Saturday night's game against the Hatters was a statement game for Dunk City. Coming into the game, FGCU had lost four of their last five. The team that was picked to win the Atlantic Sun at the beginning of the season was in a free fall, and many began to doubt that they would be able to live up to their lofty expectations. While their victory against Stetson doesn't prove a whole lot, the Eagles did exactly what they were suppose to do: blowout an inferior team on their home court.
As I said before, FGCU got a huge boost from red-shirt senior Jamail Jones. Jones started the game, and the first thing he did before tip-off was run over to the student section to get the crowd pumped up. Yeah... I think he's happy to be back too.
When asked about what it means to have Jones' intensity back on the floor, Brett Comer responded, "I mean obviously I love him. He's a little crazy, like me."
His energy on the court brought a noticeable edge that FGCU lacked during his suspension. Jones was all over the place ripping down rebounds, diving after loose balls, and knocking down three pointers. When Brett Comer went to the bench for a breather, Jones was even the guy that took over at point guard. In his first game since December 14th, he put up 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 steal.
"I felt like I'm a pretty physical player, so I try to bring a physical aspect to the game," Jones said about his hustle plays tonight.
The FGCU big men were able to overpower Stetson from start to finish. The trio of Nate Hicks, Marc-Eddy Norelia, and Demetris Morant all had monster blocks of their own. Eric Moeller, who for much of the season has been getting his footing, busted out for 3 blocks and 6 boards. Overall, FGCU out rebounded Stetson by a whopping 53 to 23. FGCU's 53 rebounds is tied for their most ever in an Atlantic Sun game.
"We always want to get off to a great start," said head coach Joe Dooley. "It was a nice home game, great atmosphere. I thought that the guys, in general, did a good job. There's still some things, we're still a work in progress. It was nice to get some of those younger guys, those big guys minutes, and let them work a little bit."
The Eagles led by as many as 30 against the Hatters. While beating Stetson doesn't call for a blue ribbon, it was nice to see FGCU come out and hammer a team that they should hammer. They still turned the ball over a less-than-encouraging 16 times, but their talent and athleticism allowed them to overcome the clearly overmatched Hatters. No matter what though, FGCU must limit their turnovers going forward. All in all, they responded nicely to the adversity they faced the past two weeks.
FGCU travels to Jacksonville on Wednesday to take on the North Florida Osprey in an early A-Sun road test.