The Secret to FGCU’s Success

Florida Gulf Coast University's underdog status definitely helps them win.

Florida Gulf Coast University’s underdog status definitely helps them win.

Last week was full of surprises and upsets in March Madness, but none of these surpasses the amazing performance by the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles. After three rounds of play in the Dance, FGCU has knocked of the number two seeded Georgetown and the number seven seeded SDSU, beating each by ten points, and have become the first number 15 seed to advance into the Sweet Sixteen of any March Madness tournament. Now as fans, most of us are trying to figure out how some obscure school from southwestern Florida even made it out of the first round of the tournament against a powerhouse like the Georgetown Hoyas, much less into the Sweet Sixteen. A lot of fans may be saying that it’s a fluke, and the Eagles got lucky, or that the Hoyas and Aztecs of SDSU weren’t at the top of their games. Some conspiracy theorists may even say that the school and the NCAA were working together to make Gulf Coast go all the way! But in my opinion, those theories are all false, because the true reason is a mixture of true talent and simple psychology.

If you’ve watched either of FGCU’s March Madness games, you’ll know that they can speed a game up and slow it down at their leisure. You’ll see that they play with heart, they fight for rebounds and loose balls, and they’re confident and completely fearless. They’re athletic, fast, and have fun playing. All of these components add up to an amazing team. Their talent and smarts and overall ability to play the game has allowed them to keep up with the likes of Georgetown and SDSU, but even if a team is talented enough to keep up with another team, there’s still something else needed to push them over the edge, something that can help them overcome their tough opponent and win.

The reason that having an underdog win is such a big deal is because the underdog is expected, by most people, to not be as good as the team they’re playing. A team that loses to an underdog is usually filled with embarrassment, and during a game, when the team they’re supposed to be much better than is beating them, they become frantic, and try to avoid embarrassment by trying to get more points on the board. As mentioned before, the Eagles have a lot of talent. Their ability to play at almost any pace allows them to adapt to whatever pace the upper ranked teams prefer. When the other team is trying to control a game with their pace and sees FGCU, the team that’s supposed to be nowhere near as good as them, keeping up with them and being comfortable, the desire to not be embarrassed causes the other team to start losing their composure and makes them become very restless. This causes them to move at a faster pace. Eventually, the team isn’t able to keep up with the fast pace they’ve set for the game, while FGCU thrives at a fast pace. The other team begins to make mistakes which lead to turnovers, which allows Gulf Coast to show off their amazing fast break skills. Meanwhile, Gulf Coast can further psych their opponents out by being calm and taking their time on offense. Because they’re such a low seed, they have pretty much nothing to lose, while their opponents have their high seeding to defend. The Eagles take control of the games by psyching their opponents out with their skills and their seeding.

This team is for real, and with no doubt can keep up with the skill of their opponents, but have one thing that pushes them even further, and that’s their underdog status. No team wants to be beaten by the underdog, and this allows the Eagles to easily get inside their opponents’ heads and take over. With these two factors, this team from Fort Meyers, Florida is a Final Four contender. However, take away their seeding and they lose a key advantage. Look for them to go far in the tournament, unless a team is able to play at a faster pace, not lose its cool, and not allow FGCU to take control of the game.

-Shaaz

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The Curse – New York Teams Plagued With Injuries

These players have been injured, and that could greatly affect their ball clubs.

These players have been injured, and that could greatly affect their ball clubs.

Sorry about not posting, I’ve been very bogged down with schoolwork lately. But that isn’t important, because New York is in trouble! Two of our beloved teams have been in horrible injury trouble: The Yankees and the Knicks.

The Yankees

The Bombers have been recovering from that devastating season where they lost Mariano Rivera to a freak ACL tearing while shagging fly balls, and suffered a heartbreaking sweep in the ALCS, where they lost Derek Jeter to a fractured ankle. This was just the beginning of a horrible offseason and spring where the Yanks went on to lose many more of their key contributors. A-Rod, who needed another hip surgery surgery, will most probably be out for the entire 2013 season. C.C. Sabathia had to get a bone spur removed from his pitching elbow and is just starting to make his return. Curtis Granderson fractured a bone in his forearm during spring training and will miss a few weeks mending it. Finally, Mark Teixeira sustained a wrist injury playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic.

The bright side here is that they will heal and will come back. Jeter, Rivera, and Sabathia are on their tracks to return; all have been playing in games, and have been producing very well. Another upside is that the replacements for the injured players have all been producing. Kevin Youkilis, who is replacing the injured Teixeira, and was a long time Yankee-killer and member of the Boston Red Sox, is now doing pretty well in spring training for the Yanks, batting .276 with three homers and six RBI’s in 11 games. Juan Rivera, who is filling the empty spot in the outfield for Granderson, is hitting .286 with four RBI’s in 14 games. The Yankees are doing well despite their injuries, and these injuries are taking place in spring training with two weeks before Opening Day. There is time to heal and time to adjust, so us Yankee fans should be very optimistic about this season.

The Knicks

This situation is much more dire than that of the Yankees. It’s crunch time in the NBA right now and this is the time to be fighting for a  high seeding in the playoffs. The Knicks have been doing well all season, despite the absence of Amar’e Stoudemire. When he came back, the Knicks seemed to be all set to make their championship run. Unfortunately, Carmelo Anthony, who had been getting banged up all season, finally had to miss a few games with a knee injury. He had fluid in his knee, but refused to have it drained because he’s “afraid of needles”. This still didn’t slow the Knicks down, since it had seemed as if Stoudemire had found his stride and begun to do what he always has done: be a complete monster inside. Melo tried making a comeback, but couldn’t pull it off, and he finally went to get his knee drained, and is currently listed as day to day. After playing so brilliantly, Stoudemire now has to undergo knee surgery and miss six weeks, seemingly out of nowhere. Tyson Chandler has also been producing well until HE went down with a knee injury. Just recently, Kurt Thomas, one of the guys filling in for the injured big men has just gone down with a broken foot, further depleting the Knick’s depth chart. After having some key players injured earlier, like Iman Shumpert, Rasheed Wallace, and Raymond Felton, the Knicks were able to fight through. However, the Knicks have now lost their “Big Three”. They’ve been slumping, losing four straight before beating the Jazz yesterday.

This is the worst time for this to have happened. There isn’t much time left in the season and the team in front of them is on a 23 game winning streak. They’re fighting for the second seed with the Indiana Pacers, and the Knicks losing three of their best players isn’t going to help their cause. Fortunately, the Knicks have the talent to continue winning games even without these players. J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland are two amazing scorers and can be who they run their offense through. Steve Novak is arguably the best three point shooter in the league, and he needs more touches. Shumpert is a stellar perimeter defender, and not a bad offensive player either. Their big men are all experienced players who have a lot left in them, between Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin. The guards are also experienced, with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, the latter being one of the best point guards to ever play the game. Their third guard, Pablo Prigioni, is also experienced, but not necessarily in the NBA. James White is also nothing to laugh at, since he’s been doing his job as a role player all season. All of these players have the potential to do well, and with work, they’ll be able to get back on track. Melo and Chandler may also be coming back soon, making it even easier for the Knicks to break out of their slump.

Things may look bleak now for the Yankees and the Knicks, but with a little time, the two teams will be back to their winning ways. Do not fret, New York fans, and get ready to experience the end of one amazing season, and the beginning of another!

-Shaaz