GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Looks to Bounce Back Against Jacksonville
Sunday, January 08, 2012
Junior Sherwood Brown is second on the team in both scoring (11.5) and rebounding (5.1). Photo by Dennis Snyder
Junior Sherwood Brown is second on the team in both scoring (11.5) and rebounding (5.1). Photo by Dennis Snyder
Jacksonville (2-14, 0-5 A-Sun)
Florida Gulf Coast (7-9, 3-3 A-Sun)
1/9/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 1273
Florida Gulf Coast403777
Stats at a GlanceJUFGCU
FG Percentage.424 (25-59) .521 (25-48)
3P FG Percentage.263 (5-19) .500 (7-14)
FT Percentage.611 (11-18) .769 (20-26)
Offensive Rebounds106
Defensive Rebounds2027
Total Rebounds3033
Bench Points1630
Statistical LeadersJUFGCU
PointsMcDOUGALD - 16
ReboundsGRAHAM - 6
TEAM - 6
AssistsCABELL - 6
StealsCABELL - 2
BlocksPOWELL - 1

FGCU (6-9, 2-3 A-SUN) vs. Jacksonville (2-13, 0-4 A-SUN)
DATE: Monday, Jan. 9, 2012
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 7:30 p.m. ET
TALENT: Tom James (P-B-P)
J. Webb Horton (Analyst)
AT HOME: 5-2
SERIES: Jacksonville leads, 7-1
AT FGCU: Jacksonville leads, 3-1
LAST MEETING: @FGCU 56, Jacksonville 55 - Feb. 24, 2011

FGCU will cap its two-game Atlantic Sun homestand on Monday night when it hosts Jacksonville at Alico Arena. The Eagles will look to put Saturday's heartbreaking overtime loss to North Florida behind them and attempt to beat the Dolphins for the second straight meeting. FGCU is 5-2 at Alico Arena this season, while Jacksonville will play its league-leading 12th road game (1-10) on Monday night. Freshman BRETT COMER scored 19 points and redshirt junior EDDIE MURRAY added 13 points - both career-highs - against UNF, but the Eagles let a 17-point halftime lead slip away before falling in their first overtime game of the season and just the second in the last 48 contests.

Last season at Alico Arena, FGCU snapped a seven-game losing streak against Jacksonville with a dramatic 56-55 win. After JU's Keith McDougald hit a three with 9.2 second left, then-freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL buried a three-pointer of his own with 2.2 seconds remaining to lift the Eagles from a possible heartbreaking defeat to a thrilling first-ever win over the Dolphins. Prior to that game, Jacksonville had won the first seven meetings between the two clubs by an average of 14.5 points per game.

FGCU leads the A-Sun at a 39.2 percent clip from three-point range for the season, a mark that ranks 18th in the nation. The Eagles have made at least eight threes in eight of the last nine games and are fourth in the A-Sun at a 7.3 per game clip. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL leads the conference individually, shooting 49 percent (34-70) from beyond the arc. Defensively, FGCU is limiting opponents to 33.8 percent from long range.

Coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons under head coach Cliff Warren, Jacksonville was slotted to finish third in the A-Sun preseason media poll. The Dolphins' current 11-game losing streak features eight road games and has seen JU hold just two teams below 70 points during that span. An active and athletic frontcourt highlights the JU lineup led by forwards Glenn Powell and Delwan Graham who combine for 21.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. Despite being undersized at 6-foot-5, Powell ranks amongst the A-Sun best in several categories; scoring (11.7/13th), field goal percentage (.545/4th), rebounding (7.3/3rd), offensive rebounds (2.6/5th) and blocks (1.5/3rd). Graham is posting 9.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Graham is in the top three on the team in nearly every category, trying to replace the shoes of three-time A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Hardy, who graduated last year.

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.

A season-best five players reached double figures in FGCU's two wins over Toledo and Maine, while FGCU is 3-2 when four or more players reach double figures in the same game. A total of eight players have reached the double-digit plateau this season, while freshman BERNARD THOMPSON (12.2), junior SHERWOOD BROWN (11.5) and sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL (10.5) all rank in the top 25 in the A-Sun in scoring. Out of the eight different players who have scored double figures, five have led the team in scoring at least once, including three off the bench.

Ranking among the leaders in the A-Sun Conference in three statistical categories, freshman BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun and is fourth among all freshmen nationally in assists per game (5.4). He has reached double figures in six games, resulting in 8.7 points per game. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and has passed out seven or more helpers five times. Last game against UNF, Comer scored a season-high 19 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds.

