FGCU’s ‘Dunk Metropolis’ Squad Became Your Favorite College Basketball Team Five Years Ago Today
March Insanity is a time to rejoice underdogs. They’re the groups that struggle and grit their method into the NCAA Match earlier than grinding out wins in opposition to “higher” basketball groups. They get in, perhaps win a sport or two, and lose as a result of they’re in the end an underdog who exceeded expectations. The varsity will get to promote just a few t-shirts and see a spike in purposes within the aftermath, and fortunately get pleasure from their second within the highlight.
All of that stuff about being completely happy to be there doesn’t apply to the 2012-13 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, who on this present day 5 years in the past surprised the faculty basketball world by taking part in a mode of hoops in wins over Georgetown and San Diego State that captivated the faculty basketball world.
The Eagles are nonetheless the one 15-seed to ever make it to the NCAA Match’s second weekend, and as start line guard Brett Comer remembers, the crew didn’t actually assume it had a ceiling.
“We knew we wished to go to the match and make some noise,” Comer, now a graduate assistant on the College of Dayton, informed Dime. “The truth that we received two video games, at that time we thought why not simply hold profitable? There’s no purpose why we are able to’t do it. We’re the primary crew in historical past to be a 15 seed and make it to the Candy 16, may as effectively simply hold going. I feel we had been wired in a method of like there’s no purpose why we are able to’t now at this level.”
Comer was the engine that made this crew go. He was a pass-first level guard who, as a sophomore, was second nationally in help fee. When he acquired the ball in his palms, he acquired it to a teammate and put them able to make a play.
It was an attribute that match completely within the fast-paced, huge open model of play that endeared Florida Gulf Coast to many. The crew was 41st nationally in adjusted tempo that 12 months and had the 19th-fastest offensive possessions within the sport, per KenPom.
Comer loved it, and says that getting up and down was a precedence for the crew. For Chase Fieler, a junior ahead on the crew who you bear in mind as being That Man Who Dunked All the things throughout the Match, getting the possibility to play with some extent guard with Comer’s ambition is one thing that hasn’t been replicated throughout his skilled profession, which has taken him to Spain, the Netherlands, and presently Belgium.
“Nonetheless to this present day, I’ve not performed with some extent guard who actively appears to be like to make nearly a tough move,” Fieler says. “Brett might simply discover you. Give him an inch, he’s going to place a lob within the air.”
Enjoying like that is one factor, however doing it effectively is one other factor solely. Florida Gulf Coast didn’t fairly good the model of play, however they ran it in a method that one of many crew’s seniors, guard/ahead Sherwood Brown, by no means felt like he needed to inform his teammates that they had been getting uncontrolled.
“We had been a excessive scoring crew we wished to out rating our opponents so we’d shoot threes in transition,” says Brown, who has traveled all around the world in his skilled profession and is now taking part in in Saudi Arabia. “We wished the primary good shot we might get, and we felt like that’s the place we had the benefit. Generally it might have appeared like guys had been flying round all over the place however that’s the best way we wished to play.”
The crew additionally had an apparent chemistry that made this work. A part of this was due to Comer’s courtroom imaginative and prescient, a part of this was due to the athleticism that everybody on the crew possessed, and a part of this, the gamers say, was cultivated throughout a preseason tour to the Bahamas that introduced the crew nearer and made issues simpler as soon as the common season started.
Whereas this model of play was on show within the Match, it was one thing that made the crew a lot enjoyable all season. The Eagles performed 4 KenPom top-30 groups throughout the common season — Duke, Miami, VCU, and Iowa State — and felt there have been positives to remove from all of them. They even beat the Hurricanes on their ground by 12 and misplaced by solely 9 in opposition to the Cyclones in Ames.
Principally, the crew was not afraid of anybody. And when the bracket reveal confirmed that it might tackle Nationwide Participant of the 12 months candidate Otto Porter and a Georgetown crew that most well-liked to grind issues out, the crew knew it had a shot.
“We knew if we performed our model of play that we’d have an opportunity to beat them and truthfully anyone within the nation at the moment,” Comer says. “We felt like we had been clicking so effectively that if we simply performed our method that all the things would work out.”
