Best Case/Worst Case for Basketball?

USA TODAY Sports

The FSU Men's Basketball team officially started fall practice a couple weeks ago thanks to the NCAA ruling that basketball teams could move the start of sanctioned workouts up in the calendar. However, the general public will get their first look at the 2013-14 Noles when Seminole Madness tips off tomorrow at 7pm at The Don. (Admission is free and I believe the doors open at 6pm). With that in mind, let's take a quick look at what the potential ceiling and floor is for this year's squad.

Last year, I believed the floor for the talented but extremely inexperienced Seminoles was somewhere around 10-8 in ACC play and sitting on the bubble come Tourney Time. And for a variety of reasons discussed at length over the course of the season, Coach Hamilton's team--for the first time in quite a few years--failed to achieve the floor of their expectations (yes, we were a commendable 9-9 in conference play, but early losses in the OOC meant we didn't have a realistic chance of an at-large selection without a run to the ACCT Championship Game).

Since then, FSU fell short in one epic recruiting battle, had another stud recruit deemed academically ineligible, and lost several players due to graduation or transfer, most notably Mike "Money Ball" Snaer and Terrance "the Enforcer" Shannon. On the bright side, Jarquez Smith (FSU's "other" recruit who actually has worlds of potential) comes in at a position of need and all that youth on last year's team is now a year older, stronger, and more familiar with our systems.

So what does the floor and ceiling look like this year? Well, for the first time in a long time there seems to be a wild range of possibilities.

Best Case
• The trip to Greece pays off and we are ahead of some other teams early in the season, allowing us to get a couple resume-boosting wins
• We finally avoid the injury bug and Miller returns to his sophomore year offensive efficiency
• Ojo makes a huge leap forward in his conditioning and understanding of the game
• Bojo is more effective underneath due to increased weight/strength
Robert Gilchrist figures out his role and becomes a consistent contributor on both ends
• Jarquez Smith has an immediate impact with his shot blocking ability
• The loss of Snaer—a fantastic individual talent—is offset by better cohesion and understanding of Ham’s “team D” concepts by all the youngsters who now have a year under their belt. This results in a top 40 D for FSU
Okaro White (who only recently turned 21 years old) makes the “senior leap” that Thornton, Toney Douglas, Derwin Kitchen, and others did
• Ham’s wizardry in close games continues (a remarkable 36-13 in games decided by 4 points or less or OT since the start of 2009)
• Our schedule (more on this in a future article) holds up and allows us more margin of error on Selection Sunday

All this results in 9-3 during a solid non-con and 11-7 during a tough conference slate, good for a 20-10 regular season record and hovering around the 10 seed line in the NCAAT. The Noles proceed to go 1-1 in the ACCT, do in act land the 10 seed, and are matched up with a turnover-prone 7, poor three-point shooting 7 seed. FSU pulls the upset, then shocks the country by defeating a talented but young Kansas team in the “third” round, buoyed by Ian Miller and Devon Bookert combining to shoot 9-11 from deep. The Noles, can’t sustain the hot-shooting and fall in the Sweet 16 to 3-seed Oklahoma State.

Worst Case
• The earlier start for practices around the country negates the advantage of our Greece trip
• We lose one or more of Bookert/White/Miller/Thomas for extended time to injury
• Ojo and Bojo show only modest improvement
• Jarquez can’t master the defensive scheme early enough to make a real impact
• The pedestrian FSU D suffers even more with the loss of Snaer and no one capable of playing the “enforcer” role underneath
• White, is who he is: a great talent who plays out of control sometimes (landing him in foul trouble) and not aggressive enough in looking for his shot or on the offensive glass at other times
• Rogner is wrong and there is such a thing as “clutch”…and his name was Michael Snaer. FSU regresses to the mean and drops a bunch of close games

This results in a 6-6 OOC record and a dismal 6-12 record in what is now the best conference in America. The Noles miss the postseason altogether, while the Gators march to a national title behind a filthy backcourt led by Kasey Hill.

What are your thoughts? Is an NCAA berth possible with a roster that's talented but lacking the depth of usual Ham rosters? Another year in the NIT? Or do the Noles crash and burn to their worst record since Von Wafer was sulking on the bench?
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