Still riding the high of a big-time win over ACC foe, Miami, FGCU welcomes Florida International University (FIU) (4-1) to Alico Arena. The Eagles (3-1) are off to their best start in several seasons and looking for their 3rd win in a row. Last season, FIU’s talented and experienced team beat FGCU 71-53 in an ugly game. The Golden Panthers finished 19-13 last year. Below we will take a deeper dive into the opponent, discuss some players to watch, go over some potential matchups, and give our starting lineup projections, as well as our general outlook and predictions.
This iteration of Golden Panthers features 4 seniors and 6 juniors. They have used their experience to achieve a 4-1 start. Despite their record, FIU has struggled somewhat this season. 2 of their wins were narrow victories against Flagler College (D-II) by 4 and 7 points. They also lost to fellow ASUN member, UNF, 77-80. Their athletic department, as a whole has taken some lumps recently when members of their football team tested positive for COVID-19. There is no word on whether a basketball player tested positive, but out of extreme precaution, the Panthers cancelled 2 of their games this season. As any safety concerns have been dealt with and this game is scheduled to be played, here are several FIU players that fans should keep an eye on.
Players to Watch
Antonio Daye Jr.
Day Jr. has emerged as FIU’s go-to player this year. He has started 50/65 games over his career as a Panther. The 6’1″ / 188 pound junior guard is averaging 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Currently he is scoring extremely efficiently, shooting 49% from the floor and 40% from deep. Last season, the Eagles were able to hold him in check somewhat. He scored 8 points on just 22% shooting. Daye is really finding his groove here, early in his junior season. FGCU must look to contain him and force him into tough situation that lead to turnovers.
Davis is an interesting player for the Golden Panthers. He stands at 6’4″ / 205 lbs but is listed as a forward. The redshirt Senior is in his first (and only) season with FIU. Davis has proven to be an excellent rebounder and an extremely efficiently shooter. Through 5 games, he is averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 47% from the floor and 39% from beyond the arc.
Brewer is quickly finding his role on this Panthers squad. After 2 years in JUCO, he transferred to FIU and made an immediate impact last year. After playing and starting 10 games, he went down with a season ending injury. Now, the redshirt junior is picking it up right where he left off. The 5’8″ / 160 pound guard is currently averaging 11 points and 3 assists per game, while shooting 51% from the floor and 52% from downtown.
FIU has gotten a ton of production from JUCO players and Lovett is another example. The 6’5″ / 200 pound senior G/F has played and started 3 games this season. Lovett was a big part of their win over Central Michigan, scoring 20 points on the night. For the season, he is averaging 11 points and 3 rebounds per game.
In his first year with the team, Mitchell is largely a bench/rotation player. In limited minutes, he has still been able to make his presence know offensively. He has played in just 3 games so far this year, making 1 start. The 6’4″ / 190 lb, junior guard is currently averaging 10 points per game on 40% shooting.
Carrigan has been relegated to a bench role for most of his FIU career. Now in his Senior season, the 6’9″ / 215 lb forward is really providing a boost from a size standpoint. Through 4 games (2 starts), he is averaging 9 points, 8 rebounds, and a whopping 3 blocks on 68% shooting. Carrigan is really their only productive big so he should be relied on quite a bit here.
- The most interesting matchup in this game will be how FGCU handles having a rare size advantage over their opponent. FIU has only 2 players over 6’6″ and only one of them plays significant minutes. The Panthers rely on 6’4″ – 6’6″ players to be their bigs. Based on this, I expect Carrigan to play a lot of minutes for FIU. I also think that after Dakota Rivers’ offensive explosion, combined with this matchup opportunity, he has earned the chance to start and could get the nod here at the 4 spot. I think Eli Abaev would end up getting the start at the 5 to try and maintain a rebounding advantage. Rainwater would be a great body off the bench in this matchup.
- Both of these teams rely HEAVILY on the 3 ball. Until last game, FGCU struggled to hit their open 3s but came alive against Miami. Similarly, outside of their main contributors, FIU has struggled a bit as well. If both teams are shooting well, this could be a high scoring game.
- Another matchup to watch out for is how FGCU’s guards are able to contain the stellar production of Antonio Daye Jr. He is an excellent rebounder, passer and scorer. Essentially, this Panthers team goes as far as Daye can take them. Caleb Catto, Franco Miller, Luis Rolón, and Cyrus Largie have all come up big on the defensive end at moments this season. These individuals will have to work to slow Daye down while providing their own offensive production. Largie has now racked up 3 straight double-digit scoring efforts and is looking to continue that here.
Starting Lineup Projections
|Jalen Warren #5||Antonio Daye – #5|
|Caleb Catto #2||Tevin Brewer #11|
|Cyrus Largie #4||DJ Mitchell #2|
|Dakota Rivers #0||Radshad Davis #10|
|Eli Abaev #14||Dante Wilcox #12|
The upset over Miami has the opportunity to be a pivotal point for this team. A team that has shown equal amounts of flash and inconsistency has the opportunity to prove they have turned the corner. That narrative starts tonight if FGCU can build of of their success, continue their momentum, and start stacking quality wins. FIU has a slew of good and efficient scorers at the guard spots but little production outside of that. Carrigan is a solid big for them but seems underutilized in favor of a smaller lineup. FGCU has utilized such lineups in the past by putting Cyrus Largie at the 4. Regardless of how the lineups look, the Eagles have a real opportunity to further prove doubters wrong.
Russell Kelly (3-1)
“FIU has almost always given FGCU a tough time, even when they shouldn’t have. Last year the Panthers whooped up on the Eagles in one of the uglier games of the season. However, I think the Miami win was exactly what this team needed to really turn a corner and start changing people’s opinions about them. that process continues tonight. FGCU’s size and depth overwhelms FIU. Eagles win.”
74-68 – FGCU
Elliott Kresse (2-2)
“FGCU is coming off a solid victory at Miami. I think they carry that momentum into what is usually a closely contested game. This will be a close one at the half but I say FGCU runs away with it in the 2nd.”
82-70 – FGCU