Dwayne Bacon is Florida State’s Difference Maker

Posted by Charlie Maikis on December 6th, 2016

Over the last five years Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton has coaxed a number of highly-rated recruits to Tallahassee, but the Seminoles have struggled to translate those recruiting victories to on-court ones. Sitting at 7-1 so far this season with solid but not spectacular wins over Illinois and Minnesota, Hamilton’s group appears ready to return to prominence. Florida State has long been known for its elite defense, but the difference this season has come on offense where the Seminoles currently rank among the nation’s top 25 units. Per Synergy Sports, they rank 20th nationally in two-point field goal percentage and are producing nearly 0.2 more points per possession on shots around the rim this season. This short-range improvement has come in large part thanks to the offensive improvement of Florida State’s best wing, Dwayne Bacon.

Has Bacon's improved shooting spurred an offensive revolution at FSU? (Geoff Burke- USA Today Sports)

Has Bacon’s improved shooting spurred an offensive revolution at FSU? (Geoff Burke- USA Today Sports)

Bacon’s decision to return to Florida State for his sophomore season was a recruiting victory in itself. His size and athleticism make him a top prospect regardless of class, but he has also significantly improved his three-point jump shot — from 28.1 to 43.2 percent — to become one of the better marksmen in college basketball. The sophomore wing’s astonishing rise in shooting from distance has correspondingly opened things up for his Seminoles’ teammates inside. For example, 83 percent of Bacon’s assists in the half-court have been to big men for dunks or layups as a result of defenders respecting his shooting ability. Those are the easy looks that allow a team like Florida State, which generally doesn’t shoot very well, to run an efficient half-court offense. Even Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the team’s assist leader the last two years, has gotten in on the act by dishing eight percent more of his assists on two-pointers than last year.

For evidence of Florida State’s greater offensive efficiency, look no further than four Seminoles averaging more than 10 minutes per game who are shooting over 60 percent on twos (up from just two players last season). The newfound spacing that Bacon’s shooting provides has allowed the trio of Jonathan Isaac, Chris Koumadje and Michael Ojo  the Seminoles’ three tallest players — sufficient space to shoot a combined 67 percent on twos this year. Opponents’ double teams didn’t need to worry about Bacon’s threat of a three-point shot last year, but their towering statures allows them to make easy work of single defenders.

Hamilton has consistently recruited a lot of size to his teams, but this year it’s the perimeter threat of his best player who is allowing that size to flourish inside. While the Seminoles’ biggest tests are yet to come, he hopes to have found a winning strategy this young season. When you have multiple seven-footers to throw at teams defensively, finding the key to unlocking their offensive potential can make a huge difference.

Charlie Maikis (15 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *