The Seminoles opened the game looking as sharp as they did in back to back victories over BYU and St. Joes. FSU went the first six minutes with no turnovers and raced out to a 16-3 lead, showcasing crisp passing and nice shooting along the way. The rest of the game saw FSU commit 17 turnovers and North Florida actually outscore the Seminoles 64-59. After the game, Coach Hamilton shouldered some of the blame.
"Tonight, I learned that I’m not real sure if we are going to be able to sub as liberally as we have in the past," Hamilton commented. "I might have took us a little bit out of sync."
Out of sync was probably the best way one could describe it. The effort was certainly there—FSU outrebounded UNF 43-29, including 10 offensive rebounds. FSU also held North Florida to 37.7% shooting from the field and only 27.3% from three (although UNF, led by sharp shooting guard Parker Smith’s four, did make nine total threes). But the ball movement and rhythm that led to 20+ assists the previous two games just never seemed to show up on a consistent basis. Which is the classic sign of a young team who is still growing and learning their respective roles. The good news is, unlike the season opening loss to South Alabama, FSU was able to get a relatively easy win while going through their growing pains and learning valuable lessons.
Despite the lack of flow on offense, there were several positives Nole fans can take from the game.
For starters, senior Mike Snaer did exactly what a senior leader is supposed to do after UNF showed they weren’t going to just roll over and quit. Held to four points in the first half on only 2-5 shooting, Snaer exploded for 17 in the second half, including back to back threes—the only made threes of the game for FSU—just when North Florida had climbed back into it. Additionally, Snaer made two clutch free throws with under a minute to play that effectively sealed the win, channeled his inner Derwin Kitchen and grabbed eight rebounds, and even had two blocks.
Another positive was the free throw shooting. After missing several key free throws in the second half of the South Alabama game, FSU sunk 23-28 tonight, including 19-24 in the second half.
Finally, a shout out should go to Kiel Turpin for his work tonight. Only playing 14 minutes as Hamilton often resorted to a small lineup to counter the Osprey’s quickness on the perimeter, Turpin grabbed four rebounds and scored six points, displaying a very nice baby hook shot, in his limited time.
The negatives were largely related to that lack of rhythm.
"We did not move the ball nearly as well tonight…when they trapped us we didn’t make good decisions… didn’t have good ball reversal," lamented Coach Ham after the game. "In order to be successful, we are going to have to develop continuity between everyone who goes into the game."
The good news is, all of those issues are correctable. As Michael Rogner said before the game, what this team needs is reps, reps, and more reps. We all saw the talent this team possesses in their breakout games in Brooklyn, now they just need to harness that talent and turn it into a consistent machine. The sly smile on Coach’s face after the game tells me I shouldn’t be too worried.
Other game notes:
North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said, "FSU looked like the best team on tape [we] had seen by far." Coach Driscoll continued, saying, "They make you play at a further out distance than you want to." That’s pretty high praise for a team that has already played Memphis and Kansas State.
Coach Driscoll also had high praise for Michael Snaer after the game, stating, "Michael Snaer never lets his bad game to allow him to become a bad player…very few all-americans who will do that."
Ian Miller had a walking boot on his foot and did not play. Coach Hamilton described it as a bone bruise and said they would "Proceed with caution…probably limit what he does in practice." Hamilton did comment that Miller could have played tonight if we needed him.
FSU’s next game comes on Tuesday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The game is part of the ACC/Big 10 (14?) Challenge and will tip at 7:15 on ESPN2.