FSU men’s basketball is 13-2 and 1-1 in ACC play. The Seminoles are currently no. 13 in the AP poll. The Seminoles will host no. 1 Duke tomorrow at 2 on ESPN in what is probably the hottest basketball ticket in Tallahassee ever.
Key wins in the nonconference schedule came against Florida, LSU, Purdue and St. Louis. The lone loss was to defending national champion Villanova in the championship of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. This year’s nonconference schedule was considerably more difficult than last year’s so a .500 conference record will surely have the Seminoles in the NCAA tournament once again. This year’s team has the experience and talent to surpass nine conference wins to bolster their resume and hopefully get a higher seed in the big dance.
The five starters for the game Saturday will most likely be guards Trent Forrest, Terrence Mann and MJ Walker to go along with forwards Phil Cofer and Christ ‘Chris’ Koumadje. The six reserves that Hamilton brings off the bench are guards David Nichols, PJ Savoy, Anthony Polite and Devin Vassell and forwards Mfiondu ‘Fi’ Kabengele and Raiquan Gray.
Trent Forrest is a solid defender and terrific rebounder for a guard. He gets most of his points by using his ability to get to the basket off the dribble. When the game is on the line Forrest usually has the ball. He averages 9.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Forrest has 33 steals on the year.
Terrence Mann is very similar to Forrest in his defending, driving and rebounding abilities. He is a little bit better scorer due to his ability to knock down the occasional 3. After checking the stats he is actually shooting a team best 44% from beyond the arc, which may come as a surprise to most FSU basketball fans. He averages a team-high 11.8 points per game to go along with 6.4 rebounds per contest.
Former 5-star recruit from Atlanta, MJ Walker, is the garnet and gold’s most talented player. He is only averaging 8 points per game but hasn’t found his rhythm since injuring his ankle in the victory versus St. Louis. If he is able to find his footing, the Seminoles could go a long way in March once again.
Due to Forrest, Mann and Walker’s ability to switch who they are defending during possessions, FSU is able to put constant pressure on the other teams guards forcing them into turnovers and converting them into points on the other end.
Phil Cofer was FSU’s leading scorer last year but he injured his foot in the preseason forcing him to miss the first 10 games of the year. He is getting his minutes up in the recent games and is starting to look like he did last year.
‘Big Chris’ Koumadje is the shot blocking 7’4’’ giant in the middle of the Seminole defense. His rebounding has gotten better this year but has struggled on offense recently including going 0/6 from the field against Miami on Wednesday. He is a factor on defense when he is able to stay out of foul trouble.
Mfiondu ‘Fi’ Kabengele is the second leading scorer on the team with 11.2 points per game. He has solid post moves and sits at 74% from the free-throw line making him instant offense off the bench. He has done considerably better on defense this season but has a real issue with getting quick fouls. For the Seminoles to have any chance on Saturday versus Duke he will have to keep the fouling to a minimum.
PJ Savoy has had a few solid shooting performances this season but due to the lack of shots recently, he hasn’t been able to knock down 3’s like he did last year. He shoots noticeably better in the Tucker Center and is capable of getting hot at any moment. I would like to see coach Hamilton give him some more minutes.
David Nichols, the transfer from Albany, has really found his niche in the FSU rotation in the past few games. He is a very good passer and is able to set up his teammates which helps them get going. His three point shooting is really starting to come along providing another scorer for the ‘Noles.
Anthony Polite is a very willing defender but sometimes plays wildly causing him to make mistakes. Devin Vassel is a lanky sharpshooter that provides solid minutes. Raiquan Gray is very athletic for how big he is. He is able to carve out space inside to help the Seminoles gather rebounds.
As mentioned above the Duke Blue Devils are ranked no. 1 and have an impressive 14-1 record. This Duke team is the most talented team in the country with the top two NBA draft prospects in Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett leading the way. Small forward Cam Reddish will go in the top 10 as well and point guard Tre Jones will go in the first round.
Coach K’s team plays a lot like Florida State by using their length and athleticism to play good defense and score in transition. Like the Seminoles the Blue Devils biggest concern has been the amount of turnovers. The Duke forwards have had issues getting in foul trouble just like Kabengele and Koumadje for FSU.
This will be the talented Duke team’s toughest road test so far against a team that plays very similar to them. Due to Duke’s plethora of scoring options I think the Blue Devils will pull away late stealing a victory from the Seminoles. If Cofer, Walker and Savoy can knock down a few 3’s and the FSU big guys can stay out of foul trouble the Seminoles can pull off the upset.
Florida State women’s basketball is 14-1 and 2-0 in ACC play. The lady ‘Noles are currently ranked 22 in the AP poll. FSU hosts the Clemson Tigers Sunday at 2.
Florida A&M men’s basketball is 4-13 but 1-1 in the MEAC.
Florida A&M women’s basketball is 2-12 and 0-2 in the MEAC.
FAMU men’s and women’s basketball host Savannah State in the Lawson Center on Saturday.
More college basketball coverage coming soon