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.