Florida State Lacks Same Toughness That Won the Seminoles an ACC Title

Posted 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.

Devidas Dulkys, Florida State

Devidas Dulkys (4) and Bernard James (on ground) were major parts of last year’s ACC championship team. (Photo via Orlando Sentinal)

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).

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After the Madness: Highlights From The First ACC Practices

Posted by KCarpenter on October 17th, 2011

The University of Maryland invented Midnight Madness in 1971 under legendary coach Lefty Driesell. That makes last Friday the 40th anniversary of the very first Madness. Terrapin fans turned out in droves for the event, but, sadly, the history of the event and the Maryland program seemed to overshadow the future. The highlight of the event was an alumni game that included many members of the 2002 National Championship squad as well as other famous basketball alumni, like Grievis Vasquez. Fans were happy to see Steve Blake, Chris Wilcox, and Steve Francis, but the largest ovation was for legendary coach and recent retiree Gary Williams. It’s nice that Maryland was able to celebrate and savor it’s proud basketball tradition, but the fact that new head coach Mark Turgeon and the current Maryland squad were overshadowed by the looming legends of the past doesn’t bode well for this season.

Lefty Driesell Invented Midnight Madness 40 Years Ago at Maryland

Meanwhile, at Duke, the focus was squarely on the new guys,  specifically, the highly-touted Austin Rivers. Rivers showed off his range and touch by sinking his first three three-pointers in the intra-squad scrimmage before he began struggling in the second half. Despite this slight letdown, Blue Devils fans have no cause for sadness: Rivers looks like he will be fine. Other highlights of the night? Seth Curry. He absolutely dominated the game, scoring 28 points in 24 minutes to go along with a pair of steals and four assists. Besides the scrimmage, there was also a dunk contest judged by J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, which was won by Miles Plumlee. That said I think Jim Sumner at Duke Basketball Report summed it up best:

The evening concluded with a dunk contest that demonstrated conclusively that seven-footers can dunk a basketball if no one is guarding them and they don’t actually have to dribble the basketball.

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From the Student Section: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2010

Contributing writer Kevin Chupka will periodically interview a rabid student fan about all things basketball on the court and in the stands… a view from the student section.

Cullen & Friends Ready to Push FSU Back to the NCAAs

Florida State is probably known more for its work on the gridiron than on the basketball court, but that doesn’t stop a group of basketball loving students from packing “The ‘Nole Zone” for every home game at the Donald L Tucker Center.  Matthew Cullen, a senior at FSU, is the president of this rabid fan section. “The Nole Zone is home to the rowdiest, most passionate Florida State basketball fans,” he says.  “The Nole Zone certainly does their collective homework,” Matthew adds, “we’re always quick to let an opponent know what we think about how their season is going.”

The Seminoles have rebounded nicely this season from their stint as the dreaded 12/5 upset victim in last year’s NCAA tournament (their first such appearance in a decade), bowing out to Wisconsin on a last minute shot in overtime.  This year Cullen admits that “losses at rival Florida and in the home ACC opener to NC State were disappointing,” but they have shown flashes of greatness in knocking off rival Georgia Tech in both meetings and handing Virginia Tech one of their three conference losses this year.  So what does the rest of the season hold? “Runs in both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments are certainly not out of the question for this year’s squad,” Matthew thinks.  But it might be easier said than done. Many analysts have just about the entire middle of the ACC on the bubble meaning FSU must jockey for position with the likes of Maryland, Clemson and Virginia; the last two of whom they are scheduled to play in the final weeks of the regular season. 

So who will FSU be counting on in the home stretch? “It’s really been a well-rounded team effort,” he says, “but it’s a trio of sophomores that stand out. 7’1 center Solomon Alabi leads the team in scoring, blocks and free throw percentage, where he’s better than 82 percent. Forward Chris Singleton has really developed his game. He’s second in scoring and blocks, and brings a defensive edge with his team-leading 48 steals. I’d also throw in Devidas Dulkys, the sophomore out of Lithuania. He’s an excellent three-point shooter, as well as a great defender who is second on the team in steals.”  And Matthew says the team as a whole has some work to do, namely on turnovers, “We turn the ball over too much… and often become hesitant and tentative in our play. Limiting turnovers and careful execution of the offense will be essential keys to returning to the Dance.” 

Still, hopefully improvements in the final weeks of action along with sustaining what Cullen calls “our suffocating style of play” on defense, the ‘Noles very well might be dancing and looking to turn around the upset tables come late March.

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