FSU Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament 2nd Round Preview


After winning its first-round game against the Alabama State Hornets by a score of 91-49, the #2 seed FSU women’s basketball team has moved on to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, where they will take on the #7 seed, Florida Gulf Coast University. Here is what you need to know about FGCU and how they matchup with the Seminoles ahead of tomorrow’s matchup at the Donald L. Tucker Center at 6 pm.

Season Recap

As the #7 seed in the South Region, FGCU has had a very successful season with a record of 31-2 and a perfect 14-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They are on a current 26-game winning streak and have not lost since a double overtime loss to Ohio State way back on November 29th of 2014. Similar to Florida State, the Eagles have many players who received conference honors. Junior guard Whitney Knight was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year as well as a member of the Atlantic Sun First Team All-Conference Team. Junior guard Kaneisha Atwater was also named a member of the Atlantic Sun First Team All-Conference Team. Karl Smesko, the head coach of FGCU, was named the Atlantic Sun Head Coach of the Year, Additionally, Freshman guard Taylor Gradinjan was named a member of the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team.

Key Players

  • Knight leads the Eagles in scoring with 14.9 points per game. She also leads the team in rebounds, averaging 6.3 per game, blocks, averaging 2.5 per game, and steals, averaging 2.0 per game. On a team that shoots a lot of 3 pointers, she might be the best perimeter shooter. She has taken 200 3 pointers this season and has made 86 of them, good for 43% on the season.
  • Atwater is 2nd in scoring for FGCU, putting up 14 points per game for the season. On the season, Atwater is shooting 44.1% from the floor, more of a factor in the paint than Knight. She also averages 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals per game, and has drawn many fouls, taking 170 free throws on the year and hitting just shy of 70% of them.

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How Do The ‘Noles Matchup?

To say that these two teams have different styles of play is an understatement. As an example of the differences, all you need to do is look at yesterday’s 1st round matchups for both teams. In FGCU’s win over Oklahoma State, the Eagles attempted 32 3-point shots, over 50% of their total shots, and they hit 11 of them. In FSU’s win over Alabama State, the Seminoles attempted 9 3-point shots, just 15.2% of their total shots, and hit 4 of those attempts. On the season, FGCU has taken over 900 3-point attempts, while FSU has taken 578.

The advantage that might be in FSU’s corner is the size factor. FGCU plays normally with a 5-guard system, sacrificing size in the interior for perimeter shooters. Whitney Knight is the only projected starter for the Eagles who is taller than 6′, measuring in at 6′ 3″.  On the other hand, FSU has 2 starters, as well as multiple bench players, who measure in at taller than 6′. This height has shown for both teams this season as FGCU has been outrebounded by their opponents this season by an average of 0.1 boards while FSU outrebounds their opponents by an average of 12.4 boards.

FSU head coach Sue Semrau said today in her press conference that although the teams seem different, they are more similar than meets the eye:

"The similarity [between these two teams] is the level of toughness that both teams play with on both ends of the floor."

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Unlike Alabama State in yesterday’s game, Florida Gulf Coast does have a chance to challenge and even beat the Seminoles tomorrow. That being said, it will take a special effort from the Eagles. They will need to be unreal from 3-point range, probably hitting 20 or more 3 pointers and shooting over 50% from outside. They will have a hard time challenging the ‘Noles for rebounds and will probably not get many offensive rebounds or 2nd chance points, so they need to take advantage on the 1st chance. In the end, I think Florida State will wear down FGCU with their fastbreaks, running the court, and getting looks in the paint and will win by a score of 82-65.