On Monday, the Florida State Seminoles announced that senior forward Phil Cofer will not be making the trip to the Sweet 16 game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Immediately after Thursday’s first-round win over the Vermont Catamounts, Cofer and the Seminoles learned of his father’s passing. The joyous locker room turned somber in a moment’s notice.
However, Cofer stayed with the team throughout the first weekend and was a source of inspiration during the second round victory over the Murray State Racers. Now, he will have to take care of family business as the Seminoles’ basketball family attempts to eliminate the Bulldogs two seasons in a row.
Coach Leonard Hamilton released a statement-
“We will not have Cofer available for this Thursday… I doubt very seriously we’ll have him on this trip at all. So in order for Phil to get back with us and be able to be a part of the team, I’m sure we’re going to have to get to the Final Four.”
Therefore, it seems like the Cofer’s career is over with the Seminoles unless they win two more games. If the Seminoles are fortunate enough to make the Final Four, Cofer might become a key contributor again.
So far, Cofer has only appeared in 22 games this season. The Seminoles are (29-7) in 36 games this season. Cofer played in all three ACC Tournament games for the Seminoles. He averaged over 29 minutes per game during the conference tournament. Yet, the Seminoles won both NCAA Tournament games without Cofer playing a minute.
They didn’t need him against the smaller mid-major lineups of the Catamounts and Racers. However, the Zags present a whole different set of problems for opponents. They are a big team capable of throwing an NBA-sized lineup at the Seminoles this week. Last year, they were missing Killian Tillie due to injury. Now, he is back in a bench role. As a result, Cofer might be the extra body the Seminoles need to advance to the Elite 8.
As a result, players like Raiquan Gray and Wyatt Wilkes might play more of an impact role against the Bulldogs. Gray is averaging over 22 minutes per game in the NCAA Tournament. Wilkes played 10 minutes during the blowout victory over the Racers. More importantly, Mfiondu Kabengele can’t get into early foul trouble. Otherwise, the Seminoles will have to rely on a smaller lineup.
Cofer will be there in spirit. He just hopes the Seminoles will play with the same intensity as the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.