The good news for Loyola Marymount is that last season is over. The bad news is that the problems are still haunting them. Max Good's Lions were the 2nd youngest team in the West Coast Conference, and all the young guys played because everyone else got hurt. Six of the top eight players missed a combined 63 games. LMU was supposed to be centered around its two All-Conference players (Vernon Teel and Drew Viney), but Teel struggled, Viney suffered migraines and a foot injury, and a whole host of bench players were thrust into the lineup. Following the season LMU's best two big men underwent surgery. Now Drew Viney is still struggling following foot surgery and has only appeared in two games. He didn't make the trip to Tallahassee. And junior Ashley Hamilton - who had hand surgery in the offseason - is now sidelined with a foot injury and isn't expected to play. Hamilton leads the team at 15.3 ppg, but has only appeared in three games.
But forcing players who weren't ready to play last season means that they are ready for this season. LMU has played through injuries to their two best players, and as expected with a talented but young team, they've been maddeningly inconsistent. They began the season by beating a ranked UCLA team, and prompted this now famous tweet from enigmatic UCLA big man Josh Smith. After home losses to solid mid-majors (Middle Tennessee and Harvard) the Lions won three straight including a very impressive win over St Louis. The Billikens were ranked at the time and are currently 17th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. The Lions followed this up with a loss to Columbia (huh?), a loss to North Texas (seriously?), and needed overtime to beat a horrible Idaho State team. In short, who knows what to expect on any given night?
LMU's offense is currently ranked 137th. They take care of the ball (81st) and convert nearly 37% of their 3s (77th). But their defense is bad. They've only held three of nine Division I opponents below a point per possession. The problem is that they're too small, especially without Viney and Hamilton. Expect them to double team everything in the post and force FSU to beat them from the outside. The Noles need to recognize that LMU will be jumping the interior passing lanes and use that to create open shots for Deividas Dulkys and Michael Snaer. And when the big men get the ball in good position they need to attack immediately. No dribbling through double teams, and no over-passing.
Vegas has FSU -15.5, and Pomeroy has FSU -16. The game tips at 3pm from the Donald L Tucker Center and is broadcast on ESPNU.