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March 24, 2013
Florida Gulf Coast – 81
San Diego State – 71
COACH ENFIELD: We're going to the Sweet 16. (Smiling).
Q. Sherwood, this tournament produces a team every year that becomes a national sensation, and suffice it to say you guys are now it. Can you comprehend what you guys have done the last couple days and what's about to hit you when you go to Texas for the South Regional?
SHERWOOD BROWN: As everyone seen, we're doing something special out here. We've been told that this is what college basketball is all about. I mean, we're really blessed and we're really happy to be here right now. But we've still got a lot more games to play hopefully, so we're going to go back home and get our heads back straight and get ready to play against University of Florida.
Q. Brett or Bernard, you guys are running the show a lot and making decisions, and it's up to you to decide whether to keep attacking, attacking, attacking, which you did, or try to back it back out and just run clock and get the win. You never did the latter, you always did the former. Why? I mean, you're a 15 seed, and nothing has ever happened like this in the tournament really.
BRETT COMER: I mean, that's just our style of play. We want to push the ball down the court and we want to attack, attack, attack, and that's what coach wants us to do, and we do a great job of doing that, so we're going to be in full attack mode the whole entire game. We make a lot of the decisions and everybody puts the ball in the basket and it really helps us be able to control the game.
BERNARD THOMPSON: Like Brett said, it's our style of play just to play up tempo, keep going hard, attack the rim, and just keep going. We don't want to slow it down because that's not our style, so it kind of shakes us up a little bit. We just keep attacking the rim and try to get the easy buckets.
Q. When Sherwood was out of the game you were able to maintain the lead and then you comes back and you really go on that run and took over. How were you able to go on another run like you did the other night?
BRETT COMER: I feel like we got so many stops. We contested pretty much every shot. We got a lot of blocked shots. We got a lot of rebounds. We were able to push the ball and everybody filled their lanes and got to the open spot and the ball screen action worked pretty well. We got a lot of easy buckets, and when Sherwood got in the game, he's one of our best scorers, he obviously gave us the push that we needed.
BERNARD THOMPSON: Yeah, we knew when Sherwood got into foul trouble we had to step the intensity up a little bit, try to get the players more involved, try to get the easy buckets, and we just got to our open spots, Brett did a tremendous job of passing the ball, getting everybody involved. So we maintained the lead and then won. When Wood came back in, he ramped the intensity up for us gave us a good momentum push, and we controlled the game.
Q. Brett and Sherwood, it seems like it's more than just your seed that's captivating the country, it's the high flying action, the alley‑oops. It seems like you guys are about entertainment just as much as you are about upsetting people. Can you comment on that?
SHERWOOD BROWN: I mean, it's easy to play with a bunch of guys when they're on the same page with you. We're all about having fun and also playing really hard, and you know, something that we like to do, we like to get the crowd involved, as you guys who watched the game, you seen that over the course of the game the whole crowd started to get behind us even if they are not from Fort Myers, or as I like to say, "dunk city." (Laughter).
But the whole crowd got behind us and they gave us the motivation to keep playing hard and get the victory.
BRETT COMER: Like Sherwood said we wanted to get the crowd behind us. When we have that type of energy going we're a hard team to beat, when we're pushing the ball and all the excitement. I feel like we get along so long on and off the court and we have so much fun playing together that Sherwood will blow some kisses and flex for people and Chris will do his little Irish kick. We have fun with it. It's a fun time, and we are doing a great job of controlling the game.
Q. Brett, is this maybe the most magical night or game of your career, and describe the vision and the calm that you played with tonight, seeing so much and playing so fast and still being calm in the delivery of it.
BRETT COMER: I feel like I can speak for everybody up here, this is the biggest game of our career that we won tonight. None of us have been on this stage. It means a lot to us to be here, and we're blessed to be here. But with the game, like I said, we pushed the ball so fast that sometimes it does get out of control. But everybody ran to open spots so it made it easy for me to make decisions. I know for one instance, I pushed the ball on the court and I got stuck in the air and Bernard cut backdoor perfectly and he got an easy one. Chase fills the lane so well. Eric, I made a bad pass to him and then made a top‑10 dunk. It's just stuff like that that makes it easy for me to be able to make my decisions.
Q. Bernard or Brett, can you tell‑‑ when you get on that kind of a pace and you are able to push it and get a few dunks and everything, can you tell like the other team, the psychological damage it does to them a little bit? It seems like San Diego State really willed it in the middle of that run there.
BERNARD THOMPSON: Yeah, they start talking to one another, telling each other we've got to go harder, don't let them get in your head or anything. You can see they're a little shaken up by how we come and put the pressure on them. We just come out and just try to make them crack, like I said before, just keep putting the pressure on them because we came out with a strong intensity and high energy.
