Sometimes it's all about the little steps for a program. Take American's home opener tonight at Bender Arena, which was the first of six games to be picked up this year by the local Comcast SportsNet affiliate. The game was part of, effectively, American's first multi-game television contract with a single network. Ever.
Not bad for a school that's traditionally behind at least two other DC-area mids for media attention, and that's not even considering the attention heaped on Maryland and Georgetown around here.
While this would be a pretty sweet deal for American anyway, the NBA lockout meant that Comcast's announcers for Wizards broadcasts were without anything to do. So there they were, Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier, sitting courtside at Bender Arena on a cold, rainy Wednesday night.
The only question, of course, was if the Eagles were ready for the attention. Tonight's opponent, Florida Atlantic, was the heavy preseason favorite to defend their East Division title in the Sun Belt. American, meanwhile, was coming off of an overtime loss to lowly Maryland-Eastern Shore.
But that, as the ridiculously tired cliché goes, is why they play the game.
The Owls only held on a few brief occasions in the first half, and never by more than a basket. I certainly didn't think that American would control the game nearly as much as they did, but it seemed that Florida Atlantic didn't expect the game they got, either.
Down two with three minutes to go, the Eagles put together a 9-0 run to go into the half, capped off by a buzzer-beating three by Blake Jolivette that sent American into the break up 27-18.
FAU came out looking almost defeated to start the second half, and didn't pick up the intensity until the second media timeout. Owls coach Mike Jarvis found himself whistled for a technical foul, and his team fed off of his emotion, coming out of the media break with a renewed sense of purpose.
Florida Atlantic managed to cut it as close as four, but a four-point play by Vanderbilt transfer Charles Hinkle doubled the lead and put the game out of reach, leaving American to wrap things up with free throws. The fans, both in attendance and watching at home, could end the night on a high note.
American was ready for their close-up tonight. They'll now have to wait patiently for the next 13 days (and three more games) to pass before they get another chance in the spotlight, but the odds are good that the Eagles will be ready to take their next small step then, too.
at AMERICAN 62, FLORIDA ATLANTIC 56 11/16/2011
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 1-3 (0-0) -- R. Taylor 2-6 3-4 8; S. Richardson 1-8 3-5 5; K. Penn 0-0 0-2 0; K. White 6-14 1-1 13; O. Grier 4-9 0-0 11; G. Gantt 1-6 0-0 2; J. McCoy 1-4 1-2 3; A. Tucker 3-6 0-0 6; P. Bertone 3-5 0-0 6; D. Mavin 1-2 0-0 2; A. Mattison 0-0 0-0 0; J. Floyd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-61 8-14 56. AMERICAN 1-2 (0-0) -- C. Hinkle 7-17 12-14 27; D. Munoz 1-5 3-4 5; T. Brewer 2-7 1-1 5; T. Wroblicky 2-8 0-0 4; B. Jolivette 5-9 3-4 14; J. Schoof 0-2 0-0 0; D. Fisher 2-3 1-2 5; S. McCormack 0-1 0-0 0; W. Simon II 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 20-54 20-25 62.
Three-point goals: FAU 4-18 (S. Richardson 0-4; G. Gantt 0-3; R. Taylor 1-3; O. Grier 3-8), AMER 2-11 (T. Brewer 0-2; C. Hinkle 1-6; B. Jolivette 1-1; J. Schoof 0-2); Rebounds: FAU 38 (K. White 8), AMER 28 (T. Wroblicky 8); Assists: FAU 9 (R. Taylor 4), AMER 7 (C. Hinkle 4); Total Fouls -- FAU 25, AMER 17; Fouled Out: FAU-None; AMER-None.