PARKERSBURG - There's only one goal for the Florida Gulf Coast University men's basketball team of second-year head coach Andy Enfield and that's to win the Atlantic Sun championship and earn a berth into the NCAA tournament.
Former Parkersburg South all-stater and current Eagle junior captain Chase Fieler sure is doing his best to help his teammates reach that goal.
Going into the weekend, FGCU (12-6, 4-1) stood atop the A-Sun standings thanks to a wild 72-71 overtime win Thursday at the University of South Carolina Upstate, which had a 12-game home winning streak snapped when Fieler was credited with the game-winning deuce as his lay-in was goal tended with 1.5 seconds to play.
Photo courtesy of Florida Gulf Coast University Communications
Florida Gulf Coast University’s Chase Fieler, left, and Seth Curry of Duke get instructions from a referee during the Blue Devils’ 88-67 win over the Eagles earlier this year at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Fieler, a tri-captain along with lone Eagle seniors Sherwood Brown and Eddie Murray, is averaging nearly 11 points and five boards a game. He also has 28 assists, 23 steals, 18 blocks and is shooting better than 50 percent from the field in his 18 starts.
"Our goal has been to get to the NCAA tournament and we were 20 minutes away from winning the conference championship last year and going to the tournament," said Fieler, whose team had a halftime lead on Belmont in the A-Sun finals.
"Our goal is to win the regular season and conference championships and make some noise in the tournament like a Butler or VCU."
FGCU owns a home win against the Miami Hurricanes (63-51) and have been tested elsewhere with road defeats at the likes of Duke (88-67), St. John's (79-68) and Iowa State (83-72), where the Eagles played in front of nearly 13,000 fans.
"Playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium, that venue right there is unbelievable," added Fieler, who is on track to earn his degree in business management.
"That's something I'll always remember and we beat the University of Miami and that was big for our team."
Fieler said the key to the Eagles' current success has been a matter of maturing on the court.
That looks especially true when one considers FGCU went 15-17 in coach Enfield's first season with 11 defeats coming by less than 10 points.
"Our key is defense. When we guard we are tough to beat," Fieler stated.
Having a new coaching staff last year was sort of a shock to Fieler, but having been with the current staff for more than a year the ex-Patriot said things are coming together pretty well.
"Getting a new coaching staff my sophomore year with NBA and overseas experience, that's something I didn't expect, but it's been unbelievable," Fieler noted. "They really stressed on me being an all-around player. I'm just trying to be consistent.
"I was voted captain this year (and I'm trying to) not be a guy where you wonder what's going to happen to being a guy you pretty much know what to expect."
In the world of Division I college basketball, Fieler's time might be more than half over, but he's excited for the future and what hopefully might be in store for himself and his teammates.
"Getting into the NCAA tournament would be big enough, but we want to go to the NCAA tournament twice and try to win a couple games," he said.
"Winning a game, we would really appreciate that and it would be a great way to go out, making the NCAA tournament twice."