PREVIEW: FGCU Gears Up to Face Stetson – 1/11

FGCU (4-14, 1-2) travels to DeLand, FL to take on the Stetson Hatter’s (7-10, 1-1). Stetson Head Coach Donnie Jones is in his first year with the team and trying to turn their perpetually struggling program around. He has done a great job so far bringing in quality freshmen. While Stetson played a fairly weak nonconference schedule, they passed the test by upsetting South Carolina 63-56. So far in conference play, the Hatter’s have looked like a mixed bag. They lost to Lipscomb 66-63, then beat Kennesaw only 57-54. Below, we will take a look at the players that should contribute for the Hatters, discuss the potential matchups and outlook on the game, and give our predictions.

The Players

Mahamadou Diawara (#15)

Diawara is a very impressive freshman for Stetson. He is a 6’10” / 235 lb forward/center and has wasted no time in acclimating himself to D-I basketball. He has started all 17 games for the Hatters and is already averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. He has proved that he can go up against collegiate talent and use his body to dominate smaller opponents.

Rob Perry (#2)

Rob Perry is another great get for Stetson. He is a 6’3″ / 210 lb freshman guard who has started all 17 games, averaging 31 minutes played. He is proving to be an elite shooter for the Hatters as he is shooting 44% from the floor as well as from 3. On the season, he leads the team with 15 points per game. He also contributes about 2 assists and 5 rebounds a night.

Christiaan Jones (#0)

Jones is a 6’5″ / 195 lb junior guard and an experienced voice on an otherwise very young team. He has played in all 17 of their games, making 7 starts. In about 25 minutes per game, Jones is averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds.

Jahlil Rawley (#4)

Rawley is a 6’4″ / 185 lb senior guard in his 2nd season with the Hatters. He has played in 17 games, making 8 starts. In about 26 minutes a night, Rawley is averaging 7 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. He is currently shooting 49% from the floor and 41% from deep.

Wheza Panzo (#1)

Panzo is another promising freshman for the Hatters. He is a 6’7″ / 190 lb guard/forward combo. He has played in all 17 of their games and has made 10 starts. He averages about 26 minutes per game and is currently posting averages of 5 points and 4 rebounds.



Stetson’s production is definitely guard-based. Rob Perry has greatly impressive in his freshman campaign. Christiaan Jones, Kenny Aninye, and Jahlil Rawley are players that have been with the Hatters and continue to lead the team. FGCU’s backcourt is young but typically formidable on defense. Caleb Catto and Sam Gagliardi are excellent perimeter defenders and Zach Scott he’s a penchant for stealing the ball. Stetson allows opposing teams to make about 10 3-pointers per game. The FGCU guards may be able to capitalize on this lax defense.


Diawara is already a total force. He is big and strong but also possesses the required finesse of a well-rounded big man. Outside of him, Stetson doesn’t have much production in this area. Joel Kabimba and Wheza Panzo are really only other players that get minutes at the forward spots. Justus Rainwater will likely be relied on to minimize Diawara’s impact. Brian Thomas should assume some of this responsibility as well. Both are strong and hopefully able to compete with Diawara down low.

Projected Starters

Jalen Warren – G (#5)Kenny Aninye – G (#10)
Sam Gagliardi – G (#15)Rob Perry – G (#2)
Caleb Catto – G (#2)Christiaan Jones – G (#0)
Tracy Hector Jr – F (#13)Joel Kabimba – F (#35)
Justus Rainwater – F (#32)Mahamadou Diawara – F (#15)

The Outlook

Stetson is led by 2 freshmen who have feasted on non D-I teams and weaker competition. Still, there is no doubt that they have the ability to compete in the conference. The Hatters have their share of seniority as well, though less so than most other teams FGCU has faced. The Eagles are young but have looked to be improving slowly over time. In the recent loss to UNF, FGCU committed only 12 turnovers and shot the ball very well. UNF simply overwhelmed them with seniority and 3-point prowess. Stetson does not have quite the same firepower as UNF. If the Eagles can replicate that offensive production and tighten up a few things on defense, they should come out on top in this one.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (14-4)

“We are not as good as this Stetson team right now. Stetson will show out in Deland and send us home with an L.” – Elliott

76-71 – Stetson

Russell Kelly (10-8)

“Stetson is a very young team like FGCU. Their freshmen have already proven to be the leaders of the team. Still, I think FGCU can handle them and bounce back with a W.” – Russell

74-66 – FGCU

Dawson Jordan (10-8)

“Stetson outplays FGCU” – Dawson

73-64 – Stetson

Bryan Genter (10-8)

“Stetson lost to lipscomb by 3 and beat Kennesaw by 3. FGCU will win by 3.” – Bryan

63-60 – FGCU

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