After a short but successful stint as a Division II Independent, FGCU jumps up to the Atlantic Sun and NCAA Division I status this season. The program enters its sixth season, all under the direction of Dave Balza, with a senior laden roster. FGCU has seven seniors on the roster and returns four senior starters from last season’s 27-6 team. FGCU also returns four of its top five scorers from a year ago.
“It will be hard to replace the leadership and the scoring of Beau Bauer, however, as a collective group starting with Adam Liddell (FGCU’s all-time leading rebounder), we should be fine,” Balza said.
The Eagles return a pair of starters in the backcourt after running a three-guard line up much of last season. Starters Rob Quaintance and Yavney Neptune return to the backcourt. Quaintance, a pure point guard, started 29 games and appeared in 31. He led the team in assists with 163 and racked up 77 steals. Quaintance also pulled down 3.4 boards per game. Neptune is the only fourth year senior on the team and was selected as a co-captain by his teammates. Neptune started the final 16 games of the season and scored career-highs in the final two games of the season.
Also returning in the backcourt are Casey Wohlleb and Casey Pond. Wohlleb started the first 14 games of the season, but became the team’s 6th man half way through the season. Wohlleb finished the year as the third leading scorer, averaging 11.1 points per contest and knocking down 31 treys, tops among returners. Pond is a senior walk-on who provided valuable minutes off the bench last season. The Eagles also add newcomer Delvin Franklin a junior transfer from Lamar Community College is a deadly shooter from long range. The 6-2 junior made 75 threes and shot over 47% from long range. Kyle Matheny, Harris Gelin and Chad Lutkenhaus all are expected to contribute this year. The Eagles also added Reed Baker, who will sit out this season after transferring from Michigan. Baker will have three years of eligibility remaining.
“It always helps in practice to have seven seniors like Yavney Neptune and Casey Wohlleb, as co-captains,” according to Balza.
The Eagles return four of their top five post players from a year ago. Starters Adam Liddell and Terike Barrowes both return from their senior campaign. FGCU led the Division II in rebounding margin last season, the second time in the last three seasons they accomplished that feat. In just two seasons, Liddell became the leading rebounder in school history. The 6-7 senior led the team in boards last season, pulling down 8.3 per contest and is also the leading returning scorer at 11.4 points per game. Barrowes is one of the top defenders on the squad and worked his way in to the starting lineup early in the year and his defensive presence kept made him a fixture in the rotation. Barrowes also shot a team best %58 from the floor last season.
Landon Adler returns for his junior season as well. The 6-9 sharp-shooting forward averaged 10.9 points per game and 7.0 boards per contest. The Eagles also return Roman Narmbaye, a 6-11, 240 lb center who averaged just over 10 minutes per game and shot %57 from the floor. Tyler Rodriguez, who redshirted last season, is ready to contribute to the team this season. Rodriguez is a sophomore who transfers from Case Western University. Rodriguez averaged 10.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds during his freshman season there. The Eagles have also brought in a pair of freshmen in Ed Rolax and Justin Stokes. Rolax, a 6-6 St. Petersburg, Fla., native, helped lead his St. Petersburg Catholic team to a state championship during the 2004-05 season. Stokes is a tremendous athlete who was named 1st team All-County during his senior season at Fleming Island High School in Jacksonville. FGCU also received the services of Kyle Marks, a 6-7 transfer from Nebraska. Marks will sit out during the 2007-08 season but will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
“Senior forward Terike Barrowes and senior center Roman Narmbaye have both made great strides to become better athletes that will play a significant role to our success,” stated Balza.
Coach Balza has put together a challenging non conference schedule that features seven teams that advanced to the postseason last year. Highlighting the schedule will be trips to Marquette, DePaul and Arizona State. FGCU is also competing in the South Padre Island Invitational where they will face Iowa, Bradley and Austin Peay. The Eagles also entertain Butler, who spent most of the 2006-07 season ranked in the top-25 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Also visiting Alico Arena in non-conference action are Penn and Drexel. Penn has won four consecutive Ivy League titles while Drexel has been to the post-season four times in the last five seasons.