That sentiment was shared by Comer’s backcourt mate Bernard Thompson, who mentioned he was assured from the time the bracket dropped that they might win. Thompson, now taking part in in Hungary after stints in Slovakia and Germany, ended up having a giant sport — his 23 factors trailed solely Brown’s 24 for the sport excessive — however the factor that everybody remembers had been the dunks.
Georgetown managed to place the clamps on Dunk Metropolis for a half, however couldn’t handle to get going offensively. The Eagles didn’t dunk in any respect within the first 20 minutes and took a 24-22 rating into the locker room, which meant the sport was being performed on the Hoyas’ tempo. Florida Gulf Coast felt assured, although, as a result of it was main a top-10 crew at halftime regardless of not taking part in its model of basketball, and placed on a present within the sport’s second body.
There have been 5 dunks by Florida Gulf coast within the second half: Comer by a lob to Fieler on a quick break. Senior ahead Eddie Murray flew by the lane to scrub up a Comer missed layup proper because it got here off of the rim. Comer dropped off a cheeky move by two defenders to arrange a Murray jam. A wise dunk by Fieler and a ravishing bouncy move by Comer arrange dunk quantity 4.
Then, in fact, there’s dunk No. 5, which you in all probability watched quite a bit in March of 2013 however won’t have watched since. Let’s treatment that.
It’s nonetheless as entertaining of a March Insanity spotlight as you’ll ever see. Comer, along with his crew up by seven and fewer than two minutes on the clock, determined that as an alternative of pulling it out and milking some clock, he was going to throw a lob over his head that Fieler would seize and throw down with one hand.
The group erupted. Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, and Len Elmore of TBS collectively misplaced their minds. Fieler knew from the second Comer acquired the ball that a lob was coming, and says he knew that his level guard “was going to go for the spotlight reel play and the dagger.” Comer threw his arms within the air triumphantly as he ran up the courtroom, and looking out again, he remembers considering this was the second the Eagles proved they deserved to be on the most important stage with a school hoops powerhouse.
“I really feel like that play was the knockout blow to show that we belonged and we deserved to be there,” Comer says.
The run didn’t finish with the 78-68 win over the Hoyas. The next sport was one other matchup with a stingy crew: San Diego State. The Aztecs had been slightly extra comfy operating, however at that time, the Eagles had been taking part in with home cash.
Comer remembers that crew crew was slowed down in a bit throughout the first half, however remembers getting out and operating throughout the second. The primary half did, nevertheless, characteristic Fieler going full extension to dunk on somebody, which Thompson nonetheless laughs about to this present day.
“He took off exterior the paint and he form of has this Jordan pose dunking on this dude,” Thompson, who had his second-straight 23-point sport, says. “And I used to be like, ‘God dang Chase, why you do them like that, bro?’”
Similar to the primary sport, the Eagles turned on the jets within the second half and walked out with a 10-point win. Upon getting again to campus in Fort Myers, Fieler remembers experiencing one thing that reminds him of the celeb that you just’re not speculated to expertise at a small college like Florida Gulf Coast — particularly Comer and Brown, who wanted police escorts to get to class.
“We acquired to see what big-time program expertise with media questioning all the things, folks on social media tweeting about what you’re doing always,” Fieler says. “Simply taking footage after we had been getting caught by different college students or out within the city middle … you actually felt prefer it was a small neighborhood and after that run, simply experiencing it with everyone and experiencing an entire ‘nother degree of athletics.”
Issues didn’t go as nice within the Candy 16 in opposition to Florida — FGCU misplaced, 62-50, to its in-state foe — however by that time, the Eagles had already established themselves in faculty basketball lore. After the crew’s run got here to a detailed, Brown made it some extent to inform the remaining gamers two main issues: It’s now as much as the remainder of the gamers to maintain the crew’s run going, and that he wouldn’t have wished to play with another group of fellows.
That second factor continues to be true, because the gamers are nonetheless, to this present day, shut associates. Brown, Comer, Fieler, and Thompson are all in a gaggle textual content along with another former teammates, and the lasting sense of brotherhood felt amongst everybody whereas making a run to the Candy 16 is one thing not one of the gamers will ever neglect.
“I’ve received championships, I’ve received prizes abroad as an expert the place there’s truly cash bonuses and also you get prizes from that,” Fieler says. “It nonetheless doesn’t come anyplace near the enjoyment we had or the camaraderie as a crew we had, of profitable and taking part in to your college like we had in that season.”