"Lob city? This guy just called Fort Myers lob city."
So that's how a team gets a nickname.
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Seconds after a Boston Globe reporter called Fort Myers (Fla.) the lob city of college basketball, the moniker was making its rounds throughout Florida Gulf Coast's locker room in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center. The players were chuckling, but there was an ounce of truth to it.
The 15th-seeded Eagles — an apt name for a team playing in Philadelphia, as evidenced by the many E-AG-L-E-S chants following their improbable 78-68 upset win over No. 2 Georgetown — were munching on cheesesteaks while explaining their unique brand of basketball.
"We push the ball up and down the court, that's just our style," said Brett Comer. "We run the court a lot, so we have a lot of 3-on-2's, 2-on-1's, so we do have a lot of lobs, there's a lot of opportunities for that."
Standing out among those many opportunities might be the play of this year's NCAA tournament. With Georgetown starting to gain some momentum, Comer chucked an underhand, no-look lob to a trailing Chase Fieler, who slammed it down. The bucket increased Florida Gulf Coast's lead to 67-58 with 1:55 left in the game. That one play single-handedly took the wind of Georgetown's sails.
"I've got some crazy dudes on my team, so when he threw that, I thought the ball was coming to me," joked coach Andy Enfield.
Comer knew where it was going. Kind of.
"My instincts, I just knew where he was," Comer said. "I saw Otto Porter trailing me, I knew he was gong to try and contest the shot and I saw him [Fieler] out of the corner of my eye."
It was that easy.
"Yeah, that was easy," Fieler said.
The Eagles were able to joke about it after becoming just the seventh No. 15 seed to knock off a No. 2 seed in the tournament. Not bad for a program making its tourney debut in just its second year of eligibility. Enfield estimated that the school drew about 75 people per game last year, a number he put at 800-1,000 this season. That's all about to change now. Welcome to the national stage, Eagles.
"I honestly can say that not a lot of people in this arena, or even you guys [the media] knew who we were before this tournament," said Comer, pointing to the fact the Eagles beat No. 2 Miami earlier in the season. "People were writing us off, like Georgetown's going to the next round."
Well, the Hoyas aren't and the Eagles are. They'll play the winner of San Diego St.-Oklahoma Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center. And, less than 30 minutes after beating Georgetown, they think they can win that one, too. They came into the Big Dance thinking they could make a deep run, and Friday night's victory only intensified that belief.
"We felt like that before we came in the tournament," Comer said. "We're not going to lay down for anybody. I don't care what the seed is, what the school name is, that doesn't mean anything. We had more heart than them, we played harder and with more intensity, and if you're playing like that, you're hard to beat."