PREVIEW: FGCU Looks for the Upset at Home Against UNF – 2/8

FGCU (7-18, 4-6) hosts UNF (15-10, 8-2) in what is an important game for the Eagles. FGCU started the 2nd half of conference play against the top 3 teams in the conference. As one may have expected, they were easily handled by Liberty. Just a couple days ago they also came up just short against Stetson. Now, they face a group of Ospreys that gave them fits the first time around. In that first meeting, UNF, like usual, came out firing from 3 and hit 16 of them in the game. FGCU just couldn’t keep pace and wound up losing by 15 (89-74). FGCU will be looking for the upset here at home.

Below we will revisit some if the key players for UNF, discuss the potential matchups, and give our predictions for the game.

The Players

Carter Hendricksen (#23)

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 25 starts, playing about 32 minutes a night. He has increased his production significantly, averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds on 42% shooting. He is also a threat from deep (38%). This is an impressive combination of abilities for one player, as he is able play inside and also be effective on the perimeter. Last time these teams played, Hendricksen torched the Eagles with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Ivan Gandia-Rosa (#10)

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 25 starts this season. He is shooting 44% from the field and 38% from 3. Currently, he averages 14 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. Gandia-Rosa was one of the players who gave FGCU fits last time they played. He finished that game with 19 points and 5 rebounds.

Garret Sams (#11)

Sams is a 6’7″ / 209 lb senior. He is a versatile guard/forward combo and has played and started 21 games this season. Currently, he is averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 30 minutes per game. Sams has always shot the ball well and continues to do so at 46% from the floor and 41% from deep. Last time against the Eagles, he finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds while going 4-4 from beyond the arc.

JT Escobar (#3)

Escobar is a 6’2″ / 186 lb redshirt senior guard. He has played and started 24 starts this year, averaging 11 points per game. Like most UNF players, he shoots very efficiently at 41% from the floor and 39% from 3. He led the Ospreys with 20 points last time these teams played.

Wajid Aminu (#2)

Aminu has been a defensive powerhouse for the Ospreys since his freshman season. As a senior, the 6’7″ / 197 lb forward has started 24 games, playing about 23 minutes a night. In those minutes he averages 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Aminu has always been an efficient scorer and is currently doing so at a 54% clip. This year though, he has added a 3-point shot to his game to some extent. While he has only attempted 16 all season, he has made 8 of them. Earlier this season Aminu scored 11 points and nabbed 7 rebounds against the Eagles.

The Matchups

Guards

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 play a better brand of perimeter D than they have the last few games. Caleb Catto, Zach Scott, and Sam Gagliardi all have the ability to get hot from 3 and FGCU will need that to happen if they are to have any chance of winning this game.

Forwards

UNF is one of the smaller teams that FGCU has faced this season. Their tallest players who receive any significant playing time are 6’7″. Hendricksen has burst into the scene as a sophomore. 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 and hopefully a leg up in the rebounding battle. 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 Warren (#5) – GIvan Gandia-Rosa (#10) – G
Zach Scott (#1) – GJT Escobar (#3) – G
Caleb Catto (#2) – GGarret Sams (#11) – G/F
Tracy Hector Jr (#13) – FCarter Hendricksen (#23) – F
Justus Rainwater (#32) – FWajid Aminu (#2) – F

The Outlook

FGCU is reeling after 2 straight losses to tough opponents. They are getting no break here with a supremely skilled UNF squad. The Eagles have struggled to hit open shots all season but if there is any game where they need that trend to change, it’s this one. FGCU has the fire power an ability to get hot from beyond the arc. It will be extremely important for them to at least somewhat limit the 3-point barrage that UNF will no doubt have in store for them.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (19-6)

“Last time these teams met, FGCU fell victim to UNF’s 3-point shooting prowess. I think it will be more of the same in this one.” – Elliott

74-60 – UNF

Russell Kelly (15-10)

“Unless a couple FGCU players step up and have exceptional performances, I don’t see a way they can compete with the 3-point shooting ability of UNF.” – Russell

76-62 – UNF

Dawson Jordan (14-11)

“UNF’s hot shooting is just too much for FGCU’s somewhat consistently poor shooting.” – Dawson

78-62 – UNF

Bryan Genter (14-11)

“We haven’t yet seen enough consistent play this year to lead me to believe that FGCU can beat UNF right now.” – Bryan

75-66 – UNF