The FGCU men’s basketball team was in good spirits on Saturday after a 68-54 win over NJIT, one which moved them to 3-0 to start Atlantic Sun play.
How could we tell?
There is no dedicated media room at Alico Arena, however it is most commonly a repurposed room that shares a wall with the team’s locker room.
During Saturday’s postgame press conference, players still in the locker room were blasting music, and could be heard celebrating. Here, check out the video posted by the school’s athletics department: for the first minute or so of the press conference, you can hear the tunes playing away.
“We’re feeling good,” senior guard Brandon Goodwin said Saturday, after narrowly missing a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. “I think our guys minds are in a good place right now, we’re getting our confidence back, we’re starting to play with each other and build chemistry, and we’re looking a lot better on the defensive end, which is something we’ve been preaching since, I’ve told you, the beginning of the year.”
The mood around the program has changed in a big way compared to just one month ago. Compare Saturday to Dec. 16, when the Eagles, in the midst of losing six of seven, were blown out by Oral Roberts, 83-64, losing their third straight game at home for the first time since 2011, and suffering their worst home loss since 2012, a game Eagles coach Joe Dooley called a “debacle.”
“I’m not sure, to be honest,” Goodwin said when asked how to right the ship after that Dec. 16 loss. “We’re going to have to figure something out. We keep saying it’s a long season, but it’s not, really. You only get about 30 games.”
Winning, sure, cures all ills as the saying goes, but there’s been something else at work.
The defense, a baffling weakness for the Eagles earlier in the season, appears to have arrived. In the current five-game winning streak, which includes three conference games, the Eagles haven’t given up more than 58 points in a game. That had only happened three times in their first 15, and during the six of seven skid they never allowed fewer than 75, including at least 80 points five times and over 90 twice.
In the three conference games, the Eagles have outrebounded all opponents by a double-digit margin, and they’ve held teams under 37 percent shooting, both things they weren’t doing earlier in the season.
Having the defense locked-in is key, Dooley says, with a three-game conference road trip starting Thursday. It also starts with the Eagles biggest test in ASUN play so far, scoring machine Garrison Matthews and the conference’s preseason No. 2 pick, Lipscomb.
“You’re usually not as good offensively on the road, but you can carry your defense with you. They’ve got a lot of offensive weapons. Matthews streak has been unbelievable, he’s been on an unbelievable roll offensively. We’ve got our hands full.”
View from the Nest brings you FGCU coverage, analysis, and tidbits that don’t fit elsewhere from Naples and Lee Herald’s FGCU beat writer, R.J. Roan.
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