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March 28, 2013
THE MODERATOR: And your thoughts coming into the game?
COACH ENFIELD: My thoughts are we have an extremely challenging game Friday night against one of the best teams in the country. We're going to try to play as hard as we can and see what happens.
Q. Obviously your team is fundamentally sound and well coached, but the piece of their success that has to do with the joy and the looseness and exuberance, how do you as a coach maintain that while this stage has increased tenfold and the stakes are far higher?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, it's the personality of our players and our team and our culture. I try to develop with my assistant coaches a way to play the game up‑tempo style, not take people out or yell at people because they make mistakes.
It was frustrating last year because we had a lot of turnovers in crucial situations because of our style of play. But as they developed their skill sets and they become more comfortable making plays off the move and going full speed, we became a much better basketball team. As it became that, it became fun to play the game. They enjoyed it and they enjoyed themselves as teammates.
So our team chemistry is at an all‑time high. What you're seeing is genuine. They enjoy being here, they enjoy playing the game of basketball.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about your athletic director and the role that he's played in developing the resources and increasing what you've got to work with. I understand your recruiting budget was almost zero when you got there?
COACH ENFIELD: Ken Kavanagh is our athletic director. He is very experienced. Worked at Bradley for many years. He's a basketball guy. He understands the value and how to make a basketball program successful. I'm very impressed with his vision.
That's why I took the job in the first place is because he had a way about him, he's just a tremendous person. And I thought I could work with him every single day to make FGCU a better place.
Our budget is challenging, to say it nicely, when you have one of the lowest budgets in the United States in Division I level. But he's done a great job of trying to manage that, increase our recruiting budget just slightly. We're way behind most places.
But we're such a new institution, and I give him a lot of credit, because it's hard to manage an athletic department with so many sports on a shoestring budget. And I don't know how he does it.
Q. A week ago when you had this press conference, you guys were No. 15 seed, very few people knew about. How do you put it in perspective on how you get your team's focus back on to the task at hand?
COACH ENFIELD: Well, things have certainly changed in a week. We knew going into the Georgetown game we could win the game, we prepared to win it like any other game in our schedule. We were confident. We beat a great Mercer team on our home court to win a championship.
Now things have changed dramatically because not only did we beat Georgetown, we beat San Diego State, and we're in the Sweet 16, the first time a 15 seed has ever been here. It was history. And I told our players, you deserve to enjoy that.
We took Monday off, they went to class at 8:00, they were all in class at 8:00, 9:00, no one missed. And it took us a day and a half to recover mentally and physically. So Tuesday's practice was just okay. Yesterday was better and today was better.
But it's all business now. We have a game tomorrow to play. And I'm very appreciative of the job the media has done. We've met some terrific people over the last week and a half, two weeks. And I really give the media credit for being so enthusiastic and professional on their coverage of us.
It's been overwhelming, but we've been trying to do everything we can as a team, as a program, to not only handle the media requests, but to promote the program and the school itself. And our players have done an amazing job of that.
But now we're in Dallas, we can feel the game starting to get closer and closer, just like the Georgetown, San Diego State game got closer and closer, and they're very, very focused.
Q. Aside from the fact you're here in the Sweet 16, you're a different basketball team. I haven't seen the fun quotient in a basketball team in any tournament involving the NCAA and basketball in years, if I've even seen it. Do you think maybe your team is sending a message more so to a lot of people across America is to incorporate that fun factor, and maybe that might add to the success factor in their lives, as well?
COACH ENFIELD: I'm a big believer that college basketball should be an enjoyable experience. It is a full‑time job, when you spend 12 months a year working on your game, you're with the coaching staff 12 months of the year. So if you're going to be with the players and the coaching staff and everyone has to live together and spend hours and hours, it should be an enjoyable experience. That's what college sports to me is all about. We run our program like that.
Our players work extremely hard. We don't put up with any nonsense. They go to class. They've had the all‑time highest GPA this semester. We engage the students in campus, we get involved with the community, the surrounding community. And when it's time to show up on the court they play hard. And that's all I ask of them.
