ACC Summer Recess: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by KCarpenter on August 2nd, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Florida State.

Where They Stand Now

Leonard Hamilton Is Riding High in the ACC

Florida State is riding high. Last season probably constitutes the second best season in Florida State history, trailing only the 1971-72 season where the Seminoles won 28 games and played in the national championship game. The 2011-12 season’s 25 wins, ACC Tournament victory and two wins over the perennial powers of Duke and North Carolina marks the most successful season of Florida State’s tenure in the conference. Leonard Hamilton has transformed the Seminoles into one of the conference’s premier powers and a surefire contender for the conference title on a regular basis. Outside a disappointing loss to Cincinnati  in their second game of the NCAA Tournament, it would have been hard for fans in Tallahassee to envision a better season.

Who’s Leaving

Unfortunately, the downside of a team filled with seasoned seniors is that they all graduate. Bernard James, Deividas Dulkys, Xavier Gibson, Luke Loucks, Jeff Peterson, and Jon Kreft are all graduating, taking the bulk of rotation minutes with them. Having a lot of players leave because they are graduating seniors is a good problem for a team to have. Not so good? Transfers. Freshman Antwan Space is transferring to Texas A&M after seeing little to no playing time in the past season, further shrinking the Seminole frontcout.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 16th, 2012

  1. Wilmington Star-News: For today’s games, North Carolina‘s John Henson is still a game time decision while Duke‘s Ryan Kelly will only be available for “specialty situations,” which I’m guessing means select end game scenarios that call for three-point shooters or foul trouble to both Plumlees. With both players out, the ACC’s two leaders lost in the conference tournament. Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams seem to feel confident enough to deal with these games with the players available, but both acknowledge that holding out the forwards is a risk.
  2. Raleigh News and Observer: When North Carolina State finally heard its name called on Selection Sunday, it triggered an automatic extension in Coach Mark Gottfried‘s contract. In his first year at NC State, Gottfried turned around a struggling problem and led them to a tournament berth for the first time in a long time using basically the same players that were available last year. If Florida State, Virginia, and Duke hadn’t all had such extraordinary seasons, Gottfried probably would have been a mortal lock for ACC Coach of the Year. As it stands, however, he stands poised for a long-term stint in Raleigh, leading the Wolfpack back to glory. This article is also interesting for its financial specifics: Gottfried has round-based incentives that total up to nearly a million dollars if his team win a national championship.
  3. The News-Press: This Florida State team has as much NCAA experience as many of the teams in the tournament after a Sweet Sixteen run last year that was cut short by a Cinderella named VCU. The Seminoles are stacked with veterans who feel good about how their past tournament success has prepared them to handle the distractions and novelties of the tournament. The most interesting comment, for me, however, comes from Deividas Dulkys who expresses ambivalence as the team assumes a new identity in the tournament: the favorite. Dulkys doesn’t quite say it, but there is a clear implication that the senior perhaps was less nervous about playing the underdog with nothing to lose and no target on the team’s back.
  4. Naples News: The game between Florida and Virginia is a study in different team focuses. While the Gators are an offensive juggernaut, the Cavaliers are a defensive stalwart and when these two teams play today, something has got to give. While, I feel that the author does a good job of eliciting thoughtful quotes from the players and coach on this match-up, I have to object to a bit of the analysis. In terms of schematics, it makes sense to say that Virginia’s pack-line defense is vulnerable to a three-point assault, but the truth is that the Cavaliers have been excellent at guarding the three over the course of the season. Opponents average just 29.5% from beyond the arc against the Wahoos, the 13th best mark in the nation out of 345 Division I schools. While it seems like Virginia should be vulnerable to perimeter shooting because of the pack-line defensive scheme, the truth is that numbers just don’t show this.
  5. Fox Sports Carolinas: Since the promotion of Reggie Bullock to the starting line-up, the North Carolina bench hasn’t offered many positive contributions to the Tar Heels’ campaign. James Michael McAdoo has been good, but not great, and while P.J. Hairston started the year with a bang, he faltered during conference play, entering a deep shooting slump. Then, suddenly, this past weekend, the Hairston of the non-conference schedule re-emerged, hitting big shots in the tournament and playing with a general confidence that has to be encouraging to his teammates. Hairston is a Greensboro native and it seems like he is eager to make a name for himself playing in the tournament in his home town. If the guard’s play matches his confidence and Hairston knocks down threes consistently for the Tar Heels, one of North Carolina’s primary weaknesses may have just disappeared.
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Seminoles Bring ACC Championship To Tallahassee

Posted by mpatton on March 12th, 2012

Even the normally stoic Leonard Hamilton broke out an unabashed grin after his Seminoles knocked off North Carolina for the second time this season for the ACC Championship. His team controlled the game from start to finish despite numerous attempts from North Carolina to claw its way back into the thick of things. It was the most exciting and best-played game of the tournament, featuring two teams trading tough baskets.

