Florida State's Cinderella Season Ends in an Overtime Heartbreaker to Wisconsin

Photo from Tallahassee Democrat

 

Unfortunately, it was one and done for the Seminoles. After an exciting run through the ACC regular season and ACC tournament, FSU's season came to an end late Friday evening, losing 61-59 to the Wisconsin Badgers.

The great thing about basketball is that it is a fluid game, filled with subtleties, that on any given night any given team can win. It doesn't matter if you're the best team in the country, there are no guarantees, just ask Wake Forest, West Virginia, Boston College, California and Ohio State. Like any other sport, there is a finality to basketball. At the end of the season in which the Seminoles were able to shut down some of the best teams in the country, to force bad shots at the end of the game, to get the stops when they needed them, we came up short. "We had been fortunate all year long," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We had gotten those stops. That was one time where we didn't get the stop."

Photo from Tallahassee Democrat

That is the beauty of basketball. That is the heart break of basketball. After 40 minutes of back and forth, continuous play, it comes down to one play. Obviously, there are decisions that are made during the game that decrease the likelihood of a game coming down to that last play. "It happened so quick, I don't even think it's real," said Toney Douglas after the game. 

This was an interesting game to watch, almost painful at times. In the first half, both teams were clearly trying to understand the other. Wisconsin demonstrated it's typical patient offense and our defense showed it's merit. Our offense started slow as it always does with limited movement and unnecessary turnovers. However, it seemed like the Noles immediately knew the ticket to success: Solomon Alabi.

Photo from Tallahassee Democrat

Solomon had two early touches that immediately set what everyone hoped would be the tone of the game: an aggressive inside game exploiting our size. When Alabi was out, Xavier Gibson played outstanding minutes, hustling on both ends of the court.

Photo from Tallahassee Democrat

Gibson, however, only played 5 minutes. But during that time he put up 6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 block and went to the line 3 times with an ORtg of 114. After his flurry of activity, we didn't see Xavier Gibson again.

After finding a line up that appeared to have the Noles on a clear path to victory, generating a 12 point lead at the half, we didn't see it again. And with those decisions being made, Wisconsin started to hit clusters of threes that brought them back into the game during a 5 minute stretch in which the Noles went scorless. After shooting 1-10 from the 3 point line in the first half, the Badgers went 8-17 in the second half, many of those shots were uncontested. Too many times we were late coming off the screen or late on the switch or too eager to collapse in the paint. "We knew they were going to come out and make a run eventually," Kitchen said. "They made one as soon as the half started. We didn't come out with the same energy. And they made some big shots." Hamilton recognized it as well: ""We lost Bohannon three times running the baseline and he knocked down 3's. And we don't normally do that."

So in a game that appeared to come down to a missed three and a missed defensive stop, it really didn't need to finish that way. The Noles offense that appeared to be rolling came to a complete stop and only put up 21 points in the second half. We went away from what worked well and Wisconin made the shots they weren't making. I think this chart shows it really well:

 

 

We went back to the stair case offense to which I have been referring all year. Long periods of inefficiency and zero scoring. Clearly, there were some poor decisions made with inappropriate passes being made, but the referees did not help. I'm not going to get into too many details, but I was really disappointed with two calls in particular: the charge on Luke Loucks and the time out/travel by Derwin Kitchen. The last time I checked, you cannot run underneath a player once he is in the air and flop and get a charge call. The other unfortunate thing is that Loucks was seriously hurt on the play. I don't know the complete details of his injury, but the lack of his presence hurt us. Toney Douglas played the entire second half and overtime. He looked tired at the end of the game and it showed on that last three he took: it fell short. Derwin did not make the best decision as he was forced to the side line. But the referrees stated that they would not grant the time out, which he wisely tried to call, because he was going out of bounds. But, they called a travel. So was he out of bounds or was it a travel? If it was a travel then you are indicating that he was still in bounds and you could or shold have granted the time out. This was a momentum killer.

Here are the final stats on the night:

 

 

 

This was a defensive battle and unfortunately we couldn't endure through it.We held Wisconsin to a very poor offensive night. They did significantly worse than their season averages. We did as well, but not to the degree that the Badgers did. We were the best defense they saw all year. Unfortunately, we weren't the best offense they have seen nor did we play our best offense game. Once again, we lost the turnover battle. It hurts even more because Wisconsin is not a team that generally creates turnovers. In a game where possessions were precious, we gave up a chance to score once out of almost every 4 trips down the court.

In my preview, I stated that the strongest correlation Wisconsin had with winning was their effective FG%. Last night, they had a better eFG% than us. The statistics held true (for once) and they won. Overall, we did worse than our season average in rebounds, points and assists. So, as much as it seemed that it came down to that one or two plays, it really didn't. But that is the beauty of basketball.

We'll miss you Toney:

Photo from Tallahassee Democrat

"We had a great year," Hamilton said. "We accomplished a lot."We did and lets hope that we can continue to build and learn from these experiences.

It was a great year.

Go NOLES!

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