Florida Gulf Coast Trounces USF 62-47


By Mary Harvill, exclusive to West Coast Convo

In the second round game for USF at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, FL, FGCU turned what could have been a close, exciting game between two undefeated, highly skilled teams into a “what not to do clinic for the Dons.

As the final score indicates, the Dons were not much of a factor for the sleek, smooth and skillful Eagles.  Led by Mark Tollefson’s 16 points and Tim Derksen’s 10 points, the Dons could only sink 25% of their shots from the field for the game far below their customary 53% prior to this outing.

True, fatigue may have been a major factor for the Dons who finished their first tournament game against Hawai’i late Monday evening.  Kruize Pinkins, however, found himself in foul trouble early on though Coach Rex Walters kept him on the floor in spite of it.  Most coaches would have returned Pinkins back to the bench immediately after he collected his second foul in the first half.

Jan 18, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Dons forward Kruize Pinkins (15) takes a shot against the San Diego Toreros during the second half at War Memorial Gymnasium. The San Francisco Dons defeated the San Diego Toreros 64-62. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Walters is not most coaches though his gutsy move (leaving Pinkins in the game) did not pan out.  Pinkins was held to 5 points for the entire game before he fouled out with 10:26 left to go in the second half. Losing baskets and rebounding efforts from Pinkins definitely hurt the Dons. Tim Derksen led the Dons with 10 rebounds but only 3 points, all free throws.  The team definitely missed his 21 points from Monday night against Hawai’i.  Mark Tollefson contributed 16 points.  Freshman guard Devin Watson saw considerable playing time spending 26 minutes on the floor.  Montray Clemons’ white headband was reminiscent of old school Seattle Supersonic Slick Watts.

A spectacular scouting effort on FGCU’s part resulted in defensive dominance.  Though the Eagles offensive efforts were modest, shooting only an average 37% from the field for the entire game, this team sank 66% of their free throws and made the three’s when it mattered the most.  Brett Comer provided 8 assists to his teammates facilitating in some respects, Bernard Thompson’s 20 points in the game.  Marc-Eddy Norelia had 10 points and Nate Hicks scored 11 points as well as making 7 out of 10 free throws.  By comparison, the Dons’ best free throw shooter on this evening was Montray Clemons with 4 out of 8.  FGCU stayed well ahead of USF the entire game.

The USF radio team provided audio for the video feed from Florida and determined in their post game remarks that Coach Walters and his staff should not look back at this game but look forward.  I disagree.  This was a very good game for the Dons to take a second look at, perhaps on the flight home while their Thanksgiving dinner is digesting before the tryptophan kicks in.

If USF intends to be contenders this year in the WCC (let’s remember that Gonzaga was ranked #10 this week) and to properly align themselves for a return trip to the 2015 NIT if they do not make it to the NCAA Tournament, they will have to rise to the level of play established by FGCU in this game.  Otherwise, they will be haunted by what didn’t go well for them on this Florida evening.

More from West Coast Convo

USF will meet the Purple Aces from Evansville, IN on November 26, 2014 at 3 pm PST to decide 3rd place for the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament.  FGCU advances to the Championship Round against the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay at 6 pm PST.

Hopefully there will be no Wisconsin cheeseheads on display in the crowd and there will be more fans than FGCU cheerleader/yell leaders in the arena.  That this tournament has been so sparsely attended is noteworthy.  Better to have a small gym teeming with fans that a large gym with too many empty seats.  Might be a good project for the business marketing students at Florida Gulf Coast University.