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FGCU Notebook: Too early to talk ASUN race; NJIT on Saturday

Lee Herald Favicon 16DOOLEY: IT’S NOT A RACE YET

It’s obviously very early in the Atlantic Sun season for the FGCU men’s basketball team, they’re only two games in after all, but the Eagles may have just gotten an important assist from North Florida on Thursday.

The Ospreys beat Lipscomb, the preseason second-place team and the team which entered conference play with the best record, 102-96 on Thursday.

FGCU(11-8, 2-0 ASUN) has a road date against the Bisons on Thursday after playing NJIT at home Saturday, in a game that could have major ASUN implications for the regular-season title and all-important homecourt advantage in March’s ASUN tournament.

But Dooley wasn’t having any talk about it on Thursday after the Eagles polished off USC-Upstate 75-58 to move on to 2-0 in conference play.

“It’s not a race yet, it’s two games into the season,” Dooley said, as players Zach Johnson and Dinero Mercurius smiled to either side of him in a postgame press conference. “We always preach to our guys we’ll control what we can control. We can’t start worry about other guys until we take care of us.”

NJIT DOUBLEHEADER

Before the men can look ahead at that showdown in Nashville, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams face off against NJIT(8-9, 1-1) in a Saturday doubleheader, the women at 4 p.m. and the men at 7 p.m.

NJIT was a troublesome team for the Eagles last season, even after losing star point guard Damon Lynn to a torn ACL early in the conference season last year. The Eagles used a 9-0 run in the closing minutes to pull away from the Highlanders in Newark on Feb. 16, and were never fully comfortable in an 84-71 home win on Jan. 21, in which Lynn suffered his injury just minutes into the game.

The Highlanders lost to Stetson on Thursday, 80-67, after shooting just 28 percent from the floor in the second half, but that game was played without leading rebounder Abdul Lewis(9.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg), who hasn’t played since Jan. 3.

Tarke(NJIT Athletics)

“They run a little bit of a hybrid Princeton, [Anthony] Tarke is a terrific player, they’ve got some great freshmen,” Dooley said. “If Lewis does play, he is a handful, he’s a rebounding and low-post presence.”

Tarke, a sophomore, leads the Highlanders putting up 15.2 points per game, heading an efficient bunch who shoot 45 percent from the floor, second best in the conference behind FGCU. They’re a decent three-point shooting team, matching the Eagles at 35 percent from beyond the arc led by second-leading scorer Diandre Wilson(11.1 ppg) who shoots 41 percent from three.

WOMEN REMAIN NO. 1 IN MID-MAJOR POLLS

FGCU’s women’s basketball team, fresh off that conference-opening dismantling of Stetson on Saturday, continues to pick up attention.

Julien(Photo: Linwood Ferguson)

After moving into the top spot in College Insider’s Mid-Major poll last week, they remained at the top spot once again this week, and now are the top mid-major in the poll done by ESPNW’s Graham Hays.

Hays put the Eagles(15-3, 2-0) just ahead of South Dakota State, who the Eagles beat 87-78 in a thriller at Alico Arena on Dec. 29.

“Did we mention how good a game the Jackrabbits and Eagles played? Seriously, go back and watch it. You won’t regret investing the time,” Hays writes.

Meanwhile, the Eagles are also picking up eyeballs once again on the big polls. FGCU earned four votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, returning to the periphery of the Top 25 list after a four week absence.

Karl Smesko’s bunch has had to wait a week for their second conference game. The Highlander women(2-14, 0-1) were blown out 95-57 by USC-Upstate in their conference opener. Tatianna Torres(11.3 ppg) leads an offensively-challenged side that is shooting just 35.6 percent from the floor on the year, and averaging just 55.6 points per game are being outscored by their opponents nearly 17 points per game.

FGCU VS. NJIT
Saturday, 4 p.m.(women’s), 7 p.m.(men’s)
Alico Arena, Fort Myers
Broadcast: ESPN3
Tickets: FGCUTickets.com


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