Leonard Hamilton Breaks Into A Smile After Winning His First ACC Title (Credit Ethan Hyman/News & Observer).

Florida State controlled the game from the get-go, leading by 16 towards the end of the first half. That’s when Roy Williams called a timeout and Harrison Barnes led the Tar Heels on a 9-2 tear (he had seven of those nine) to close the half only down nine points. The Seminoles shot 62% from the floor and 54% from three; North Carolina kept things close because Barnes had 15, and the team was +6 in turnover margin (scoring 11 points off turnovers to Florida State’s three).

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Bracket Prep: Michigan State, Florida State, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure, Long Beach State, & New Mexico State

Posted by EJacoby on March 11th, 2012

Selection Sunday is here! We’ve been providing you with summaries of every automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and this post concludes all of the conference tourney winners. Big Ten, SEC, ACC, A-10, Big West, and WAC were the last ones to complete their championships. Here’s everything you need to know.

Michigan State

Draymond Green is the Force Behind the Spartans' Strong Attack (AP Photo/A. Goldis)

  • Big Ten Champion (27-7, 16-5)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #4/#3/#3
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +17.3
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. After winning the Big Ten Tournament, expect Michigan State to steal the last #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There’s nothing that this team hasn’t done to deserve the top line. 27-7 against the #1 strength of schedule, co-champion of the best conference in the country, and Big Ten Champions. This is a classic Tom Izzo team that’s ferocious on the boards and executes efficiently on both offense and defense. The Spartans run through their Big Ten Player of the Year, but this is a deep team that relies on many contributors in different areas. A late season ACL injury to blossoming freshman forward Branden Dawson was horrible news and is potentially devastating. But Dawson was still not much of an offensive factor and the team won the Big Ten Tournament without him, showing an ability to adapt.
  2. Draymond Green is the Big Ten Player of the Year who does everything that you want in a senior star leader. 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game is what Green provides. The 45% field goal percentage doesn’t look great until you realize that Green does much of his work on the perimeter, including hitting the most three-pointers on the team. The rest of this team is loaded with strong athletes and defenders, from the interior duo of Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne to the perimeter players Keith Appling and Brandon Wood, and beyond to the reserves. Appling is crucial to this team as the playmaking point guard with explosive agility to make plays for his teammates and himself.
  3. Most things in March Madness are unpredictable, but one of the few guarantees is that Tom Izzo’s teams will play their best basketball in the NCAA Tournament. This Izzo team is loaded and ready to dance with as difficult a combination to beat as nearly anyone in the country. A +17.3 adjusted scoring margin is the fourth best in the nation, led my MSU’s elite defense. The Spartans allow just 37.7% defensive field goal shooting, the second best in the land. Their 89.9 defensive efficiency also ranks in the top 10. Throw in their own 47.7% field goal shooting, and this team’s shooting percentage disparity is fantastic, which is always a top formula for success. Their 55.2% rebound percentage is top 10 in the nation, as well. The numbers look great for Michigan State. But this team just lost its best athlete to the ACL injury and it doesn’t have the amount of elite scorers that a usual #1 seed does. Instead, this team is so efficient defensively that it will be difficult to knock off. Teams that gave Michigan State trouble were those that caught fire from the outside while holding their own defensively, like Indiana. Expect an awesome clash of styles between MSU and its opponent in a Sweet Sixteen matchup, if it can avoid an upset from the 8-9 seed, or 10-7 seed if it receives a #2 seed.

