FGCU Set to Open Second Season Under Enfield at VCU
Friday, November 09, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (@Pierson_SID)
FGCU advanced to the A-Sun Championship game in its first year under Andy Enfield in 2011-12.
FGCU advanced to the A-Sun Championship game in its first year under Andy Enfield in 2011-12.
Florida Gulf Coast (0-1)
VCU (1-0)
11/9/2012 | Richmond, Va. (Siegel Center) | Attendance: 7693
Florida Gulf Coast203757
Stats at a GlanceFGCUVCU
FG Percentage.455 (20-44) .438 (32-73)
3P FG Percentage.308 (4-13) .267 (8-30)
FT Percentage.619 (13-21) .571 (8-14)
Offensive Rebounds822
Defensive Rebounds2121
Total Rebounds2943
Bench Points1036
Statistical LeadersFGCUVCU
PointsTHOMPSON - 21
ReboundsTHOMPSON - 8
AssistsCOMER - 5
StealsTHOMPSON - 3
WEBER - 10
BlocksMCKNIGHT - 2

FGCU (0-0) at VCU (0-0)
Date: Friday, November 9, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
City: Richmond, Va.
Site: Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center
TV: WTVR CBS 6 - VA Only
Talent: Greg Burton & Rodney Ashby
Live Video & Audio: www.VCUATHLETICS.com
Talent: Robby Robinson & Mike Litos
Twitter: @FGCU_MBB
Twitter Hashtags: #VCUvsFGCU/#ASUNMBB/#WeAreFGCU
2011-12 Record: 15-17, 8-10 A-Sun
2012 Postseason: A-Sun Championship Game
Vs. VCU: First Meeting
Vs. The A-10: 0-1
Up Next: vs. Miami - Tues., Nov. 13 @ 7 p.m.

Coming off an appearance in the Atlantic Sun Championship game in its first year of Division I postseason eligibility in 2011-12, FGCU will open its 11th season and second under head coach ANDY ENFIELD on Friday night at one of the Atlantic 10’s newest members VCU at Verizon Wireless Arena. As the No. 6 seed, the Eagles became just the sixth team in the 33-year history of the A-Sun Tournament to make the championship game and fell just 20 minutes shy of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Rams built off their 2011 Final Four run by advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

For the 10th straight year, FGCU will open its season on the road on Friday night. The Eagles are 3-7 all-time in season openers, including 1-4 since joining Division I in 2007-08. During its five years in Division I, FGCU has opened at TCU in 2011 (L, 73-72), at Indiana in 2010 (L, 88-60), at No. 2 Michigan State in 2009 (L, 97-58), at defending NCAA Champion Kansas in 2008 (L, 85-45) and at Bethune-Cookman in 2007 (W, 60-57).

Just a year ago, head coach ANDY ENFIELD took over a program that was in its 10th year of existence, including fifth in Division I, and was embarking on its first postseason eligible campaign with five new players and six returners who had a combined 14 years of collegiate experience.

Now, the Green and Blue’s eligible 12-man roster that doesn’t include Marquette transfer JAMAIL JONES and Georgia Tech transfer NATE HICKS, who have to sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA four-year transfer rules, returns 85 percent of its scoring (61.2 ppg), 76 percent of its rebounding (26.8 rpg) and 92 percent of its assists (12.2) from the 2011-12 squad that won a program Division I record 15 games and became just the sixth team in the 33-year history of the A-Sun Tournament to advance to the title game in its first try.

FGCU’s run to the 2012 Atlantic Sun championship game may have caught people by surprise, but the Eagles won’t sneak up on anyone this year. The Green and Blue and have been picked as high as second in an preseason A-Sun poll and have been no lower than third in any of the national preseason publications. Below is a look at the preseason predictions for FGCU.

FGCU - A-Sun Preseason Ranking
A-Sun Coaches - 3rd
A-Sun Media - 3rd
Athlon Sports - 3rd
Blue Ribbon - 3rd
Lindy’s Sports - 3rd
YAHOO! Sports - 2nd

Notes: Blue Ribbon rated FGCU’s backcourt as the second-best in the A-Sun, earning an “A-” grade. The Eagles earned a “B+” in intangibles, and a “B” in both frontcourt and bench/depth.

Individual Preseason Honors
Sr. Sherwood Brown
• A-Sun All-Conference team
• Lindy’s Sports All-Conference first team
• College Sports Madness first team

So. Bernard Thompson
• College Sports Madness third team

So. Eric McKnight
• College Sports Madness third team
• Lindy’s Sports - Player to Keep an Eye On

Established as one of the top mid-major programs in the nation, Virginia Commonwealth comes into the 2012-13 season looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight season. Led by head coach Shaka Smart, the Rams return four starters from a team that went 29-7, and came within one shot of defeating Indiana and moving into the Sweet 16. VCU will be led by junior forward Juvonte Reddic who averaged 10.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg last season. The newcomer to watch for the Rams will be freshman guard Jordan Burgess who was ranked in ESPN’s Top 100 and is also the younger brother of former VCU star Bradford Burgess. The Rams are known for their tenacious defense, as they finished the 2011-12 campaign as the national leader in steals per game (10.6) and 19th in scoring defense (59.8 ppg).

VCU is one of the best teams in the nation when it comes to defending its home court. Since opening the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in 1999, the Rams currently boast a .858 winning percentage, which ranks as the 11th-best mark in the country. In 2011-12, VCU went 13-1 at home and averaged a staggering 12.9 steals per game.

