ACC Preview: Florida State’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on November 4th, 2014

This team preview is part of the RTC ACC microsite’s preseason coverage. You will find a list with links to all the team previews on the ACC Microsite Preview Page, located here.

Can Leonard Hamilton’s squad finish in the top five of the ACC?

On the surface this question may seem ridiculous. Most previews have Florida State picked to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, and you have to expect that Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia will all be very good teams. And that doesn’t even mention perennial powerhouses Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The Seminoles also lost Okaro White and Ian Miller, but hear me out.

I'm betting we'll see more smiles from Leonard Hamilton this year (Photo Credit: Glenn Beil / Democrat).

I’m betting we’ll see more smiles from Leonard Hamilton this year (Glenn Beil/Democrat).

Florida State has a favorable schedule: All four of the opponents it sees twice (Clemson, Pittsburgh, Miami and Virginia Tech) are beatable. They get Duke and Louisville in Tallahassee. Also the former Big East powers are due for down years after both the Orange — Tyler Ennis, CJ Fair and Jerami Grant — and the Panthers — Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna — lost major productivity from their rosters. That potentially leaves a vacuum just below the elite tier where a school like Florida State could finish. There are also dueling x-factors here: Will Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo continue making strides; and can the offense limit its turnovers? Neither question is a new one for this team, but there’s reason to believe the first will come true. The second may be less important: Hamilton has never coached a team in the top-100 in turnover percentage, according to KenPom, but he’s coached plenty of good teams over the years to earn the benefit of the doubt.

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ACC M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 26th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: So remember when everyone said Duke is the clear front-runner to win the ACC? Yeah, me neither. Coach K definitely doesn’t based on his postgame quotes from its Sunday night victory over Vermont. I don’t know if Duke’s problems are fixable (without someone stepping up on the front line, this team may just be a bad defensive team). The good news is that everyone was right that the Blue Devils can score like nobody’s business. Krzyzewski mentioned effort or mindset, which certainly may have played a role, but the other questions are whether this team can either stay in front of fast perimeter players and whether they can effectively rebound out of the current defense. Krzyzewski needs this year’s Brian Zoubek to materialize (along with a lockdown on-ball defender not named Tyler Thornton) because giving up 1.41 points per possession to a bad Vermont team at home is nowhere near the sign of a contender.
  2. Rant Sports: Florida State looks like a whole new team this year, and you should pay attention to Montay Brandon. He has undergone an unbelievable sophomore leap, upping his possession percentage a full three percent while improving his offensive rating an unfathomable 42 points per 100 possessions. Now the sample size is small and has partially come against cupcakes, but that’s a dramatic improvement. He has cut his turnover percentage by more than half, and marginally increased his field goal percentage (although shooting threes is still a struggle). He has also doubled his rebounding percentage on both ends of the floor. So far this has been nothing short of an unbelievable turnaround.
  3. CBS Sports: With Duke falling precipitously through Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Pittsburgh has assumed the top spot in the ACC (I fully admit I never saw this coming and still don’t really believe it). Jeff Borzello does a good job reporting on the team’s defense from a player perspective (which interestingly focuses on the physicality of the team’s defense). Surprisingly, Jamie Dixon’s defense is so good in part because it isn’t called for excessive numbers of fouls. The big question going forward is whether the Panthers will have the same success they’ve had in crashing the offensive boards against more talented teams. Speaking of their offensive rebounding prowess, now is probably a good time to remind you that the Panthers only play Duke once at home this season. That game could get ugly if the Blue Devils don’t figure things out some defensive tenets in short order.
  4. Beach Carolina Magazine: Clemson is a pleasant surprise this year. The Tigers aren’t world-beaters, but Brad Brownell‘s team looked very good in the Charleston Classic. Most notably, they absolutely manhandled a decent Davidson team. The team’s defense is tremendous but things look somewhat streaky on the offensive end. Clemson’s backcourt needs to work on drawing fouls when shots aren’t falling, which is likely to be regularly. There are still plenty of reasons to question whether Brownell can recruit enough talent to keep Clemson competitive in the ACC, but this start makes me think his teams will never be awful. He’s sort of the bizarro-Steve Donahue with his always elite defense and equally forgettable offense.
  5. Gobbler Country: Small sample size alert! Apparently Virginia Tech struggles in close non-conference games. And with some creative accounting, they struggle in close ACC games too! Part of this is because the better team generally wins close games (as it also wins the majority of games, but that’s beside the point), but I wouldn’t be too quick to draw inferences from small, biased data sets. One thing I do agree with is that Cadarian Raines needs more touches, but he’s part of the problem. It’s not like Raines is wide open on the block all of the time standing solo while Jarell Eddie fires off a long two. Raines needs to focus on getting position, and James Johnson needs to make him more of a focal point of the offense. The Hokies’ three-point shooting should open the paint up for him to work, but, then again, his high turnover rate is terrifying.
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ACC M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 2nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Coming into this season we knew experience might be an issue for Florida State. But very few people saw Ian Miller’s foot injury coming, so nobody understood what a large part the freshmen would play. Montay Brandon, Aaron Thomas and Devon Bookert  are still figuring things out, but they’ll make the Seminoles a force come conference play. It will be interesting to watch their progression, as Leonard Hamilton has rarely showcased freshmen in his system.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Skip Prosser may not have been able to coach defense, but he was one of the most beloved coaches in college basketball. His style reflected his personality: flashy and likable. Walt Corbean, now an assistant at Wake Forest and someone who once played for Prosser, best described it: “He held me to that same standard. And I think that’s always stood out in my mind, that he treated us as men, and it wasn’t about what you were bringing to the team, but that you were a part of his program.”
  3. Durham Herald Sun: Compared with older brother Stephen Curry and father Dell Curry, Seth Curry may seem average or even a bit of a bust. But he’s having an incredible season so far this year for Duke. He and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green are duking it out to be the best guard in the ACC (though Michael Snaer will probably have something to say about that before March). In honor of his play, Duke recently named Curry the third captain of the team (along with Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly).
  4. ESPN: In honor of future ACC legend Jim Boeheim reaching 900 wins, Jeremy Lundblad took a look at the other coaches with a chance to reach the mark in their careers. I only have a couple more suggestions: Brad Stevens should be higher on potential alone (he’s only36!) and Bill Self should be number one. Bob Huggins has a chance at reaching 900 victories, but he’s an old 59. Roy Williams’ recent health scare may keep him from coaching until he’s 70. Regardless, it’s a fun conversation starter.
  5. KenPom: Ken Pomeroy simulated every conference’s season 10,000 times and reported the winners. The ACC was the second least suspenseful race with Duke winning the league 8,797 times to Virginia’s 476 times. That said, Pomeroy’s system’s fatal flaw is overrating teams like Virginia (whose slow tempo leads to much larger per possession efficiency margins). Most interestingly, North Carolina only won the league 143 times (less than 1.5%) thanks to its tough conference schedule, where it has to play the top seven ACC teams twice and the bottom four only once.
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ACC M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 21st, 2012