Florida State

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ACC Season Wrap-Up and Tournament Preview

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2012

First, here’s a quick preview of the ACC Tournament. You can find the rest of the power rankings after the jump.
The two Thursday games you should keep a close eye on are Clemson – Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest – Maryland. I trust Miami and NC State will have no trouble putting away their opponents, though Georgia Tech has played a couple of very good games this year.
While North Carolina is the prohibitive favorite, I think Florida State probably has the second best chance. Hear me out: Duke is playing without Ryan Kelly, which means the Plumlees and Hairston are it inside; factor in a history of ignoring the conference tournament for North Carolina combined with Kendall Marshall feeling “tired,” and I think you’ve got a recipe for a team not from North Carolina to win the ACC Tournament for the first time since Maryland in 2004.
I also expect strong runs from bubble teamers NC State and Miami, as both try to secure their at-large hopes with another marquee win.
  1. North Carolina (27-4, 14-2) – It’s funny how the difference between a successful season can come down to one game. Had North Carolina lost to Duke at Cameron, people would’ve pointed to the Tar Heels’ lofty preseason expectations and how they came up short. Instead, Roy Williams’ squad finally showed the world just why it was ranked so high early in the season. Kendall Marshall hit shots, the defense clicked and the game felt over by the first media timeout. Now the Tar Heels have the inside track for a one-seed, owning the head-to-head victory with Michigan State that will definitely come in handy. There are still legitimate questions about North Carolina’s intensity, but if that intensity is in the ballpark of Saturday night opponents should be scared. Don’t pencil the Tar Heels into the Final Four before seeing the ACC Tournament. This team’s worst enemy until the final weekend will be itself. One person in particular to keep you eye on is Marshall. He was snubbed from first-team All-ACC (he missed by two votes), so I expect him to come out aggressively Friday. He’s also shows recent offensive improvement, coming up with two of his best performances of the year in rivalry games against NC State and Duke. When he’s taking and hitting open looks, the Tar Heels are impossible to guard.
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ACC Afternoon Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2012

Technical difficulties kept us from getting this up this morning. So here goes… an Afternoon Five.

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Deividas Dulkys got a pretty special family night surprise when his family from Lithuania surprised him the day before the game by showing up at his girlfriend’s apartment. Dulkys had quite the showing at the game including aunts from Chicago and his host family from Nevada, but no one told him that his parents and sisters were going to make the trip across the globe to see him play at Florida State for the first time. Stepping back a little, the Seminoles are also looking at their best chance to win the ACC Championship in program history.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of special senior nights, Ty Walker‘s was supposed to be one of redemption. After three years of falling short of expectations and an indefinite suspension that kept him out for the first semester, his senior night was supposed to represent the new leaf he turned over this year. On the basketball court he was more active than ever, blocking shots with reckless abandon and fitting in surprisingly well for his first few games back. “I know people aren’t always going to be satisfied […] but at least I gave them something,” Walker noted. His mom even surprised him by flying across the country for his senior night last week. This article from Brett Friedlander gets at Walker’s side of the story.
  3. Culpepper Star-Exponent: On the heels of the New York Times look at one of college basketball’s vaguest advantages, Whitelaw Reid finds a specific case. Now without seeing more data, I’m a little skeptical. The variable is what brand of basketball teams use. The home teams choose the ball. Virginia uses Nike basketballs; Sammy Zeglinski likes Wilson. The evidence (besides Zeglinski saying it has a “spongy feel”) is that two of the senior’s best games came against Maryland, a team that uses Wilson balls. As Reid points out, the NCAA Tournament also uses Wilson balls, so we should get at least one more data point to evaluate Zeglinski’s claim.
  4. Raleigh New & Observer: It’s a speculation time of year: March Madness, the NFL Draft and that sports purgatory before the NBA Playoffs and baseball season’s starts. It’s also about time to start talking about who is leaving college for the NBA. As Caulton Tudor points out, 13 of 15 All-ACC selections were underclassmen. I don’t really agree with Tudor’s rankings. Maybe I’m naive, but I think Terrell Stoglin will stick it out at least one more year in College Park. He’s far from a sure bet, and needs to show a wider range of skills to attract first round eyes. The same would apply for Glen Rice, Jr., but his indefinite suspension will definitely be a factor. I think the sure-fire departures are Harrison Barnes, John Henson and CJ Leslie. Who knows with Austin Rivers? If he gets a lottery promise, I expect him to leave (which seems likely considering the dearth of good guards this year). Still, this is something that will become very important in a few weeks.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Congratulations Brian Gregory, Mark Turgeon, Jim Larranaga and Mark Gottfried. You finished your rookie year in the ACC. For many coaches, the second year is the toughest, but Turgeon and Gregory were trying to build up programs left in disarray after Gary Williams and Paul Hewitt’s respective departures. Larranaga has plenty of talent, but he only should lose DeQuan Jones and Malcolm Grant from an already talented team; Gottfried’s team will return plenty of firepower and boasts the top recruiting class in the conference. Factor in an extra year of experience against the league titans, and we should expect more success from the conference as a whole next year.
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Florida State’s Offense: Underrated or Unsustainable?

