Tayler Goodall was part of the 2015 Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team that reached the NCAA Tournament.
But as a redshirt, the Columbus North graduate didn’t get to play.
Two years later, Goodall is hoping to get on the court when the Eagles play at Miami (Florida) today in the opening round of the NCAA tourney.
“I’m having fun this year,” Goodall said. “I feel like I’ve developed better relationships with the girls. Sitting out is hard to develop a relationship with the girls on the court. Now, I feel like I’m more a part of the team.”
This season, Goodall has played in 24 of the Eagles’ 34 games. She averages 2.1 points in 7½ minutes a game.
Florida Gulf Coast is a balanced team, with six players averaging between 7.9 and 11.1 points a game.
“When I get in, I feel like I contribute a lot,” Goodall said. “I feel more confident this year, more comfortable. When I get in, I try to do the things that I do well and just enjoy being out there. I make an impact as much as I can.”
That usually involves shooting from the perimeter, and Goodall has had plenty of practice. She’s been putting up 500 to 600 shots a day since travel ball, when her travel team coach, Lee Larkins, required her to shoot 300 to 400 shots a day.
Last year, Goodall played in 27 games and averaged 2.1 points for a team that made it to the finals of the Women’s NIT.
“I think a lot of people overlook the NIT because it’s not the NCAA,” Goodall said. “But going all the way to the championship game was big. Maybe it’s a little more, but any tournament, you want to win. It’s never really a dull moment.”
The Eagles lost nine seniors from that team, including four starters. But they finished second in the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season and then went on the road and upset top-seeded Stetson in the conference tournament championship game.
Florida Gulf Coast (26-8) earned a No. 13 seed in the Stockton Regional and will play Miami (23-8) at 4 p.m. today. The winner will face Marquette or Quinnipiac on Monday.
“This year is a brand new team,” Goodall said. “We have a lot of young and inexperienced players. After graduating nine seniors last year, I don’t think a lot of people expected us to do well this year, so it was great to see us make it to the NCAA.”
Coral Gables Sub-Regional
1:30 p.m.: Marquette (25-7) vs. Quinnipiac (27-6), ESPN2
4 p.m.: Miami (23-8) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (26-8), ESPN2
TBA: Marquette-Quinnipiac winner vs. Miami-Florida Gulf Coast winner, ESPN2