BRETT COMER: You know, we got on a run, and when we push the ball we get the crowd behind us and we get a dunk, and then we go to the other end and get a stop and another dunk, it's hard to try to turn the momentum back like that. You can try calling a time‑out or try to draw a foul or something like that, but it's hard when we keep going and going and going at you. I feel like we did a great job of doing that, and made it tough for them to even come back in the game.
Q. Bernard, can you address, you guys are going to the Sweet 16, you're going to face Florida. Miami has had their big year in terms of what they did in their tournaments, in their conference. Can you speak to the overall brand of basketball that seems to be being played in Florida right now?
BERNARD THOMPSON: It's just amazing. It's just‑‑ I really can't describe the feeling right now. It's an emotional win for us, as well. We're just playing high intensity basketball, trying to prove that we're just as good as any high major team.
Q. This has never happened before, 15 has never made the Sweet 16. Can you guys comprehend how big this is?
SHERWOOD BROWN: I mean, we've been hearing it all‑‑ since the game‑‑ actually before the game started we've been hearing that a 15 seed has never advanced to the Sweet 16. So that just gave us a little extra motivation to go out there and get that victory here tonight.
BRETT COMER: I mean, the media thing has been kind of crazy since the Georgetown game, after winning that. There's plenty of fake Sherwood Browns out there. Everybody wants to be Sherwood Brown. But it's been crazy. Words can't describe this feeling as being a 15 seed, the first 15 seed to ever do this. I don't think it's really sunk in to any of us yet. I feel like maybe it will tomorrow, but right now we're on such an emotional high it's hard to come down from.
BERNARD THOMPSON: Yeah, same thing they said. It just feels good. We knew this would be a big win for our school and for our basketball program, so we just wanted to make history, really. We live for moments like this, just to come out, play basketball and have fun, entertain the fans, entertain people that's watching.
Q. The common denominator between the runs that you and VCU and George Mason and Butler was that they all played together. I was wondering if all three of you can address the fact that you have a certain chemistry just from playing with each other the last three or four years.
BERNARD THOMPSON: Yeah, our chemistry, it's not just good on the court, it's good off the court. We're always around each other, so that kind of brings to great team basketball. Everybody is just real fun to be around. We're brothers. There's not really much to be said. We just know how each other feels, how each other plays the game. We've just got a good feel for each other.
BRETT COMER: Like Bernard said we are a family on and off the court. We live in one building, we are always with each other 24/7. We are like best friends, and when you have that chemistry off the court it translates to on the court. I feel like we know where each other are and where each other are supposed to be, and I feel like it helps our chemistry.
SHERWOOD BROWN: Yeah, we are always together, we all live in the same dorm building so we experience a lot of different things together. We went to the Bahamas together, just so many different things that we've just done that just builds team chemistry on the court.
Q. Jamaal Franklin obviously stayed on the court to watch you guys celebrate and I guess he chatted with you after. Can you explain what you guys talked about and what he passed on to you?
SHERWOOD BROWN: Jamaal is a great player and he just told us that we did a great job and he was just saying to keep this thing going, we're doing something special, and he just wants us to keep it moving, don't stop now.
BERNARD THOMPSON: Dunk city is coming to Arlington, so everybody be ready.
Q. I got a text from Southwest Florida from folks that said they have tears in their eyes and they thought maybe you might have had a little, too, hearing those guys talk about family and brotherhood. Is that possibly a little true?
COACH ENFIELD: The only water I had was the water they threw on me when I got in the locker room. I haven't cried yet. I might cry tomorrow. But it's just a great feeling, so proud of these players, what they've been through for the last two years only the second year of eligibility. It really speaks volumes. No tears yet, but maybe in the future.
Q. We know about your big three, but Varidel hit some about three‑pointers, McKnight had some pretty nasty dunks. How big were their contributions tonight?
COACH ENFIELD: We had five guys in double figures and Eric had nine. Now Friday night Eddie Murray came in the game when Eric had foul trouble against Georgetown, and Eddie Murray played great basketball. He had nine points, five rebounds, a couple of blocks. But Eric McKnight, if he can stay out of foul trouble, he affects the game on the defensive end by blocking shots, by challenging shots and also running the rim off ball screen action.
And then Christophe Varidel came off and he's an elite shooter in the country. If we can get him open shots, he's as good a shooter as I've seen. He stepped up tonight and helped us. We needed that because Sherwood Brown had two fouls early in the game and we needed his productivity off the bench because we didn't play very well in the first half, and I was very fortunate‑‑ I was really happy at halftime to be down one because I thought we could have been down seven or eight.
