Florida State Lacks Same Toughness That Won the Seminoles an ACC TitlePosted by Jimmy Kelley on January 28th, 2013
Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham
Pat Riley once spoke about the “disease of more.” When a team wins a championship, everyone wants something more. More attention, more minutes, more responsibility. When Florida State won the ACC Tournament last season, they did so with a hungry core of experienced players who were committed to playing defense and being tougher that anyone else in the league. With Michael Snaer back to lead a group of 10 returning players, the Seminoles were expected to contend for another ACC crown this season. But without the same unselfish hunger that was personified by their battle-tested center, Bernard James, the Seminoles have been a team instead represented by the effort that saw them run out of the gym in Miami on Sunday night.
Sunday was just the latest letdown in a season that has had far more valleys than peaks. An opening night loss to South Alabama at home should have been a red flag, but was written off as an aberration. Then three straight losses to Minnesota, Mercer and Florida revealed that this team was headed for a much different fate than its predecessor. Without James, the ‘Noles lack the same defensive prowess that helped them overachieve last season. Led by their senior big man, Florida State had the #5 field goal defense (38.1 percent) in the nation, were #7 in blocks (213), #41 in total rebounds (1,273), #44 in defensive rebounds (869), and #66 in scoring defense (62.9 PPG) last season. Without James anchoring them on the defensive end this year, those rankings have risen to #121 in field goal defense (41.2 percent), #36 in blocks, #283 in total rebounds, #271 in defensive rebounds, and #93 in scoring defense (66.8 PPG).
Another area where Florida State has changed since last season is with the loss of its key role players. Luke Loucks and Devidas Dulkys were two of the most underrated players in the ACC last year for their play on both ends of the floor. They ranked in the top five on the team in steals, three-point shooting and assists with Loucks filling the role as the team’s primary ball-handler. Without guards capable of doing so many different things to complement Snaer’s skills, Leonard Hamilton‘s system has not had the same effect on this group. With all of this in mind it is hard to remember where all of the optimism came from. James, Loucks, and Dulkys played more minutes than anyone on the team except Snaer and were such a big part of what made Florida State — and Snaer by association — so effective last year. What is a certainty, however, is that Florida State has solidified itself as the biggest disappointment in the ACC this season.
Even if we should have seen it coming.