Larranaga: Gators should be wary of FGCU

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For the second straight year, Florida is facing a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Last year, the Gators knocked off 15th-seed Norfolk State in the Round of 32. This time, Florida is facing Florida Gulf Coast University, the first 15-seed ever to make the Sweet 16. Game time on Friday is scheduled for 9:57 p.m. ET on TBS at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Miami coach Jim Larranaga is aware of the problems FGCU can present. FGCU knocked off the ACC-champion Hurricanes 63-51 in its home opener on Nov. 13. The Eagles have also toppled Georgetown and San Diego State to Reach the Sweet 16.

Larranaga called FGCU point guard Brett Comer “one of the best point guards in the country.” Comer ranks 16th nationally in assists at 6.4 per game.

“He finds the open man as good as anybody and he’s got shooters at every location,” Larranaga said. “They play extremely hard, they spread you out and they are not afraid to run the floor with you. Against us, they were very effective in their zone defense. And very effective ball screening us to death. They are a very solid team.”

Other things to know about the FGCU program:

— Head coach Andy Enfeld is in his second year at the helm of the program after serving as a Florida State assistant from 2006-11. Like Florida coach Billy Donovan, Enfeld is a Rick Pitino disciple, having served as an assistant under Pitino from 1998-2000 with the Boston Celtics.

— Florida Gulf Coast ranks 20th in the nation in steals at 8.9 a game. The Eagles also rank 43rd in scoring offense (73.3 ppg), 46th in 3-point defense (30.9 percent) and are 50th in field-goal percentage (45.9 percent).

 — FGCU’s weaknesses are scoring defense (66.9 ppg allowed), taking care of the ball (14.6 turnovers per game) and free-throw shooting (.667).

 — Donovan could call close friend and former Florida assistant Shaka Smart for a scouting report. VCU knocked off Florida Gulf Coast 80-57 in the season-opener for both teams.

Larranaga said he’s not surprised that FGCU has made a run in the tournament.

“One of the things about guys who fly under the radar screen who are very good, they play with more confidence and more determination than the opponent normally expects to see,” Larranaga said. “You think, once you get these guys down it’s over with, and it’s not, because those guys are going to fight you for every possession and for every minute of the game. They are very, very capable of beating any team they play.”

24 COMMENTS

  1. FGCU also lost to heavyweights East Tennessee, Mercer, Stetson and David Lipscomb College twice. They’re playing at a phenomenol pitch, are talented and skilled. However, Gators are a mission and bring more to the match-up. Hoping FGCU gives our guys that determined edge on which we thrive.

  2. Gators should end FGC run in the tourney, but that is where it will end, Kansas and Michigan have too many big athletes, the Gators will find it difficult to hang with either of them for 40 minutes. The best matchup would be Michigan, they only go 6 deep and don’t present the size problem Kansas brings; Kansas has too much size in the middle and at the guard postions.

  3. Gatormac-classic underestimator; KP-classic looker ahead: Both cause losses, but I am counting on classic preparation by BD and The Boys for this nascent upstart from Estero, Florida. The Fort Meyers area is beautiful, especially the beaches, so this tourney may elicit a recruiting coup for Enfeld’s Eagles. They have been fun to watch, but their tournament run ends Friday at the hands of their big brothers from Gainesville!

  4. Brr-bon Phil – Nice post. The guys above make great points as well. I was definitely routing for UNC to knock out both of them. The Gator team ine first half yesterday will beat any of these three teams but the one that came out the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half will lose to all three of them. Let’s see who shows up.

  5. Florida will handle FGCC pretty easy because of the pressure on the ball and bulk inside. I would be surprised if the final score is under 18. You never know in an one and done situation with the pressure on. Florida will continue it’s mission by beating either Kansas or Michigan in the Elite Eight, to Finally advance to the Final Four using experience, motivation, and sheer determination. I really don’t expect a close game until the Final Four unless Florida beats themselves and reverts bact Mid to late Feb tendencies. A coming of age Yuegette and strong Prather/Frazier will help, dramatically.

  6. I think the gators discipline on defense will slow them down.

    FGC is playing with a lot of confidence but during the reg. season they lost to many weak teams, why? I thought this was an overachieving team before watching them but I now think they are a very talented team that might have big off nights.

    Would be interesting to see on film what the difference… getting beat by lipscomb and then handling georgetown.

    Vs Minn I like the way they moved without the ball. But entry passes to Murphy and Young again resulted in turnovers. They really need to fix that. I think Yeguette and Prather defense will be key moving forward.

  7. My God! How can the Gators (RPI #7) possibly ever beat FGCU (#93)? The Azul Eagles only held Miami (#4) to their lowest points scored (51) way last Nov 13 in both their second game. The Eagles are 9-2 over their previous 11 games, winning 7 straight while the Gators are a terribly spotted 7-4. In their meeting on Mar 29, the Gators no doubt will be looking forward to playing the winner of the marquee Michigan-Kansas match-up in Cowboy Stadium at Arlington, it having just been completed at the tipoff of the Eagle-Gator game!