Q. Steve Fisher brought up Loyola Marymount, the 149 to 115 game when they beat the defending national champions and, in his words, ran them off the floor. He was talking about little teams that aren't necessarily known too well that can do something like this. Do you remember where you were? I guess you were at Johns Hopkins when that happened?
COACH ENFIELD: Sure I remember Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble and just really enjoyed watching them. It was a unique style of basketball. We don't play quite like that, but we try to push the basketball. I think we're averaging 79 points a game in the postseason, our three conference games and two NCAA Tournament games. So we have a lot of similarities. But we're not quite that good.
Q. But there's an entertainment factor there, don't you think, that's comparable to them?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, we don't take ourselves too seriously. We have a lot of guys on the team that are characters. Knowing us who we are, we're FGCU. Hopefully by now people are learning those initials. So when we came into this tournament, we knew no one knew who we were or where we were or most of the people don't even know where Fort Myers or Southwest Florida is.
We knew we had our‑‑ we had to go out and just play our game, and I told our players before the Georgetown game, you earned your right to be here by winning your conference championship, and all you can do is do your best and play hard. If you're good enough to win the game Friday night, you will. We said the same thing tonight. If you're good enough to beat San Diego State, you will. That was the mentality we came into it with. We're going to play our game and we'll see what happens.
Q. A lot of the smaller schools that make these runs have a lot of leadership, a lot of seniors and juniors, and you guys are pretty young. Can you talk about Sherwood's leadership, and do you think the fact that you guys are still kind of young helps take some of the pressure off these guys?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, we start three sophomores, a junior and a senior. We have a couple other sophomores and a junior off the bench, so we are young. We have two seniors on the roster with Eddie Murray. Sherwood is our leader, but Eddie Murray has shown great leadership, and I think you've seen on the court you don't need to be a senior to be a leader. Brett Comer had 14 assists tonight, Bernard Thompson is third in the nation in steals, he had five tonight. Bernard didn't make first team or second team all conference. He has averaged 23 points a game these last two nights. He had five steals tonight. In the conference tournament he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and three steals and didn't even make the all tournament team. So Bernard Thompson, he on is under the radar and then all of a sudden he just pops up and gets 23 and five steals on you.
So we have a lot of guys on this team that are able to lead by example and also pick each other up, and fortunately for all of us, they've done that lately.
Q. Would you say they're playing beyond their years?
COACH ENFIELD: I don't know if it's beyond their years. They made huge jumps in the off season. They have improved and they made a big jump from the middle of the season. We had a couple really bad losses the middle of the season, and now we've won 14 out of 16, I believe, so we're playing at a high level, we're playing better than we have before because we're doing it on both ends. We're defending and we're getting out and scoring.
Q. Can you talk about not only going to the Sweet 16, especially as fast as this school has gone, but now you're going to face Florida, and can you address that, the whole picture?
COACH ENFIELD: I was at the Sweet 16 as an assistant coach at Florida State. We lost an overtime game to VCU at the buzzer by one. We understand that the mid major can win a game because we were in the ACC and they were in the Colonial, and they beat us. We're going into Dallas or wherever we're going‑‑ is that where we're going?
COACH ENFIELD: Arlington, close enough. So we're going to Arlington to try to beat the Gators. I know a lot of the players on Florida's team. I know Billy Donovan and their coaching staff. I recruited a lot of their players at Florida State. They are great people. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them, the players and the coaching staff, and I just think Coach Donovan is one of the best coaches in the country and has been for many, many years.
We competed against Florida when I was at Florida State. I believe I'm 3 and 2 against the Gators as an assistant coach, and we're looking forward to the opportunity.
So we know they can be beaten, but we also have unbelievable amount of respect for them. They have one of the best programs and have the success that all of us want to have one day.
Q. Can you explain how it is that you give your kids such latitude to create and such freedom yet still get such an efficient performance? I think they shot 54 percent or 55. It's not sloppy at all.
COACH ENFIELD: Well, we had 21 assists, 13 turnovers. Brett Comer had 14 assists, three turnovers. And we had 13 steals. We led our league in steals for the second straight year. When our coaching staff were hired in 2011, this is our second year, we signed four freshmen and a transfer from Iowa State, which is Eric McKnight or starting center. We had some holdovers, Sherwood Brown, Eddie Murray and Chase Fieler, and we knew that we had to increase our talent level but also develop what we had in the program and the freshmen we were bringing in. So what you're seeing now is a product of two years of player development and learning how to run a system.
