Florida State and Fordham travel to Montego Bay to face off in a 2017 Jamaica Classic matchup on Friday night. The Seminoles got their season off to an impressive start with an 87-67 win over George Washington on Tuesday, while Fordham rebounded from an opening loss and evened its record at 1-1 with an 81-68 victory over LIU.
Florida State came into the season with some question marks after losing its top three scorers from a 26-win team that earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2012, but a convincing win over GW — FSU’s fifth straight season-opening victory — showed that the talent is still there but just needs experience. “I thought that we showed a lot of first-game jitters at the beginning of the game,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I saw a lot of things I liked. I thought our effort was good.” Junior guard Terance Mann lived up to preseason expectations and led the way for the Seminoles with team highs of 17 points and eight rebounds (six offensive) but he was hardly alone as five players hit double digits in scoring, including an impressive debut by highly regarded freshman guard M.J. Walker, who hit 3-of-4 3-pointers and 4-of-5 overall for 12 points. Fordham has its own hot-shooting freshman as guard Ivan Raut put his name in the school freshman record book as he hit his first seven 3-point attempts for a team-best 21 points in the win over LIU.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, CBS.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (1-0): Hamilton is counting on 7-4 center Chris Koumadje to be active around the rim and he did just that in the opening victory, scoring a career-high 14 points with seven rebounds and a team-best five blocks to help the Seminoles post advantages in rebounding (37-31), points in the paint (52-20) and fast-break points (14-2). “The sky’s the limit for him,” Hamilton said at the postgame press conference. “He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. I thought he was extremely aggressive tonight. He had five blocks. He must have chased several more. I thought he went after rebounds. ... I think he’s taken a lot of pride, and over the season he’s going to get better and better.” Senior forward Phil Cofer also provided needed leadership for the Seminoles and scored 15 points in 24 minutes, a huge improvement from last season when he averaged 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds after missing the end of the 2015-16 campaign with an ankle injury.
ABOUT FORDHAM (1-1): The Rams return 12 players from last year but most lack playing time so third-year head coach Jeff Neubauer is looking for big things from Preseason All-Atlantic 10 third-teamer Joseph Chartouny, who set a school record last year with 94 steals and already has nine in two games while averaging a team-high 14.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. Guard Will Tavares, the school’s only scholarship senior with Division I experience, is leading the team with 7.0 rebounds per game and is tied with Raut for scoring at 14.0 points per game. Junior forward Prokop Slanina recorded personal highs in the win over LIU with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double.
1. This is the first meeting between the Rams and the Seminoles.
2. Koumadje, at 7-4, is the tallest player in Florida State history.
3. Florida State is 1-0 for the 15th time in 16 seasons under Hamilton.
PREDICTION: Florida State 89, Fordham 64