    The blistering hyping spotlight will be clearly shining on the Eagles’ the next 5 days to bring down the Gators in the Sweet 16 making it impossible, playing like the one man band from Micanopy, to score more than 57, no one scoring in double digits on a team 3-30 shooting from beyond the arc, no blocked shots and no fewer than 20 turnovers or more than 20 rebounds and maybe only 10 assists, if they get luck! Actually, why should the Gators bother even showing up other than for a night out at Six Flags in Arlington following the game?

    Just maybe the keys to a Florida victory on Friday can be found in Billy’s VHS tapes from FCGU “resume building” game losses with then #9 Duke(#1) on Nov 18 or with 17-16 St Johns(#94) on Nov 24 or from their game versus unranked Iowa State(#44) in chilling Ames on Dec 4. Or might the keys for success be found in the multiple losses (5) FGCU has had with teams having RPIs >200 and which never likely would have beaten the Gators this season even on a bad night?

  8. FGCU looks for real, so don’t get cocky guys. UF basically cannot easily score down low…..neither Young or Yuegette have a soft enough touch around the rim, and if you have to continuously rely on 3 pointer and they’re not falling, oh oh.

  9. This season, it’s always felt like a question of our guys getting (and staying) motivated. That shouldn’t be a problem in the Sweet 16. I think that if Young, Yeguete and Murphy can do what they did (collectively 16 boards and 27 pts) inside against Minnesota and keep the pressure off of our guards, we should win easily.
    Also, what’s up with the TV coverage? We’re gonna need WAY more gratuitous shots of Coach Enfeld’s wife.
    Go Gators.

  10. The Gators should be preparing for FGCU like they will need to prepare for Kansas, Duke, or Louisville. I know it’s a different sport, but have Gator fans forgotten the Sugar Bowl already? FGCU is just the kind of fast, hungry team that Louisville’s football squad was on Jan. 2. They believe they have a bigger point to prove than the Gators, and Donovan’s guys — and Florida fans — shouldn’t take them lightly, or we’ll be waking up like we did on Jan. 3 and asking “Whaaa happened?” Prepare for the worst and play your best, Gators.

  11. It will be whoever plays the best on Friday, and going forward who will win… The Gators are capable of winning it all, but that means nothing unless you win even on an off night. The best thing Florida has going for it now, is defense… They even went to a bigger line-up late in games like I hoped they would previously, and foul shots were falling, even Young’s. You need all that to win at this level now. It does not matter what you are ranked in the tourney (see NC State, Butler, VCU, etc.). You just have to play within the moment, and more importantly, play within themselves, and be who they are… Go Gators!

  12. anyone who thinks the gators are gonna just show up and win know nothing about bball. this fgc team is more than capable of beating us and beating us by more than a little…having said that, i think the gators will win b/c having 4 days off and hearing how great you are will be tough for a team like fgc who hasnt been in the spotlight beofre. plus the gators will be hearing how great the eagles are as well and will be ready (they better be) and not take them litely. go gators!

  13. Gators will win ‘another’ 1st round game in the Sweet 16… Too bad Kansas keeps winning though; while I will be screaming at the HDTV for another Elite 8 Gator game, I agree with Kevin. Kansas will be quite a formidable opponent, not to mention the thousands of University of Kansas fans that will drive down to Arlington, TX. In effect, the Gators will be playing Kansas at home, uh-oh! Chomp-on though Gators! Beat Gulf Coast and Kansas… and you should win it all!

  14. This just in: If you continue to advance in a post-season tourney,you are liable to run into a tough team that is capable of beating you.Yes,Kansas will be tough,so will Mich. Do you think UF will be tough for them too? I do.

  15. Gators are on the way to Arlington for rest and practice in their private jet.

    FGCU kids home to Ft Myers via Southwest to “bask in the glory”.

    I’d be REALLY surprised if FGCU kids can handle the pressure. The game will be close the first 10 minutes or so, then Gators should pull away to the Elite .8

  16. I fully expect FGCU to hit a brick wall with Fl.. Looking over all their games they havent played any great defensive teams this year. They will be out of sorts when the gators wont let them score. they feed off their big plays like their dunks which will be few and far between playing Fl.

  17. Living in Ft. Myers, the hype and enthusiasm is incredible. The Eagles are riding a wave of momentum. I think my Gators can play tougher D and smother them. A series of ‘one and done’ defensive plays will slow the Eagles down. But I agree with the commentary that they will fight, and fight and fight every play so the mighty Gators will have to play every second of the game to win this one…so what’s new? This is the Big Dance.

  18. Did any of you really watch the Georgetown and SanDiego State game. Those Eagles were allowed to many attempts to Dunk and run away with the ball, they were not guarded at all.
    Can they be beat, well yes, look at their schedule VCU beat them and so did Duke, plus others.
    Yeah! they run with the ball and Dunk,maybe that is what they do best, because, that is the way their coach was trained. BD was also an assistant to Pitino. Gators play that kind of game too. Yes, the Gators have to show up and be determined that is any team.
    The winner here will be the won who makes the clutch shot, like Craft did for Ohio State.

  19. Hats off to FGCU. However…. they have had there party and celebration and 15 .. no 30 minutes of fame and they created rap songs about it.

    The party belongs to the Gators after Friday night.

    But… Gators better not over look them.