Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
From now until the opening game on November 9th, Tomahawk Nation will be previewing the FSU basketball roster.
Maybe you've already heard this somewhere, but Leonard Hamilton is a pretty good defensive coach. He's had top 15 defenses for four straight seasons. And this is basketball where there are 345 Division I teams, so top 15 really means something. In fact, there's only one other coach that can make the same claim and that's Bill Self at Kansas (who I consider to be the best coach in the college hoops).
Hamilton does it with a complicated scheme which is taught through a series of rules. If the opposing team does X, then FSU reacts with a Y. This requires that all five guys are reading the opponent in the same way. And this is why newcomers find minutes hard to come by at FSU. You don't play if you don't understand the defense, and the defense isn't that easy to understand.
But what is a coach to do when 7 of 12 scholarship players have yet to play a minute for the Noles? You play the new guys, and you hope they learn. And quick like.
The system requires ball pressure by the guards out to 25'. And it requires an athletic and versatile front line capable of defending players small or large.
Enter 6-9 power forward Robert Gilchrist from London, England. Gilchrist, a former soccer player who didn't really play basketball until he was 16, is a JUCO transfer who was highly coveted by some of the best defensive teams in the nation: Florida State, Baylor, Texas and Marquette. He's also got a decent jump shot that can stretch defenses.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that he's barely played in FSU's two exhibition games, and Coach Hamilton has hinted that he's not doing well at practice. Is he in the doghouse? Is this motivation? Or is Ham just stating facts? Regardless, he's combined for 13 minutes in two games and hasn't looked ready at all.
Assuming he plays, his role - at least around the rim - will be something similar to Okaro White. Both are slimmer bigs with high motors and huge athleticism, and both get after it on the boards. It takes effort to box out Gilchrist. And if you don't get a body on him he has the athleticism to make you look foolish. And he needs to be able to bounce around on defense, using his quickness and length to be in position when guards funnel ballhandlers into the middle.
Time will tell as to his role for this season. But with his versatility, length and motor, FSU's defense really needs him to earn some serious minutes.