The last thing they have to do to play for me is be a great teammate. My coaching style is accountability, but let's enjoy ourselves while we do it. I think you've seen that. This is not fluff. They are really enjoying themselves and that's the way we play.
And I think we've become more successful and our players have developed quicker on their skills and their confidence because of that culture in the program.
Q. What kind of opportunity on the one hand does this present your program and on the other hand a challenge for Florida being the flagship basketball school in the state?
COACH ENFIELD: I was an assistant at Florida State for five years. We played Florida every year. I got to see Coach Donovan, his brilliance, and see what a great coach he was as we prepared for the team. He makes adjustments during the year, during the season and even during the game. He's as good a coach as I've ever seen.
And the players, I know them personally, because I recruited a lot of them while I was at Florida State. They're terrific young men. I know their families.
It's very ironic that we're playing Florida in the Sweet 16. I blame this on the Selection Committee. This should be a Final Four game, not a Sweet 16 game (laughter).
Q. Was there a point in the Georgetown game, even though you said you were confident going in, that you felt like you began to realize we not only can play these guys, we're the better team, we should win this game?
COACH ENFIELD: There's not a lot of difference between a really good mid‑major team and the power conferences on any given night.
And we feel we can compete with anyone in the country. We're athletic, long, fast, we play up‑tempo, we play a different style and system.
I watched the film on Georgetown, I thought they were as good as anybody I'd seen. They were ranked top 8 in the country, had an amazing year in the Big East. I didn't know if we could beat them, but I did know we could compete with them.
I told the players it's going to take you a few minutes when you start the game to realize that you're just as good as the guy guarding you or whoever you're guarding. And in some cases you'll be better than that player. If you play together as a team, you play hard, you rebound the basketball, you'll have a great chance of winning.
And we went into that game preparing to win, not to keep it close. And that's the way we played.
Q. What are some characteristics on the court and personally that you like about Brett that help make your team successful?
COACH ENFIELD: Brett sees the floor as well as any point I've seen. He is ‑‑ he just has a gift of seeing the play develop. And he makes the pass as the plays develop or even before the plays develop. And it's amazing how his improvement ‑‑ last year he led the nation in turnovers or close to it. He led our league in assists or turnovers. This year his assist turnover ratio is much better.
He's become a leader, he's more mature. And he's averaged 12 assists in two NCAA tournament games, in two games. It's impressive. He is as crucial to our success or potential success against Florida with all those good guards.
But Brett has developed ‑‑ I knew he was talented, but he has really surpassed what I thought he could be as a sophomore.
Q. You've used the word "development" several times and I know that's been a theme of yours. That was a big issue of how you got into the NBA in the first place, player development. Could you address the work and detail that's gone into that and is that something we don't see enough of?
COACH ENFIELD: I don't know what other coaches do or staffs, but my background has been in shooting, changing shooting techniques, working on offensive moves, footwork, triple threat, post moves, etcetera. We spend a lot of time every day in practice, we adjust our shooting techniques, ball handling, decision making, their passing, their footwork in the post, their off‑the‑dribble moves, different finishing, the Euro‑step, the floaters. A lot of things that go into our offensive.
And then we practice going full speed. To play our system you have to do those things going full speed. We practice our bounce passes, the slot passes to the post. So a lot of different ‑‑ there's a lot of different things in development.
Give you an example, Bernard Thompson was a terrible shooter in high school. Now he's shooting 38 percent from the three, just made six in the last two games. He spent three months changing his shooting form. Same thing with some of the other guys on the team. They have done the work to allow them to get to this point.
We start three sophomores, a junior and a senior. And I'm amazed at out how much Chase Fieler and Sherwood Brown have improved. They are two of the most improved players I've seen in 15‑plus years of coaching.
It's really amazing when you can give a player certain things to work on, show them film of what they're doing well and not well and then see them a year or even six months later go out and do that against the best players in the country at a high level. And that's what has taken us from a very streaky, mid‑major college basketball team to a very good mid‑major basketball team, to be able to compete with anyone in our schedule.
Players don't come into college with all the skills necessary. And if you don't have a development program for them, they only get to a certain level.
