Saturday, April 29, 2017

Eagles Say Farewell as Marc and Meech Leave the Nest

fgcu basketball players with head coach joe dooley

“naplesA tall pair of seniors and fan favorites have said their goodbyes to the FGCU basketball program.

Demetris Morant and Marc-Eddy Norelia were honored along with the rest of the FGCU men’s basketball team at the program’s end of season banquet Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Fort Myers.

The Eagles, with their most loaded roster yet, had their best season in program history, going 26-8 including their first ever outright Atlantic Sun regular season title, making quick work of the ASUN tournament en route to their third NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.

In an 86-80 first-round loss as a No. 14 seed against the No. 3 seed Florida State Seminoles in Orlando, Morant ended his Eagles career early in the second half, after an awkward landing resulted in a high ankle sprain. Recovery is coming along nicely, though, as Morant prepares to play professionally overseas.

“He’s not all the way back, he’s been able to start working out again which is good news, but the bad news is he wasn’t about to do anything for a couple weeks,” Eagles coach Joe Dooley said. “He wasn’t able to play in Portsmouth (Invitational Tournament for graduates) or any of those pre-draft deals.”

Morant missed most of his junior season with a stress fracture in his right shin suffered before the season and played limited minutes.  But the soft-spoken Morant, known for his shot-blocking skills, really blossomed his senior season on the offensive end, averaging 10.5 points per game.

He also invoked the spirits of Dunk City, his 97 slams on the season believed to be the second-most in the nation behind UCF’s Tacko Fall. Morant also led the Eagles in rebounds with 7.9 per game and 48 blocks.

“Meech made about as much improvement as anyone I’ve been around in a while,” Dooley said. “The good news too is his ceiling is still high, he’s not near the player he can be, so I think he’s still got some improving to do as he moves forward playing professionally.”

After a monster junior year where he averaged a double-double, Norelia struggled with injuries and personal matters his senior season.

He missed the first four games to a broken hand suffered in the preseason, then spent six games and nearly a month away from the team for “personal reasons.” In 24 games this season, Norelia averaged 8.9 points per game.

In 24 games this season, Norelia averaged 8.9 points per game.

Since the departure, the once talkative Norelia has been virtually silent. The team made him unavailable during the season, and though polite Monday declined to speak to reporters.

Probably the only time he’s spoken to media at all since mid-December was after the NCAA Tournament with Naples Herald’s Tyler Mosher in the locker room.

“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” Norelia said in March about his decision to transfer to FGCU. “I think that I’ve grown a lot as a basketball player, but more as a man that sees what life’s about. How to move forward and the commitment that I made in the community, it was just very special.

Norelia was the first recruit Dooley signed after taking the job in 2014.

“We’re appreciative of him and happy for him being an all-league player,” Dooley said. “I think he’s had an excellent career, accomplished many of the goals he wanted to.”


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