It’s been not quite two months since Michael Fly took over as the new men’s basketball coach at FGCU.
The longtime assistant was elevated on April 5 to replace Joe Dooley, who left the Eagles after five season to take the head coaching job at East Carolina.
Since then, it’s been a full-court press by Fly as he recruits to fill out a roster full of turnover and keep engaged a fanbase that has become accustomed to success.
“There have been no surprises, that’s one of the advantages of being elevated in a place you’ve been,” Fly said. “My head’s not really spinning because I know the culture here and I know how things work.”
But the new job has come with a few new things to get accustomed to – there are more demands on his time now, he said before a planned speaking engagement at the Tiger Bay Club on Wednesday in Fort Myers.
“It used to be as an assistant that I had all the time in the world I wanted to spend recruiting and doing what I wanted to basketball wise,” Fly said. “Now there’s a lot more involved.”
Fly has always tried to be active in the community, even as an assistant, but he’s grabbed a gear since taking over in April. Part of the outreach effort is fundraising, resources now even more important as the Eagles have a new neighbor in the Atlantic Sun conference in deep-pocketed Liberty, but it’s also what the Kentucky native says he was used to seeing out of the likes of Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, and John Calipari, Wildcats coaches of past and present.
“You’re not a basketball coach you’re an ambassador for the state of Kentucky,” Fly said. “I said it when I took over, this isn’t my program it’s the community’s program. And if we’re going to say that I need to do my part to be out there, talk to people. We want the entire Fort Myers and Naples community to be a part of this.”
He’s got a complete coaching staff, finally – for now, with the addition of veteran assistant and former Alabama A&M and FIU coach Donnie Marsh on May 21, and adding Khyle Marshall as video coordinator on Friday. Marshall was a three-year starter at Butler, including the national runner-up team in 2011, and spent last season as an assistant across town at Florida SouthWestern. The lone question mark is Dooley holdover Tom Abatemarco, who is apparently fielding offers elsewhere.
They’ve also got their camp dates set up for the summer, something Fly called key for recruiting, adding that many FGCU players get on the program’s radar through those camps. The current players return in June, with several notable departures including star Zach Johnson, now a graduate transfer at Miami.
The Eagles also saw Michael Gilmore and Darnell Rogers transfer out of the program in the last month. RaySean Scott Jr., who announced he planned to transfer, has stayed put.
In the case of each of those departures, the players had been given their release before Fly took over, so one of the first orders of business was trying to re-recruit and keep some of those players in the fold.
Ultimately, the shakeout left FGCU with two open scholarships – an offer to Canterbury’s Berrick Jean-Louis went unfilled when the Lehigh native chose New Mexico State instead – but Fly said he’s not concerned about having the slots to fill in the summer.
“People don’t remember this but we signed Brandon Goodwin in August,” Fly said. Goodwin graduated this summer, having spent two years as FGCU’s leading scorer after transferring from UCF. “Brandon and Antravious Simmons were both guys we wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t have open scholarships late.”
“I’m not just going to take a guy because he’s available. I like to treat scholarships like they have value, not that they’re money burning a hole in my pocket.”
But the real next step, he says, is a vacation. The first one in a long time, a trip to New York City.
Is the man who made his sales pitch to Southwest Florida based on his desire to outwork and outhustle everyone else, actually going to turn the phone off though?
“Yes,” he laughed. “10 o’clock is the rule.”
“But I break that rule sometimes.”
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