Akron, OH — Florida Gulf Coast roared with applause in Akron’s visitor locker room as Nasrin Ulel and Tytionia Adderly were presented with their awards.
Ulel was named the Akron Classic’s Most Outstanding Player, and Adderly earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. The Eagles love to be around one another, so much so that coach Karl Smesko said their off-the-court chemistry is better than their on-court chemistry.
“They’ll laugh, joke, be loud everywhere,” Smesko said. “Then on the court, sometimes they have a tendency not to be as loud as they need to be.”
Florida Gulf Coast defeated Akron 82-63 on Saturday in James A. Rhodes Arena. The Eagles need to improve their on-court chemistry, but as they whipped the ball around the perimeter, that wasn’t totally evident.
They were looking for the best shot, whether it was an open 3-pointer or a bucket inside.
“We’re trying to have a lot of movement, screening, and cutting,” Smesko said. “And then, when we catch it, we want to get our eyes to the rim.”
The Eagles are not a passive offense. They look to shoot quickly, and that forces teams to be just as aggressive on defense.
Akron simply couldn’t consistently match that aggression.
“The more movement we have with players, and the more movement we have with the ball, typically we get more high-quality shots when we do that,” Smesko said.
FGCU is undefeated through four games, and in those four games, it has averaged 83.7 points per game. Ulel has led the team in scoring for all its games, and she scored 18 points against Akron. Taylor Gradinjan was the team’s second-leading scorer, and she poured in 16.
The Eagles’ performance from the 3-point line was what particularly thwarted the Zips’ perimeter defense.
As the Eagles passed the ball around the perimeter, the Zips scrambled to close out and contest shots. The Eagles shot 42.5 percent from 3-point range.
With this win, the Eagles remain atop the Atlantic Sun. Last season, they won the Atlantic Sun as they defeated Stetson in the championship. The title win earned FGCU a bid in the NCAA Tournament in which it lost to Miami in the first round.
The postseason is in the distant future, but going forward, Smesko wants his team to continue improving on offense.
Boasting a potent offense, the Eagles need to keep their power on the offensive end.
“Just keep working on more passes, getting the ball moving,” Smesko said.