PREVIEW: FGCU Heads to Lipscomb with a Chance to Right the Ship

After a couple of disappointing losses to open up conference play, FGCU will look to get back on track against, preseason favorites, Lipscomb. Below, we will break down the opponent, take a look at some of their impact players, project potential starting 5s, discuss matchup notes, and give our general outlook and predictions for the game.

Lipscomb Bisons

So far, the Bisons have not had the dominant year that many anticipated. Still, they hold a 9-7 overall record and are currently tied for 3rd in the ASUN at 4-2. Lipscomb is extremely young, with only 2 seniors/grad students on the entire roster. Beyond that, they have just 2 juniors on the team as well. Despite this, they possess decent experience as several underclassmen received quality minutes last year. The Bisons are led by Coach Lennie Acuff, who is in his 2nd year at Lipscomb. Coach Acuff has had an impressive start to his D-I coaching career as he turned this squad into a projected top team in the ASUN for the foreseeable future. Below, we will examine this roster’s impact players.

Impact Players

Ahsan Asadullah

The biggest (literally) name on this team is Asadullah. In his freshman season, he made the ASUN All-Freshman team, averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds per game. Last season, as a sophomore, the 6’8″ / 260 pound Center tore up the conference on his way to 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Now in his junior season, his production has dipped a bit. Through 16 games (all starts), he is averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds. However, through 6 ASUN games, he is scoring 16 points per game along with 8 rebounds a night. Asadullah is still the unquestioned leader of this team and should be the focus of the gameplan.

KJ Johnson

Johnson was an excellent freshman for the Bisons last season. He earned ASUN All-Freshman team honors while averaging 11 points per game. So far this season, the 6’2″ / 170 pound sophomore looks like he is taking another step. Through 10 games (9 starts) he is averaging 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Beyond that, he is shooting at a deadly clip of 52% from the floor as well as 52% from three.

Romeao Ferguson

Ferguson joined Lipscomb this year for his graduate season after stints with Belmont Abbey and Lincoln Memorial. The 6’5″ / 195 pound guard has made an immediate impact for the Bisons. Through 16 games (all starts) he is averaging 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists while shooting 49% from the floor and 44% beyond the arc.

Greg Jones

Jones is an experienced player for the Bisons. Last year, he was a regular starter, averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds per game and shooting at an impressive 44% clip. This season, the 6’3″ / 195 pound junior has increased his points per game to 11, but his shooting numbers have dipped a bit to 39% from the floor and 37% from three.

Jake Wolfe

Wolfe is a 6’5″ / 195 pound sophomore guard for the Bisons. Last year, his season was cut short due to injury. This year, he looks to be finding a groove on this team. So far, he has played in 15 games, making 12 starts. Over those contests, he has posted averages of 8 points and 3 rebounds, while shooting 44% fom the floor and 36% from beyond the arc. His numbers have been extremely up and down this season and he is yet to settle in since conference play began. Still, look for Lipscomb to try and get him in a rhythm early. Wolfe can be deadly at the foul line so minimizing his chances to score could be a priority.

Parker Hazen

Hazen is a quality forward for Lipscomb. The 6’8″ / 215 pound senior has been a part-time starter so far this year. He has seen action in 16 games (5 starts) and is currently averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds. Hazen has a clean and efficient shooting stroke for a big man too, making 50% of his shots from the floor and 36% from downtown.

Potential Starting 5

FGCULipscomb
Luis Rolon #1KJ Johnson #0
Jalen Warren #5Greg Jones #1
Caleb Catto #2Jake Wolfe #10
Cyrus Largie #4Romeao Ferguson #3
Eli Abaev #14Ahsan Asadullah #23

Matchup Notes

  • The big matchup to watch here is how the Eagles will go about trying to neutralize Ahsan Asadullah. Last season, he absolutely dominated FGCU almost single handedly. This year, it will be interesting to see how the trio of Eli Abaev, Dakota Rivers, and Justus Rainwater combine to defend him and counter his offense with some of their own.
  • Another interesting thing to watch is how much each team employs 4 guards and 1 big versus playing a traditional 3 guards and 2 bigs. Both teams have shown the ability to do either. Parker Hazen can be a problem at the 4 spot and a combination of Cyrus Largie, Zach Anderson, and Dakota Rivers will likely see minutes against him, depending on how much they can minimize his impact or capitalize on a mismatch.
  • The matchup in the backcourt should be interesting to watch. The rise of KJ Johnson combined with the veteran leadership of Greg jones and Romeao Ferguson makes this a solid collection of players for the Bisons. Meanwhile for FGCU, Caleb Catto’s continued ascent and leadership is a weapon all by itself. Jalen Warren continues to adjust to a different role, while still finding success, as Luis Rolon continues his impressive freshman campaign. FGCU looks to have more depth here with Cyrus Largie, Dom London and Franco Miller also in the mix.

Outlook

As stated in my 5 Eagles Things, despite the tough circumstances of the program being shut down, the Eagles have no choice but to win some games that they weren’t projected to win. Especially after dropping both games to Bellarmine, FGCU finds itself already at a crucial point in their conference season. dropping both games and falling to 0-4 in conference could prove to be too much to overcome, splitting the series buys them time to stay in the mix and try and string together some wins and/or sweeps. But winning both of these games would restore the faith and excitement that was beginning to grow again in regard to this program prior to the shut down. These 2 games could be very telling as far as how this team can rebound from their setbacks and succeed in the face of adversity.

Predictions

Russell Kelly (5-4)

“The amount of uncertainty following the last 2 games grew exponentially. Still it is early in the conference season and the Eagles’ struggles were understandable. Understandable or not, if this team is going to reach the heights that they want to reach, it will be because they picked themselves up and continued to prove doubters wrong. For that to continue, it must resume with at least a split versus a quality Lipscomb team. I think the team looks much improved in this series but drops a close one in the first game and holds onto a lead to win the second game.”

80-76 – Lipscomb

77-72 – FGCU

Elliott Kresse (5-4)

“It is very hard to predict how these games will play out, considering the struggles from last weekend. I think FGCU struggles in this series but digs down and finds a way to split with a win in the 2nd game.”

83-76 – Lipscomb

74-70 – FGCU

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