In a nationally televised game on ESPN last night, the FSU men's basketball team got the opportunity to show the nation that they can be one of the best, most physical teams in the country lead by two future lottery picks. Unfortunately, the Noles also showed the nation that they will bite at any pump fake beyond the 3 point line and that the over/under bar for turnovers each game hovers around 20.
Lacking a true point guard the Noles committed 22 turnovers and allowed 8 critical three-pointers to a team without a strong front court. The Noles out rebounded the Blue Devils by 10 but could only connect on 6 of 14 free throw opportunities; many of them the front end of one and one's.
The Seminoles lone, one dimensional three point threat, Deividas Dulkys was held to one shot attempt in 17 minutes of action. Non-starters, Luke Loucks and Michael Snaer both saw significant minutes off the bench (25 and 26 a piece) but neither was effective. While Snaer did make some nice shots on offense in route to a 13 point perfromance, he also committed 5 turnovers.
It finally appears as if Loucks has adjusted to the speed of the college game and no longer strolls around the court in a nonchalant manner. However his 0-6 shooting performance coupled with some poor decision making in transition nullified his 3 steals and 3 assists. Loucks looked much more comfortable handling the ball and weaving out of pressure, but on numerous occasions tried to drive the ball to the hole on a fast break opportunity only to throw up a bad shot or pass.
On a brighter note, both Alabi and Singelton played with the passion and energy required of future lottery picks. Singelton however was only 2 of 7 from the charity stripe and needs to improve in that area dramatically. Both players finished with 14 points with Alabi totaling 10 boards to Singelton's 9.
FSU's next game is against Boston College this Saturday, while Duke plays...who the hell cares. I'm just looking forward to their late season collapse.
Speaking of collapse, can we start calling for Leonard's head this early into the season; even after he won the ACC coach of the year last year and signed a new multi-year contract? The man can recruit and certainly knows how to instill a defense mindset into his team, but the Noles have been making the same mistakes for years now. The kind of mistakes that will only result in a glass ceiling.
The most notable mistake and stat that you will see is that the Noles have been turnover prone for years now, and haven't had a true pg since the days of Charlie Ward is seems like. TD was the man, but was more of an undersized, score first shooting guard. Kinchen had a nice game last night finishing with 10 assists and 7 boards, but has shown an inability to create his own shot and handle a full court press. Snaer has the quickness and ball handling ability to be a true pg, but his assist to turnover ratio is miserable at best.
While Leonard can't make decisions for his team during the game, one has to wonder why FSU just can't seem to control the ball over the last few years. I find it very odd that no one has pointed to the glaring fundamental flaws in the FSU offense over the years. Hamilton has instilled some sort of motion offense at FSU since he joined the ranks. I'm not going to go into the details of how the offense should work as I really don't know. One thing that I am sure of however, is that you can't start an offense at mid-court.
Watching FSU play, it is mind boggling that every time down the floor the Seminoles can't seem to set up their offense relatively close to the basket, as a normal offense should be run. The guards seem to be passing and collecting the ball a good 6-7 feet behind the NBA 3 point line. How can one be a legitimate threat that far deep? The Noles can face up all they want in the triple threat stance, but until someone starts knocking down And 1 circus shots; good luck finding any continuity in the offense. Further, how can you expect to make a pass to the post from that far out? The Noles have been trying for years, but it always seems to result in either a turnover or a catch by the post player too far from the lane to do any good. Alabi, Gibson, and Reid all seem to be able to get decent post positions around the lane, however aren't able to receive a decent post pass due to the incredible distance (spacing) between the post player and the passer.
If FSU can play stronger on the perimeter and be more territorial with regards to their spacing on offense (often a swift elbow glaze to the opponents nose will do the trick and is perfectly legal if the player keeps his elbows in tight while the defender doesn't give the allotted space) then FSU will begin to see a more fluid offense and will certainly be able to reduce their turnovers.