After 2 tournament losses, FGCU looked to rebound in game 3 versus Georgia Southern. Rainwater won the tipoff (9-0) and the Eagles scored a quick bucket. The first half started off well and FGCU was comfortably in front. Sam Gagliardi provided a huge offensive explosion by way of 4 first half 3s. Justus Raiwater continued his solid play in the tourney by adding 6 points and 5 rebounds in the opening stanza. Unfortunately, the Eagles were unable to escape the turnover frenzy that would put a damper on an otherwise solid half of basketball. FGCU finished the half with 12 turnovers.
At the post-game presser, Coach Michael Fly stated that, during halftime, his message to the team centered around how the opening four minutes could set the tone for the 2nd half. Coach was correct but unfortunately, the team came out flat. Within the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half, FGCU would commit 4 turnovers, 3 fouls, and be outscored 11-3. The Eagles struggled against the press and by the time the ball passed halfcourt, the shot clock was ticking down. This forced bad shots, which led to another poor shooting performance. Below, we will go over the good and the bad from last night, give out our Tournament MVP designation, and look ahead to the next game.
Rainwater again neared a double-double on the night, scoring 8 and hauling in 10 rebounds. Due to continued injury-caused depth concerns, he also played a season high tying 28 minutes.
Gagliardi was the main catalyst for the Eagles’ first half lead. he ended up with 13 points and four rebounds, shooting 4-9 (44%) from deep. He only committed 1 turnover among a slew of them committed by the team as a whole. Gagliardi continues to be a solid defender regardless of whether his shot is falling or not.
Catto continues to be a leader on this team. Throughout the tournament, he has struggled to score but has made up for it in other ways. Against Georgia Southern, he shot only 3-13 (23%) from the floor and 1-8 (12.5%) from deep. Despite the low percentages, Catto managed an efficient game with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 assists to only 2 turnovers. He appears to have the highest on-court IQ and always knows where he and others are supposed to be. As a passer, he is also one of the best on the team.
After the come-from-behind win over FAU and subsequent games against VCU and Florida Tech, FGCU had a 2-1 record in their last 3 games. The tournament set the stage for 3 straight home games and an opportunity to really gain some momentum heading into December. Unfortunately, the Eagles dropped all 3 games in somewhat similar fashion. FGCU held a lead at halftime in each of these contests and wound up squandering their advantage in an ugly way each time.
At times, throughout this 3 game skid, the opposing team has elected to aggressively trap and press the FGCU guards. Sometimes the Eagles were able to overcome this and find the open man for easy buckets. But, more often than not, the players struggled to get the ball past halfcourt. By the time they managed to do so, the shot clock was dangerously low and shots needed to be forced, leading to bad misses.
Screecher Report Thanksgiving Tournament MVP 🏆🤴
These 3 games were the best stretch of play for Rainwater in an Eagles uniform. He consistently flirted with a double-double, averaging 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. Stats aside, Rainwater was constantly matched up with the opposing team’s best big. Due to injuries, he averaged 27 minutes a night as well. If anybody on the team deserves the day off, it’s Justus Rainwater.
After 3 games in 3 days, the Eagles will be resting for much of today, before getting ready for an in-state clash with FIU. FGCU will be travelling across the alley to try and get back into the win column. During the most recent post-game presser, Coach Fly stated that FIU plays a very similar style (heavy press) to VCU. Golden Panther coach, Jeremy Ballard was once an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth. Coach Fly stated this was a main reason for scheduling VCU earlier in the season. Stay tuned for our official preview of FIU!