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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A “Two Headed Monster” at Point Guard for Florida State

Posted by KDoyle on November 17th, 2012

Kevin Doyle is an RTC correspondent, you can find him on Twitter @KLDoyle11. He filed this report after Friday night’s game between Florida State and BYU in New York City.

Bernard James may have been Florida State’s best player last season, but filling the void at point guard after graduation claimed Luke Loucks was the bigger task for Leonard Hamilton entering the 2012-13 campaign. Going by the numbers, Loucks’ would appear replaceable (7.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.3 APG), while James nearly averaged a double-double and without question was the Seminoles’ top rebounder. But, like any basketball fan knows, an offense’s success begins and ends with the point guard. One wouldn’t think that the Seminole backcourt would be a looming issue entering the season with potential All-American Michael Snaer coming back for his senior year, but it has been a question Leonard Hamilton has grappled with in the early going.

Leonard Hamilton Got the Kind of Performance He Hoped For Friday Night

For Florida State, you see, they didn’t know who their point guard would be heading into the season. Michael Snaer is an exceptional guard in every facet: shooter, passer, defender, ball-handler, you name it. There’s a reason, after all, he is a candidate for an All-America team at season’s end. But, Snaer is not a point guard. Ian Miller is the prototypical steady two guard — despite conjecture that he would slide in and fill the point guard hole — someone who can hit the open shot and is regarded as more of a playmaker than facilitator.

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ACC M5: 10.31.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2012

  1. The Dagger: Someone get Luke Loucks a job as a broadcaster. ACC Network, I’m looking at you. Jeff Eisenberg recently sat down with Loucks, who played point guard last season for ACC champion Florida State, and he absolutely kills it with his ACC preview — if this was off the cuff that’s even more impressive. He predicted a big leap out of James Michael McAdoo, though stuck with his own Florida State to win the conference. Loucks also said he would play for Coach K if he could play under any coach (other than Leonard Hamilton of course).
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It’s safe to say Mark Bradley is not impressed by the current state of Georgia Tech‘s athletic program. Bradley points out that the biggest problem facing Georgia Tech right now is generating excitement around the program, so athletic director Dan Radakovich’s successor should really focus on selling the program instead of just being a “money man.” While Bradley criticizes the Yellow Jacket program as a whole, he clearly places significant blame on Radakovich for his role in the growing irrelevance of its athletics. Who Georgia Tech picks to replace Radakovich will be very important going forward if Brian Gregory wants to get his basketball program back on track.
  3. BC Interruption: Boston College named sophomore Dennis Clifford the captain of the basketball team. The Eagles don’t have very much of an upperclassman presence (with only Danny Rubin and senior-transfer Andrew Van Nest), so it makes sense the team elected a sophomore. The Eagles’ choice should plant a seed in people’s minds that the 7’0″ center may take a big step forward his second season. Unrelatedly, Boston College still had practice despite Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy blowing through Chestnut Hill.
  4. State of the UState of the U caught up with Kenny Kadji, one of the the surprising Hurricane performers from last season. Kadji has apparently lost 20 pounds, which he hopes will help him become more of an athlete. This is especially important considering his frontcourt-mate Reggie Johnson may be many things (including a great back-to-the-basket guy), but he cannot run the floor well. Kadji pointed to Johnson and Julian Gamble as the two most impressive Hurricanes so far in practice.
  5. GoDuke.com: Duke is going modern with its stat-keeping, as now all their player stats will be kept and updated in real time on their respective iPads. The automation allows managers and assistant coaches to keep track of Duke’s player efficiency rating (PER) and update it live so that players get instant feedback after practice and the coaching and support staff can focus on the other parts of their jobs. Sports is one place people generally don’t think much about technology (well, apart from the production of events), but technology is making things like Duke’s PER easier to monitor, and arguably, gives the players better information on how to improve.
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ACC Team Previews: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Florida State Seminoles.

Leonard Hamilton and his team knocked off Duke and North Carolina to become the first ACC champion from somewhere off of Tobacco Road since Maryland in 2004. Hamilton’s team used experience, physical defense and drive to push through the ACC Tournament before falling in a brutal game to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Still, the Seminoles’ triumph earned Hamilton the credibility where it’s time to start accepting his teams as conference contenders — especially when star guard Michael Snaer is at the helm.

Luke Loucks is gone, but Michael Snaer is ready to build on a dream season (Reuters)

This isn’t to say picking Florida State to finish near the top of the league again is a no-brainer; on the contrary, the Seminoles lost six players to graduation, including three starters. Among those leaving were Luke Loucks, the veteran point guard who played the cool foil to Snaer much of last year, and Bernard James, whose shot-blocking and tough defense anchored one of the best defenses in the country.

