Tag Archives: Eagles

Florida Gulf Coast, Seattle University, and how mid-major teams can become successful

29 Mar

In one week, Florida Gulf Coast University had the number of hits on their website multiply by a factor of 10.

That’s the kind of recognition making an unlikely Sweet 16 run can bring to a school, and that’s the kind of recognition Seattle University’s basketball program is trying to reach. The value there is obvious.

It’s also proof of how quickly a program can take off. FGCU is in just its second year of NCAA Division-I tournament eligibility – which Seattle U will enter next year.

More inspiring is the level that FGCU was at prior to this year – bad -, making the leap from conference bottom-feeder to nationally-known program seem very doable, if difficult.

The Eagles were 15-17 last year, 10-20 the year before that, and 8-21 the year before THAT. All three seasons took place in the Atlantic Sun conference, although the team only gained postseason eligibility last season.

Their first step was reaching mediocrity. You have to go 15-17 for a season before you can go 26-10, as FGCU has in their dream 2012-13 season. That will be the first step for the Redhawks, who should set a .500 conference record in the WAC as a minimum goal for next season.

The second step? Scheduling aggressively and smartly.

This season, Florida Gulf Coast won a home game against Miami by 12 that turned out to be one of the best mid-major victories in the NCAA all season. They also played top-tier opponents like Duke and VCU, and were competitive in losses against Iowa State and St. Johns.

Those games serve dual purposes – allowing your team to be prepared to compete against anyone, and allowing your RPI to be greatly enhanced. There is virtually no RPI penalty for losing on the road against a great team. And when your team hangs right with NCAA tournament-bound Iowa State in front of 13,000 at Ames Coliseum, you know you can play with anyone.

Mixed in with all those power-6 games were winnable home contests. A lot of them. Those, too, are confidence boosters. Extra home games bring fan interest, they make for more rested players, and they make it easier to win. The more home games, the better, even if some of them end up being against teams like Ave Maria of the NAIA.

Reach mediocrity, then schedule aggressively but smartly. Those two steps can help launch a team like Seattle University on a path toward success, even if that success isn’t a storybook Sweet-16 run. Not yet, anyways.

Recap: Rasmussen’s shooting helps Redhawks knock off Eastern

11 Dec

One in-state rival down, one to go.

Seattle dispatched Eastern Washington on Monday night with a solid team performance, stretching their lead to 12 in the second half and holding on to win 75-69.

The Redhawks rolled out an unusual starting lineup of two point guards and three forwards – Prince Obasi and D’Vonne Pickett alongside Deshaun Sunderhaus, Clarence Trent and Chad Rasmussen. The move worked against the smaller Eagles. Each starter racked up at least 8 points, and all filled up the stat sheet in other categories.

Rasmussen offered the biggest scoring contribution with 16 points on 4-8 three-point shooting. Chad hasn’t started much, and can get a little lost in the game when his shot isn’t falling, but he was effective on Monday night. Whether he starts or is coming off the bench in a key role, he’ll be important for the Redhawks in league play. Few, if any, WAC teams can guard a big outside shooter like him effectively.

Luiz Bidart was another sometimes overlooked player who made a good contribution, playing 22 minutes, adding 6 points, 3 boards and 3 assists.

Surprisingly, another outside shooter didn’t even feature against Eastern. Sterling Carter didn’t play a single minute in the game.

I asked head coach Cameron Dollar what the reason for Sporty’s DNP was, and he said “No reason. Just looking at different rotations.” Make of that what you will, but I have a hard time imagining any coach benching one of their best players for no reason.

Even though that decision was a bit of a mystery, it worked on Monday. Seattle led for essentially the entire second half while rotating 11 other players in and out, and were not seriously challenged down the stretch.

The victory serves as a nice warm-up, because the University of Washington will pose a much bigger challenge than lowly 2-7 Eastern in one of the biggest games of the season on Thursday. Seattle will be ready. UW will be motivated. It should be a sizzling contest.

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