morning5_ACC

  1. Chicago Tribune: Apparently some marginal prospect quietly and unobtrusively decided to accept a basketball scholarship to a little known college yesterday. Just kidding. Jabari Parker is going to Duke because he liked the school and thought Michigan State wasn’t a great fit with Branden Dawson already filling the role that Parker expects to play. It’s a huge get for Duke as Parker was the clear number one prospect in the Class of 2013 before Andrew Wiggins decided to reclassify.
  2. State of the U: He’s not Jabari Parker, but Miami landed a nice verbal commitment for the season after next in four-star shooting guard Adonys Henriquez. Head coach Jim Larranaga and his staff have been busy trying to prepare the Hurricanes program for the departure of its veteran core. Since Henriquez is in the high school Class of 2014, he won’t be able to provide immediate help next season, but it is good to see that the recruiting work of Miami is bearing some fruit.
  3. Washington Post: If you are undecided in terms of a potential career, I’d like to recommend becoming an assistant coach for the Maryland Terrapins. Apparently assistant Dalonte Hill is due a $25,000 bonus if Maryland makes the NCAA Tournament, while Bino Ranson and Scott Spinelli only receive $16,667 in bonus pay if the team goes dancing. Hill makes $307,440 in guaranteed pay, while Spinelli makes only $207,440. Ranson gets $182,400 with an extra $25,000 for media work. Sure the hours are long, the travel is crazy, and there is little to any semblance of job security, but when you make that much as an assistant, it doesn’t seem like such a bad trade-off.
  4. Yahoo! Sports: North Carolina is not very good at basketball this year and people are talking about it after the Tar Heels were embarrassed against Texas on Wednesday night. The reasons why North Carolina is losing aren’t complicated: bad defense, wildly inconsistent offense, and a seeming inability to compete with the top rebounders in college basketball. If there is any solace in these problems, it’s the simple fact that these are fairly common issues for a team that is relying heavily on inexperienced big men. These things happen while power forwards and centers figure out how to be effective on the collegiate level. The good news is that most of these players will almost certainly get better with experience and time. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, with conference play mere weeks away, the team really doesn’t really have that much time to jump-start this season.
  5. Wilmington Star News: The Bob Cousy Award watch list was announced this week and it includes seven ACC players. The fairly comprehensive list has 80 names, but it will be cut down to 20 by New Year’s Day. Of the seven, Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown are probably playing at the highest level, but Quinn Cook and Pe’Shon Howard are very talented distributors on good teams (a factor that probably plays a bigger role than most would care to admit). Shane Larkin is in a similar situation to Howard, but both probably need superlative performances to make the cut.  Freshman Montay Brandon of Florida State is unlikely to make the next round since there are at least two other players on his own team who are probably better point guards than him (Devon Bookert and Ian Miller have higher assist percentages and offensive efficiency scores). Dexter Strickland is unlikely to be listed as one of the nation’s top 20 point guards, mostly because he plays at the point guard position for fewer than 10 minutes a game, spending the bulk of his time at shooting guard.
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ACC M5: 11.21.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 21st, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina lost to Butler in the Maui Invitational, sending fans on a roller coaster ride bottoming out down 29 points, peaking at a last gasp comeback that cut the deficit to six, before settling somewhere in between. The Tar Heels were pushed around all night, and defended the perimeter woefully. About the only positive to take away from the game was the last 12 minutes, but North Carolina has to get a lot tougher and can’t coast after big wins.
