09 Nov Men’s Hoops Opens 2021-22 Campaign Tuesday Night Against Florida National
FORT MYERS, Fla. – It is officially the season-opener for the FGCU men’s basketball team as the Eagles host Florida National on Tuesday night at Alico Arena. The opening day of the season will feature a double-header as the women’s team tips off against Florida Memorial at 5:00 PM followed by the men’s game slated for 7:30 PM. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+ with Tom James and J. Webb Horton calling the action.
Fans, 21-and-over, will also be able to enjoy beer and wine sales at Alico Arena for the first time. Valid identification will be required and only two beverages may be purchased per trip to the concession area.
The night will be a Blue Out for fans who are also reminded of Alico Arena’s Clear Bag policy to help expedite entrance into the game.
The Eagles went 10-8 overall last season as they faced the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was highlighted by a road win at Miami and a pair of wins over Lipscomb including in the first round of the ASUN Tournament.
Entering the 2021-22 campaign, FGCU returns several key pieces including guards Caleb Catto (Cape Coral, Fla./Southwest Florida Christian Academy) and Cyrus Largie (Miramar, Fla./Mater Lakes Academy), who led the team in scoring last year, and forward Dakota Rivers (Windermere, Fla./Windermere HS) who led the ASUN in blocked shots. Several key additions to the roster were made in the offseason highlighted by Kevin Samuel [Codrington Village, Barbuda/Redemption HS (Texas)/TCU] joining the program after a terrific career at TCU where he was one of the Big 12’s and the NCAA’s top shot blockers. Guards Tavian Dunn-Martin (Huntington, W.Va./Huntington HS/Akron/Duquesne), Matt Halvorsen (Kingsport, Tenn./Christ School/Western Carolina), and Austin Richie (Glenwood, Ill./Don Bosco Institute/Triton College/Tulsa) bring a wealth of experience to the back court, while Carlos Rosario (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic/Redemption Prep/Pensacola College/McNeese State) and redshirt freshman Andre Weir (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna Prep/Richmond) bring size and skill to the front court.
The schedule for the year also lends itself to the fans seeing some exciting basketball as FGCU will host USC and former head coach Andy Enfield, Rhode Island, and Mercer among others during the non-conference slate. Additionally, the Eagles will stay home for Thanksgiving with the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Invitational featuring Western Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, and Purdue Fort Wayne.
The ASUN slate will get underway on January 4 against North Florida as the Eagles begin divisional play this year in the conference. The top two seeds in both the East and West Divisions will get a bye to the quarterfinals. Seeds 3 through 6 will compete in four rounds through the first round with all games being hosted at the higher seed campus sites.
Florida National enters tonight’s game with a 1-2 overall record. Ryan Sanchez (17.5 ppg), Kobbie Perez (17.0 ppg), and Stephane Manzi (17.0 ppg) lead the Conquistadors in scoring for the year.
• FGCU is 6-13 all-time in season openers dating back to 2002-03.
• Last season, FGCU opened the season on Nov. 25, a delayed start to the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 65-56 win over Florida A&M.
• In the friendly confines of Alico Arena, FGCU is 4-3 all-time for season-openers.
• The 2021-22 opener will be the first at home since hosting Illinois State for the 2017-18 campaign. The Eagles won that contest 98-87 behind 27 points from Zach Johnson and 21 from Brandon Goodwin.
SAMUEL PREDICTED TO MAKE AN IMPACT
• TCU transfer Kevin Samuel was selected as the ASUN Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and as a member of the league’s preseason all-conference team.
• The 6-foot-11, 255 pound center is the third FGCU player to earn the preseason ASUN Defensive Player of the Year award and the first since Demetris Morant did so in 2016-17. Bernard Thompson earned the accolade twice in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
• At TCU, Samuel started all 95 career games of his career and set the school record for blocked shots with 206 in three years. For his career, he’s averaged 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds while leading the Big 12 in blocks twice. Among active NCAA players at the end of the 2020-21 season, his 206 career blocks were the ninth most.
• Last season, he averaged 8.8 points, third best on the team, through 26 games. His 7.8 rebounds ranked third in the Big 12, while his 1.7 blocks per game led the conference. His 62.5 field goal percentage was the best on the team as well.
