Following their 2nd shutdown of the season, FGCU Men’s Basketball (9-6, 4-4) is set to close out their regular season with a series against Kennesaw State (4-18, 1-13).
Previously, the Eagles were gearing up to play Jacksonville. On Thursday, it was announced that Jacksonville would be suspending their team activities (due to Covid) and FGCU would instead be squaring up against the Owls. Below we will break down the opponent, take a look at their potential impact players, give starting lineup projections, discuss matchup notes, and give our general outlook on the series.
Kennesaw State Owls
Kennesaw has mostly been at the bottom of the ASUN standings for years now. Before last season, they made a coaching change and brought in Amir Abdur-Rahim to change the losing culture of the team. Abdur-Rahim brought in a strong freshman class his first season but went just 1-28. Entering this year, he secured probably the best recruiting class in program history, though it has still not been easy. The Owls are 4-18 this year, have only 1 win against a D-1 team (Stetson), and sit at the bottom of the conference once again. Below we will take a look at some of the Owls’ impact players.
In his first year with the team, Rodgers has emerged as the leader of this young flock of Owls. He was previously a freshman at Troy and a sophomore at SW Mississippi CC. The 6’4″ / 178 pound junior guard has started all 22 games. He currently averages 17 points, 4 rebounds, and just under 2 assists per game. He can also be a bit careless with the ball as he commits over 2 turnovers per game. Rodgers shoots the ball with extreme efficiency as he makes 45% of his total shots and 40% of his 3pt attempts.
As a highly touted freshman, Youngblood has been as advertised for the Owls. The 6’4″ / 212 pound freshman guard is currently 2nd on the team with a 12 point scoring average. In addition, he averages 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He has played in all 22 games and started 19 of them. Youngblood has been fairly efficient, shooting 39% from the floor and 32% from deep. He has scored 9 or more points in 8 out of his last 9 games and is a leading candidate for ASUN freshman of the year.
Peterson is another newcomer who has made an immediate impact with the Owls. The 6’7″ / 217 pound junior forward joins the owls after spending his first 2 collegiate seasons at MSUWP. He has played in all 22 games, making 21 starts. He currently averages 7 points and 6 rebounds per game. Peterson shoots a clean 52% from the floor but is not a threat from 3 (0/3 on the year).
Burden joined the team last year as a freshman and impressed early on. That season was cut short due to injury. Now, as a sophomore, the 5’10” / 160 pound guard has played in all 22 games, making 12 starts. His numbers have dipped a bit but he is still averaging 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Burden is shooting 39% from the floor but a paltry 15% from deep.
Stroud is making the best of his promising freshman year. The 6’6″ / 196 pound guard has played in all 22 games and has made 16 starts. He currently averages 6 points and 6 rebounds. It appears he is still finding a consistent stroke as he is shooting just 36% from the floor and only 26% from beyond the arc. Stroud has not really had an explosive performance this year but he is consistently a threat to grab upwards of 10 rebounds and/or score 10 points.
|Jalen Warren #5||Kasen Jennings #13|
|Caleb Catto #2||Spencer Rodgers #23|
|Franco Miller Jr #3||Chris Youngblood #3|
|Cyrus Largie #4||Brandon Stroud #5|
|Eli Abaev #14||Alex Peterson #10|
- For the most part, Kennesaw plays pretty small as their tallest main contributors stand at 6’7″. They do possess a couple of more sizeable forwards who rotate in off the bench and stand at 6’9″ and 6’10”. FGCU has the luxury of playing big or small based on the opponent. Typically, the Eagles opt to play smaller with 6’8″ Eli Abaev as the lone, true forward on the floor to start the game. Regardless, FGCU boasts a strong rotation of Zach Anderson, Dakota Rivers, and Justus Rainwater, who are all 6’7″ and 6’8″.
- Most of the Owls’ scoring comes from their guards. They are led by Spencer Rodgers and Chris Youngblood, who average 17 and 12 points per game, respectively. FGCU has a trio of double-digit scorers in Cyrus Largie, Caleb Catto, and Jalen Warren. Largie has emerged as the Eagles’ Leading scorer as teams have started to really key on star player, Catto. As teams have been forced to try and minimize production from Largie and Catto, Warren has proven to be able to pick up the slack in the backcourt.
True to form in this wild, Covid-altered season, it was announced less than 48 hours before tip, that FGCU would not be capping off the regular season in Jacksonville, but in Kennessaw instead. Each team has likely had only a couple of days to prepare for this series. The difference lies in the fact that the Owls have played basketball each of the last 3 weekends. The Eagles, on the other hand, have not played in a game for 20 days, for the second time this season. Kennessaw is obviously at the bottom of the conference for a reason and FGCU should be able to sweep this team. Under normal circumstances they should be double-digit point favorites. However, if returning from the last shutdown has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain and it is hard to know what to expect. Still, despite the circumstances, the Eagles simply have to perform well and sweep this series, as it could mean the difference between a home game in the ASUN tournament or playing on the road.
Stay tuned for our 5 Fast Facts following game 1 of the series!