The 'Noles lost on the scoreboard. But FSU won elsewhere. Vegas expected them to lose by 12 or 13. The margin was 14. But FSU won in other areas. Most importantly, the 'Noles did not need a win in Cameron Indoor to reach their goal of a 9-7 season in the ACC. Further, FSU didn't suffer any injuries. And the 'Noles gained valuable game experience in a hostile environment. And perhaps the loss will help keep the team focused throughout the stretch run.
So, aside from the fact that Duke is a better team than FSU, why did the 'Noles lose the game? Did Duke dominate every facet of the game? What can we learn from FSU's performance? Did the same issues that have plagued FSU all season resurface? Or did FSU develop some new weakness? Let's use the chart
- Both teams had a similar effective field goal percentage. The game wasn't lost here.
- Neither team did a good job getting to and scoring points from the foul line. FSU has a 26% free-throw rate and Duke posted a 29% rate. FSU was better at getting to the line but slightly worse at sinking the free throws. The refs called a balanced game. A few calls were missed on both sides but overall the officiating was good. There are games in which the refs can be blamed. Last night was not one of those games.
- Considering the opponent, FSU had one of its best rebounding games of the year. The 'Noles snagged offensive rebounds on 44% of missed shots while allowing Duke to do the same on only 30% of their misses.
- But even with the two relative stalemates and the large rebounding advantage, FSU's turnover performance was embarrassing. While the 'Noles turned Duke over on 18% of their possessions (a decent defensive performance), FSU saw 33% of its possessions end in turnovers. It's almost impossible to win when a third of possessions aren't even ending in a shot attempt!
Coach Hamilton can recruit. And he's a very good defensive coach. But he has to address this turnover situation. Part of it is that this team does not have a point guard. Derwin Kitchen is more of a two-guard. If FSU did have a point guard, they would easily be one of the best 10-15 teams in the country. That is not correctable this season and FSU does have a stud guard recruit on the way by the name of Ian Miller.
But another part of the turnover situation is correctable. Turnovers come from poor ball handling and from poor passing. And it is the second part that is frustrating because it should be correctable. Passing requires accurate delivery of the ball and proper reception of the ball. That said, one way to improve both of those elements is to have guys get open. That doesn't happen if they all stand around. Unfortunately for FSU, that is exactly what is happening. The offense lacks flow. Hamilton says that FSU runs a motion offense, but there is no motion to be seen! Other teams play with purpose, conviction, and understanding. FSU plays with passion but it seems clear by all of the standing around that the players do not understand what they are being asked to do or do not care. Neither result is acceptable. Motion offense requires motion. Without motion, a motion offense is a huge cluster. And that's basically what FSU's looks like right now.
FSU's next game is Saturday at Boston College. It will be a tossup game according to the experts.