Florida Gulf Coast looks to shock Georgetown, and the nation
Courtesy of ASAP Sports, here's a transcript of Florida Gulf Coast's press conference ahead of Friday's NCAA tournament game against Georgetown at the Wells Fargo Center.
Florida Gulf Coast looks to shock Georgetown, and the nation
Courtesy of ASAP Sports, here's a transcript of Florida Gulf Coast's press conference ahead of Friday's NCAA tournament game against Georgetown at the Wells Fargo Center.
Q. Were you guys highly recruited by a lot of the schools for the major programs and whatnot, and is this an opportunity for you guys to kind of show what you can do against some of the so‑called big‑time schools?
EDDIE MURRAY: No, personally I wasn't really recruited by any large programs. Most of the schools that were recruiting me were out of the A‑Sun or other mid major programs. I think it is an opportunity for any mid majors, for 15, 16 seeds going up against the 1 and 2s. It is an opportunity to prove that maybe we did get missed or anything like that. It is an opportunity to show what we can do and see what happens.
CHASE FIELER: I wasn't recruited, either, from the high major schools. I had mostly mid major and low major. So again, just playing against a team like this is a good opportunity to show what we can do, but we've had opportunities over our careers so far. We've played Ohio State, Indiana, and this year we played at Duke and at BCU, so it's another opportunity.
SHERWOOD BROWN: Just like these guys, I wasn't recruited by many high level programs. So for us it's a big opportunity to go and show the world what we're capable of.
Q. I know your university itself is not that old. Do you have a sense of what your success as a team has done either to build some sort of spirit on campus and also to sort of let the rest of the country know, kind of raise the profile of your school? Any thoughts about that?
EDDIE MURRAY: Yeah, I'm actually a local kid from the area so I kind of got to see the school come from ‑ I think it's only 13 years old. I got to see it grow as I was going through high school and then I was recruited there. Definitely in the last couple of weeks since winning the A‑Sun Championship and then coming here, people are starting to learn where the school is at, what it's all about.
As we were walking around Philly today and yesterday, people were like oh, you are FGC in Fort Myers. They are really starting to learn who we are, and I think we're starting to build a tradition there.
CHASE FIELER: I'm not a local kid. I'm actually from West Virginia so when I first signed to go play at FGCU, a lot of people had no idea where I was going. After the recent success and even the success we had last year making the run in the tournament, I've had a lot more people who understand, have a feel for where I'm at. And Yahoo put an article showing our dorm rooms, so I think a lot of people learned how nice it is.
SHERWOOD BROWN: I'm from Orlando, so even being from Florida, a lot of the people that I'm close to, they didn't even know where Florida Gulf Coast was or they never heard of it. So with me going down there and us getting the publicity that we have recently, a lot of people are really starting to get a chance to know who we are and recognize us.
Q. Eddie, I saw a line in the New York Times article on you guys that it was one building in the woods essentially. Do you remember what it was? What was it like when you first got there and how has it grown since that point?
EDDIE MURRAY: It was actually pretty strange. Yeah, I would go there for little three‑on‑three events. There was a D‑League that would host things at the arena and stuff when it was first built. There was a couple of dorm rooms, but there was wild animals crossing the road you would see back there. The school has definitely grown a lot, and I think within the last two weeks it's definitely grown tremendously.
Q. What kind of wild animals?
EDDIE MURRAY: Personally I've seen everything from wild boar, bobcats, alligators.
Q. For any of you guys, so much has been made in this last week about your coach's background, his wife, his job before he became a basketball coach. Do you guys joke with him about any of that? Do you take anything from his experience, as well, because he has a different background than a lot of coaches do.
SHERWOOD BROWN: I mean, Coach is a great guy. I haven't really read about anything of his background. But I just know that wherever he came from and wherever his background came from, he came into a great man that he is today, and he's a great coach.
CHASE FIELER: I don't joke around with him about his wife. He does control my play time. We try and take his background. He's the shooting percentage leader so we know he's a great shooting coach. He has the background in the NBA. So just taking that experience that he's had, even being on Wall Street, being a business major, he's helped us a lot with what the schooling can do for us.
