NCAA Cinderella didn’t always have a ball
by Craig Handel, USA TODAY Sports
Lipscomb men’s basketball coach Scott Sanderson is the last one to gloat.
“I wish we were playing instead of watching,” he said.
But he has heard the comments and tweets from people such as ESPN’s Dick Vitale, Sports Illustrated‘s Seth Davis and CBS Sports’ Jim Rome: Lipscomb, RPI 236, beat FGCU twice.
FGCU also lost to East Tennessee State, which has an RPI of 275. And to Maine, which has an RPI of 265.
How does a team with five losses to teams with RPIs of 220 or higher shock the college basketball world — as well as Georgetown — and reach the Sweet 16 after beating San Diego State?
“Right now, the biggest thing is they’re fearless and playing with unbelievable confidence,” Sanderson said. “And when you play with an unbelievable confidence level, that basket gets really big. Brett Comer and those guys’ confidence are at an all-time high.”
East Tennessee State coach Murry Bartow echoed those comments. “(FGCU coach Andy Enfield has) done a great job,” he said. “They’ve got really good players, and it’s like a perfect storm.”
When asked about the losses to Lipscomb, East Tennessee State, Stetson and Maine, FGCU assistant Marty Richter said, “I really can’t explain it.”
In both games against Lipscomb, FGCU had double-digit leads. At home Jan. 17, the Eagles led by 13 in the second half only to see their foes go on a 29-16 closing run, then outscore FGCU 17-8 in overtime. Deonte Alexander scored 29 for the winners.
FGCU rattled off a seven-game winning streak before losing 84-74 at Lipscomb on Feb. 16.
“They jumped on us 12-0, and it didn’t look good early on,” Sanderson said. “But both games, they didn’t shoot well. I looked at the stats and they were 13-of-51 from behind the 3.”
By contrast, FGCU was 13-for-33 against Georgetown and San Diego State.
Sanderson said Georgetown coaches called him last week, but he received the message late. Even if he had spoken with them, he wouldn’t have given a scouting report, partly because it’s against league bylaws.
“I had different people call but I want the league to do as well as it possibly can,” he … [For more on Tournament Cinderella didn't always have a ball, click here.]