College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon Recap: FGCU, LaSalle, VCU and more

Missed anything over the 30-plus-hour long marathon of madness that the rest of the world called Tuesday?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon, the Champions Classic, and other games around college hoops:

David Albers/Naples News

FGCU fans came to cheer on Chase Fielder and Dunk City. (David Albers/Naples News)

FGCU students are pumped. The atmosphere for the 7 a.m. game in Fort Myers was off-the-chain, off-the-hizzy, or whatever phrase Stuart Scott would use to describe something exciting. Buck maybe? Eagles fans welcomed their team back home for the first time since it stunned Georgetown and San Diego State, became the darling of the tournament, coined the phrase Dunk City, and lifted coach Andy Enfield to the USC job.

It was a worthy welcome, as hundreds of students were waiting outside the gym doors at 5:30 a.m. Per the AP:

Students…were loud from arrival to departure, and even sang “Happy Birthday” to a fan holding up a sign announcing he was turning 9.

“It meant a lot,” FGCU junior guard Brett Comer said. “We love having the support here. … I think it was the most energetic crowd we’ve had. That’s the most students I think that came out and that really helps.”

Some of the luster was taken off of the home opener after the Eagles were spanked at Nebraska, 79-55, but FGCU rebounded to drub America East contender Hartford 65-51.

La Salle point guard Tyreek Duren will be counted on to replace program-changer Ramon Galloway’s scoring. The graduated Galloway was the best player the Explorers have had in years, but Dureen may be up to the challenge of replacing his production. He’s a smooth, crafty guard who doesn’t have much size (listed at 6-0), but makes up for it with a tough, cultivated game and nice dribbling skill set. He knows how to get himself open and score, and proved it with 17 points against Quinnipiac on Tuesday morning.

Of course, La Salle will also count on Tyrone Garland and his “Southwest Philly Floater,” made famous in the Explorers’ run to the Sweet 16 last season. Garland scored 28 in the season opener against Manhattan, but was benched for the start of the QU game because of poor effort on D. Once he adjusts his attitude, this backcourt is going to be dangerous once again.

NEC fans already know all about Brickman.

NEC fans already know all about Brickman.

LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman is one of the best point guards you’ve probably never heard of. The senior led the nation in assists last season (8.5 per) and finished fifth in the country in 2011-12 (7.3). On Tuesday, Brickman and the Blackbirds came thisclose to stealing an upset win at Indiana, with the diminutive point guard missing a desperation cheesy-leaner at the buzzer.

Brickman outdueled highly-touted IU point guard Yogi Ferrell, finishing with 11 points and 10 assists while slipping in passes tighter than Maria Menounos’ abs. It was his second straight points-assists double double, having put up 13 and 14 in the Blackbirds’ season-opening win over St. Peter’s. Northeast Conference fans know about Brickman, whose ultra-quick, up-tempo style helped LIU win three straight conference titles. College hoops fans should also know about LIU, which is a damn good mid-major team that could trip someone up come March.

Virginia did a terrific job of slowing the pace and matching VCU’s pressure defense with some havoc of its own on the defensive end Tuesday night. The Cavaliers and Rams couldn’t be much more different in terms of style of play, but Virginia’s grind-it-out, take the air out of the ball style was effective against the Commonwealth on Tuesday. Even though scoring is way up across the board, the Cavs were able to hold VCU to just 3 fast break points.

Still, the Rams found a way to win in Charlottesville, thanks in large part to a late run capped by a ballin’ NBA 3 from Juvonte Redic with 1 second left. Like the marathon and me having the day off Tuesday, it was CLUTCH. All caps.

Both teams should have plenty of success this season, and with Shaka Smart and Tony Bennett in place, this could be one of the sneakiest, best rivalries in the country for years to come.



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