“This is just a culmination of their efforts and our focus on what we thought needed to be done to get to this point,” Enfield said. “So this is a product of our players spending a lot of time with our coaching staff and by themselves, of improving their ballhandling, their shooting, their decision making, the passing, their floaters, their Eurosteps, their finishes in the lane with both hands.”
FGCU’s mad dashes up the court look unstructured; those fast breaks and alley-oops tend to show off the improvisation and hide the work behind them. But make no mistake, they are a product of Enfield’s teaching — a team doesn’t open up such huge spaces on the floor by accident. It’s a product of design and repetition. The tempo at which they play is coupled with exquisite execution, and chemistry.
“My style is not a I don’t like to slow the ball down,” Enfield said. “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.”
Couple good teaching with pupils who are genuinely enthusiastic — as opposed to bored, jaundiced mercenaries — and what you get is Dunk City. And its effect is electrifying, the most fun we’ve had in the tournament in years. The Eagles’ offensive philosophy, according to Comer, is “attack, attack, attack,” and there is something about their combination of pace, execution and reckless fun — the way their reserves howl and hold one another back when Fieler throws down a tomahawk — that opponents find unnerving.
“They start talking to one another,” Thompson said, “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.”
Maybe what shakes up their opponents is the sudden realization that they’re playing a team for whom the stakes are so low — that has nothing to lose except the final score.
One of these days the shine will come off. It’s almost inevitable. Eventually they will lose — maybe to Florida in the South Region semifinals on Friday night. Somebody will get spoiled, or the big head, or flunk out, or go on the take. Enfield and the boys from Dunk City will struggle to live up to their brazenness. But the good news is, not yet. For the moment, it’s still all in fun.
For more by Sally Jenkins, go to www.washingtonpost.com/jenkins.