GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Back in Action on Thursday Against Toledo
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Freshman Dante Holmes had a season-high 15 points last time out against USC Upstate. (Photo By Dennis Snyder)
Freshman Dante Holmes had a season-high 15 points last time out against USC Upstate. (Photo By Dennis Snyder)
Toledo (7-5)
Florida Gulf Coast (4-7)
12/22/2011 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 1314
Florida Gulf Coast463783
Stats at a GlanceTOLEDOFGCU
FG Percentage.452 (28-62) .508 (31-61)
3P FG Percentage.379 (11-29) .364 (8-22)
FT Percentage.619 (13-21) .565 (13-23)
Offensive Rebounds1512
Defensive Rebounds2222
Total Rebounds3734
Bench Points1721
Statistical LeadersTOLEDOFGCU
PointsBROWN - 29
ReboundsPEARSON - 12
AssistsBROWN - 7
StealsPEARSON - 1
BlocksBUCKLEY - 1
DEAR - 1

FGCU (3-7, 1-1 A-SUN) vs. Toledo (7-4)
DATE: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 7:05 p.m. ET
TALENT: Gary Sharp (P-B-P)
J. Webb Horton (Analyst)
SERIES: Toledo leads, 1-0
LAST MEETING: @Toledo 75, FGCU 63 - Dec. 18, 2010
VS. THE MAC: 0-1

FGCU will finish up play before the Christmas break on Thursday night when it returns to non-conference action against Mid-American Conference (MAC) foe Toledo at Alico Arena. Both teams are coming off tough losses in the previous two nights, falling in their home arenas by a combined seven points. FGCU's fifth loss by five points or less came on Monday when it dropped an 80-75 decision against USC Upstate in an A-Sun showdown. The Eagles are 3-1 at Alico Arena this season, while Toledo is leaving home for just the second time since Nov. 21.

The two teams met for the first time last season in Ohio, as the Rockets erased a 14-point first half deficit with a big second half for the win. FGCU even held an 11-point lead five minutes into the second half, but Toledo went on to out-score the Eagles 45-26 in the final frame. Then-freshman Reese Holliday had a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead Toledo, as the two teams each made double-digit three-pointers.

Eight different players have reached double figures in a game for FGCU, while four different players have led the team in scoring, including three off the bench. Looking further, junior SHERWOOD BROWN became the first player to lead the team in scoring in two straight games against ETSU and Nebraska, while sophomore Chase Fieler is the only player to lead FGCU in rebounding in back-to-back games. Six players are playing 20 or more minutes per game, while nine players are above 13 per contest.

After a season-opening loss against Texas State, Toledo rattled off six straight wins and currently sits at 7-4 under second-year coach Tod Kowalczyk. The third highest-scoring team (74.5) in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Rockets youthful roster sports 11 underclassmen as they already surpassed their win total from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. Toledo has gone with the same starting lineup in 10 of 11 games, a starting five that includes a junior, three sophomores and a freshman. One of two UW-Green Bay transfers eligible this season, sophomore Rian Pearson ranks fourth in the MAC in both scoring (16.9) and rebounding (7.9). New Mexico transfer Curtis Dennis made his Rocket debut two games ago and is averaging 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds keyed by 20 points against Norfolk State on Tuesday. Junior Dominique Buckley rounds out a trio of Division I transfers that lead Toledo in scoring. Buckley, who spent two seasons at Iowa State, is shooting a solid 45 percent (23-51) from three en route to 13.0 points per night. Freshman point guard Julius Brown is among the MAC leaders in five different categories; points (12.8/11th), assists (5.1/4th), free throw percentage (.813/8th), steals (1.8/7th), assist/turnover ratio (1.6/5th) and minutes played (32.8/4th). FGCU and Toledo have one common opponent, as the Rockets defeated USC Upstate, 75-70, at a neutral site.

LAST GAME: Strong Second Half Sends USC Upstate Past FGCU
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Freshman Ty Greene scored a season-high 21 points for the second straight game and redshirt sophomore Ricardo Glenn notched a double-double to lead USC Upstate to an 80-75 Atlantic Sun win over FGCU in a tightly played contest at Alico Arena on Monday night. • In a game that featured nine lead changes and seven ties, neither team held a lead of more than five points until late in the second half when the Spartans used an 8-0 run to take the largest lead of the game (10), 68-58, with 4:47 left to play. • Back-to-back three-pointers by junior SHERWOOD BROWN separated by just 14 seconds with under a minute to play quickly trimmed a nine-point Upstate lead down to 74-71. • Unfortunately, for the Eagles that would be as close as they would come, as the Spartans grew the lead back to three possessions with 10 seconds to play en route to handing FGCU (3-7, 1-1) its first home loss of the season. • Four players reached double figures for FGCU, led by 16 points from freshman BERNARD THOMPSON. Thompson scored 12 of his points in the second half, going 6-of-9 from the field to finish in double-digits for a team-best seventh time this season. Fellow freshman DANTE HOLMES finished with a season-high 15 points.

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.