  2. Sports Illustrated: Mike Krzyzewski wants to “circle wagons” and figure out who’s staying in the ACC. It’s clear the Maryland move caught Coach K by surprised, and he’s concerned about the stability of the conference. Before the powwow he may want to wait to see if the Terrapins manage to reduce the $50 million exit fee: if they can, Krzyzewski is absolutely right to question the conference stability. It sounds like Coach K wants reaffirmation from Clemson and Florida State and supports replacing Maryland with Connecticut or Louisville.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Tony Bennett really likes the progress of his freshmen, three of whom made up the Cavaliers’ top scoring trio in their win over North Texas. Bennett’s system definitely has a steep learning curve, so expect the frosh to get better as they understand their roles in the pack-line defense. Long story short: don’t write off Virginia finishing in the top half of the conference just yet. This team still has a long way to go, but it’s improved a lot even just through six games.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: Props to Michael Rogner for charting an efficiency-based +/- for Florida State that takes into account garbage time and other anomalies. While the charts need more data to help take care of outliers (for instance, Terrance Shannon likely won’t play as well most games as he did against St. Joseph’s), but the data is still interesting. It confirms the Seminoles are a more consistent offensive team so far this season, and freshman point guards Montay Brandon and Devon Bookert have a lot to do with it.
  5. Miami Herald: This story is mostly about football, but the NCAA just issued a brutal ultimatum to former Miami players. Mark Ennis described it best: “The NCAA is holding a gun to Miami’s head and telling former players ‘give us what we want or she dies.'” Barry Jackson reported that the NCAA sent out a letter to Miami players telling players that the NCAA will assume their guilty if they don’t talk. This definitely feels like a intimidation tactic by the NCAA to get evidence.
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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 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: 10.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 22nd, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Veterans Ian Miller and Michael Snaer are really excited about the freshmen joining the team this season. Snaer specifically lauded Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon as potential stars on this year’s team. Thomas has Snaer’s “can’t stop me” attitude which should make him an elite scorer, but Bookert may hold the key for Florida State making the next step with his ball-handling skills. The biggest issue with the last few Seminole teams has been offense, and most of the team’s offensive woes come from turning the ball over too frequently. If Bookert can run the offense and reduce the team’s turnover rate, look out.
  2. Associated Press (via Winston-Salem Journal): Apparently Reggie Johnson‘s dieting has started to work. The Miami big man started the season two years ago at a whopping 330 pounds and reportedly is now down to 290. He’s still got a ways to go, but believes his diet is helping. If he can play superstar minutes and can run the floor better, Johnson will make a run at becoming the ACC’s best big man. He’s already probably the league’s most polished returning half-court post player, but his weight keeps him from being elite. That said, take Johnson’s words with a grain of salt. It’s a little weird he pointed to his weight two years ago instead of last year (albeit when he was rehabbing a knee injury).
  3. Greensboro News-Record: David Morrison went to Duke’s Operation Basketball and got some interesting notes. First, Coach K is looking for major increases in offensive production from Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry this year. Krzyzewski wants this team’s offense to be less balanced, though Rasheed Sulaimon will definitely be an offensive factor if he lives up to his hype. Morrison also talked with Plumlee about Krzyzewski’s reaction to the Blue Devils’ less-that-stellar finish last season.
  4. Blogger So Dear: Most schools taking international trips already finished them, but Jeff Bzdelik and his young Demon Deacon team headed to Canada and won two exhibition games against Brock University and Ryerson University, 84-79 and 88-80, respectively. CJ Harris and Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for Wake Forest against Brock, scoring 16 points apiece in the win (Harris also added five assists and Cavanaugh grabbed nine rebounds). Saturday Travis McKie starred, finishing with 26 points. Freshmen Cody Miller-McIntyre and Cavanaugh also scored in double figures.
  5. CBSSports.com: Snaer isn’t the only one talking some trash this offseason. Dexter Strickland isn’t too worried about NC State being picked first in the ACC.

    “They talk those guys up every single year and we beat them every single year […] They are the least of our worries. Beat us one year and then they can talk smack. Until then, you can’t put them in the mix.”

    He also felt pretty strongly about the NCAA Tournament outcome if North Carolina hadn’t been hampered by injuries.

    “I’ll be honest. If nobody got hurt, you might as well have given us the trophy. Nobody had the ability to stop us.”

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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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