Chase Fieler

Chase Fieler leading the way for FGCU both on and off the court

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With head coach Andy Enfield now running things at USC and leading scorer Sherwood Brown out of eligibility, some may have doubts as to whether or not FGCU can build on its’ impressive 26-win 2012-13 season. But first-year head coach Joe Dooley wasn’t left with a bare cupboard, with one of his key returnees being 6-8 senior forward Chase Fieler.

As a junior Fieler, a native of Parkersburg, W.Va., averaged 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest for a team that reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. And during the offseason Fieler continued to show signs that he’s both willing and able to carry the FGCU banner both on the court and in the community, according to Seth Soffian of the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press.

Whether on court helping FGCU become the first No. 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Sweet 16, in the stands leading cheers for other FGCU teams or off campus working or lending his time to others, Fieler has won over legions of fans in his four years in Southwest Florida.

“When I have a son or a daughter, I want them to grow up and be like him,” said FGCU associate head coach Marty Richter, who has known Fieler since joining FGCU’s coaching staff 2½ years ago. “I’m going to use him as an example to show my kids one day. He does everything.”

From his sophomore to junior season Fieler improved his scoring average by more than five points per game, and his field goal percentage jumped nearly nine points up to 56.3%. Having a player of Fieler’s caliber (as well as guards Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson, to name two other returnees) is a major asset for coach Dooley, but not only because of the on-court skill. When a player with the influence of Fieler is in the new coach’s corner, establishing your own program while building on the recent run of success becomes a more manageable task.

What can FGCU do for an encore? Four of their five starter from last season return to Fort Myers, and the Eagles will have a challenging non-conference slate that should have them prepared for a run at the Atlantic Sun regular season title (FGCU finished a game behind Mercer last season). And if FGCU is to accomplish the goals they’ve set out for themselves, Fieler’s leadership will be a key factor.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.