Florida Gulf Coast

Jamail Jones

Florida Gulf Coast suspends senior for three games

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Florida Gulf Coast took a hit to its starting lineup on Monday as head coach Joe Dooley announced that redshirt senior forward Jamail Jones has been suspended for three games.

The 6-foot-6 Jones will miss all three games of the school-hosted Gulf Coast Showcase, which includes a Monday night game against Marist. Jones was suspended for a violation of team rules.

Losing Jones will certainly hurt the Eagles as he recorded a double-double the first two games of the 2014-15 season and is averaging a team-high 9 rebounds per game to go along with 14 points per game.

This obviously won’t hurt Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun, which they are favored to win this season, but it will be interesting to see how they play without him for this stretch.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Filip Cvjeticanin out for season

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Florida Gulf Coast forward Filip Cvjeticanin will miss the entire 2014-2015 season, and will redshirt, the school announced on Monday. The 6-foot-9 rising senior will undergo back surgery and is expected back for the 2015-2016 season.

“Filip’s back has plagued him for some time. He hasn’t been able to lift weights and has missed valuable practice time,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Joe Dooley said in a statement. “This procedure will hopefully fix those issues. It gives him some time to get stronger and continue to develop. We’re looking forward to having him rehab here at FGCU following the procedure and expect him to contribute significantly during the 2015-16 season.

As a junior, Cvjeticanin, the native of Croatia, accepted a bigger role, averaging 6.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game. He was the top 3-point shooter for the Eagles, knocking down 40 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. He reached double figures in eight games.

Florida Gulf Coast missed a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, falling to Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Tournament title game.

UNLV’s Demetris Morant to transfer to Florida-Gulf Coast

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Former UNLV forward Demetris Morant will transfer to Florida-Gulf Coast. The news was reported by multiple outlets and FGCU players confirmed the news on twitter.

Morant is originally from Miami but made stops in Tallahassee, Tucson and Las Vegas in high school before arriving at UNLV. He redshirted in 2012-2013 and played limited minutes in 2013-2014 before leaving the school.

Morant’s father, who still lives in Florida, recently suffered a stroke, which is why he decided to return to Florida and enroll at FGCU. He will be applying for a waiver to be eligible immediately.

The 6-foot-9 Morant is extremely athletic and was rated as a top 150 recruit in the country in the Class of 2012.

Florida-Gulf Coast in vintage #DunkCity form on Saturday (VIDEO)

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Florida-Gulf Coast was a sensation last March, dominating seemingly all of the college basketball discussion for a full week as they dunked all over Georgetown and San Diego State en route to a first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 for a No. 15 seed.

They were entertaining. They threw lobs all the time. Their head coach had a unique back story and was married for a former Maxim model. Their campus is on the beach. Everything about the school and the team made them a terrific story … until they lost to Florida.

And then they went back to being just a bunch of dudes that play basketball at that school that you think you remember hearing about that one time.

Anyway, the fellas down at FGCU are still doing vintage #DunkCity things even though they are well off of the national radar at this point in the season.

Florida Gulf Coast starting center Eric McKnight suspended six games

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Florida Gulf Coast starting center Eric McKnight has been suspended the first six games of the 2013-14 season according to a report from The News-Press.

The 6-foot-8 redshirt junior was suspended due to an issue involving team or school policy and Eagles’ head coach Joe Dooley told the News-Press that the incident occurred before his time as Florida Gulf Coast head coach began.

“Eric’s disappointed. I think he’s disappointed in himself,” Dooley told the News-Press. “But he’s been outstanding in regaining his status on the team. He’s grown up as much as any kid I’ve been around in a short period of time. He’s trying hard. … I’m convinced he’s learned his lesson.”

McKnight, a former Iowa State transfer, has also been suspended before. He was held out of the three-game exhbition trip to The Bahamas before the 2012-13 season in which he started 34 of 37 games for the Eagles.

The center averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds for Florida Gulf Coast and because he’s one of only nine scholarship players eligible on the team this season, it hurts the Eagles depth quite a bit.

Georgia Tech transfer and 6-foot-10 center Nathan Hicks is likely to see some of McKnight’s minutes and forward Chase Fieler will also likely play some center, according to Dooley.

McKnight should return for the December 1st contest against Iona.

Experienced backcourt of Comer and Thompson hope to lead Dunk City back to glory

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here.

America is familiar with common Florida destinations like South Beach and Disney, but last March, basketball fans quickly became aware of the brand-new Sunshine State landmark known affectionately by college basketball enthusiasts as “Dunk City.”

Dunk City — technically located in Fort Myers, Florida in the Southwest portion of the state between Tampa Bay and Miami — quickly became a national phenomenon, complete with gear, hashtags (#DunkCity) and the attention of the national media as the 15-seeded Eagles blew past Georgetown and San Diego State to become the first 15 seed to ever reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

Head coach Andy Enfield bolted for USC in the offseason and senior leader Sherwood Brown exhausted his eligibility but the good news for Dunk City is the return of four starters, led by the dynamic junior backcourt of Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson.