Posted by KCarpenter on February 1st, 2012

There is no doubt that the way the Seminoles are playing right now, they are underrated. The defense is good, but let’s be totally clear, the reason that Florida State is on a crazy five-game winning streak that includes a dominating win over North Carolina and a win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium isn’t because of their defense (well, I mean, partly obviously, but roll with the rhetoric). Florida State is winning because of what appears, at this moment, to be one of the more unstoppable offenses in the ACC. I know that probably sounds wrong, but it’s true. Right now, Florida State has the fourth-best defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In conference play, the best defensive efficiency numbers belong to Virginia and North Carolina, which isn’t too surprising. More surprising? Third place is North Carolina State. In conference play, the Wolfpack have been better defensively than the Seminoles. Leonard Hamilton‘s team is still playing pretty well defensively, but despite their reputation, Florida State’s win streak is due to torrid, red hot offense.

Don't Sleep On Florida State's Defense Or They Will Put You To Bed (AP Photo / S. Cannon)

Duke owns the best offense in conference play, but Florida State actually has had better offensive execution than every other team in the conference. In fact, Florida State has played better offense than North Carolina in conference play. That might seem crazy to you, and you might be thinking that I have gone off the deep end, diving into a pool of stat-wonk Kool-Aid, but if you don’t trust efficiency stats, just check out shooting percentages. Since the beginning of conference play, Florida State has shot 41.2% from beyond the arc, easily the best mark in the ACC. Here is a quick list of field goal percentages from the Seminoles’ last four games.

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ACC Game On: 01.17.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on January 17th, 2012

Now, in the cool light of Tuesday we open up with a conference where Boston College and North Carolina have the same ACC record and we can answer the big question of the weekend with a firm nod: Yes, this is real life. The question that remains is simple: Which teams are for real? Florida State made a ridiculously impressive statement against North Carolina on Saturday, but the Seminoles had been maddeningly inconsistent up to this point. Meanwhile, Maryland has looked like a brand new team after Pe’Shon Howard and Alex Len joined with the team, though ironically, it’s been the play of neither that has been the most impressive.

Terrell Stoglin Takes 36.8% of Maryland's Shots. That's A Lot.

The Gut Check

  • Maryland at Florida State at 9:00 PM on ESPNU

Florida State may have pounded North Carolina, but they looked abysmal against a really rough-looking Clemson team. Florida State should be able to hammer Maryland without much difficulty at home, but the Terps have been full of surprises and this match-up has a number of pivot points that could make things really interesting. While the Seminoles have a sterling defense, they are (and have been for the past few years) curiously weak on the defensive glass. This is a problem because Maryland’s James Padgett‘s reign of terror on the offensive glass shows no sign of slowing. Padgett easily remains the best offensive rebounder in the country and his efficiency in the post, particularly on second-chance points, can be a deadly weapon. For Leonard Hamilton‘s squad, the strategy will be the same-as-it-ever-was: Pressure the perimeter to force turnovers and try to bait the team’s worst offensive players into taking too many shots. Sadly for the Terrapins, the shot-happy-but-accuracy-challenged tandem of Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard seems pretty susceptible to falling right into this trap. More good news for the Seminoles? Maryland doesn’t force many turnovers, which has been Florida State’s weakness all year long. Will it come down to  a shootout between Terrell Stoglin and a newly confident Deividas Dulkys? Stoglin shoots more than anyone in the ACC, but if anyone is prepared to match fire with fire, the Dulkys that we saw on Saturday was far from gun shy.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.17.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 17th, 2012

Well, you may have heard that Roy Williams‘ early departure got more time in the news when North Carolina released his account of the incident. Condensing the story, Williams didn’t realize his walk-ons were still on the court after the rest of his team left the floor and apologized to them today. This immediately resulted in backlash from both local and national media for being late and a little weird (it’s not like it made him look better). My thoughts are this (admittedly having no more actual information than anyone else): Williams was livid with his team’s performance and legitimately concerned for its safety, so he went to the locker room and did not even see who was following him. Now, if I was handling the situation, I would’ve put my walk-ons right by the bench, had everyone sit down as soon as the game was over and watch the court rushing from the relative safety of a folding chair. Princeton did this last year in its road loss to Harvard (admittedly, the Harvard crowd was significantly smaller than Florida State). Not only would this prove a point, but I also think players sitting on the bench would be perfectly safe and could leave in peace once the students were on the court. Anyways, that’s my two cents. Here are Tar Heel Fan Blog‘s (with Williams’ comments from his radio show).

