ARLINGTON, Texas — A few blank faces sparked an animated discussion between three players on the Kansas men’s basketball team.
Two of them had never heard of Florida Gulf Coast University before the NCAA tournament. A third said he had heard of the school but didn’t know about its basketball team until a surreal run through March.
Florida Gulf Coast — the South region’s 15th seed — faces No. 3 Florida at 10:07 p.m. today at Cowboys Stadium.
The Eagles are known not only for their upsets of No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State in the NCAA tournament, but also for their sunny campus on Florida’s west coast and the wife of coach Andy Enfield — a former Maxim model who lounged with her children in the Eagles’ locker room Thursday afternoon.
Yet Florida Gulf Coast has a few ties to northwest Ohio, and Enfield’s staff includes Marty Richter, an assistant coach who worked with Dan Dakich at Bowling Green from 2004 to 2007.
“One thing I learned from coach Dakich, and the most important thing, was how hard you have to work as a coach, and the preparation that goes into preparing your team to play games,” Richter said. “Coach Dakich was unbelievable at that, at getting the guys ready to play, and coach Enfield does an outstanding job of that, as well.”
Richter has been involved in coaching since 1998, but after three years working with ESPN in the Tallahassee area, Richter joined Enfield’s staff for the 2012-2013 season.
“It’s an unreal experience,” Richter said. “I never would have guessed in my lifetime that I’d have an opportunity to coach in the Sweet 16. What’s funny is that last year was our first year after coach Enfield took over, and we got to the finals of the Atlantic Sun Conference and got beat by Belmont, which is a very, very good team.
“Nobody really knew who we were last year, and we went to Duke this year and played on national television. People in the Naples-Fort Myers area knew who we were, and people in Florida were starting to know who we were, but nationally nobody knew who we were.”
Florida Gulf Coast’s path also went through Toledo — the Eagles beat the Rockets 72-66 on Nov. 22 in Fort Myers, Fla.
And on a side note, Gigi Meyer — the daughter of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer — is a setter on the Florida Gulf Coast volleyball team, which played in the Rocket Classic Sept. 7-8 at Toledo.
Richter pointed out one notable change in his team’s identity so far.
“Someone took a picture of our locker room last week [in Philadelphia] and the logo, it said ‘Florida Gulf Coast University,’ ” Richter said. “This week he took a picture and it says ‘F-G-C-U.’ So now everybody knows the four letters! It’s a brand now.”
ONCE UPON A JAYHAWK: Michigan forward Mitch McGary recalled an unofficial visit he made to Kansas — one in which he talked with Kansas coach Bill Self, former Jayhawks great Danny Manning, and assistant coach Joe Dooley.
“It was a good unofficial visit,” McGary said. “But it just wasn’t the best fit for me.”
A SLAM DUNK: A pair of Michigan basketball recruits will compete in the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships, which will be taped and then televised on CBS at 2 p.m. April 6 from Atlanta, the host of this year’s NCAA tournament Final Four.
Zak Irvin of Fishers, Ind., and Derrick Walton of Detroit are two of eight high school basketball players who will take part in the 3-point shooting competition. Irvin and Walton are part of Michigan’s incoming 2013-2014 class.