I don't necessarily think we're the best at it, but I can say that we focus a lot of time on it. And what I've seen in our team, I'm so proud of our players because they've taken the coaching and the instruction, and when we're not around they're in the gym working on their game.
THE MODERATOR: We have three student‑athletes, we have Sherwood Brown, Brett Comer and Chase Fieler.
Q. Brett and Sherwood, Brett, I want to read you something you said earlier this week: As much as Florida wants to say maybe they're taking us so seriously, deep down there's got to be a gut feeling maybe they're not. They're Florida. We're Florida Gulf Coast. What do you mean?
BRETT COMER: They are obviously the higher seed. They're the well‑known school, the well‑known players and team. I feel like, you know, honestly deep down they might not be taking us as seriously, just like other teams, because we weren't the high recruited guys, so in that aspect.
Q. As a Florida guy?
BRETT COMER: What do you mean?
Q. As somebody growing up in Florida.
BRETT COMER: Everybody talks about Florida. Nobody talks about Florida Gulf Coast. Me and Sherwood from Orlando, we didn't know what it was before we came here, but everyone has heard of Florida.
SHERWOOD BROWN: Well, just basically what Brett said. When you live in Florida the only teams you hear about are Florida State, University of Florida and University of Miami. I never heard of Florida Gulf Coast until actually I started to visit the school and to attend it.
Q. Brett, I know that when you were younger you used to go to the team camps in Gainesville. What do you remember about those experiences? I don't know if you matched up with Scotty Wilbekin or some of the other guys.
BRETT COMER: Actually, we went there, I went there all my years in high school, Winter Park High School, we went and played there. It was a great atmosphere. They have great facilities. Billy Donovan is a great guy. He was always around, recruiting Austin Rivers. I met him. I know Dillon Graham that plays for them. We played on the same team for the super showcase in Orlando. So I know a few of them.
Q. Sherwood and for both of the other student‑athletes, as well, can you compare what this week of preparation has been with the hoopla compared to last week going into the Georgetown game?
SHERWOOD BROWN: Georgetown and the University of Florida are completely different teams. Georgetown likes to slow the pace down. And Florida likes to shoot a lot of threes. The way that we prepared for each team has been completely different. We've been focusing on different aspects of the game.
Q. Can you just talk about, you practiced out there now in that arena. Playing in an arena like that, the temptation after a big play to look up at that giant TV screen, how hard that's going to be to resist.
CHASE FIELER: We talked about it already. It's open, it's a lot different than any arena we played in. Even if you make the big plays, it's hard to get a good angle on that TV, you have to stand right on the edge. We'll have to run more towards the sideline to see it (laughter).
BRETT COMER: Like Chase said, you can't see the screen. When we do a great play like that we're not going to be able to look at it.
You'll see a lot of fun probably from Sherwood Brown, with some kiss blowing toward you, some flexing. You'll see Christophe Varidel do a heel click after a three. We'll act the same and be the same, it's just the way we are, but we won't be able to see it.
Q. Brett, with what you guys have done, do you look at it as we've made history or has it gone about like it's supposed to go? And given that, how should Florida's game go, how should your game against Florida go?
BRETT COMER: The way we looked at it, we did make history. No 15 seed has done this. We feel like we shocked the world. Nobody picked us to beat Georgetown, or San Diego State, for sure.
We're going to prepare for Florida the same way. We're going to try to win again. We didn't come just to play one game or two games. We're coming out to compete and go as far as we can.
Q. I'd like you to put in perspective. A week ago you guys were No. 15 seed that pretty much nobody knew much about, and now everybody knows who you guys are. Talk about that and putting it in perspective.
CHASE FIELER: A lot of the first news conferences a lot of people weren't really sure of the questions to ask us. They looked at us with blank stares and talked about the feeling of being in the NCAA.
So the week has come and now they're asking us how to prepare for a No. 3 team or they have questions for us personally. They know a lot more about our school. It's come a long way, the recognition of our players as well as our school. You guys have asked a lot of great questions, and know us almost on a personal level.
Q. Brett, I'm sure growing up you watched Florida. What's it like for you being here on this stage, getting to play against some of the schools you grew up watching and having a realistic shot to beat them?
