The Eagles are currently on a 3-game skid and hoping to turn things around as they travel to FIU. The Golden Panthers hold a 5-3 record (3-3 against D-I and 3-0 at home) with wins against Cleveland State, Eastern Kentucky, and New Hampshire. Their losses are to Mississippi State, North Carolina State, and UNC Wilmington. FIU is a member of Conference USA. Last year they finished with a 20-10 record (10-8 in conference). This year, they are another veteran-laden team for this young FGCU squad to try and match up with. They are comprised of 3 seniors and 6 juniors. The Panthers are coached by Jeremy Ballard who is a former assistant at VCU. Also on their coaching staff is David Cason. FGCU fans may remember him as an assistant coach for the Eagles during the 2017-2018 season. Here is a look at some of the players that FGCU will need to watch out for.
Isaiah Banks (#1)
Banks is a 6’5″ / 180 lb guard. He has been a regular contributor for the Panthers since he was a freshman. Now, as a junior, he has played in 7 games and worked his way into the starting lineup, while playing 19 minutes a night. This season, he is averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds per game while shooting 68% from field and 57% from 3.
Trejon Jacob (#3)
Jacob is a 6’5″ / 175 lb, senior guard. He started the first 5 games this year but has not played since. It is unclear if there is an injury or another reason for his absence. On the season, he is averaging 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Jacob has tons of experience and is a threat to take over the game, if available.
Eric Lovett (#4)
Lovett is a 6’5″ / 200 lb, guard/forward combo. He is a junior and a JUCO transfer in his first year with the team. He has played in all 8 games. He only gets 16 minutes per game but makes the best of it by averaging 8 points and 2 rebounds. He is athletic, strong, and bouncy.
Antonio Daye Jr (#5)
Daye is 6’1″ / 188 lbs. He is a sophomore guard who already has tons of experience, as he played in every game as a freshman, making 20 starts. He has started all 8 games this season, averaging 10 points per contest.
Tevin Brewer (#11)
Brewer stands at only 5’8″ / 160 lbs. He is a junior guard and JUCO transfer in his 1st year with team. Brewer has had no problem acclimating his game to the D-I level, starting all 8 games and playing 27 minutes a night. He is an excellent passer and shooter. So far, he is shooting 48% from the floor and 44% from deep, while averaging 9 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals per game.
Osasumwen Osaghae (#34)
Osaghae is a hulking, senior forward for the Panthers. He stands at 6’9″ / 250 lbs and is a matchup nightmare. Osaghae is a skilled big with a lot of post moves and the ability to play lockdown defense. Currently, he is playing 26 minutes night and averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds per contest. He is quick for his size and has a nice shooting touch as well, making 70% of his shots from the field.
Devon Andrews (#50)
Andrews is the star player on this team and the main Panther to watch for. He is a 6’6″ / 190 lb, senior forward and the leader on this team. He has started all 8 games and has come to play in each of them. Andrews plays 29 minutes a game, averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. He possesses unique size that grants him the versatility to run with guards/wings and also bang down low.
The Panthers have a lot of experience among their guards. Brewer, Banks, and Day Jr each average 9 or 10 points per game. They also possess depth with Lovett and any potential contribution from Jacob. If there is one weakness, I would say that it is their lack of size among these players. Due to depth concerns among the FGCU bigs, the Eagles are forced to play with small ball lineups. However, FGCU possesses pretty good size among their guards. Zach Scott, Jalen Warren, Sam Gagiardi, and Caleb Catto are all between 6’3″ and 6’6″. Any of these individuals has the potential to take over the game in one way or another. The addition of Malik Hardy to the rotation has provided some toughness to this position group as well. FIU plays a trapping/press style of defense which has given the Eagles fits at times this season. The FGCU guards will have a chance to prove they can counter this by playing fast and playing their own style.
FIU’s 2 best players are both forwards. Andrews and Osaghae combine to form an imposing tandem. At 6’9″ / 250, Osaghae is a load and will be a difficult body to slow down. Andrews has a similar body type to Caleb Catto but with a skillset that makes him a menace at the 4 spot. Without Tracy Hector Jr available, the Eagles are forced to play small with only 1 true forward on the court for much of the game. Again, Justus Rainwater will be tasked with playing a tough and physical game, trying to impede the success of Osaghae. Dakota Rivers will look to rebound from a rough tournament with a strong performance against quality competition. How a player like Andrews is dealt with could be very interesting. I can see Catto and/or Gagliardi on him. The strategy may be to keep him out of the paint by giving him outside shots, which are not a strength for him.
|Jalen Warren – G||Tevin Brewer – G|
|Zach Scott – G||Antonio Daye Jr – G|
|Sam Gagliardi – G||Isaiah Banks – G|
|Caleb Catto – G||Devon Andrews – F|
|Justus Rainwater – F||Osasumwen Osaghae – F|
Unless FGCU can get Tracy Hector Jr back from injury, they will likely be forced to play small, with 4 guards on the floor for most of the game. Justus Rainwater has proved to be a solid player down low and able to limit the effectiveness of the opposing team’s best big. Still, the Eagles are very limited in what lineups and strategies they can throw at the Panthers. If FGCU can play their game and limit turnovers, they can quiet FIU and win the game. But, if they continue struggling to secure rebounds and fail to play a clean game, it could be more of the same for the Eagles.
Elliott Kresse (7-3)
“FIU has the advantage with an abundance of experience and proven success. It will be tough for the Eagles to come out on top.” – Elliott
74-63 – FIU
Russell Kelly (4-6)
“After this 3 game skid, I’m once again at a point where I can’t pick us to win until I see it happen.” – Russell
77-68 – FIU
Dawson Jordan (3-7)
“Coming off the long weekend losing streak FIU’s press will likely cause FGCU some real trouble in this one” – Dawson
74-60 – FIU
Bryan Genter (4-6)
“FGCU has not yet put a complete game together against a D-I team. It’s going to be tough to win until they play well for two halves.” – Bryan
72-58 – FIU