Friday’s season opener between FGCU and VCU will feature a pair of stellar defenders in sophomore guards BERNARD THOMPSON and Briante Weber. Both finished their rookie campaigns ranked among the best in the nation among freshmen in steals. Thompson ranked 10th among all freshmen in steals, averaging 1.8 per game, while Weber finished last year with 2.2 spg, which was good enough for second in the nation. Thompson’s 57 steals were the fifth-most in program single-season history, as the Conyers, Ga. product finished third in the A-Sun.

VS. THE A-10
Friday’s contest will mark only the second time in school history that FGCU will face a team from the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Eagles hosted Richmond on November 24, 2008, falling 69-58.

FGCU will play seven games over a 15-day span to open the season. Out of those seven games, four will be played in the friendly confines of Alico Arena, including the Eagles’ home opener against in-state rival and ACC foe Miami on November 13. The three road games during the stretch will all be against power conference schools of VCU (A-10), No. 8 Duke (ACC) and St. John’s (BIG EAST).

Then-junior SHERWOOD BROWN’S team-highs of 12.8 points and 5.9 rebounds both ranked in the top 10 in the A-Sun, as he joined A-Sun Player of the Year Torrey Craig from USC Upstate as the only two players to accomplish the feat.

An A-Sun All-Conference second team and All-Tournament team choice, SHERWOOD BROWN led the team in both scoring (12.8) and rebounding (5.9) in 2011-12. With team-bests of four 20-point games and three double-doubles, Brown reached double figures 20 times in 28 contests and ranked among the A-Sun leaders in eight different categories. He led the team in scoring 11 times, rebounding in 12 games and both in the same contest on seven occasions. He was just the third player in FGCU history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season.

FGCU’s freshmen trio made a huge impact during the 2011-12 season, as BERNARD THOMPSON, BRETT COMER and FLIP CVJETICANIN accounted for 38 percent of the team’s scoring (27.4 ppg), 30 percent of the rebounds (10.7 rpg) and 60 percent of the assists (8.1 apg). At least one of the three freshmen scored in double figures in 27 of 32 games, while the Eagles were 10-6 when two members of the trio accomplished the feat.

A season-best six players reached double figures in the same game twice in 2011-12, while at least five players did so in nine times (9-0), and the Eagles were 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, as he became the fourth player to reach the 20 point plateau in 2011-12. A total of eight players reached double-digits last season, while seven did so at least 10 times. Six different players led the team in scoring at least once.

Second in the A-Sun and 49th in the nation at a 37.4 percent clip from three-point range and third with 7.8 treys per game (39th nationally), FGCU placed four players in the top 11 individually by percentage. Standing 6-foot-9, FILIP CVJETICANIN ranked second in the A-Sun, Swiss sharp-shooter CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL finished fourth (.420), BERNARD THOMPSON placed 10th (.379) and SHERWOOD BROWN was 11th (.369).

Highlighted by a program Division I record 64.7 percent shooting night (33-51) at Stetson on Jan. 20, 2012, FGCU finished fourth in the A-Sun in field goal percentage (.456) and second in three-point percentage (.374) in 2011-12. The Eagles were 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 45.6 field goal percentage broke the single-season record.

Point guard BRETT COMER led the A-Sun, finished second among all freshmen and 28th nationally in assists per game (5.6) in 2011-12. Highlighted by his 12-assist night against Longwood, Comer was the first A-Sun player since 2007 to have four double figure assist games in the same season. He led the team in assists in all but three games and passed out seven or more helpers 11 times. His 178 assists on the season ranked second in single-season history and were a D-1 record, while he was the first freshman to lead the A-Sun in assists since Mercer's James Florence did so in 2006-07.

FGCU averaged 28.4 points per game off the bench in 2011-12. The bench supplied a double figure scorer in 27 of 32 games, including the team’s leading scorer on 12 occasions, while scoring 25+ points 23 times as a unit. At SMU, then-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 won the battle of the benches in 27 of 32 games.

Filip Cvjeticanin - 12
Christophe Varidel - 10
Dante Holmes - 8
Sherwood Brown - 4
Bernard Thompson - 2
Chase Fieler - 1
Kevin Cantinol - 1

After sitting out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA Division I four-year transfer rules, forward Eric McKnight will put his 7-foot-2 wing span on display for the first time as an Eagle Friday night at VCU. McKnight, a transfer from Iowa State, has three years of eligibility. At 6-foot-9, he is one of five players on the roster at 6-foot-8 or taller.

A trio of Eagles earned postseason honors from the Atlantic Sun in 2011-12. Junior SHERWOOD BROWN 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 and Comer were also named to the A-Sun All-Tournament team following FGCU’s run to the championship game.

Just two years removed from a freshman season in which he ranked fifth among all rookies with 78 three-pointers and second in the A-Sun in trifectas per game (2.6), junior CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL was a major part of the FGCU bench that out-scored its opposition in 27 of 32 games in 2011-12. Varidel enters his junior campaign with 138 career makes from beyond the arc to rank third in program history. A member of Switzerland’s U-20 team that participated in the European Championships in 2009 & 2010, Varidel is a career 40 percent (138-349) shooter from three-point land, coming off a 42 percent (60-143) season from three.

Forwards CHASE FIELER and EDDIE MURRAY made major strides in 2011-12, benefiting from the influence of Enfield and his staff to produce solid numbers in the front court. Fieler reached double-digits 10 times in 2011-12 compared to five as a freshman, averaging 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, while leading the team with 38 blocks. Coming off a redshirt sophomore season in 2010-11 in which he played just 84 total minutes, Murray thrived under Enfield’s up-tempo system. Armed with athleticism and leadership, Murray is provided a youthful roster with career-highs of 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.