BRETT COMER: It's cool being on the stage with them as Florida Gulf Coast. I don't know how to describe it. We're just players, you know, we just want to play.
We thought as we came into the tournament that we would win games. I know a lot of people in here didn't know anything about us, like Chase said. We expected to be here, though, as a team. We wanted to play and compete and I think we've done a great job of doing that.
Q. Chase, I've read that your coach coached in the NBA. He sold a software company for millions. His wife is a great mom who is a supermodel who was on the cover of Maxim. He coaches a school that's on the beach. He's in the Sweet 16, do you think he's happy?
CHASE FIELER: Well, if he's not, I don't know what would make him happy. He's pretty successful and living the life a lot of people would like to live. So I think he's extremely happy.
Q. Brett, I've got to think that after the last two games people who watched you distribute in those two games are really going to come after you and attack you and try to get the ball out of your hands, maybe even trying to get it out on the back‑court. What are you looking for from Florida's guards?
BRETT COMER: I'm looking for just what you said. Scottie is a great on‑ball defender, he'll probably do a great job of denying me. But I have Sherwood and Chase and Bernard that can come on the offense and slide to the wing and do what they do.
Q. Brett, you used to live in Kansas City. What did that time period mean, how did it shape you as you are now, do you have a favorite memory?
BRETT COMER: It shaped me a lot because when I lived in Orlando before I moved up to Kansas City, I was a wing, actually. I never played the point guard in my life. My sophomore year in high school, my high school coach wanted me to become a point guard because nobody else could play the point guard on our team. Ever since then I've been doing this now. I think that's the biggest thing that changed once I moved.
Q. One of the things that usually turns into a win is you take away one of the strengths of another team. What strength would you like to take away from Florida for one of the things they do well?
SHERWOOD BROWN: University of Florida shoots a lot of threes. One thing we're going to try to take away is their wide open threes. We're going to try to take away their offensive rebounding. I'm sure they got a lot of points off of missed threes and put‑backs.
Q. Brett, when you came out of the locker room heading toward the practice just now you had this little camera, it seemed to be ‑‑ were you taking video or still photos? And then could you just explain what kinds of things you're taking photos of in the last 24 hours?
BRETT COMER: Actually, that's not my camera. That's our teammate Filip's, but I stole it from him. We like to have fun, so we goof off. I stole his camera, I was just shooting what's going on around us. Just having fun, staying loose.
Q. Are you interviewing people, does it have audio with it?
BRETT COMER: Since it's been here, Chase has been doing all the interviews to the media. If you'd like to interview, Chase is the guy to go to and he'll get that done.
CHASE FIELER: I've gotten a lot of great interviews that will probably come out later, but as of right now we're going to keep them (laughter).
Q. As significant as the game is and as historic, what's different about facing Florida?
CHASE FIELER: I didn't grow up in Florida, so that's not the team I grew up watching. I'm trying to treat it the same as we did every other game. Going in focused, preparing for what they do. Trying to do what we do well and trying to play harder than them.
For me we're treating them like a Georgetown, but not getting up in the hype of the Sweet 16, Florida Gators, and treating it like the first game in the tournament.
SHERWOOD BROWN: For me, each game it's going to be a lot harder, and I grew up watching Florida play, so it means that much more to me. We're in the Sweet 16 now. It means that much more. We want to make it to the Elite 8 and continue playing.
Q. Chase, can you talk a little bit about what it was like on campus this week as you tried to prepare for a big basketball game. I'm assuming there were a lot of distractions with all the media coming.
CHASE FIELER: It was a busy week, just with the attention and the media being around. And the students were excited about what's going on and talking to us. We know we'll miss a lot of school, and trying to catch up on that, trying to catch up from before. Between with the schoolwork and the media and everyone trying to talk to us, it was very exciting.
We had a great pep rally. A lot of support came out of there. We were very busy. We were constantly doing something and just exciting.
You can't really describe the atmosphere on campus. The bookstore was packed, people trying to buy shirts. And trying to follow all the different memes and different shirts that were coming out.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports