After upsetting Miami, only to lose at home to FIU, FGCU (4-2) capped off a roller coaster of a week with a resounding win over Webber International. Below are my 5 Eagles Things from the game.
1. Complete “Dom”ination
Playing an NAIA team should always yield a lopsided victory. Earlier this season, FGCU earned an uninspired and inspirited 16 point victory over NAIA Florida National. Despite a 16 point victory, there weren’t many positives to take away from that game. This time around, FGCU made a concerted effort to dominate, keep dominating, and never look back. Leading the charge for the Eagles was Dom London. The junior posted a career (D-I) high of 22 points on 9/15 shooting (60%). Advertised as a lethal shooter and high energy scorer, London has taken some time to get his feet wet. Even through some struggles, he has shown a confident, clean stroke and valuable quickness from the guard spot. Against Webber, London exploded offensively. At times he looked like the fastest player on the floor. He hit 40% of his 3 point shots and also flashed some ability to get to the hoop. This is definitely a performance that London will look to build off of as non-conference season comes to a close.
2. A “Chance” for the Youngsters
With total domination comes a chance for the younger players and walk-ons to get their time. In their other game against an NAIA foe, FGCU allowed Florida National to hang around all game, preventing this from happening. Against, Webber though, every available player got a piece. 13 Players suited up for the Eagles and each of them scored. Hard-working walk-ons Chance Jackson and Lenny Ricca received 5 minutes of action. Chance finished with 4 points on 2/3 shooting and also grabbed a rebound. Lenny Ricca scored one basket and added 2 rebounds. On top of this, sophomore Qwanzi Samuels received his first action of the season and looked good doing so. He tallied 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 13 minutes played. Freshman Zach Anderson received extended playing time and cashed in on the opportunity. He finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in under 19 minutes. Unfortunately, fellow freshman Victor Rosa was unavailable due to a sickness (non COVID).
3. “That Man” Cyrus Largie
It’s no secret that Cyrus Largie is a favorite around here. That man extended his double-digit scoring streak to 5 games. He scored a career high 14 points while adding 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Best of all, he did this in less than 15 minutes of in-game action. Additionally, Cyrus was extremely efficient, shooting 6/7 (86%) from the floor. At this point, Cyrus has proven himself as a starter at this level. Based on what he has done, he is bound for a 20 point game sooner than later.
Sophomore Franco Miller also had himself a night. He messed around and finished just a few rebounds shy of a triple-double. He showcased plenty of flashy passing on his way to 10 assists. Franco finished with 12 points on 44% shooting and also added 2 steals. Miller has slowly, but steadily, improved over the course of the non-conference season. He figures to play an increasingly big part in the Eagles’ plans going forward.
5. Block Party
In under 13 minutes played, Dakota Rivers reminded everyone of just how impressive he is as a shot-blocker. In just the first half, Rivers racked up 5 blocks. For the game, he finished with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 6 total blocks. After one particular swat, it was announced over Alico Arena that the sophomore had passed up legendary FGCU forward for 7th on the all-time (D-I) blocks list for the school. To compare, Rivers has swatted 51 shots in just 36 games played. Norelia blocked 49 shots as an Eagle in 92 games played. Currently the all-time FGCU leader is Chase Fieler who blocked 134 shots over his 4 years and 134 games played. Assuming full seasons next year and the following year, Rivers is easily on pace to hold the FGCU record when his career with the team is finished.
Again, getting too high or too low after any 1 game is never a good idea. While this win was fun, there are definitely, big-picture reasons why some fans remain skeptical. The Eagles have the keys to the car and control their own destiny and the narrative that surrounds them. How they respond in their final non-conference game could wind up saying a lot about the team and their chances in conference play.
The Eagles wrap up the non-conference portion of their schedule as they welcome Georgia Southern to Alico Arena on Tuesday 12/22. Stay tuned for a full Game Preview.