The Florida Tech men’s basketball team put on a basketball clinic Monday night, beating Golden Star Martinique 83-18 in the final exhibition game of the season. Sam Daniel scored 26 points in 27 minutes to pace the Panthers.
“The best thing about this game was that we got to play everybody,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims. “Everybody got a chance to get on the floor and show us what they can do in a game situation.”
The Panthers got things going early and didn’t let up. Daniel had a big dunk 1:09 into the game and followed with an alley-oop dunk on a pass from Valur Valsson, that made it 8-0. Florida Tech would go on a 30-0 run before Martinique scored their first two points with 10:05 to go in the half.
Florida Tech led at the break, 42-12. They shot 50 percent from the field (16-of-32) and outrebounded the visitors 21-12. Martinique shot just 5-of-21 from the field in the first 20 minutes.
Daniel was taken out of the game with 4:14 left in the half and still led his team with 18 points. Michael Milligan finished with 10 points in the first half and 13 for the game. Mate Papai had seven, on 3-of-3 shooting in the first 20.
“For a post player he passes the ball really well,” Mims said of Papai. “He had four assists, four steals and made three out of four shots. He’s a very smart player out there, very cerebral. When he’s on the floor he’s always thinking about how to make a good play.”
The second half was more of the same, with the Panthers going on a 10-2 run to start the half. They held Martinique to six total points in the second half, while they put up 41.
Mims handed out a ton of individual praise after the game, including Valsson, who had 11 assists and five steals.
“He’s really good at seeing the floor,” he said. “He’s a very crafty playmaker and sees things when nobody else does and he’s really good at getting passes to people that can’t be done.”
R. J. Coil was impressive as well on Monday, going for a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. “I just think R. J. played smart tonight,” said Mims. “I don’t think there’s another player that’s improved as much from last year to this year as he has. He just doesn’t realize how good he is. He has the potential, the ability and the skill set to be the best post-player in our league.”
The Panthers finished 30-of-67 from the field, shooting 44.8 percent. They struggled from behind the arc, going 7-for-31 (22.6 percent) and went 16-of-27 from the charity stripe, 59.3 percent).
Despite leading his team in points, Daniel was not himself, especially from three-point range, going 1-for-7.
“He didn’t shoot the ball like Sam Daniel, but he just finds ways to score,” said Mims. “He had a very explosive dunk, certainly a highlight clip but he shot the three poorly, shot free-throws poorly and he didn’t rebound well. Saying that he still had 26 points and five steals. so I thought it was one of his better defensive nights.”
Florida Tech was not at full strength in this game, missing Jordan Majors, who turned his ankle in the Alumni game last week. Mims said they are hopeful to get him on the floor for practice on Wednesday and Thursday, to see if he will be able to go in Friday’s season opener.
Derek Murphy was another player that was not on the floor Monday, along with Antonis Pefanis is nursing an injury as well. Patrick Anderson will not be available to the team until at least December, according to Mims. That is a big chunk of your lineup to be without as the season gets underway, but there were players that showed they can fill those spots admirably.
The Panthers regular season starts Friday, as they face Morehouse College in the NCAA South Regional Tipoff on the Campus of Rollins College. The game is scheduled to get underway at 1:00 p.m.