Q. Do you guys have shooting confidence with him?
CHASE FIELER: No, we try to keep our confidence up. (Laughter).
Q. Hearing about Georgetown, how far back does that go? That's always been a national name. I don't know how much history you guys were aware of growing up, and to play them, what does that mean?
EDDIE MURRAY: Personally I mean, I don't know too much about them. I know some of the basics. But they are a well‑known program. I kind of think it's just like going up against any of the larger schools we've played, Duke, Miami, Ohio State, Indiana, we're kind of taking it like any other game. We understand we might be a little bit outsized but we're going to try to use our strengths against them and see what happens tomorrow night.
CHASE FIELER: Same thing. I grew up knowing a little bit more about them being a little more north in say West Virginia with the Big East. I never really liked them kind of being a West Virginia fan. I guess it helps now I get to play against them.
SHERWOOD BROWN: I've heard about Georgetown. I know that Allen Iverson went there, and he's one of my favorite players. But it feels good to be able to play against them and to show them and the rest of‑‑ just like I said earlier, show everybody else what we have.
Q. Which guys were playing when you followed them at West Virginia?
CHASE FIELER: I was more interested in the coach. My coach growing up was named John Thompson, too, so I thought it was pretty interesting.
Q. For Chase, you guys beat Miami this year. When you see the success they've had, one of the finest résumés in the country, have you followed them? Are you surprised by what they've done?
CHASE FIELER: We've followed them a lot. I mean, what they do helps us, as well. I'm not surprised at all what they've done. They have a lot of talent. They're a great team. When they've had the stretch they've had, I kind of felt like they would do that.
Q. There are schools that wait decades and decades to get into this thing, and some never have. Is there a sense of surprise at how quickly you guys went from not existing to the NCAA Tournament?
EDDIE MURRAY: Definitely. You know, not even just making the NCAA Tournament but just the turnaround that our program has had.
don't know if you're aware, but we were always kind of middle or bottom of the pack in the A‑Sun, and just being the top of the pack, we came in top second this year in the conference and then winning the championship, just the turnaround in the two years since Coach came in here has been incredible and an amazing experience.
Q. From beating Miami, does that give you some confidence? I know it may have been early in the season, but does that give you that kind of confidence that knowing you all can take on anybody?
SHERWOOD BROWN: Yeah, that definitely gives us a lot of confidence. It makes us realize that even though they might be a little bit bigger than us, if you just play hard and play good defense, no matter what, you can win.
CHASE FIELER: Just like Sherwood said, if you play hard and play good defense, you're always going to have a chance to win at the end of the game.
Q. Can you talk about the exposure the school has gotten? Does it bother you guys that nobody seems to get your name right?
CHASE FIELER: I'm not really offended by it, but like you said, it is FGCU, we're trying to build the name of that. The more success we have, the more it'll get out and the more people will start to get it right.
Q. I read that your coach is a little more‑‑ he doesn't yell, he's not a screamer in practice. How does that help you keep things in perspective especially in this situation?
EDDIE MURRAY: Exactly. It kind of does keep things in perspective for us. It keeps things loose around the gym, people don't get too uptight. We know we're playing a big game, we don't need any more pressure on us. It's definitely kind of a family atmosphere around there, but when it comes to game time things do get serious and the guys are focused.
SHERWOOD BROWN: Coach Enfield is a great person and he realizes how you should communicate with people and he knows how to get the best out of each and every player.
Personally I don't really like when coaches really yell like that, but if a coach was to yell, it doesn't really bother me in the way I play. But a lot of players can't really handle all that type of stuff. So it just helps us all around.
Q. What's your guys' mindset like right now in terms of nerves? You're going to be on national TV tomorrow in front of the entire nation. Any nervousness yet?
CHASE FIELER: I'm not really nervous other than we are from Florida and they are putting us inside hockey rink against a team that's from up north. Just kidding. (Laughter).
