ESTERO, Fla. - Dunk City is heating up as the Eagles gear up for a new season. It's no surprise FGCU is getting a lot of extra exposure this year. So much so, a crew filming for ESPNU has spent the last two days on campus creating a high-profile feature on the men's basketball team and the school.
It is electric on campus as students gear up for next friday's Midnight Madness. FGCU is one of eight basketball programs that will get live, on-site coverage. And, part of the "Dunk City After Dark" coverage will include a video that shows off the campus and turned the outdoor basketball courts into a dunk dream.
The dunks were slamming this week as a film crew captured the essence of the Eagles. Their short video will introduce the FGCU men's basketball team to the nation next Friday.
"The ultimate message is to let everybody know that Dunk City is coming again," Mark Meyers of Trade Markey Films said. "I was trying to get an unrealistic dream dunk sequence that couldn't exist anywhere in reality," he said, referring to the outdoor dunk scene.
"There was smoke everywhere, the basketball players were out there dunking the ball, people yelling, screaming, Azul the mascot, cheerleaders jumping and flipping around," Student Body President Juan Cubillo said.
The cameras go beyond the court, showcasing the campus and the players in a different setting. "Earlier in the day, I was playing a harp," FGCU Forward Chase Fieler said. "So in a couple of scenes, we are doing things you wouldn't be used to seeing."
The event will include a scrimmage, dunk contest, and a skit, which players and cheerleaders practiced Wednesday night.
What a difference once season can make. This time last year, fans had bought only 550 men's basketball tickets. As of today 1,400 are sold.
While the Eagles' historic March Madness run made them a household name, success comes at a price. Ticket prices went up and athletic officials say students may deal with parking changes to accommodate the influx of fans.
"I'm just anxious for it to come," FGCU Guard Jamail Jones said about the season. "I feel like a little kid at christmas. I probably won't be able to sleep the night before."
"We are trying to build a winning legacy here and that doesn't happen in one year," Fieler said.
Midnight Madness will be broadcast on ESPNU next Friday the 18th at 9 p.m. Of course, you can watch it the Eagles' coverage at Alico Arena. Admission is free. But, there's a volleyball game at 7 p.m. So, if you come early to see the game, you'll not only secure a seat, you'll also get in at a discounted ticket price of $3.