So far, the Florida State Seminole's offense has not suffered any ill affects of Toney Douglas's departure. The Seminoles have scored 80+ points in the first two games of the 2009-2010 season. They only scored 80+ points 5 times last year: (Coastal Carolina, California, Western Kentucky, Miami, Duke) Thus far, the Seminoles have the third best offensive efficiency in the ACC. However that is only with a handful of games under each team's belt, so use that stat with a grain of salt.
Tonight, the Seminoles travel to Macon, Georgia, to take on their third Atlantic Sun conference opponent in a row-- the Mercer Bears. The Bears are 3-1 with their only loss coming in a close battle with Providence. They have the best offensive efficiency in the Atlantic Sun and should provide an interesting match up for the Seminoles.
Game Time: 4:30 pm EST
Television: Fox Sports South/SUN/NESNThe Seminoles are off to an outstanding start, particularly given the concerns regarding Toney Douglas's departure to the NBA. They are averaging 83.5 points per game and only allowing 49.5. That equate to 1.2 points per possession for the Seminoles and only 0.75 points per possession for their opponents. And despite all the talk of running the floor, they Seminoles are not playing at a significantly different pace than any other year thus far.
Tonight, the Seminoles take on the Mercer Bears, who are statistically better than the other two Atlantic Sun teams that FSU has faced this year. The Bears' level of competition, however, has not compared to that of Stetson of Jacksonville. Last year, the Bears went 17-15 overall and 11-9 in conference play, finishing 5th in the Atlantic Sun and losing in the quarter finals of their conference tournament. They had surprising wins against Auburn and Alabama last year. In addition to those two big wins, Mercer played one of the toughest out of conference schedules in college basketball. The schedule included Georgia Tech, UCLA, Oklahoma State and Dayton.
Here are the likely starters for Mercer:
F #25 Brian Mills Jr. 6'7 Douglasville, Ga. (Chapel Hill HS)
F #33 Daniel Emerson Sr. 6'8 St. Mary's, Ga. (Camden County HS)
G #00 James Florence Sr. 6'1 Marietta, Ga. (Wheeler HS)
G #1 EJ Kusnyer Sr. 6'5 Pittsburgh, Pa. (Collin County CC)
G #12 Jeff Smith Jr. 6'2 Huntsville, Al. (S. R. Butler HS)
This is an experienced team that is used to playing a high level of competition. The Bears return 82 percent of their scoring from last year. Florence, Emerson and Kusnyer all averaged double digit points last year. Florence also has the highest points per game average of any returning college player in the country starting this year. Emerson averaged a double double last year. The concern for the Bears is that they cannot match up size wise with the Seminoles. The tallest player on their team is Daniel Emerson. The Bears will not be able to keep up with the Seminoles rotation of big men. Kusyner is reported to be a good outside shooter and likes to sit and wait for the ball to come to him as teams focus on Florence. He will have a tough time against Singleton.
Florence is their offense. He took an astonishingly high percentage of their shots last year. He attempted 547 shots last year. The next highest player on the team had 307. This should be another good match up for our guards. The fact that the Seminoles have faced such good guard play in the early season will only be of significant benefit down the road. Plus, the Seminoles have shut down those guards easily.
Mercer's success has likely resulted from their lack of turnovers. Their competition is not known for their defensive abilities, so do not take much stock in that. The Seminoles have stolen the ball on 12% of their opponents possessions and have a block % of 27%. This has resulted in limited shots and poor eFG% by their opponents. Don't expect it to be any different tonight.
Where Mercer has had trouble is on the glass and generating turnovers. Look for another huge night on the boards for Alabi and company. The Seminoles are rebounding almost 50% of their potential offensive rebounds, which is remarkable, while allowing opponents to only rebound 22%.
The Seminoles will continue with the line up of: Alabi, Reid, Singleton, Dulkys and Kitchen. This provides a nice rotation with Gibson, Snaer and Loucks coming off the bench.
In case anyone is wondering, Terrance Shannon will be returning to play shortly. He is not taking a medical red shirt and we should not be overly concerned that he has been in street clothes for the last two games. The only concern is that he isn't getting early season minutes. Don't worry. He will be a great addition when he returns.
Keys to the Game:
1. Continue to dominate. Beat the teams you should. Close teams out. Play complete games. It looks a lot better to win big than to sneak by. 2 point wins over Jacksonville and Stetson last year don't look as good as an average margin of victory of 34 points so far this year. Make a statement and continue to build confidence.
2. Control the glass. Stetson doesn't cough the ball up often. Don't give them extra opportunities.The differential in terms of rebounds has been huge. This is a significant improvement over last year.
3. Continue to develop Snaer. Hamilton has done a nice job transitioning Snaer to the main event. He has played excellent minutes off the bench and will only continue to get better.
4. Limit turnovers. This will be said over and over and over again. Turnovers with a young team only lead to trouble. Anything more than 15 turnovers would be a disappointment.
Move to 3-0 before taking on the Florida Gators. Build confidence. Make improvements each game. Florida State should win this game. Mercer will likely be a better team than most expect. But, once again they don't have the size or depth to match up. This is, however, Mercer's homecoming game so look for this team to be very hyped up to play the Seminoles. They are an experienced team and cannot be over looked.
Prediction: Seminoles 84 Bears 54