I hate these warm-up games. I hate them because you really can't take any information from the game and reactions always favor neutral to negative opinions. If you win by 60 its because of the talent gap and the team was expected to perform this way. If you win by a small margin (or, god forbid, lose) the doomsday crowd comes out of the shadows to proclaim the early death of the season. Performance in these games can not be extrapolated to future games. Keep this in mind when reading this review.
The Seminoles won 75-55 but things didn't necessarily go according to plan. Singleton was hardly an entity in the first half picking up 3 fouls. At halftime the Seminoles lead 42-25. FSU shot 15-32 from the field (3-11 from three), forced 15 turnovers, and held UNF to 30% shooting. 7 of UNF's 25 points came from free throws including one dumb play by Kitchen where he fouled a three point shooter.
The second half got sloppy when FSU went cold from the field and allowed several easy baskets off of turnovers. UNF guard Parker Smith began hitting threes and drawing fouls and much to the crowd's surprise, UNF cut the lead to 50-43 with 12:27 left in the game. Luckily, Kitchen and Singleton woke up and led FSU to a 17-7 run over the next 8 minutes.
In my pre-season report, I stated that the Seminoles would benefit from using a "small" lineup with Singleton at PF and the coaches agreed, at least for the first game. FSU's starting lineup consisted of Kitchen and Dulkys as the guards, Snaer at small forward, Singleton at power forward, and Gibson at center. Whether this will be a lineup we see all season, a lineup that our coaches felt would only work well against this specific opponent, or a temporary philosophy while our "big" depth is thin with Kreft shelved until mid December remains to be seen.
The Seminoles used several different players at PF and C but only one guy played in the post while the other floated around the free throw line and the wings. Singleton, Gibson and Okaro White played power forward. Gibson and Bernard James generally rotated at center though Singleton also played the 5 for less than a minute.
Gibson was surprisingly affective as an "Antawn Jamison" type of forward. He even hit a three in the first few minutes of the game.
Bernard James seems to be our "muscle". He used his strength to gather 10 rebounds (3 offensive) to go along with a team high 15 points a steal and 3 blocks. He isn't good at free throws though. His form is terrible and he should be completely ineffective outside of 5 or 6 feet away from the basket.
The freshman looked like freshman. I like Okaro White because he flies around all over the place. He's a terrific athlete and he electrified the crowd with a thunderous put-back dunk and a huge block midway through the second half. He drew a few fouls and had 5 rebounds but you can see how he's really raw and not a division 1 player yet. With his weight and experience level I don't expect to see him get a lot of playtime vs UF or OSU. He might be able to settle down in these next few tuneup games and prove me wrong.
Ian Miller looked like a player who wanted to take over the game in the second half but didn't know if it was his place to keep shooting after missing his first two shots in the first half. He hesitated whenever he drove around a screen and never took a fluid jump shot. He finished 0-5 from the field. He looks comfortable running our offense and would have had 7 or 8 assists if if wasn't for missed open shots, fouls, or turnovers by teammates. He really needs to figure out his role on the team over the next few games before we hit the meat of our schedule. Worrying about stepping on veteran's toes by taking too many shots is only going to hurt him in the long run.
I'm not sure if this is a good thing, but it looks like Kitchen is the heart and soul of our team. He waited until the final 10 minutes of the game, but he was the only player who played with sustained aggressiveness on the offensive end. For several consecutive minutes he looked like he had a rocket strapped to his back. With 5 minutes left and the Seminoles up 15, Singleton had to go over to him and point out the score of the game to calm him down. Playing at a frantic pace like that will probably hurt us against elite opponents but his energy is really what pushed the score back up to a respectable gap.
It took Singleton until 9:58 was left in the second half before he seemed to realize that he was the most talented player on the court. He tends to play within the offense too much when he should be using his superior athleticism to take over against inferior opponents. He had the majority of his 11 points in the last 10 minutes. He is terrible at rolling off of screens (see my rant about screens further down). You have to credit him for playing smart in the second half after getting in early foul trouble. He played great defense with 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Snaer was a huge disappointment. I thought he would have a huge game but he played very tentatively and really failed to attack the defense at all.
Dulkys played with a lot of energy on both offense and defense. He is going to be a great weapon for us this year. He had 12 points on 10 shots (2 threes) to go along with 4 steals.
I like the offense that we run but our pick and roll play is just horrendous. We finally have proper spacing for drive and kicks but our players don't understand how to run screens. The ball handler uses the screens poorly and takes a neutral step sideways which allows defense to recover quickly. The ball handler should be attacking the defense off of screens because that's the only way they are useful. The screener never cuts hard to the basket after setting the screen either. I remember two different incidents where singleton set a screen and just stood there afterward. If he cut sharply to the basket he would have the opportunity for an easy layup. He just stood there though.
One major issue we're having is our perimeter players picking up their dribble too early allowing the defense to trap them. There must have been ten different incidences where our guards would get caught with no dribble and no one to pass the ball to. This killed several offensive possessions and will be exploited by more talented teams if it doesn't get fixed.
The crowd that showed up was larger than expected for what is essentially an early season scrimmage on a Friday night. Most of the lower bowl was full. Though the crowd was there in numbers, their involvement was more comparable to what you would see at a movie theater than a sporting event.