TRAVELING THROUGH THE PORTAL
• With the change of transfer rules and the additional year of eligibility due to COVID-19, FGCU made recruiting transfers a high priority for this season’s roster.
• In addition to Samuel, FGCU added Tavian Dunn-Martin (Duquesne), Matt Halvorsen (Western Carolina), Carlos Rosario (McNeese State), and Austin Richie (Tulsa).
• Dunn-Martin was the 2018-19 Atlantic 10 Sixth Man of the Year and has played in 116 career games, while Halvorsen hit 297 career three pointers to rank 9th all-time in Southern Conference history.
• Rosario and Richie each bring a wealth of experience at the Division I level and add depth at the forward and guard positions, respectively.
ESPNU TO TELEVISE DUNK CITY REUNION
• The home game against USC on Nov. 16 will be televised by ESPNU as Andy Enfield returns to Alico Arena for the first time since the 2013 Dunk City run to the Sweet 16.
• The night before, Nov. 15, Enfield and the 2012-13 team will be the first-ever inductees into the newly formed FGCU Athletics Hall of Fame.
EAGLES RETURN 63% OF SCORING FROM 2020-21
• Highlighted by returning its top two scorers in Cyrus Largie (13.4 ppg) and Caleb Catto (13.3 ppg), FGCU returns 63-percent of its scoring from last season.
• Among the transfers, three averaged double figures last year: Dunn-Martin (10.2 ppg), Halvorsen (12.1 ppg), and Rosario (12.0 ppg). Samuel averaged 8.8 points last season, but had his best statistical season in 2019-20 where he scored 10.0 points per game with 8.4 rebounds and a Big 12 leading 2.7 blocks per game.
AMONG THE ASUN’S BEST DEFENSE
• Last season, FGCU led the ASUN in eight team statistical categories including blocked shots per game (4.3), defensive rebounds (27.33), steals per game (7.4), and total blocks (77). The Eagles were also second in defensive field goal percentage (42.1) and turnovers forced (14.44), while ranking third in scoring defense (69 ppg).
• While Samuel is expected to bolster FGCU’s defense with his TCU-record 206 career blocked shots, making him one of the top-10 active career players in the NCAA this season, FGCU also returns last season’s top shot blocker in Dakota Rivers.
• Rivers led the ASUN last year with 1.94 blocks per game as well as total blocks (35). He enters 2021-22 ranked fifth in career blocked shots (74) and first in career blocked shots per game (1.5).
CONQUISTADORS VS EAGLES
• This will be the third all-time meeting between FGCU and Florida National. The Eagles won both the prior meetings in 2016 (W, 107-50) and last December (W, 91-74).
INDIVIDUAL TICKETS, MINI PLANS AVAILABLE
• Tickets for the 2021-22 FGCU Basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased by going online to www.FGCUTickets.com or calling 866-FGCU-TIX. A limited number of tickets for the USC game are still available. Group tickets can also be purchased for 10-or-more making a memorable evening for families, businesses, or other organizations.
For complete coverage of FGCU men’s basketball, follow the Eagles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FGCU_MBB and online at www.FGCUAthletics.com. You can also sign-up to have news on FGCU men’s basketball and other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.
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Michael Fly was introduced as the fourth FGCU men’s basketball head coach on April 5, 2018. He had spent the previous seven years as an assistant coach on the Eagles’ staff. In his time with the Eagles, he helped FGCU to a 189-134 record (.585 winning percentage), including six ASUN Tournament Final appearances, three NCAA Tournament victories, three ASUN Tournament titles and three ASUN Regular Season Championships, two berths in the NIT, a CIT appearance and a run to the Sweet 16. He has coached 13 all-conference selections while with the Green and Blue, including two ASUN Player of the Year honors in Sherwood Brown and Brandon Goodwin, two ASUN Defensive Player of the Year selections in Bernard Thompson and Demetris Morant and one ASUN Newcomer of the Year in Schadrac Casimir. Of the top-10 players in career points at FGCU, Fly has helped develop eight of them, including all-time leading scorer Thompson (1,835). Additionally, the Kentucky alumnus has coached both the ASUN all-time assists leader Brett Comer (845; 24th in NCAA history) and FGCU all-time leading rebounder Chase Fieler (714).
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 13+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 23 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, and 2020 Fall semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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