Newcomers

Five freshmen and a junior college transfer join the Seminoles this season, headlined by Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon. Brandon, a consensus four-star 6’7″ wing out of Greensboro, North Carolina, looks to be a paradigmatic Hamilton player: He’s very long, athletic and is ready to focus on defense. Thomas was also a consensus four-star recruit and is known as a slasher; he’ll be backing up Florida State’s very talented backcourt this season. His playing time will probably directly correlate to how his defense stacks up with Ian Miller. Devon Bookert and junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist also join the Seminoles, though look for their impact to be somewhat down the road. Bookert is an offensive-minded point guard out of Alaska, and Gilchrist is a skinny forward with terrific length and athleticism. Finally, there are the seven footers Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky. Ojo and Bojanovsky are both very raw, but the Seminoles will need an eraser at the center of Hamilton’s defense, and one or both may play significant time if they can fit that role.

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ACC M5: 10.10.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 10th, 2012

  1. Run The Floor: Michael Rogner got a chance to check in with Florida State alumnus Luke Loucks, who talked about some potential Seminole breakout guys. Loucks especially complimented the incoming guys, and unsurprisingly, Florida State is bringing in some strong defenders on the perimeter and erasers down low. I’m most interested to see how quickly Leonard Hamilton can work up a team with this much youth after having such an experienced squad last season.
  2. Baltimore Sun: Mark Turgeon seems a lot more at ease for his second year in College Park. Some of his relaxation may be because he knows what to expect. It might also be that Terrell Stoglin moved on; as Turgeon cryptically said, “the chemistry right now is great but we haven’t played a game.” Regardless of the origin, Turgeon definitely needs his team to start showing tangible signs of both short-term and long-term commitment.
  3. Greater Wilmington Business Journal (via ESPN.com): Roy Williams wants to coach six to 10 more years depending on his health at North Carolina. That’s longer than most probably would’ve guessed, but he’s only 62 so it’s not inconceivable. However, Williams’ success hinges on his recruiting, which takes a lot of time and energy. Unrelatedly, but also from the article, Williams also was very high on local rivals Duke and NC State, saying they would probably be on top of the national polls.
  4. Washington Post: Alex Len addressed his two biggest criticisms over the summer by putting on some bulk and learning English. The Ukranian seven-footer will anchor a Maryland frontline that has a ton of potential this season. The Terrapins have a combination of talent, youth and experience that should make for a volatile but entertainting set of big men.
  5. Draft Express: Many people know the top players in the ACC, but Draft Express put together scouting reports on the top 25 ACC players. My only major qualm is that Reggie Johnson is so low. Johnson may struggle with weight issues, but he has incredibly soft hands and uses his weight well on offense. He’ll find a spot in the NBA barring a bad physical. The ACC’s undersized combo guards will struggle more.
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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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Rushed Reaction: #6 Cincinnati 62, #3 Florida State 56

Posted by David Changas on March 19th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. A Game of Intensity.  No one will accuse either of these teams of not playing hard. Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton are known for teams that bring effort to every aspect of the game, and while they may not always play pretty, they both leave everything on the floor. Both teams shot under 40% for the game, and this is a testament to the kind defense they play. While both teams turned the ball over far too many times, this game gave us essentially what we expected:  a tough, grind-it-out battle with intensity befitting a third round NCAA Tournament game.
  2. A See-saw Battle.  The game saw 11 ties and 19 lead changes. Cincinnati took the largest lead of the second half at that point with just over a minute to play when it went up 54-50.  The Bearcats were able to maintain a two-possession advantage the rest of the way, but this was as evenly-played a game as you will see.  Until the Bearcats took control late, it didn’t look like either team would do so.  Thanks to some shaky play down the stretch by Florida State point guard Luke Loucks, including two careless turnovers, the Bearcats move on.
  3. Florida State Disappointment.  The Seminoles, who won the ACC Tournament just a week ago, have to be disappointed that they could not advance to a regional in which they would have had as good a chance as any team to advance to the Final Four.  They finish the season at 24-10, but after last year’s Sweet Sixteen run, this Seminole squad was more equipped to make a deep run and would have no doubt given Ohio State all it could handle.

Star of the Game.  Sean Kilpatrick.  The sophomore guard is the Bearcats’ leading scorer, and on this night, he finished with 18 points on 5-9 shooting, including 4-6 from three-point range.

Quotable. ”Had we taken care of the ball better, we’d at least have given ourselves a chance.  That’s probably what did us in.” – Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton

Sights and Sounds.  This was the most intense atmosphere of the weekend.  The crowd was nowhere near capacity, but it was very loud, and it almost matched the intensity of the play on the floor.

