PHILADELPHIA — Florida Gulf Coast's humble roots and coach Andy Enfield's unique background, complete with Wall Street riches and supermodel wife, are irresistible backstories. But they tend to obscure the Eagles' basketball credentials.
Florida Gulf Coast showcased its ability Friday by defeating Georgetown 78-68 in the NCAA tournament, becoming the seventh No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2. The Eagles (25-10) attempt to become the first No. 15 to advance two rounds when they face San Diego State (23-10) on Sunday.
"If we were playing a shirts-and-skins game with all 64 (tournament) teams … you'd be hard-pressed to say, 'Well, this is a team that's not supposed to win,'" Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said Saturday of Florida Gulf Coast. "They're good, they're well-coached, and they played terrific last night."
Playing a warp-speed tempo born of Enfield's experience as an NBA assistant under Rick Pitino and Mike Dunleavy, Florida Gulf Coast riddled one of college basketball's best defenses for 54 second-half points on 56.5 percent shooting.
With guards Sherwood Brown and Bernard Thompson combining for 47 points, the Eagles scored more than any Georgetown opponent this season in regulation.
"I'm pretty sure nobody here had really heard of us before this game," guard Brett Comer of Winter Park said. "We put on a show last night, though. We had everybody happy and having fun watching us play. …
"We push the ball down the court, there's a lot of dunks, there's a lot of excitement. We have a lot of characters on our team, like Sherwood Brown, who likes to flex and blow kisses at the crowd. We're definitely going to gain a lot of (fans) like that."
The result resonated from the school's Fort Myers campus to the arena in Philadelphia and across social media.
"I gained about 1,000 (Twitter) followers," forward Chase Fieler said. "People are tweeting at us. Our campus is going crazy. Everyone is sending us videos of what's going on."
To a man, the Eagles drew minimal recruiting interest as high school players. But they have thrived under Enfield, the second-year coach of a program that didn't join Division I until 2007 and wasn't eligible for the NCAA tournament until last season.
Enfield played at Johns Hopkins, worked as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, and then made a mint in the financial industry before returning to basketball as an assistant coach at Florida State. Along the way, he married model Amanda Marcum, a magnet for CBS' cameras Friday night.
"We're built for our system," Enfield said. "We have athletes, we're long, we're athletic and we like to run, so we thought we could compete with those high major power conferences."
Those opponents steeled the Eagles for postseason.
"I told our team before the game that Georgetown is ranked eighth in the country, but after you get out on the court for two or three minutes you're going to realize that you're just as good if not better than this team," Enfield said.
Florida Gulf Coast led by two at halftime and raced to a 19-point margin seven-plus minutes into the second half. Sitting in the stands awaiting his team's game against Oklahoma, San Diego State's Chase Tapley couldn't help but be impressed.
"You're seeing an upset happen before your eyes," he said. "You try not to jump up, try not to celebrate, but man, just part of the madness."
Of the six previous No. 15 seeds to advance in the NCAA, five lost by double-figures in the subsequent round. None won.
"We're going to try to fix that one, too," Fieler said.
Enfield sounds confident.
"If we do things offensively and defensively like we've been doing," he said, "there's a good chance we will win this game."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun