Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Florida's Teddy Dupay jokes with coach Billy Donovan after a second-round 2000 NCAA East Regional win over Illinois at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Florida's Teddy Dupay jokes with coach Billy Donovan after a second-round 2000 NCAA East Regional win over Illinois at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. / Associated Press

More

MORE FGCU COVERAGE
Get in-depth coverage as FGCU gets ready to take on Florida on Friday in the South Regional semifinals at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Send along your good wishes to the Eagles

FGCU NCAA tourney video library | FGCU photo galleries

More FGCU sports coverage

More NCAA tourney coverage from USA TODAY

Teddy Dupay knows what it feels like to electrify Southwest Florida.

In the mid-1990s, he was the headliner for the run-and-gun Mariner High School basketball team, a must-see attraction that put fire marshals on alert throughout the area. Masterminded by legendary prep coach Frank Morris, the Tritons’ goals were brilliant in their simplicity: take as many shots, score as many points and entertain as many people as possible.

“That’s what good basketball teams do: push it up the court and put pressure on their opponents to get back every single time,” Dupay said. “It allowed us to flourish and show people what we our true potential was.”

The 33-year-old sees a kindred spirit in FGCU coach Andy Enfield and his men’s basketball team which has captivated the nation with its high-flying, freewheeling style.

“I’m a huge Andy Enfield fan,” Dupay said. “That guy is doing an incredible job with those kids. He’s got them committed to playing an up-tempo style and what’s scary is now they believe.”

If anyone understands the power of belief it’s Dupay, a self-described “5-foot-9, non-athletic white guy,” who molded himself into the state’s all-time leading high school scorer, finishing his career with 3,744 points. As a sophomore, he committed to the University of Florida as coach Billy Donovan’s first recruit.

(Page 2 of 2)

Dupay played in 10 NCAA tournament games with the Gators, winning eight and helping Florida reach the 2000 championship game, where they lost to Michigan State.

He said a lot of FGCU’s unprecedented tournament success can be traced to the unbridled joy the Eagles are expressing on the court.

“They’re smiling and happy and enjoying it and that’s what you have to do,” Dupay said. “There is so much frigging pressure, it’s incredible. The fans are so nervous, your parents can’t sleep, every person there is treating it like it’s the biggest thing to ever happen and then you have to go out there and play basketball.

“If you can’t keep it lighthearted and enjoy yourself, you’re missing the boat.”

Dupay wasn’t among the overwhelming majority of college basketball observers who were shocked by the Eagles’ play at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last weekend. In a round of statewide and national interviews leading into the NCAA tournament, Dupay predicted time and again FGCU would face Florida in the Sweet 16. He also used the radio and television time to promote his work with the Skills Center in Tampa, a nonprofit organization which seeks to improve the lives of young people through athletic and academic achievement.

Despite his affinity for FGCU, Dupay will naturally be pulling for Florida tonight.

“I’m a Gator and I’ll always be a Gator but FGCU is definitely my second favorite college,” he said.

“I’m also a Fort Myers guy, that’s home, and whatever happens (tonight), I want Andy Enfield to stay at FGCU because he can make them something really special.

“With the fast start they’ve had building the program and the momentum that will increase support and the facilities and the way they play, FGCU has the makings of someday being the Duke of the south, I really believe that.

“That would be fantastic for my hometown.”

Follow Dan DeLuca on Twitter @NewsPressDan.

More In FGCU Sports

Local Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers on Marco Island

GET DEALS NOW

Marco beach cam

RESTAURANTS

Find local restaurants, read
and submit reviews

Celebrating the best of South Lee and North Naples

READ MORE

Reader Photos

Get the Hurricane Hub app

DealChicken.com

Sign up to save 50-90% off SWFL dining, shopping, spas, activities and more. Every day.