  1. Chris Coleman offers a brutally honest diagnosis of Virginia Tech basketball. It’s also an indictment of Seth Greenberg (one really interesting stat is that Greenberg had more NBA players in six years at Long Beach State than in over eight years at Virginia Tech). As much as I want to remind Hokie fans that Greenberg brought them to new heights, it’s not unreasonable to think he might be on the hot seat. Not on fire, but the points Coleman makes about the team’s personality and falling ticket sales are real issues.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Duke’s Austin Rivers has really struggled the last few games. Ironically, the national media seems to be ambivalent at this point. Rivers has the right attitude about his slump though, pointing to the team’s undefeated conference record and working more in practice instead of grumbling about getting less playing time. The freshman is still averaging over 14 points a game and is by far the best shot-creator Duke has.
  3. Washington Post: Mike Wise takes a look at Sean Mosley, who is really the main link between Maryland’s past and present. Mosley started with the likes of Greivis Vasquez, and now he provides necessary leadership for a very young Terrapin team this year. Mosley does the crafty things, mainly shot fakes and steals, as well as the fundamental things, like hitting free throws. He’ll almost never wow you from the stat line, but it’s hard to watch Maryland and think there’s a more important intangibles guy.
  4. Soaring To Glory: Is it time to re-evaluate the ceiling for Boston College? I certainly think so (now that the Eagles have reached the prediction I set in the preseason). Now, do I think that BC will win five conference games? I’m not so sure. I think three or four conference games sounds about right (winning against Wake Forest and Miami at home if I had to guess). Still, the fact that we’re even having this discussion is a sign of how much the Eagles have improved over the last month.
  5. Lynchburg News & Advance: If you want to get in the Morning Five, just use the phrase “he’s pretty popular with the ladies on a campus notorious for its attractive women.” That’s what Nathan Warters did, describing Deividas Dulkys. It’s actually a very good article on the Lithuanian assassin, who came to the Seminoles via Findlay Prep. Wait, this article was written in 2010? Whatever, it’s still worth a read following the career performance from Dulkys.
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How Florida State Won And What It Means

Posted by KCarpenter on January 16th, 2012

Let’s be clear about something right from the start: Yes, Deividas Dulkys probably had the best game of his life, but even if he had performed at 40% of the level he managed Saturday, Florida State would have still won this game against North Carolina. The eight made three-pointers? Yes, that’s fluky and it contributed to the massive margin, but the Seminoles would have won the game even with an average shooting night by Dulkys. For the sake of a conversation that goes beyond me marveling at the transcendent performance by the Lithuanian guard, let’s put aside his monster game and imagine that Florida State just won by say 14 points. That’s still an impressive win and it’s worth pointing out that this is the kind of win we have been expecting from Florida State all season even if not by this margin and not against this opponent.

Deividas Dulkys Was Otherworldly In FSU'S Victory (AP Photo / S. Cannon)

The Seminoles’ hallmark is defense, and the defense has mostly been there all season. The signature of the defense is fairly simple, a locked-down perimeter, a tough interior, and scads and scads of forced turnovers. North Carolina shot 4-of-21 from the three-point line, a figure that’s significant because it demonstrates two things about the Florida State offense:  how good they are at defending the three and how skilled they are at baiting opponents into trying to take it. Remember, North Carolina, coming into Saturday, shot a lower proportion of threes than all but a handful of teams in Division I. Baiting Kendall Marshall into trying at least five perimeter shots should be on any teams to-do list when it comes to beating the Tar Heels. In general, the defense played Marshall very cleverly, defending physical and close when he had the ball, forcing seven turnovers while giving Marshall a lot more space off-ball, leading to relatively inefficient catch-and-shoot opportunities. It was a perfectly scouted and well-executed defensive plan that’s honestly not too different from the sterling defensive performances the team has been putting on all season.

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