Highlights from Mercer - Florida Gulf Coast
Now, some thoughts from the game. First, it was incredibly cheap. The ticket, a hot dog, water and slice of pizza ran me only 9 dollars. Total. Fantastic.
First, the arena. It was rather small, but the university did a good job giving the the game something of a big time feel. The concessions and what not were decidedly small time, but the action on the court was very competitive. Mercer players seemed more into the game than any team I had visited before. Even FGCU played like they knew what they were doing, which I can't say for certain other games I have attended. And the beginning of the game began with spotlights and a video played on a middle school geography class style projector screen. Still, I applaud the effort the school put forth in making the game important.
In this contest, it seemed like the big problem was the Eagles and their ball handling ability. They seemed to be better on defense when they were able to get back and get set. The most dramatic scoring opportunities came in the break for the Bears, especially when they were able to get the ball to Justin Cecil, who was white hot and clearly the best player on the court last night. Still, the Eagles clearly weren't comfortable with how they were playing, changing their defensive look regularly, and not really getting consistent stops until they upped the pressure on the ball, but that came far too late.
Perhaps it was the angle I sat at, but I would say it was the most technically sound game I have seen in my travels. Murray State played well two years ago, but in this game, both teams looked prepared, if not effective.
The Bears got out to a 20 point lead early, then kept their foot on the gas for most of the game. They had a deeper bench, a short guy named Shaquille, more energy, a black guy named Paul Larsen and frankly, more composure that FGCU who had a white guy named Eddie Murray.
For more in the moment, comical observations from the night, take a look at my Twitter feed. Some time this week, I will have some pictures and more in depth commentary on what it was like to be at the game.