We're really loose. We're confident. We're trying to stay focused but we realize that we are in the NCAA Tournament, so the pressure we have is what we put on ourselves because I'm sure a lot of people aren't putting much in us to win. We know we can win. We know we have the ability and we're just trying to stay focused on that.
Q. Where does this rank on the fun meter so far for the week?
EDDIE MURRAY: This is up there right behind running the Rocky stairs.
CHASE FIELER: It's been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed it. The questions have all been fun to answer, and you guys have been a pleasure to play with.
SHERWOOD BROWN: It's been a lot of fun. This is actually the most variety type of questions that we've received this week, so it's been interesting.
THE MODERATOR: We have head coach Andy Enfield.
COACH ENFIELD: We're excited to be here. It's a big event for FGCU, only second year of eligibility for the postseason, so it's a huge event for or campus and our community and our basketball team. We're looking forward to the opportunity to play Georgetown tomorrow evening.
Q. What would Coach Pitino, a mentor in some respects, suggest or advise, their up‑tempo approach at Louisville was not able to push Georgetown in an earlier meeting this year very much, and that's the same brand that you guys take. If Louisville wasn't able to do it, what makes you guys confident that you'll have some success with that?
COACH ENFIELD: We're confident in our system. We scored 88 points against a Mercer team that was top 10 in the nation defense in the conference championship. They gave up 57 points a game and Georgetown gives up 56 a game. We understand how great defensively Georgetown is. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country.
But we also know that we have to run at opportune times, we have to push the ball in transition. We are in top 20 in the nation in steals. Bernard Thompson our shooting guard is fifth in the nation, almost three per game. So if we get a few steals, deflections and we rebound the ball, we have to be able to make plays in transition, and if we don't, then we have to set up our offense and go against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
Q. Does the Louisville game have any bearing them? Do you look at a similar style?
COACH ENFIELD: We did watch the Louisville film. The Big East, when you get in conference play, every team knows each other, so it's completely different. And it's the same in our conference and everywhere else.
That's why you see so many close games when you get into league play and also there are no easy games. It doesn't matter what your records are. The Louisville Georgetown game was very physical, two top 10 teams going at it for 40 minutes, and it was a close game.
So I'm sure Louisville wanted to get a few more easy baskets than they did, but Georgetown just makes you play their style sometimes, and if you can't adjust to it, then you usually lose the game.
Q. Sort of a two‑parter for you. Do you remember the first time you were aware that there was a Florida Gulf Coast University, and what did you see in it that made you think that it could become a good basketball school?
COACH ENFIELD: I was an assistant coach at Florida State. I knew ‑ I had heard of the school. Really didn't know anything about it. I knew they were in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They had just started the Atlantic Sun Conference I believe when I was at Florida State, and I just would see their scores pop up periodically. I had never been on campus.
I had been to Fort Myers before for the City of Palms High School Tournament recruiting when I was at Florida State, but that was actually about 20 to 25 minutes away from the campus, so the campus is in a beautiful area. It's more Estero, Florida. It's between Naples and Fort Myers. It's probably 25 minutes from Downtown Fort Myers and 25 minutes from Naples. It's basically in between.
It's just a beautiful area. I didn't know much about it when I took the job. I did have an AD, Ken Kavanagh, who sold me on the idea of quickly making this a special place, and I wanted that opportunity, so that's why I took it.
Q. In this era of ESPN and thousands of games on Duke and all these other teams out there, how do you get kids to come to your school, especially you guys are a young mid major and all that? How do you convince the kids and say, hey, look, this is a good program, and this opportunity to play against a big school like Georgetown?
COACH ENFIELD: Recruiting is all relationships, and selling them on what's in it for them for four years. We did it at Florida State. We recruited 11 top 100 players, two McDonald's All Americans, went to three tournaments, a Sweet 16 and one NCAA Championship. We are doing the same thing at FGCU. We recruit talented players we think can be pros. We develop them and make them great players.
