By Ken Cross
In Florida State’s near miss at Duke on Saturday afternoon, senior forward Phil Cofer showed what experience plus talent and skills can do in going up against a less experienced team, even if it boasts the top recruiting haul from a year ago and even on the road in a hallowed venue like Cameron Indoor Stadium. As the 100-93 loss to the Blue Devils unfolded, Cofer made a major impact as he scored 22 of his 28 points in the first half and was the catalyst for Florida State’s 49-45 halftime lead.
Cofer came into the contest on a roll as he had averaged 16.7 points per game over his last three games and had a then-career high of 22 in a 71-70 loss to Oklahoma State which he eclipsed with the 28-point effort on Saturday.
“Phil started for us as a freshman and did a great job for us as a freshman,” said Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton, “He has tremendous character. He has competitive spirit and never complains and he comes back with a great attitude and not only does he give it to you physically.”
Cofer, whose father played in the NFL for the Detroit Lions for 11 years and his mother was a basketball stand out at Tennessee, joins Braian Angola as the only two seniors in FSU’s 10-man rotation. He has taken a huge leadership role along with his statistical spike which shows him as the second leading scorer at 14.5 ppg. and second in rebounding a 5.5 per night.
“Cofer gives it to you emotionally and verbally and demands excellence of his teammates,” said Hamilton of Cofer’s maturity, “He leads by example on and off the court and hopefully we might have him for another year.”
Cofer was 9-of-10 from the floor in the first half with four triples in Saturday’s first half. He fashioned his own 10-point run in a two-minute span as he scored off two rebounds and then hit a triple to pull FSU even at 37-37 with 4:43 left in the first half.
He didn’t get the looks at the basket in the second half that he did in the first. In fact, he only took six shots and made two of those from three-point range with the last one stopping a 14-0 Duke run. Hamilton noted that he didn’t force anything as he stayed in context with the Seminoles offense which gave opportunities to others
“Other guys got momentum and they produced and he stayed in the flow of our offense as the ball didn’t come to him,” explained Hamilton, “He was aggressive setting picks and setting screens I don’t think Duke did anything to him that they had not been doing. It shows a lot about Cofer – he didn’t force any shots. He’s playing within the system.”
Angola picked up in the second half where Cofer left off. He scored 16 of his 23 points in that second 20 minutes as he finished with five triples. He scored eight of those points in a row in the later portals of the game. His last three gave FSU a 91-89 lead with 4:01 remaining.
“I thought our kids shows a lot of class, a lot character,” said Hamilton, “They are connected and they are very disappointed that they lost the game and I think that is the most positive sign that they could show.”
— Dennis Gates (@coachdgates) December 31, 2017