We did it. We did what any team fighting to get into the tournament should do. Take care of business at home.
Tonight the Noles beat the Miami Hurricanes 80-67 at home, in what was a crucial game, moving the Noles into a tie for second place in the ACC.
Here are my post-game thoughts and a quick look at who I think is one of our secret weapons and one of our most under appreciated players....
After the game, Hamilton said that this "was a real special win for us." I couldn't agree more. After a devastating loss to Wake Forest, the Noles needed this win to stay in the running in the ACC and for their tournament and to demonstrate the character of this team. All year, I have believed that this is a special team, a different team in the Hamilton era. They have courage and want more than winning the occasional upset game in the ACC.
I didn't get to watch the game. I didn't get to listen to the game, so these are simply my thoughts from taking a quick look at the numbers.
There are encouraging numbers. The one I really want to focus on is the turnover percentage: 11.9%. It's one of our best performances of the year. Granted Miami does not cause turnovers. So why do I care? Previously, we have continued to turn the ball over at an extrordinary rate against teams that don't generate turnovers. And look at the difference in made in the game flow. Think back to the Duke game, where we had a long stretch of not scoring that resulted form turnover after turnover. We only had 2 turnovers in the second half and look how the scoring steadily increased, no flat parts on the graph. We only had 8 turnovers for the game and had 11 assists.
We finally got to the line, with a ridiculous FT rate of 76.1%. We went to the line 35 times and made 88% of those. That is the FSU that we have been missing for the past few games. I have no idea if the calls against Miami were warranted or not and we were at home. But, getting to the line is a characteristic of Hamilton coached games.
Our OR% was not that great...but...we didn't turn the ball over so it didn't hurt us as much as it would. We did however, allow Miami to get 10 offensive rebounds on 55 shots. We grabbed 3 on 46 shots. But...we did grab 26 of their potential offensive rebounds. Miami like sto shoot the three, making for long rebounds. So I don't know if that contributed to the discrepancy or not as I did not watch the game.
This was a great game and we should all be excited. There is much work to be done, but we have already matched the win total that many of us predicted at the beginning of the year...and we have 5 games remaining.
One person whose peformance I would like to highlite tonight Is this guy:
Uche Echefu has been a quite role player in the last few games. Tonight, he played 37 minutes, scored 18 points, went 9-10 from the FT line and pulled down 10 rebounds. He went 1-4 from 3 point land, had 1 turnovers, 2 fouls and 1 assist. Outstanding game.
So who is Uche?
Uche is our 6'9 225 Senior Forward from Lagos Nigeria. Uche selected FSU over UNC, Maryland and Duke. He was ranked the 11th best Power Forward coming out of Montrose Christian High School in Maryland. He was he 37th best player overall in the 2005 class by Dave Telep. Rivals had him as the #2 center prospect and was rated a 4-star recruit by Scout. He was the Maryland Gatorade player of the year. He averaged almost 22 points per year and 9 rebounds per game as a high school senior, shooting a ridiculous 60% from the floor and 84% from the FT line. He was considered a huge recruiting upset for Hamilton.
Coming into this season, he had played 98 of 99 possible games. He could beat the school record for most games played, could become one of the top shot blockers in FSU history and is one of the top FT shooters in FSU history, with a .774 career mark. Last year, he won the Most Improved Academic Student Athlete Award and the Dave Cowen's Chariman of the Boards as the teams top rebounder in 2008 and the Unsung Hero Award. See what I mean? This guy has had a heralded career at FSU and not many people know about him.
So what has he done this year...his stats aren't the best we've seen from him...yet. Ryan Reid was getting a lot of playing time in the beginning of the year. I think Uche has earned his position in the starting job (he's been there for three years) and his contributions are increasing:
Things to note. He doesn't put up a ton of points, but look at his minutes. They have been increasing, significantly recently. His ORtg is excellent around 110. I think he has an outstanding skill set, with the ability to play with his back to the basket and to hit the 10-12 foot jump shot. With a seven footer on the team and a 6'11 back up, we can use Uche at the PF position, where most teams would have him playing the true center spot. He played center through his high school career so he has the footwork and hands to play there. He is a bit under weight to bang under the boards every night, but he can isolate in the post if necessary. But, he is comfortable playing at the elbow and sitting in the soft spot of zones to hit jump shots. He is also an excellent defender. Last year, he was the number 3 defensive rebounder in the conference and the 13th best shot blocker (statistically speaking). The next time the Noles play...keep a close eye on him. He's not a flashy player but he gets it done.
Here is one last graph:
Dear Coach Hamilton,
You have a player on your team by the name of Uche Echefu. He is an excellent power forward. Please let him play more. The more he plays the better he gets and the better your team is.
Let's get ready to head into Blacksburg. No let downs.