While dunks are an official stat in the NBA, the sports information department at Florida Gulf Coast University is doing its best to bring that idea to the college game with the help of Parkersburg South product Chase Fieler.
Fieler won't ever be confused with the University of Houston's Phi Slama Jama established during the 1980's, but what the 6-foot-8 junior has given the Eagles is another dimension on offense while leading the ballcub with 14 dunks.
"We do have a couple of plays drawn up for me where I can get my dunks," Fieler admitted. "But it's about my teammates having great floor vision and getting me the ball in places where I can get easy dunks."
Fieler is one of five returning starters for a FGCU team which improved to 6-3 with Saturday's 65-50 win against Loyola Maryland. At the time, the Greyhounds were ranked No. 21 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll but the Eagles allowed just one 3-pointer in 17 attempts while improving to 5-0 at home.
FGCU, which received votes for the first time in school history in the Mid-Major Poll and is rated 27th overall, ranks 14th in all of Division I by holding opponents to 24.7 percent from beyond the arc.
"This year, we are sticking our hat on defense," Fieler said. "When we guard, we can be a very good team."
FGCU hasn't backed down to anyone in its scheduling after visiting places like Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Eagles led the Blue Devils by one point with five minutes remaining in the first half before allowing 30 straight points in an 88-67 defeat.
Their other two losses also occurred on the road against VCU and St. John's. Playing their fourth game in sixth days, FGCU jumped out to a 23-10 lead against St. John's before falling, 79-68.
Fieler ranks second on the team in rebounding (5.1 rpg) and third in scoring (8.4 ppg).
Against Loyola Maryland, he had his streak of scoring in double figures snapped at a career-high four games despite contributing eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Among active leaders in the Atlantic Sun Conference, he ranks fifth in career blocks with 58.
"In my first season, I was playing for a completely different coaching staff and I was playing a different role at the time," Fieler said. "I was more of catch and shoot player and I didn't feel like that went to my strengths as well. Now, I am more of a slasher. I'm posting up and driving. I'm back to being an offensive threat."
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Fieler was one of three FGCU players named to the Battle 4 Atlantis All-Tournament team after the Eagles battled back from a 10-point halftime deficit in the championship game to defeat Toledo, 72-66.
"I was glad to be nominated, but more importantly we won and earned an automatic berth for the Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas (in 2016)," Fieler said.
"It's big for the program because they are going to be nationally televised for three games."
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