 27 of 30 games, while the Eagles are 8-2 when three members of the quartet accomplish the feat. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.8 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Against Kennesaw State and Stetson, four freshmen reached double figures - the most in a single game in program history and the only two times this season in the nation .

Freshmen BERNARD THOMPSON and BRETT COMER made strong cases for A-Sun Freshman of the Year and found their way onto the All-Freshmen team. Thompson leads all A-Sun rookies in rebounding (5.2) and steals (1.9), while ranking second in scoring (11.8) - figures that are all in the top 20 in the A-Sun. Comer leads the league in assists (5.6) and is fifth among freshman in scoring (8.7). Thompson has led FGCU in scoring 10 times thanks to a team-best 22 double figure outings, while Comer has been the team leader in assists 27 times. Freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN ranks second in the A-Sun and first among freshman in three-point percentage (.444). Thompson won the A-Sun Newcomer of the Week award two times, including the final one of the season, while Comer earned the accolade once.

Named the A-Sun Player of the Week on Jan. 31, junior SHERWOOD BROWN leads the team in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (6.0) - figures that rank 10th in the A-Sun. With team-bests of four 20-point games and three double-doubles, Brown has reached double figures 19 times in 26 contests and ranks among the A-Sun leaders in nine different categories. Brown is vying to become the third player in FGCU history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season. All rankings are from regular season.

A season-best six players reached double figures for the second time this year in FGCU's win over Lipscomb, while at least five players have done so in nine times (9-0), and the Eagles are 10-4 when four or more players reach double-digits in the same game. Freshman BRETT COMER'S 24 points at Stetson were the most by an Eagle this season as he became the fourth player to reach the 20 point plateau. A total of eight players have reached double-digits this season, while seven have done so at least 10 times. Six different players have led the team in scoring at least once.

Over its last seven games, FGCU has been dominant on the offensive glass, averaging 15.9 offensive caroms. The Eagles turned 73 offensive rebounds in the last four games into 83 second chance points.

Second in the A-Sun at a 37.9 percent clip from three-point range and third with 7.9 treys per game, FGCU boasts four players in the top 12 individually by percentage. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is second in the A-Sun (.444), freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN in third (.441), freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is ninth (.386) and junior SHERWOOD BROWN (.373) is 12th.

Highlighted by a program Division I record 64.7 percent shooting night (33-51) at Stetson on Jan. 20, FGCU is third in the A-Sun in field goal percentage (.461) and second in three-point percentage (.376). The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just seven times (1-6), while going 8-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau. FGCU shot 50 percent or better in three straight games (@Stetson, Longwood, Kennesaw State), a program Division I record and just the fourth time in the 10 years of the program it has been accomplished. The Green and Blue's current 45.8 field goal percentage is on pace to break the single-season record.

Freshman BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun, is second among all freshmen and 36th nationally in assists per game (5.6). Highlighted by his 12-assist night against Longwood, Comer is the first A-Sun player since 2007 to have four double figure assist games in the same season. He has led the team in assists in all but three games and has passed out seven or more helpers 10 times. His 166 assists on the season rank fifth in single-season history, while he is trying to become the first freshman to lead the league in assists since Mercer's James Florence did so in 2006-07.

FGCU averages 28.5 points per game off the bench. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 25 games, including the team's leading scorer on 12 occasions, while scoring 25+ points 21 times as a unit. At SMU, sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL poured in 20 points on 6-of-7 from three-point land and turned in another 20-point game against Maine to account for the top two bench efforts. Against Longwood, the bench produced 49 points for their third 40+ point night of the season. FGCU has won the battle of the benches in 25 of 30 games.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double-digits 10 times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is averaging 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points for his first double-double, and had a career-high 15 points against Kennesaw State. Fieler leads the team with 36 blocks and is coming off four rejections against USC Upstate. .