College Basketball

Storin: Too many Cinderellas at NCAA's dance

storapse@aol.comMarch 28, 2013 

It's about time we forget this "Cinderella" stuff in the NCAA basketball tournament.

How many Cinderellas can we have at the same time? And who really qualifies for that title? How do you define such a team?

Is it a 16th seed like N.C. A&T? Does Harvard -- a university that has been playing basketball for more than 100 years and won its first NCAA tournament game last week -- qualify?

Then there is the current flavor of the year, Florida Gulf Coast University, which a majority of America's basketball fans had no clue where it was located 10 days ago. For those who still might not know, it is in Fort Myers.

Let's face it. Any team can succeed in college basketball today if they get the right coach and recruit some talented players. Even if those players were unwanted by the elite coaches at such schools as Duke, Louisville and Michigan State.

We're not reading or hearing much this week about their respective coaches -- Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo -- although their teams are Final Four favorites.

The man dominating the spotlight as the Sweet 16 opens play tonight is FGCU's Andy Enfield.

Enfield's entire life is a movie script waiting to happen. He played basketball and set NCAA Division III scoring records at Johns Hopkins. As a "shot doctor", he has taught NBA players (Boston and Milwaukee) how to improve their techniques.

The 43-year-old shifted gears in 2000 and pursued an entrepreneurship opportunity at an information management system for health care contracts, where he became wealthy.

Enfield married super model Amanda Marcum in 2004 and soon after decided to get back into basketball. In 2006 he became an assistant coach at Florida State, fathered three children and found college hoops more conducive to family life.

Two years ago this Sunday -- the day Enfield hopes to lead his team to a Final Four berth -- he signed on for $157,000 a year to coach Florida Golf Coast, a school that didn't hold its first classes until 1997.

To advance to Sunday's South Regional final, Enfield must find a way to beat heavily favored (13 points) Florida on Friday night.

This will be no easy task. The No. 3-seeded Gators have the experience of playing in a school record three straight Sweet 16s, and coach Billy Donovan has won two national titles.

In contrast, FGCU is the first No. 15 seed in 75 years to win two games in the NCAA tournament. Dunks have become their trade mark, accounting for 18.5 percent of their successful field goals in convincing victories over Georgetown and San Diego State.

The Eagles didn't even win their own conference (Atlantic Sun) and lost to obscure names like Lipscomb and Stetson. But they have won 14 of their last 16 and boast an early season victory over Miami, another Sweet 16 survivor.

The players expect to win Friday night. "We know we can compete with anybody," said forward Chris Varidel. "We get that from our coach."

They think it is amusing that they have drawn Florida in the Sweet 16. The Gators turned down an offer to scrimmage FGCU before the start of the regular season.

This was not forgotten during a campus pep rally Monday night, when some obscene chants filled the air, twisting the letters UF.

It was language not fit for Cinderella.

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