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FGCU’s men’s basketball team avoids a third COVID-19 shut down

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FGCU head coach Michael Fly talks to Dakota Rivers on a time out during a men's basketball game between FGCU and Stetson held at Alico Arena on Friday, January 29, 2021. FGCU beat Stetson 64-63.

After receiving negative COVID-19 results, FGCU confirmed that the men’s basketball team would travel to Jacksonville for Wednesday’s ASUN tournament.

Michael Fly, FGCU’s coach said that he was “extremely relieved” after Tuesday’s practice. “We have been shut down more than any other conference participant, and twice during conference play. We want to be back on the courts.”

Caleb Catto from FGCU, a junior guard and Southwest Florida Christian grad, said “You are really grateful for the opportunity.” Catto is currently the Eagles second-leading scorer with 13.2 points each game. You don’t want the tournament to be missed.”.

It is yet to be decided if the sixth-seeded Eagles (7-9, 4-5 ASUN), will play third-seeded Lipscomb. After arriving on Wednesday, all ASUN teams are tested. At 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, the Eagles will face Lipscomb.

Fly added, “I’ve got all my fingers crossed for everyone in the league, not just us,” Fly explained. “It’s unfortunate that it’s kind of bitten us worse than others, but I would feel bad for anybody that’s prepared the whole season and then they’re not able to play in the tournament.”

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Because Jacksonville was closed earlier in the season, nine of the eight participating teams are now out.

FGCU didn’t have to close down. However, another game was canceled on Saturday after an inconclusive PCR for COVID-19 test. It had been cancelled following Friday’s loss by Kennesaw State, 80-63. This was the Eagles first game following their 14-day COVID-19 Quarantine. Saturday’s game against Kennesaw State had to be canceled because the test was not conclusive.

Fly stated, “The game did not go as we expected for many reasons. But we must still play basketball.”

Although they managed to reduce their halftime deficit from 20 points to just four, the Eagles couldn’t make it any closer. The Eagles played all of the second half without Jalen Warren (11 points per game) or Franco Miller Jr. so the short bench combined with their first 20-day game did not make it easier.

Fly said he’s hopeful both Warren and Miller will return against Lipscomb, a team the Eagles split with in Nashville this season.

Fly didn’t sound so optimistic about freshman point guard Luis Rolon who was injured and has been out of action for seven games. 

After going 5-2 on its nonconference schedule, FGCU was shut down for the first time Dec. 30. After that loss, the Eagles were 4-5. They started with back-toback losses at home against Bellarmine. Bellarmine went on to place second in ASUN.

Greg Hardwig, a sports journalist for The News-Press and Naples Daily News is Greg Hardwig. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at [email protected] Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/

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