Wildcard.  Both games played in Nashville today ended up with the same final score, 62-56.  In this game, both teams went 19-50 from the field.

What’s Next?  The Bearcats advance to Boston to play in-state rival Ohio State in one East Regional semifinal.  The winner of that game will take on the winner of Syracuse-Wisconsin.  There’s no reason to think Cincinnati can’t advance out of that region, although taking down the Buckeyes will be a tall order.

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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 Tournament: Three Thoughts From Florida State – Duke

Posted by mpatton on March 11th, 2012

Florida State won a very good game with Duke. It wasn’t a pretty game, but it was a hard-fought battle that the Seminoles deserved to win.

  • Once again we got a chance to see the heart of this Duke team. Down ten early in the second half, nearly everyone–myself included–thought Duke might fold with its offense struggling (the Blue Devils committed 14 turnovers in the first half alone). Instead Duke came back to take the lead with five minutes left. The Blue Devils ended up losing, but the resilience of this squad definitely impresses me more than anything else. Duke showed it could play physical, something the Plumlees don’t get enough credit for, and that it can hang with good teams without shooting lights out from three.

    Bernard James Is 27, but only Started Playing Basketball in the Air Force.

  • After the game Mike Krzyzewski said Michael Snaer is the “best competitor in our league.” Yesterday’s game was definitely supporting of that. In addition to playing the best defense on the court, he immediately hit the second-biggest shot in the game right after Duke took a 2-point lead with 3:40 to play. He’s one of those players that’s just unreal to watch from the court level: he never gives up on plays and makes it impossible to be comfortable offensively.
  • After the game a reporter asked Leonard Hamilton about his team’s experience (the Seminoles have six seniors and graduate transfers on their roster). Hamilton pointed out that most of the team didn’t actually have that much experience. The team has transfers (Jeff Peterson), players new to basketball (Bernard James), and many players with much more expanded roles (Luke Loucks). There’s a reason Florida State started so slowly.
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Making Sense of Florida State’s Weird Season Trajectory

Posted by rtmsf on January 23rd, 2012

Matt Poindexter is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s Duke-Florida State game in Durham.

Before the season started, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi pegged Leonard Hamilton’s Florida State team as an 8-seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Then talented Seminole forward Terrance Shannon suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, and a 5-0 start was followed up by a 4-6 stretch that featured an inexplicable home loss to Princeton and a blowout loss at Clemson to start ACC play. A week into January, the team that many expected to sit near the top of the ACC was instead 9-6, with their best victory a home win against Central Florida. The Seminoles have some more impressive wins today. First, FSU handed North Carolina by giving the Heels one of the worst beatings of the Roy Williams era, leading for all but the first 39 seconds of the game and winning 90-57. Then, a week after beating UNC, FSU’s Michael Snaer hit a last-second shot to snap Duke’s 45-game winning streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Why the sudden change?

According to Hamilton, the drastic improvement over the past few games is due to more experience and better point guard play. In his postgame press conference on Saturday, Hamilton said that many were confusing his team’s age with experience. Though already 26 years old, star forward Bernard James’ pre-Seminole basketball experience consisted of a few years as an enlisted member of the United States Air Force and one season at Tallahassee (FL) Community College. Many of James’ teammates are also upperclassmen, but played limited minutes behind Derwin Kitchen and Chris Singleton until this season. His juniors and seniors, Hamilton feels, are only now catching up on court time.

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ACC Team Previews: Florida State

Posted by mpatton on November 1st, 2011

Florida State had a great season last year. The Seminoles dominated opponents defensively and made do on the other end of the floor. Six players were listed 6’7” and up, and the entire roster showcased a wealth of lateral quickness that made them the most effective defensive team in the country. That shouldn’t change this year. The offense, not the other end, will once again define the ceiling for Leonard Hamilton’s squad.

Chris Singleton is Gone, But the Seminoles Will Still Dominate Defensively

Looking back to last year a Sweet Sixteen season ended with a bitter aftertaste. It wasn’t when they lost; it was the way they lost. If you don’t remember, Florida State took on Shaka Smart’s Cinderella from VCU. After Jamie Skeen put the Rams up four with three minutes to go, Florida State locked down on defense. Unfortunately, even after holding VCU scoreless in the final three minutes, it didn’t help with the hideous offensive sets for the Seminoles. They went 1-5 from the field during that stretch (plus a missed free throw), and the hideous final possession, where Derwin Kitchen put up an off-balance three that the whole country knew would send the game to overtime, was indicative of just how poorly the team executes in the half court.

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