We have two players sitting out, a transfer from Georgia Tech at 6'10" and a kid from Marquette, Jamail Jones at 6'6" coming out of high school two years ago. We've got two terrific guys sitting out, a transfer from Iowa State starts as a center, Eric McKnight. 6'9" and runs like a deer.
Our backcourt Bernard Thompson and Brett Comer are sophomores. We start three sophomores and they were recruited heavily by three different late in the spring got the job in April 2011.
The other players we have, we recruited, we signed 12 players and all of them have had unique opportunities to go to a variety of schools up and down the East Coast. We develop relationships with them. We tell them what we can do for them and also how they fit in and where we're going as a program.
And I have a few things that if you're going to play for me, you need to be able to do, but we're going to take care of our players, and it's a decision that they have to make.
We've been very fortunate to get some excellent talent. That's why we're here with 24 wins right now. You don't win 24 games with bad players.
But I've got to give our guys on the development side, they have made huge, huge jumps from the time they were freshmen and sophomores‑‑ the guys that are upperclassmen now, they made big jumps in the last year and a half in their skill level and their team, and they just become really good players.
Q. Is that the selling point, the idea that they can stay for four years and beat better players?
COACH ENFIELD: My background in the NBA has been player development. I was a shooting coach and a player development coach with offensive moves. I started that when I was in my 20s. I was a young coach broke into the league I had a specialty, specialty shooting, and I really expanded that into a consulting business in the NBA.
So I was an assistant coach for two teams, actually a shooting coach for the Bucks, an assistant coach for the Celtics and consultant for a few other teams and also a hundred guys around the league individually.
That was my background, player development. We've done the same thing at Florida State and FGCU, and players want to get better. They want to be big time college basketball players and a lot of them want to make money when they get out.
At Florida State we had six draft picks in the NBA in five and a half years and at least over a dozen, I think 14 or 15 signed professional contracts overseas. So the proof is in the numbers. It's not just a bunch of fluff. We have a very specific player development program that we've done, and that's why our players have made big jumps.
Q. I think a lot of people will look at your life from your time at Johns Hopkins to your experience on Wall Street to the woman you married as pretty charmed and pretty blessed. Have you ever stopped to reflect at all the things that have gone very well for you?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, there's a sign above my door in my office says "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." A friend of mine at FGCU gave me that. He is a retiree. He helps us within the community. He just gave me that last year and we go in and read to third graders and our whole team goes in and really spends a lot of time in elementary schools in Fort Myers and Estero.
He gave me that sign, and I realized that was true to my life. I've never been one to not try to do things and look for opportunities. I take those shots. I've failed numerous times. I appreciate the compliments. I don't look at my life as charmed. I do feel very blessed to have a wonderful wife as you mentioned and three children and be in a position where I have a good job, and I'm having a lot of fun.
This is what I wanted to do, be a Division I basketball coach. My wife Amanda has been very supportive. She gave up her career to be a coach's wife and have a family, and so we're in a place now where it's a lot of fun, and I feel very fortunate.
Q. When you look at Georgetown's Otto Porter, Jr., what strikes you?
COACH ENFIELD: Otto Porter, Jr. is a Big East Player of the Year. He's a projected NBA lottery pick. He looks like a lottery pick in my eyes, just his physique and his size and his length and his skill level. He does so many things well. He's one of the best players we'll play against this year. In fact he's one of the best players I have seen all season. Watched him on film.
So we have our hands full with him. He's similar to one or two of the guys we have except he's about six or seven inches taller. We know he's going to come out tomorrow and try to play his best game, and we have to have some kind of answer for him.
Q. You still have a pretty young team. What have your two seniors meant to this team this year?
COACH ENFIELD: Well Eddie Murray is a local player from Fort Myers, Bishop Verot High School, and he's developed dramatically in the last year and a half. I think the year before we got here he scored 11 points the entire season when he was a sophomore. Last year he started for us and this year he's started off and on and gives us great energy off the bench right now.