Fueled by a current four-game stretch in which it has shot 50 percent from three-point land (34-68), FGCU leads the A-Sun at 39.0 percent clip for the season. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL leads the conference individually, shooting a scorching 53 percent (24-45) from beyond the arc, while junior SHERWOOD BROWN and freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN are shooting above 40 percent with double figure makes. Defensively, FGCU is the top team in the A-Sun at guarding the three. The Green and Blue are limiting opponents to a league-low 31.2 percent from long range.

All seven of FGCU's losses on the young season have been by 10 points or less and have come by a combined 27 points. The Eagles' six road opponents so far this season currently all have a winning record and a combined mark of 41-20. A trio of one-point defeats in Dallas against TCU (73-72) and SMU (65-64), and at Nebraska (51-50) headlines the heartbreaking losses.

First-year head coach ANDY ENFIELD has used seven different lineups through 11 games trying to find the right combination with his young team. Nine different players have started at least one game, while four freshmen have earned a starting nod. No one has started every game, while three freshmen were in the starting five each of the last two games. At least four underclassmen have started in all but two games.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 45 percent of the scoring, 34 percent of the rebounds and 66 percent of the assists. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 10.9 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Point guard Brett Comer is the team's top assist man with 5.1 helpers, a mark that ranks second in the A-Sun. Comer is fourth on the team in scoring (8.4) followed by Dante Holmes' 7.0 points. Thompson's 10.9 points are tops among all freshmen in the A-Sun and are joined by 4.8 rebounds per game. Thompson has scored in double figures a team-high seven times, while Comer has done so in four games and both in the same game on four occasions. FILIP CVJETICANIN has reached double figures twice.

Highlighted by his first career double-double at Miami and a recent 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, including three straight, leading the team in scoring (11.8 and ranking second in rebounding (5.0) - figures that rank t-9th 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.

Through 10 games, FGCU owns a 290-203 advantage in bench points, good for a +8.7 margin per game. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in eight games, including the team's leading scorer on five occasions, while supplying 25+ points eight times as a unit. At SMU, sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL poured in 20 points on 6-of-7 from three-point land, while junior SHERWOOD BROWN'S 19 points against Ave Maria to account for the top two efforts off the bench. At Loyola Maryland, FGCU received a season-high 44 points off the bench, highlighted by a game-high 17 from Varidel and BERNARD THOMPSON.

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 10.4 points per game average off the pine is three points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU and 17 at Loyola Maryland to lead the team in scoring both times.

Highlighted by three second half performances of 15 points by three different players, FGCU has overcome first half deficits in five of its games by averaging 37.3 points over the final 20 minutes while limiting its opponents to 33.7. As a team, FGCU is shooting 49.6 percent (130-262) in the second half, including 42-of-96 (44 percent) from three-point land. 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 BERNARD THOMPSON (at Loyola) have all scored 15 points in one second half.

Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is starting to find his stroke that helped him finish fifth in the nation among all freshmen in 2010-11 with 78 three-pointers. Varidel has made 19 of his last 31 three-point attempts to move into first in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.533) and second in threes per game (2.4). Varidel's 2.4 threes per game are just below the 2.5 average required to rank among the NCAA leaders in three-point percentage. The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game five times this season. He has also reached double-digits three times.

Ranking among the leaders in the Atlantic Sun Conference in three statistical categories, freshman BRETT COMER is off to a fast start early in the year. Highlighted by a 10-assist effort against Prairie View and ETSU, Comer is second in the A-Sun and fifth among all freshmen nationally in assists per game (5.1). He has reached double figures in four games, resulting in 8.4 points per game. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and rebounding a team-high three times.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER finished one block shy of equaling a program single-game record against USC Upstate, turning away five shots. Fieler ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 13 blocks, helping the Eagles produce 4.4 blocks per game, a figure that is second in the league.

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 6.3 points and 3.6 points per game. The Fort Myers product is shooting a scalding 67 percent (26-39) from the floor over 21 minutes per game. Murray has started the last four contests, playing a team-high 27.0 minutes per game with averages of 7.0 points.

Despite lacking a ton of size, FGCU has out-rebounded eight of 10 opponents this season, owning a slim +2.0 margin on the boards. The Eagles are also averaging double-digit offensive caroms (11.4) that have helped them score 20+ points in the paint in all but one contest. Over two games in Maryland, FGCU pulled down a season-best 17 offensive rebounds twice that led to another season-high in points in the paint (42) at Maryland. Four different players have double figure offensive rebounds on the season.

Freshman BRETT COMER had the first of the team's two double-doubles on the season, going for 15 points, 10 assists and six rebounds against Ave Maria. In the A-Sun opener against ETSU, Comer passed out 10 assists, becoming the second player in the Division I era to have a pair of double figure assists games in the same season. At Miami, SHERWOOD BROWN scored 15 points in the second half en route to finishing with his first career double-double of 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

After averaging 10.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals over two games, freshman point guard BRETT COMER was named the Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Comer's week was highlighted by his first career double of 15 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals during a win over Prairie View A&M.