FGCU Returns Alico Arena To Face ETSU
Thursday, February 03, 2011

ETSU (16-8, 11-2) vs. FGCU (5-15, 2-9)
Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 7:05 p.m. ET
TALENT: Tom James (Play-by-Play)
J. Webb-Horton (Color Analyst)
SERIES: ETSU leads, 5-1
LAST MEETING: ETSU 84, FGCU 65 - Jan. 8, 2011
LAST GAME: Lipscomb 88, FGCU 71 - Jan. 30

FGCU will open the month of February with its first home game in nearly three weeks when ETSU visits Alico Arena on Friday night for the second meeting this season between the two teams. The Eagles earned a 2-2 split on their recent four-game road swing, but are still in search of their first home A-Sun win. FGCU has played seven of its first 11 conference games on the road, but will enjoy the luxury of having six home contests in February.

FGCU will look snap a four-game losing streak against ETSU on Friday night. The Eagles' lone win against the Buccaneers came at Alico Arena in 2009 where two of three meetings have been decided by 10 points or less. During this year's first meeting in Johnson City, Tenn., ETSU's Mike Smith turned a 20-point and 20-rebound performance to lead the Buccaneers to the 84-65 win.

Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL became the second FGCU player to earn weekly praise from the A-Sun this week when he was named the Newcomer of the Week by the league. Varidel poured in a team season-high 29 points in FGCU's thrilling 111-103 triple-overtime win at Stetson and finished the three-game week with a scoring average of 20.7. Varidel has led the team in scoring six of the last eight contests and ranks third in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.55).

Winners of 12 of its last 13 games, ETSU enters Friday night's contest a one game out of first place in the A-Sun standings at 11-2. Also included in the Buccaneers' 16-8 record are road wins at Dayton and Mississippi State. ETSU has produced a 9-1 record on its home floor this season, but is just 7-7 on the road and at neutral sites. Bolstered by his 20-20 performance in January against the Eagles, senior Mike Smith is third in the A-Sun in scoring (17.1) and fifth in rebound (7.2) - making him one of two players to rank in the top 5 of each category. Smith is a three-time conference Player of the Week this season. After Smith, ETSU sports a balanced attack of three more players averaging double figure points. Senior Justin Tubbs returned from injury last week against Mercer, coming off the bench to score 13 points with eight rebounds. Tubbs averages 10 points and nearly five boards per game. Capping the strong senior cast is Micah Williams who is second on the team at 14.4 points per contest. The trio of seniors accounts for 120 of ETSU's made three-pointers on the year.

Dave Balza
@ FGCU: 148-115 (9th Season)
Overall: 183-164 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 20-47 (4th Season)
Vs. ETSU: 1-5

Murry Bartow
@ ETSU: 154-95 (8th Season)
Overall: 257-178 (13th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 77-67 (6th Season)
Vs. FGCU: 5-1

Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting a staggering 77 offensive boards this season, including nine against ACC foe Miami which equaled his career-best. Banks leads the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (3.85) by a full board per contest. He has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game seven times this season and 16 for his career. He ranks ninth in the A-Sun at 6.5 caroms per contest.

Junior MARLON RIVERA has taken over the reins of the point guard position and leads the A-Sun in assists per game (34th nationally) at a 5.4 clip. Rivera has led the team in assists 18 times, highlighted by five outings with seven helpers or more. On Dec. 21 in a win over N.C. Central, Rivera dished out 12 assists - the second-most in the program's Division I history and one of three double-digit performances by an A-Sun player this season. Rivera eclipsed the 100 assists mark, marking the seventh time in nine seasons a player has accomplished the feat for the Eagles.

With 30 threes in his last eight games, freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is climbing up the A-Sun ranks in three-pointers per game and sits third at a 2.55 per game clip. Out of Varidel's 65 made field goals on season, 51 have come from beyond the arc. Varidel has made three or more trifectas in a game 11 times, including eight straight games. Validating his shooting prowess, Varidel ranks seventh in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 38.6.

The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game while also leading in rebounding (6.5) and offensive rebounds (77). Banks has led the team in scoring eight times, rebounding eight times and both in the same game on six occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best 17 games while accumulating four double-doubles and four 20-point outings.

No FGCU player has been hotter than freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL over the last eight games. Highlighted by a 29-point performance at Stetson, Varidel is averaging 16.9 points per game over the last eight contests on the strength of 30 three-pointers. The Versoix, Switzerland product has reached double figures in all eight games, leading the team in scoring six times. Even more impressive, Varidel is averaging 18.5 points since being inserted back into the starting lineup six games ago.

Just 49 games into his career, sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is FGCU's all-time leader in offensive rebounds with 177. Banks has twice tied the record for most offensive rebounds in a game with nine and owns the single-season record with 100 in 2009-10 as a freshman. At Stetson, he surpassed 300 career rebounds and currently sits in ninth place all-time (321).

Not equipped with a lot of size in the paint, FGCU makes up for it by staying active on the offensive glass. Led by ANTHONY BANKS, the Eagles are second in the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (13.4). FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 44 of its last 50 games, including 17 this season. Banks is a year removed from grabbing 100 offensive caroms and has 177 for his career compared to 144 defensive rebounds. The Eagles' relentlessness on the offensive glass has led to eight straight games with double figure second chance points and an average of 12.0 per game.