The Florida Men’s Basketball team will take on the 17th-ranked Florida State Seminoles in a highly-anticipated season opener. The Gators haven’t defeated their in-state rivals since 2013-14, when Billy Donovan, Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Casey Prather led the team to a Final Four berth.
After leading the team to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Mike White has accomplished plenty in his first three years at the helm. However, the one thing he hasn’t been able to do is take down Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles.
What to Expect From the Seminoles
With the Gators entering hostile territory as a four point underdog, most expect the Seminoles to run away with this one.
The Seminoles are led by senior guard Terance Mann. Mann torched the Gators last season by putting up 25 points on 11-17 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. The Lowell, Massachusetts native is an elite playmaker, thrives at attacking the rim and is a big-time presence on the glass.
Mike White offered a ton of praise for the 6’7″ Mann.
“Terance Mann is terrific. He just seems like a coach out there on the floor. He seems like he’s got great leadership skills. I don’t know him as a young man, but just super impressive, good at everything. Good driver, good shooter, great feel, rebounder, defender, the whole thing.”
Mike White is fortunate to not have to prepare for Phil Cofer, who led Florida State in scoring last year with 12.8 points per game. Cofer suffered a foot injury in October and there is no timetable for his return.
They will also need to prepare for 7’4″ Christ Koumadje. The Gators are big across the board, but they don’t have anyone who can match the size and strength of Koumadje.
Last year, the Seminoles dominated the rebounding battle 51-34. They grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, which was undoubtedly the difference in the game.
Mike White discussed why the Seminoles are such a consistently good program.
“Really good program, and the Seminoles are coming off a terrific year, Elite Eight year. They’re always very disciplined, very tough, a team that runs good stuff, a team that always defends.”
In order for the Gators to win, they must play their own brand of basketball. This means playing at a fast pace, pushing the ball in transition, penetrating the interior, taking a lot of threes and just controlling the style of play. The Gators thrive when they break down the defense, get into the paint and kick the ball out to open three-point shooters. Expect Andrew Nembhard, Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen to control the pace and get the offense flowing.
The Gators suffer when they fall into the style of their opponent. Florida State will likely try to keep the ball in half-court sets and attempt to own the interior like they did last year.
When and Where?
The game will be played in Tallahassee at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. It is also being broadcasted on Gator IMG Sports Network.