The Eagles (10-22) fought and clawed all night against the Bisons in a game that featured 8 lead changes. FGCU recognized the advantage that Lipscomb has in the paint with Ahsan Asadullah and played the matchup accordingly. Rather than try and limit him with double teams, the Eagles elected to give him one-on-one matchups down low in order to keep the perimeter off limits for the Bison guards. Justus Rainwater was initially matched with Asadullah but racked up 2 very quick fouls and was quickly replaced by Dakota Rivers. Rivers was able to get his developing shot to fall early. Unfortunately, his frame is more than 60-pounds less than that of Asadullah and he struggled to provide much resistance on the defensive end. Brian Thomas easily provided the best matchup here but his season-long injury battles seem to have prevented him from playing a significant amount of minutes. Whether this strategy worked or not is up for debate as Asadullah finished with 40 points, but a sharp-shooting Lipscomb squad was held to 22% from beyond the arc. History is written by the winners though, so the 40 points will be viewed by many as an unstoppable performance from a dominant player. There were chances down the stretch but FGCU failed to hit any shots in the final 3 minutes of the game. Hitting even one of those attempts could have swung the game in favor of the Eagles. Ultimately Lipscomb was able to pull ahead by 5 and win the game.
For the last time this season, we will highlight the notable contributions, areas for improvement, and take a look at what’s next for FGCU.
Leading the team in scoring on a nightly basis has become a common occurrence for Caleb Catto by this season’s end. He finished with 20 points on 8-18 from the floor, to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Continuing his elevated play into the final game of the season, Jalen Warren scored 16 points while dishing out 3 assists and acquiring 2 steals. Cyrus Largie returned to the starting lineup after missing the last game with the Flu. He ended up playing a team high tying 36 minutes on his way to a career high, 12 points. He also hauled in 7 rebounds while dishing out 3 assists. Brian Thomas provided some of the most impactful play that he has displayed as an Eagle in this game. In 23 minutes, he did not score and only secured 2 rebounds. At the same time, he played extremely tough defense on Asadullah, who was visibly bothered by Thomas’ presence. By game’s end, he tied a program record of 8 blocks in the game.
Areas for Improvement
FGCU’s inability to score consistently in the post has been a season long struggle. Rainwater and Thomas are more known for their defensive ability. Rivers is a defensive work in progress when he’s not swatting shots. He has shown some ability on offense but will need to develop his game in both areas during the off-season. Asadullah was expected to score a lot of points, but not 40. Still he is a threat to do so and the Eagles only mustered 7 points (all from Rivers) out of their 4 forwards that played in the game. Getting some offensive production out of their bigs has to be a point of emphasis during this offseason. When FGCU guarded the perimeter, Lipscomb found a way to get the ball inside and Asadullah dominated. For most of this season, teams haven’t had to worry about any low-post scoring from the Eagles, leaving the perimeter consistently well-guarded.
Rebounding is part of post play but, for this game, it needs a separate category. The Eagles finished with 29 rebounds compared to 43 for the Bisons. Lipscomb also finished with 7 more offensive rebounds and plenty more second chance points. Most of this was due to the dominant performance from Asadullah as he corralled 14 boards of his own. Still the 4 FGCU forwards to play in the game combined for just 6 total rebounds.
What comes next for the this men’s squad is very up in the air. As it has been widely reported, FGCU has only one senior under scholarship (Tracy Hector Jr), so there won’t be as many new faces this time around. Christian Carlyle’s situation will be something to monitor. After a severe, late off-season injury, he utilized a medical redshirt to preserve another year of athletic eligibility. Whether Carlyle rejoins the team next year remains to be seen. As of now, the Eagles will be welcoming 4 newcomers to the team in incoming freshmen Zachary Anderson, Luis Rolon, and Victor Rosa as well as JUCO transfer, Dom London. Teams are allowed 13 scholarship players at a time. By our count, with the departure if Tracy Hector and the assumption that Carlyle rejoins the team, FGCU will only have 2 open scholarships. Another thing to consider is the surprise performer that freshman walk on, Cryus Largie has been and if he will end up getting a scholarship. That would be 5 players and only 2 open slots. There will no doubt be a lot to talk about in the coming months. Follow us all summer as we put out more podcasts and give you articles as news and speculation presents itself. Thank you for making our first year a success and we are excited for what’s to come in year 2!