GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Returns to Action With Home Showdown Against Maine
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Maine (6-5)
Florida Gulf Coast (5-7)
12/29/2011 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 1257
Florida Gulf Coast404484
Stats at a GlanceMAINEFGCU
FG Percentage.397 (25-63) .469 (23-49)
3P FG Percentage.440 (11-25) .571 (8-14)
FT Percentage.550 (11-20) .811 (30-37)
Offensive Rebounds1513
Defensive Rebounds1828
Total Rebounds3341
Bench Points2831
Statistical LeadersMAINEFGCU
PointsMcLemore - 26
ReboundsAllison - 8
AssistsSingleton - 4
StealsRogers - 2
Edwards - 2
BlocksEdwards - 2
Allison - 2

FGCU (4-7, 1-1 A-SUN) vs. Maine (6-4)
DATE: Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 7:05 p.m. ET
SERIES: First Meeting
AT HOME: 4-1
UP NEXT: @ Mercer (8-5, 1-1 A-Sun) - Jan. 2, 2012

FGCU returns from the short Christmas break hoping to continue its winning ways at Alico Arena when it welcomes America East foe Maine to Southwest Florida on Thursday night. The Eagles picked up an impressive 83-80 victory over MAC member Toledo prior to the break, improving to 4-1 at home this season. Maine also enters with momentum on its side, as it put together a three-game win streak before heading home for the holiday. Thursday night will mark the first meeting between the two schools and FGCU's first against a member of the America East Conference. The Eagles are 12-8 in non-conference home games since joining Division I in 2007-08 and have won seven of their last nine.

A season-best five players reached double figures in FGCU's 83-80 win over Toledo on Dec. 22, while a total of eight players have reached the double-digit plateau this season. Out of those eight, five have led the team in scoring at least once, including three off the bench. Looking further, junior SHERWOOD BROWN and freshman BERNARD THOMPSON are the only players to lead the team in scoring two straight games, while sophomore CHASE FIELER is the only one to do so on the backboard.

Thursday's game features the top two three-point shooting teams in the Atlantic Sun and America East Conference, respectively. FGCU's 39 percent mark from downtown is aided by sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL'S 2.45 threes per game that are coming at a staggering 52 percent clip (27-52), a figure that also leads the A-Sun. Maine leading scorer Gerald McLemore's 20.2 points per game have come on 2.7 three-pointers per game, a figure that is fourth-best in the America East.

Led by eighth-year head coach Ted Woodward, who was a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year award in 2010, Maine enters Thursday on a three-game win streak and a record of 6-4. A week ago, Woodward signed a contract extension through 2015. The Bears have picked up a pair of road wins at Atlantic 10 member Rhode Island and Brown, while falling to UConn, Notre Dame and San Diego away from home. Led by the top scoring tandem in the America East (AE), Maine leads the league in scoring at 75.4 points per game, while also holding the top spot in field goal percentage (.481), field goal percentage defense (.418), three-point percentage (.374), three-point percentage defense (.281), assists (15.8) and assist/turnover ratio (1.4). A three-time America East All-Conference choice, senior Gerald McLemore is first part of the league's top scoring tandem at 20.2 points per game. The AE's active leader in points (1,360), McLemore has four 20-point outings this season en route ranking third in the conference in scoring. Freshman guard Justin Edwards accounts for 17.3 points of the combined 37.5 from the duo. Edwards, a four-time AE Freshman of the Week, was named the 10th-best freshman in the country, according to Jeff Borzello of CBSSPORTS.com on Dec. 12. Edwards is just one spot behind McLemore amongst the AE leading scorers in fourth position. The final Bear averaging double figures, sophomore big man Alasdir Fraser is the reigning America East Player of the Week. Fraser's 13.5 points per game are coupled with a team-best 7.9 boards.

LAST GAME: Balanced Attack Leads FGCU Past Toledo, 83-80
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Five different players reached double figures and FGCU came away with three straight defensive stops in the final minute to hold on for a thrilling 83-80 non-conference win over Toledo on Thursday, Dec. 22, at Alico Arena. • Redshirt junior EDDIE MURRAY corralled his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds over 36 minutes to highlight a season-best five players that finished in double figures. • Three different players scored a team-high 16 points for the Eagles, as they shot 51 percent (31-61) from the field en route to a season-best 83 points. Freshmen BERNARD THOMPSON and DANTE HOLMES each had 16 points, while sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL did the same off the bench with a trio of three-pointers. • Thompson, Holmes and BRETT COMER were part of a three-member freshmen starting backcourt that went for 41 points, 11 assists and six steals. • It marked the sixth time this season FGCU has played in a game decided by five points or less, but was the first time it came out victorious. • Murray played more minutes than normal due to senior KEVIN CANTINOL missing the game after being issued a flagarant-2 foul against Nebraska on Dec. 7.

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.

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 6.7 points and 4.5 points per game. The Fort Myers product is coming off his first career double-double, going for career-bests of 11 points and 14 rebounds over 36 minutes. Murray is shooting a scalding 65 percent (30-46) from the floor over 22 minutes per game. Murray has nearly hit the totals he put up through two full seasons in just 11 games this year.

Fueled by a current five-game stretch in which it has shot 44 percent from three-point land (42-96), FGCU leads the A-Sun at 39 percent clip for the season. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL leads the conference individually, shooting a scorching 52 percent (27-52) from beyond the arc, while junior SHERWOOD BROWN and freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN are shooting 40 percent or higher 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 32 percent from long range.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 46 percent of the scoring, 32 percent of the rebounds and 66 percent of the assists. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.4 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 5.3 helpers, a mark that ranks second in the A-Sun. Comer is fourth on the team in scoring (8.5) followed by Dante Holmes' 7.9 points. Thompson's 11.4 points are tops among all freshmen in the A-Sun and are joined by 4.5 rebounds per game. Thompson has scored in double figures a team-high eight 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. At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in nine of 11 games.

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 12 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 three games. At least four underclassmen have started in all but two games.

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 (5.3). He has reached double figures in four games, resulting in 8.5 points per game. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and rebounds a team-high three times.

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 22 of his last 38 three-point attempts to move into first in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.519) 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 six times this season, including four of the last six. He has also reached double-digits four times.

Through 11 games, FGCU owns a 311-222 advantage in bench points, good for a +8.1 margin per game. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in nine games, including the team's leading scorer on six 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.

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 games played, leading the team in scoring (11.8) and ranking second in rebounding (5.0) - figures that rank 10th 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 11.1 points per game average off the pine is 3.4 points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU, 17 at Loyola Maryland and 16 against Toledo to lead the team in scoring all three times.

Aside from being the team's second leading scorer (11.4), freshman Bernard Thompson has used is long 6-foot-3 frame to his benefit on the defensive end. Thompson has a steal in nine straight games, ranking second in the A-Sun at 1.9 thefts per game. During the current nine-game streak, Thompson has eight multi-steal performances. Thompson is on pace for 58 steals, a mark that would finish top five in single-season history.

Highlighted by 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 BERNARD THOMPSON (at Loyola) have all scored 15 points in one second half.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER finished one block shy of equaling a program single-game record against USC Upstate, turning away five shots. Fieler ranks fifth in the A-Sun with 14 blocks, helping the Eagles produce 4.1 blocks per game, a figure that is second in the league.

Freshman BRETT COMER had the first of the team's three 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. The third double-double came last game against Toledo when redshirt junior EDDIE MURRAY went for 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double figures in four of the last five games, averaging 9.0 points over that span. Fieler has reached double-digits five times this season compared to five through all of last year.

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.