Through 15 games, FGCU averages 27.1 points per game off the bench, a figure that results in a +5.7 margin per game. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 12 games, including the team's leading scorer on eight occasions, while supplying 25+ points 10 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. Looking further, the bench is shooting 47 percent (141-300) from the field and 45 percent (61-137) from three.

Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has found his stroke that helped him finish fifth in the nation among all freshmen in 2010-11 with 78 three-pointers. Varidel leads the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.486). He is also seventh in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.3). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game seven times this season. He has also reached double-digits six times, including a team-best two 20-point outings.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 48 percent of the scoring, 35 percent of the rebounds and 65 percent of the assists. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 12.2 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Point guard BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun with 5.4 assists per game, a mark that ranks fourth among freshmen nationally and 40th overall. Comer is tied for fourth on the team in scoring (8.6) followed classmate Dante Holmes (7.9). Thompson's 12.2 points are tops among all freshmen and have come on a team-high 11 double figure outings. FILIP CVJETICANIN has reached double figures three times and is shooting 43 percent from three, good for sixth in the A-Sun. At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 13 of 15 games.

Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON earned a pair of weekly awards earlier in the week. He was named the College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week, while the league office named him the Newcomer of the Week last Tuesday. The award came after Thompson had 15 points and nine rebounds against Maine and followed with 13 points at Mercer.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double-digits six times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is averaging 6.7 points and a team-high 5.2 rebounds. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points and a career-best five assists for his first double-double. Fieler leads the team in both rebounds and blocks (1.2), figures that rank 17th and seventh in the A-Sun, respectively. The Parkersburg, W. Va. product also leads the team with 27 offensive rebounds.

Aside from being the league's top scoring freshman (12.2), BERNARD THOMPSON has used is long 6-foot-3 frame to his benefit on the defensive end. Thompson has a steal in 13 straight games, ranking second in the A-Sun at 2.0 thefts per game. During the current 13-game streak, Thompson has 11 multi-steal performances, highlighted by four against UNF. Thompson is on pace for 60 steals, a mark that would finish top five in single-season history.

FGCU not only leads the A-Sun in three-point shooting percentage, but also overall field goal percentage at a 46 percent clip. The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just one time this season, while going 3-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau. Only one player in the normal nine-man FGCU rotation is shooting below 42 percent.

Coming off a season in which he played just 84 total minutes, redshirt junior EDDIE MURRAY is thriving under the guidance of first-year head coach ANDY ENFIELD. Armed with athleticism and leadership, Murray is providing a youthful roster with career-highs of 7.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The Fort Myers product produced his first career double-double against Toledo, going for 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds over 36 minutes. Murray is shooting 58 percent (40-68) from the floor over 21 minutes per game. Murray has nearly hit all the totals he put up through two full seasons in just 15 games this year.

Highlighted by his first career double-double at Miami and a 20-point outing against ETSU, junior SHERWOOD BROWN has carried over a strong finish to his sophomore campaign into this season. Brown has reached double figures six times in 11 contests, ranking second on the team in both scoring (11.5) and ranking second in rebounding (5.1) - figures that rank 15th and 18th in the A-Sun, respectively. Sparked by a career-high 26 points in last year's season finale at USC Upstate, Brown finished last February (10 games) with a 11.2 scoring average - more than four points above his season mark. Brown reached double figures in each of the final four games, averaging 18.3 points while leading the team in scoring three times. Brown's strong end to last season was capped by a career-high 26 points at USC Upstate that included seven three-pointers.

A big part of the early success of the FGCU bench has been the performances by freshman BERNARD THOMPSON and sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL off the pine. Both have also been in the starting lineup, but have turned in season-highs off the bench. Thompson has reached double figures all three games off the bench, averaging 14.7 points while shooting 53 percent (16-30). Varidel's 11.3 points per game average off the pine is 3.6 points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU and against Maine, 17 at Loyola Maryland and 16 against Toledo to lead the team in scoring all four times off the bench.

Highlighted by freshman BERNARD THOMPSON'S 18 points at Kennesaw State and three second half performances of 15 points by three different players, FGCU has turned in some great stretches over the final 20 minutes. At Miami, FGCU tied a program D-1 record for second half points given up by limiting the Hurricanes to 18 points on 4-of-24 from the field. At Nebraska, the Eagles limited the Huskers to just 25 second half points. SHERWOOD BROWN (at Miami), BRETT COMER (Ave Maria) and Thompson (at Loyola) have all scored 15 points in one second half. More proof of FGCU's balance, five different players have scored double figure points in at least one second half.