FGCU fans celebrate upset win
Eagles beat Aztecs in the third round ...
PHILADELPHIA — Where do you begin?
It’s not just that they did something no one else has ever done before, as the first 15th seed to ever make the Sweet 16. It’s HOW the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team did it.
Georgetown and San Diego State shut teams down defensively. The Hoyas give up 56 points a game and the Aztecs 60. FGCU scored 78 and 81 points, respectively, against them.
No one shoved it down Georgetown’s throat this year at any point in any game. FGCU did with a 21-2 run in four and a half minutes.
The Aztecs played 14 games against NCAA tournament teams this year. They play in the Mountain West Conference, one of the toughest this year. Yet there was FGCU rattling off 17 unanswered points midway through the second half, when the game was there for the taking.
These Eagles play with an admitted chip on their shoulders. Not in a nasty, in-your-face way. Just in a “We were tired of losing and we know we are better than people think we are” way.
They beat ACC champion Miami in mid-November and won 24 games this year, yet most of the national media wouldn’t refer to the team by its NAME! They were Florida G. C. or Gulf Coast or FL Glf Cst. Doug Gottlieb of CBS said “Georgetown is losing to the Univ. of Phoenix.”
No, they got a beatdown at the hands of FGCU!
By late Sunday night, respect and admiration was coming from everywhere. San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher led Michigan to the national championship and coached the Fab 5 to back-to-back title games. He said this about the Eagles.
“They have a swagger and they deserve to have it,” Fisher said. “They are a really good basketball team. If we lined the 68 teams up and played shirts and skins, these guys would be in the top half of the tourney.”
He paused for a few moments and then said, “They just ran us off the floor.”
Yes they did. This was no fluke.
Call ’em Cinderella if you’d like, but it implies a certain “magic” is taking place that otherwise did not exist. This is not magic. This is what relentless looks like on a basketball court.
This is what an athletic group of guys who all live in the same dorm and think of each as “family” can play like when they know the next time they lose their season is over.
Because of them, FGCU will never be the same. In many ways, neither will Southwest Florida. This basketball team has given a school an identity and a region something that bonds us.
These Eagles made history.
David Moulton co-hosts “Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon” weekdays 2 to 6 p.m. on Southwest Florida’s ESPN Radio (101.5 FM Bonita/North Naples, 105.1 FM Naples/Marco Island).