Comer and Thompson started all 37 games during Florida Gulf Coast’s 26-11 season in which they won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Eagles were a transitory Division I program beginning with the 2007–08 season and granted full D-I membership before the 2011-12 season, so for the Atlantic Sun program to receive at least four nationally televised games during the 2013-14 season is a testament to the power of Dunk City and how the nation took notice.

“Now I tell people that I go to FGCU and they’re like, ‘Oh, Dunk City!’ I could just tell them I go to Dunk City they say, ‘Oh, you go to Florida Gulf Coast!’ I like the name and it represents us well,” Thompson said. “We dunk and we have a high-flying style of play. So I think it’s good for us and our school since our school is so young and the nickname helps us.”

CLICK HERE to read NBCSports.com’s Atlantic Sun Conference Preview

Former long-time Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley takes over for Florida Gulf Coast at head coach this year as the Eagles become the hunted. They’re the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Sun thanks in large part to the passing of Comer and the all-around skills of off-guard Thompson. Comer was 14th in the nation in assists, averaging 6.6 dimes per contest last season, as many of his passes and lobs led to Dunk City throwdowns. The 244 assists Comer dished out were the second-most for a single season in Atlantic Sun history and he was the A-Sun Conference Tournament MVP.

Comer’s backcourt teammate Bernard Thompson is often on the receiving end of his point guard’s creative passes as the two close off-court friends have been in the Florida Gulf Coast program together since they were freshmen. Thompson won the A-Sun’s Defensive Player of the Year award as a sophomore and is the team’s leading returning scorer at 14.3 points per game. At 102 total steals last season, Thompson was second overall in the country in defensive thefts. Roommates the past two years, Comer and Thompson will take the Eagles as far as they can go this season.

“It’s nice to have Bernard back there. We both came in together and we’ve both grown together too. We create a lot off of each other here and we’ve been doing this for three years,” Comer said. “And having guys like Chase (Fieler) come back and our transfers will be coming in, so we’ll have a good core coming back and some new pieces here.”

Chalk up another assist to Comer for mentioning his teammates, as he’ll have plenty of weapons — besides Thompson — to work with this season. Fieler, a senior forward, averaged 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season while accumulating 59 dunks that helped him garner a 56 percent field goal percentage and forward Eric McKnight is a 6’9″ junior that put up 60 percent field goal shooting and adds a shot-blocking presence to the group. Marquette transfer and 6’6″ junior Jamail Jones is a former top-100 recruit that’s eligible this season and will replace Brown’s presence in the lineup and Georgia Tech transfer Nate Hicks adds a versatile 6’10” inside-out option.

“(Hicks is) good. He’s versatile and for someone his size, he can step out a little bit and knock down shots, so that helps us out a lot,” Thompson said of Hicks.

But new coach Joe Dooley, who is incorporating a similar high-paced attack for the Eagles this season, knows that his backcourt will make all the difference if Florida Gulf Coast is to make another NCAA Tournament run this season.

“We’ve got some experience back, four starters and those guys have a pretty good feel for how to play together,” Dooley said. “You have a point guard that’s a two-year starter and you have a two-guard that’s a two-year starter and they have some familiarity playing in the conference and playing together and hopefully they’ll make another jump this year.”

CLICK HERE to read through the rest of NBCSports.com’s feature stories

Thompson and Comer spend plenty of time away from the court playing Call of Duty, getting food or  just hanging out, but together in the same backcourt, they know where each other is going to be at all times.

“Brett just has tremendous, tremendous vision. He’ll see me and we just read each other,” Thompson said. “It’s just a great chemistry that we have; a great bond that we have. You’ll see it on and off the court. It makes it a lot easier for me and him that we know each other’s tendencies.”

Because of their chemistry and experience, the Eagles have expectations that exceed the results of last season’s group. It’s hard to contemplate another Sweet 16 run — or beyond — but Dunk City is trying to follow-up on last season’s run with another run that matches or exceeds that effort.

“We want to win the conference regular season — which we didn’t do last year — and we want to win the conference tournament again and we want to make the NCAA Tournament and make more noise,” Comer said of the team’s expectations. “I think that we showed that we have good players and we can compete with anybody.”

But in a state that LeBron (currently) calls home, Dunk City is just happy to have found its place on the national basketball landscape for the time being.

“We had people come out-of-state just to see us, just to come get our autograph,” Thompson said.  “And the fans, the Dirty Birds (the student fan base), just come out to everywhere we play just to support us. It’s just been good that we’re recognized and when you go somewhere people are like, ‘Florida Gulf Coast,’ and know it’s us. So that feels good just to get the recognition.”

Excitement for the sequel to Dunk City is building. Dunk City after Dark — the program’s season-opening madness event — will air on ESPNU as one of nine programs that the network will air and Comer said that excitement for all sports on Florida Gulf Coast’s campus was continually building over the course of 2013.

Dunk City is squarely on the map for now, but are they here to stay? The Eagles are enjoying the ride and they hope it continues in 2013-14 and beyond.

“I think we helped put the school on the map and it’s growing from that. It’s a lot of fun down here now,” Comer said.