My style is not a‑‑ I don't like to slow the ball down. I like to let our guys play. I think it's extremely difficult to guard an offense when players have freedom and they can play within a system. Last year it was chaotic at times because Brett Comer led our league in assists. He was second in the nation in assists among all freshmen last year but I think he was first in turnovers. He averaged four and a half turnovers a game last year. Bernard Thompson, he had to play backup point guard because we had no other point guard on our team. This year we have Dajuan Graf who gives us valuable minutes off the bench.
So this is a product of our players spending a lot of time with our coaching staff and by themselves of improving their ball handling, their shooting, their decision making, the passing, their floaters, their Eurosteps, their finishes in the lane with both hands. Sherwood Brown does things now he could not even come close to doing a year, year and a half ago. Chase Fieler made second team all league this year. He was a bad player two years ago, and I say that because the first time we worked him out, he was in the trash can 20 minutes into the workout trying to vomit. He said he couldn't get anything out.
But the amount of improvement that those players have made, Eddie Murray scored 11 points his entire year as a sophomore. Last night he had nine points and plays 31 minutes when Eric McKnight is in foul trouble. So this is just a culmination of their efforts and our focus on what we thought needed to be done to get to this point.
Q. I know you've had a lot of media attention here this weekend, but now going home and kids going back to class and everything and the national media I'm sure are going to bug you all week, how do you kind of keep the focus on basketball when you're going to have a lot of other things pulling at them?
COACH ENFIELD: It's no different than the last two weeks. We won the conference tournament. We didn't play for 13 days‑‑ it was the 13th day against Georgetown, so we had played two Saturdays before. We had almost two weeks of regional, local and national coverage of people saying, wow, FGCU was the first team in, they punched their ticket first, who are they. So we have had a lot of exposure already and then we beat Georgetown. We got a lot more exposure this weekend and now I'm sure it'll be increased.
If you watched us play and know the personalities, it won't be a problem. They enjoy themselves. I think it's important for them to take this in. I want all our players to take a couple deep breaths and say, wow, we're in the Sweet 16, we've accomplished a lot.
But there won't be any problem. When we step on the court for practice, they're going to be focused. If not, they'll sit down or they'll start running the stairs or whatever. We'll figure it out. But we don't mix pleasure and joking around when it's time to get serious. I make sure of that. They are going to have a great week, and I think it's important for our whole university with such a brand new university, 16, 17 years old and an athletic department that's only 11 years old, only been Division I six years. We have a lot of great sports at FGCU. We have won conference championships, I think, in 11 or 12 difference sports. So our university is led by Ken Kavanagh our athletic director and he's done an unbelievable job of not only helping the basketball team get to this point but also he's won championships in every sport.
So this win for us and the exposure we're getting it really for our entire University, so people know about the success of FGCU, and also the growth that has taken place in the last five, six, seven years. I don't know if most of you know this, but 17 years ago there were a bunch of trailers around dirt fields and then some buildings were built and then some dormitories or apartments and eventually they built Alico Arena, our beautiful place, 11 years ago. It was a Division II school. They kept building, kept growing, and finally they went Division I, best thing they did was build a Division I arena when they were Division II, so we have a beautiful place to play.
Now we're looking forward to helping the school grow from a marketing standpoint and from an awareness across the country that FGCU is a hidden gem down in Southwest Florida. That was my goal this year going into‑‑ I thought we had enough success last year where we could help the university, and then this year obviously we've helped it tremendously. It's all part of our goal is to share the excitement among the fellow students that support us and the community.
Q. You guys have carried a great deal of confidence into some enormous challenges and obstacles. Where does a 90,000 or 80,000 seat stadium rank, and what do you do for these guys who this is all new to to be ready for that?
COACH ENFIELD: That's up to them. We'll have to figure that out. They'll play anyone, anywhere at any time. It doesn't matter what the size of the stadium is. They're going to play their game, have fun doing it, and if we're good enough to win, we will. They know how hard they have to play to beat the Florida Gators, but the size of the stadium is not going to affect them. Florida's defense might affect them or their talent level, which is tremendous, but they won't be affected by the stadium.
Q. You and Coach Donovan both have Wall Street backgrounds. What did you learn in business that applies to being a coach?
COACH ENFIELD: I think as a Division I basketball coach you need to be the CEO of a program. You have to give responsibility to your assistant coaches, director of operations, your video coordinator, your managers and you have to oversee that. You have to hire good people. I always said head coach is only as good as his assistants and vice versa. I'm fortunate to have a tremendous staff. That's the biggest thing, because you can't do it all yourself. And then the other thing is I think you need to engage the surrounding‑‑ the administration, the students, the community, and you have to all be in this together.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports