Florida Gulf Coast, the story of the 2013 NCAA tournament and the Cinderella by which all future Cinderellas will be compared, had one last thrill ride left in them.
After Brett Comer hit two free throws to kick off the scoring on Friday night, the Eagles of Dunk City, USA, reeled off five buckets in a row — three threes, a fast-break layup and, you guessed it, an alley-oop — all off of assists from Comer, and before the Gators knew what hit them, they were down 15-4 less than six minutes into the game?
Was this really happening again?
Was Florida Gulf Coast seriously about to give the Gators a run for their money?
Dunk City certainly didn’t roll over and die, but as Billy Donovan’s crew slowly but surely asserted control over the game, the truth became painfully obvious: there was a reason that FGCU finished in second place in the Atlantic Sun. The Gators outscored the Eagles 58-35 over the next 34 minutes, using an 16-0 run near the end of the first half to take a lead that they would never relinquish.
The final score was 62-50, sending FGCU headed home, where they will go back to their relative anonymity while their head coach, in all likelihood, uses this run as a cash grab at a bigger job, supermodel wide in tow.
But it was fun while it lasted. (Unless, of course, you’re a Georgetown or San Diego State fan.)
And it’s the kind of run that we’ll likely never see repeated.
Everything about this FGCU team was a perfect storm of social media buzz, hot wives, wall street millionaires, and an eminently palatable brand of basketball. FGCU was fun because they had a swagger about them, on and off the court, that allowed them to thrive in the spotlight. They danced and they dunked their way into the Sweet 16, and while their run had to end at some point, I’m not sure there is anyone that didn’t enjoy it while it lasted.
Eventually, another No. 15 seed will reach the Sweet 16.
But I doubt there will ever be another team that captivates the nation’s attention the way that FGCU did for the last eight days.
RIP Dunk City: 3/22/13-3/29/13
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.