He's just a tremendous leader. People follow him because he plays so hard, and Sherwood Brown is player of the in our league rebounder, and Sherwood is‑‑ he's as good a mid major player as you'll see. He rebounds out of his area. He bench presses over 300 pounds. He's an elite athlete at 6'3", 6'4" with shoes on and he was top five in our league in three‑point shooting.
So he does a lot of things for our players. If we didn't have our two seniors we wouldn't have 24 wins right now.
Q. Beating Miami, I know it was early in the season, how does that give you guys an extra boost of confidence playing this level of team and just having had that success?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, we really started to believe in ourselves last year at the end of the year. We went to the conference championship against Belmont. Belmont left our league, they went to the OVC, but last year they were in the Atlantic Sun and we were up three at halftime against Belmont. They wore us down the second half and beat us.
They were a better team than us. We were young. We didn't know what we were doing. We were just playing on talent and energy and we were very streaky, inconsistent, but we were dangerous and almost pulled it off last season. This year we are a much better basketball team because of our development I was talking about.
We wanted to challenge our players early in the season. We scheduled VCU, Miami, Duke, St.John's, Iowa State. Four of those teams are in the tournament right now, not to mention playing Mercer three times on their home court in the championship, those games have prepared us. Georgetown is just like all those other teams.
Last night Mercer beat Tennessee in the NIT on Tennessee's home court, they beat Alabama and Florida State this year, we beat Miami by 12. So our conference is pretty good, especially when we go on the road.
So we feel like those games, we challenge our team because we knew we'd have a pretty good team this year, and the Miami game was a big win for us, but those other games we really competed in.
Q. When you walked away from your other job, how many people told you you were crazy? And just why did you do it?
COACH ENFIELD: People been telling me I'm crazy my whole life. Yeah, they told me I was crazy trying to break into the NBA at a young age, to be a shooting coach. They told me I was crazy to go to Florida State when I did because they hadn't been in the NCAA Tournament in 10 years, and Coach Hamilton was going to get fired. It was a dead‑end job.
Then when I took this job, they said FGC what? They thought it was a community college, a Gulf Coast community college in the panhandle. You are going to be a junior college coach. What are you doing? Leaving the ACC, where are you going again?
So it was challenging. In fact, my first month on the job we would make recruiting calls and say, hey, I got the job April 1st and my only son was born on April 8th and I couldn't hire a staff until April 17th.
I can remember making recruiting calls saying, hey, I'm the head coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, and I'd be 15 minutes on the phone with a player, a parent, a high school coach from around the state and they'd think we were the Gulf Coast Community College in the panhandle. I would to keep saying, no, we are a Division I school. We are in Fort Myers. It just wouldn't register because they had never heard of us.
So it was important for us to develop name recognition, and the FGCU brand at the school the way we wanted to, and it took some time. But my assistant coaches have done a terrific job. They are nonstop on the phone getting out there, meeting people, telling the story about what we have. So it was challenging.
I did have a lot of people call me and say, what are you doing. But it was ‑ we had a game plan, and it's turned out okay.
Q. Reggie Miller was sitting courtside watching Georgetown. He doesn't recall a three‑point contest. But if it helps the legend of Andy Enfield grow, he says he's happy to be your muse.
COACH ENFIELD: Are you talking about when I shot against him?
Q. That's the one.
COACH ENFIELD: I didn't think he'd remember that one. No, I was his shooting coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, and Reggie came out about two hours before the game. I used to shoot with the ball boys because that was the only time I had rebounders for me. I was usually rebounding for our players, so when I had ball boys rebound for me I used to go out and shoot myself.
Reggie and I were the only two people in the gym shooting before the Bucks/Pacers game in Milwaukee and we just kind of looked at other and said hey, do you want to shoot. We had a little shooting contest and it was a lot of fun.
Q. He's probably going to be out there. Do you want to clear that up with him when you see him?
COACH ENFIELD: You know, I don't know how I'm going to‑‑ how many years ago was that? That's 17, 18 years ago? He looks like he can still play a little bit, so I'd better be careful what I say to him.