The skinny: You may not know Florida Gulf Coast from the Florida Golf Association, since the Eagles only transitioned to Division I in 2007, but this isn’t your typical opening-night punching bag. Florida Gulf Coast is an intriguing team. The Eagles return all five starters from last year’s squad, which lost eight games by six points or less. FGSU also has 6-foot-9 transfer Eric McKnight from Iowa State.
Last year, the Eagles shot the three very well (.374) and ranked 32nd nationally in steals per game (8.2). In addition to Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds and point guard Brett Comer handed out 5.6 assists per game.
But there are also reasons why FGCU was a 15-17 team. Let’s start with defense. The Eagles ranked 285th nationally in points allowed (72.1), 176th in field goal defense (.432) and 265th in 3-point field goal defense (.361). That’s good news for VCU’s shooters, who could use some early confidence. However, the scariest statistic for Florida Gulf Coast fans might be the team’s 14.9 turnovers per game last season, which ranked 274th nationally. You can almost hear Briante Weber cackling in the shadows somewhere. Comer, for all his positives (3-point shooting, ball movement), is also turnover prone. He averaged 4.3 turnovers per game last year. Allen Iverson thinks that’s a lot.
Quick hitters: Although established in 1991, Florida Gulf Coast University held its first classes in 1997. Nearly 13,000 students are enrolled today… VCU’s last loss in a season-opener was at Appalachian State in 2005… VCU has won its last six season-openers by an average of 20.1 points… This is the first-ever meeting between VCU and FGCU.