The Daily Nole

Preview: FSU Tips Off Season with George Washington athletics

After snapping a 4-year hiatus from the NCAA Tournament and falling one shy of tying a school-record for victories, Florida State brings a younger team to the hardwood to open the new season on Tuesday night. The opponent for FSU at the Donald L. Tucker Center will be George Washington.

The Seminoles and Colonials met last season in Washington D.C. with FSU cruising to a 67-48 victory. In the contest, FSU held George Washington to less than 23 percent shooting. George Washington opened this season with a 84-75 win over Howard.

The Match-Up

Who: George Washington Colonials (1-0) at Florida State Seminoles (0-0)
When: Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. EST (Raycom Sports Network)
Where: Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida

Key Players

For George Washington: The Colonials will lose leading scorer Tyler Cavanaugh, but Yuta Watanbe is coming off an outstanding season and finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks in the season-opener against Howard. Versatile senior forward Patrick Steeves added 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. South Florida transfer Bo Ziegler was 8-for-9 from the field with 16 points and two blocks in his first game with the Colonials.

For Florida State: Florida State will be replacing its three leading scorers, but slashers Terance Mann and Trent Forrest are two players who can do a number of things well. After averaging 8.4 points per game on nearly 58 percent shooting, the junior Mann is FSU’s leading returning scorer. Forrest, a sophomore, led the Seminoles in steals last season with 1.2 per game and is expected to be a bigger part of the FSU offense. Freshman M.J. Walker has the ability to be FSU’s leading scorer this upcoming season.

What to Watch For

Tempo: Over the last few years, Florida State has made a concerted effort to get out and run and for the most part, that effort has paid off. With Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac all gone however, FSU may play a bit more of a half-court style of basketball. That’s the style that suits George Washington. The Colonials scored more points in the first game however, than they did in all but one game a season ago.

The Battle on the Glass: If there was one area where George Washington got the better of FSU last season, it was rebounding. The Colonials outrebounded the Seminoles, 52-42, and have decent size in the starting lineup. Size is still FSU’s advantage as 7-foot-4 Chris Koumadje and 7-1 Ike Obiagu man the front line. As a team, the Seminoles are the third tallest in the country.

C.J. Walker: Sophomore C.J. Walker has the unenviable task of trying to replace a 3-year starter at point guard in Xavier Rathan-Mayes, but looks to be up to the challenge. Walker, at 6-1, is a natural point guard and can play in virtually any offense. Walker scored in double-figures just three times last season, but once was against George Washington. In that contest, Walker tied for a team-high with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting to go along with three steals.

The Debut of M.J. Walker: FSU is bringing in a top 20 national recruiting class, but the prize of that class is without a doubt, guard M.J. Walker. The 4-star prospect chose FSU in May and has a very good chance to give the Seminoles a 1-and-done for a third straight season. Walker is naturally skilled offensively and will look to join the likes of Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon as players to score at least 20 points in their FSU freshman debuts.

Number to Pay Attention To

14-1: That’s Florida State’s record in openers under head coach Leonard Hamilton. The lone blemish came at home against South Alabama for the 2012-13 opener.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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