PREVIEW: FGCU Looks to Stay on Track Against UNF – 1/9

FGCU (4-13, 1-1) travels to Jacksonville to take on UNF (9-8, 2-0). The Eagles are coming off a nice win over Lipscomb. The Ospreys already have 2 big wins over ASUN foes, beating Kennesaw by 19 and UNA by 16. UNF has been pegged as the 2nd best team in the conference as they feature a veteran team with 5 seniors and 7 total upperclassmen. Below we will take a look at some of the players to watch for, discuss potential matchups and outlook for the game, and give our predictions.

The Players

Carter Hendricksen

Hendricksen is a 6’7″ / 217 lb forward. He showed tons of ability as a Freshman last year, ending up with 4 points and 4 rebounds per game. As a sophomore, Hendricksen has made 17 starts, playing about 31 minutes a night. He has increased his production significantly, averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds on 45% shooting. He is also a threat from deep (40%). This is an impressive combination of abilities for one player, as he is able play inside and be effective on the perimeter.

Ivan Gandia-Rosa

Gandia-Rosa is 1 of 4 main contributing seniors on this team and has been handling their point guard duties for several years. He is a 6’1″ / 193 lb guard who has made 17 starts this season. He is shooting 43% from the field and 38% from 3. Currently, he averages 14 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds.

Garrett Sams

Sams is a 6’7″ / 209 lb senior. He is a versatile guard/forward combo and has started 13 games this season. Currently, he is averaging 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 28 minutes per game. Sams has always shot the ball well and continues to do so at 45% from the floor and 36% from deep.

JT Escobar

Escobar is a 6’2″ / 186 lb redshirt senior guard. He has made 16 starts this year, averaging 13 points per game. Like most UNF players, he shoots very efficiently at 42% from the floor and 41% from 3.

Wajid Aminu

Aminu has been a defensive powerhouse for the Ospreys since his freshman season. As a senior, the 6’7″ / 197 lb forward has started 16 games, playing about 23 minutes a night. In those minutes he averages 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Aminu has always been an efficient scorer and is currently doing so at a 52% clip. This year though, he has added a 3-point shot to his game to some extent. While he has only attempted 10 all season, he has made 6 of them.

The Matchups

Guards

Another game and another opponent with a crowd of seniors in their backcourt. UNF has 3 senior guards in Gandia-Rosa, Escobar, and Sams. These individuals have played together for years and undoubtedly possess valuable chemistry. Each of them can shoot the lights out from 3 so the FGCU guards will have to continue playing good defense. Caleb Catto, Sam Gagliardi, and Zach Scott are all skilled defenders. Whether FGCU can limit the effectiveness and efficiency of these individuals will play a huge part in the outcome of the game.

Forwards

UNF is one of the smaller teams that FGCU will have faced this season. Their tallest players who receive any significant playing time are 6’7″. Hendricksen has burst into the scene as a sophomore, averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds while shooting at unreal percentages. Aminu is no stranger to the Eagles. He is a uniquely sized “big” who can really guard any position. FGCU doesn’t really have scorers in the post but, in this game, they have a true height and overall size advantage that could lead to more points. FGCU will need to play sound defense across the board and should be able to clog the paint enough to force outside shots. Unfortunately, the Ospreys pride themselves on their perimeter shooting from really every player on the team.

Projected Starters

FGCUUNF
Jalen WarrenIvan Gandia-Rosa
Sam GagliardiJT Escobar
Caleb CattoGarrett Sams
Tracy Hector JrCarter Hendricksen
Justus RainwaterWajid Aminu

The Outlook

UNF, on paper, is the clear-cut 2nd best team in the conference. Virtually every player on their team can shoot the ball with tremendous efficiency. FGCU will need to be locked in on defense when guarding the perimeter. The FGCU bigs will also need to capitalize on their size advantage to add some additional offense in the paint to make up for UNF’s overwhelming perimeter game.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (13-4)

“UNF as a team is averaging 18 more ppg. Couple that with their experience and seniority, it’s going to be a tough matchup, especially away. I hope for a season split, but I don’t think a win happens this time around.” – Elliott

82-64 – UNF

Russell Kelly (9-8)

“An upset over UNF would do wonders for morale and for turning the corner this season. Unfortunately, the Ospreys are, on paper, the clear 2nd best team in the conference. The Eagles keep this one close until the end.” – Russell

68-57 – UNF

Dawson Jordan (10-7)

“FGCU continues its hot shooting momentum and comes out on top of the Ospreys” – Dawson

78-72 – FGCU

Bryan Genter (9-8)

“UNF is always a tough opponents and right now, we just don’t have the firepower to hang with them for two halves.” – Bryan

75-58 – UNF