It's the size of the fight in the dog

Buffalo should take notes on Florida Gulf Coast

By OWEN O'BRIEN
On March 28, 2013

  • The womens swimming team sank to last place at the Mid-American Conference championships over the weekend. Image Contributor

It's big brother vs. little brother, but beyond the driveway. David vs. Goliath, with millions of viewers are watching live.

Florida Gulf Coast has the opportunity of a lifetime Friday night.

The Cinderella story of the 2013 NCAA Tournament (and potentially the history of college basketball) is set to take on the undisputed powerhouse in its state - the Florida Gators.

Florida GC has an enrollment of around 13,000 students while Florida is almost four times larger with nearly 50,000.

Florida's head coach, Billy Donovan, makes roughly $3.3 million. Florida GC's Andy Enfield's paycheck comes in at a whopping $157,500.

Yet Friday night, the two face off with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.

Florida GC entered the tournament as a No. 15 seed and the sole representative of the Atlantic Sun Conference, only making "the dance" because it pulled off an upset victory in the A-Sun Championship.

After defeating Big East powerhouse Georgetown and then San Diego State of the Mountain West in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Florida GC finds itself one win away from claiming Sunshine State dominance, as the Eagles defeated the University of Miami (a No. 2 seed in the tournament) earlier in the season.

Imagine if this was Buffalo.

Florida GC's situation is the equivalent of the Bulls playing Syracuse University on national television. As unrealistic as it sounds, I don't think any students attending Florida GC working on their tan between classes thought they'd be playing Florida on March 29.

Win or lose, what the Eagles have done in this tournament is incredible. But with a win, college basketball fans, coaches and scouts may have to take a long look at how we judge talent.

Florida GC consists of a bunch of players nobody wanted. Its senior shooting guard and the A-Sun Player of the Year, Sherwood Brown, was a walk-on his freshman year. Brett Comer, the starting point guard, played high school basketball with Duke's one-year standout Austin Rivers. However, the big-time scouts never came looking for Comer.

Look at Kentucky this year. The Wildcats had the top recruiting class in the nation last season and what did it earn them? A first-round exit from the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Florida GC is the definition of a team. There is no superstar, no outrageous egos, just 14 players who consistently play unselfish basketball and are ready to sacrifice their bodies for one another's success. They are not worried about the next level, considering odds are none of them will play in the NBA. That is why they are doing all they can to succeed now.

If Florida GC takes out its state mate, it represents everything we love about sports. The talking heads on ESPN can say all they want who is going to win, but what do these "experts" know? We say a team is better because of names and statistics on paper or because of buzz words like "potential" and "star power," but how can you measure heart, desire and will to win?

How does anybody know who will come out on any given night and say: 'This is my moment. I am taking what's mine, and if you want to steal it, bring it on.'

That is the fire Florida GC has played with.

There is no reason Buffalo or any other Mid-American Conference team can't do the same. Next season, the Bulls will return most of their talent. Junior forward Javon McCrea is a monster, but if he thinks he is going to be handed an NBA contract just like that, he has another thing coming.

He must be the leader that Brown has been for Florida GC. McCrea has one more season to show scouts at the next level what he's worth and prove he is a winner.

Just ask Stephen Curry: Nothing helps draft stock like an NCAA Tournament run.

Everybody loves the underdog, but not until you earn their love.

 

Email: owenobri@buffalo.edu


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