Georgia Tech and Florida Tech will meet for the first time on Nov. 3. The Jackets host the Panthers at McCamish Pavilion as Tech tunes up for its third season under head coach Josh Pastner. This is the first in a series of previews of the Yellow Jackets’ non-conference opponents.
Location: Melbourne, Fla.
Conference: Sunshine State Conference (SSC) – Division II
Home arena: Charles & Ruth Clemente Center (3,500)
2017-18 Record: 13-16, 8-12 in the SSC (8th)
Postseason: Lost to Barry in the first round of the SSC Tournament, 102-83
NCAA postseason appearances (last): Two, (2012)
All-time series record: 0-0
Head coach: Billy Mims (14th season)
Starters returning/lost: 3/3
Top scorer returning: Richard Coil, C, 6-10 (10.7)
Top rebounder returning: Richard Coil, C, 6-10 (8.9)
Quick preview for 2018-19
Looking to revive the Panthers in his 14th season as head coach, Billy Mims faces the challenge of replacing two crucial pieces in his offense. A majority of Florida Tech’s scoring came from beyond the arc last season, as the Panthers were averaging 10 three-pointers per game. To fill the void of Sam Daniel, who led the league in treys per game, Mims has high hopes that newcomer Mekhii Noble is a possible replacement.
With the loss of scoring trio Jordan Majors, Daniel and Patrick Anderson Florida Tech will also turn to rising senior Richard Coli to step up for the Panthers. Coli led the team in rebounding last season (8.9 rpg) and blocks (1.1).
Quick recap of 2017-18
The Panthers finished with a 13-16 overall record and eighth in the SSC standings. They began the season with four straight losses and flip-flopped between winning and losing streaks throughout conference play. In the SSC Championship Tournament, Florida Tech lost to Barry in the first round 102-83, ending the Panthers’ season. Against Barry, Jordan Majors put up 32 points to become the program’s all-time leading scorer, ending his career with 1,898 points.
Leading the Panthers’ offense was Majors and Sam Daniel, who were the core contributors for Florida Tech averaging 22.5 and 21.9 points per game, respectively. Majors also led the team at the charity stripe, shooting 78.6 percent with 121 makes.
Greatest Program Accomplishment
One of the greatest seasons in program history came in 2011, as the Panthers went 23-7 overall and 12-4 in the SSC. Florida Tech won its second-ever conference championship title and received just its second berth to the Division II NCAA Tournament. The 23 wins that season is the second most in program history behind the 26 victories that came in the 1989-90 season. The Panthers also won their first-ever game in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Saint Leo in the South Regional, 61-56, however Florida Tech’s saw its ride end, falling to No. 2 Alabama-Huntsville, 82-71.
Greatest player in program history
A native of Kingsland, Ga., Sam Daniel played for the Panthers from 2014-18. The forward ended his career with 1,647 career points, while also etching his name in the school record books as the program’s all-time leader in three-pointers made with 247. Daniel also knocked down 97 three pointers in 2017-18 to set a new single-season program record. In addition to his success at Florida Tech, Daniel was named to 2018 National Association of Basketball Coaches’ (NABC) DII South All-District Team, the 2017-18 All-Sunshine State Conference Second Team and grabbed Division-II Honorable Mention All-America honors. The Florida Tech standout signed a professional contract with the Minas Storm in Brazil and goes down as one of the best players in Panthers history.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Less than 10 minutes from the beach, Florida Tech is located conveniently on the East Coast in Melbourne, Fla. The campus has an array of opportunities for students such as its Florida Tech Jet Dragster Racing team. The partnership between Florida Tech and Larsen Motorsports offers hands-on internships and research opportunities in all areas of engineering and business, as well as aeronautics, communication, science, human factors, and more. The campus also includes its very own Botanical Garden, which is open to the public. A stream bordered by a shady hammock, abounding in palm trees and other tropical growth, winds through the heart of the campus and is the setting for a 15-acre garden.