ND Quotes, Offensive Efficiency Notes, and an ACC Power Poll

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

It was a little close for comfort—especially considering the Noles led by 6 to10 for much of the game—but in the end a win is a win is a win…and in college basketball, style points aren’t needed.

As Michael noted after the game, Eric Atkins was phenomenal. Nearly everyone I spoke with had a glowing report. The relative struggles of the defense, compared to standard Hamilton defensive performances, was largely attributed to the display put on by Atkins, but Ham also noted the team was so eager to get out in transition that they weren’t crashing the glass as hard as they need to. Also, both coaches had a fantastic one-liner.

Quotes:

Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey (who was quite impressive, easy to see why ND is so well coached):

“Give credit to Florida State, that was, you know, a big shot right at the end there. And they made big shots throughout the game that kind of never let us really feel we could close the gap or win it.”

“We wanted to stay zone, they did a real good job of ball screening it. He got a runner…hit a tough shot…you gotta give a really good player a lot of credit for knocking down a big shot.”

“Well, not my technical.”–on what allowed ND to get back in it after the lead had grown to 10 with under 8 minutes to play.

“[Garrick Sherman] was doing an unbelievable job of kind of ball screening. Eric Atkins was fabulous tonight.”

“It’s almost like non-league games still.”–On playing in a new conference and going against teams they haven’t had much history with.

“It was a great atmosphere in here. I haven’t been in here since the early 90s when I was at Duke…when they had Sammy Cassell and the dudes.”

“We shot 47%, against their defense that’s pretty good. It’s enough to be in position, we just couldn’t get a key stop to get to overtime.”

Coach Leonard Hamilton:

“They did a much better job, I think, than we did of having the right balance.” “We did not get the ball inside nearly as much as we had planned. I thought we lived by the jump shot just a little too much.”

“On the defensive end, I thought we lacked a little bit to be desired tonight. We didn’t do a very good job of containing the dribble and they shot 55% in the second half.”

“What we wanted to do was use a ball screen and then try to get into the lane and read what would be the best opportunity available for us.”–On the design of the game winning play

“We’ve struggled with that all year. That’s an area of our game that I feel like if we’re gonna move forward and continue to be successful, we are gonna have to make sure we do a better job of executing that part, to give us more balance.” – On getting the ball in the post

“He’s extremely tough, he’s very poised, he’s extremely quick and he’s a great three-point shooter…and he’s so clever with the ball.” – On how good Eric Atkins performed

“I thought we had two or three guys outside the lane watching a couple guys inside the lane rebound. We gotta do a better job getting all five guys back in there…guys were ready to run before we got the ball.”

“I pay my tithes.” – After being asked if he thought the Priest Notre Dame has on their bench was nearly enough to get that Hail Mary shot at the end to go down

“I played Okaro more at the four than I have in some of the other games, only because I knew they were going to go to a smaller lineup that would try to keep us spread."

“We had a hard time with Atkins…he’s an outstanding player, no doubt about that. He’s one of the best point guards in the league.”

“They’re a good basketball team, very skilled, execute very well.”

“Aaron allowed the game to come to him, I don’t think he forced anything…I think he’s playing savvy basketball.” –On Aaron Thomas growing confidence on the offensive end

Aaron Thomas:

“They did a good job of penetrating and pitching, and finding guys for open shots.”

“Atkins is a real good player…he’s smart. He was not sped up, he did a good job of getting in the lane, he hit open shots…he’s a good player. Me being able to play defense on him will help me.” – On the challenge of guarding Eric Atkins

“I was right behind him and it looked good.” – On whether he was worried about the last ND shot going in

“I think when we got ahead we didn’t do a good job of remaining disciplined. We had a couple breakdowns and they were able to execute off the breakdowns.” – On why they never could extend the lead to beyond 8 or 10 points

Boris Bojanovsky:

“He’s a smart player. He’s not really athletic, but he’s got a big body and was wedging us out…got those offensive rebounds and easy baskets.” – On how Notre Dame center Garrick Sherman was able to be so successful on the glass

“I think it was just focus.” – On why they went away from the game plan of wanting to get the ball inside.

“I’ve [seen] them a little; I know they have a smaller lineup and a lot of shooters.” – On if he has watched Duke any this season.

Okaro White:

“We’re a very confident team when it comes down to the wire…we have been in so many [close games].”

“[Sherman] came to play today. I applaud him. He’s not really athletic at all but he knows how to play and does his job.”

“It’s a huge game. But this game we played tonight is the same amount as the Duke game…we take everyone seriously. We don’t want to lose again…we are looking to go in there with our minds focused.” – When asked about the upcoming tilt with Duke

“We are gonna have to switch a lot…they play four guards and basically all of them can shoot and all of them can put the ball on the floor.” – When asked if he’s watched Duke and how we might slow down their offense.

Is That…an Offense?

As Rogner mentioned yesterday, the offense has really shot up the rankings in terms of efficiency lately. In fact, FSU now has the 5th most efficient offense in the ACC, which is impressive when you consider that Duke, Pitt, and Syracuse are ranked 2nd, 6th, and 9th in the nation, respectively.

So what’s been the cause behind the steady climb? Hot three-point shooting is the obvious answer. The Noles lead the league in conference-only games, shooting 43.8% from behind the line.

However, it should also be noted that despite two incredibly bad halves against UVA, the Noles are turning the ball over a little less as well. On the season, FSU turns the ball over on 21.7% of their possessions—which is on pace to be the lowest number since 2007, but still 325th in the country. But in conference play, the number through six games is just 21.2%, again despite both UVA games being over 24%. In fact, in all four other ACC games FSU turned the ball over on fewer than 20% of their possessions, something the Seminoles only accomplished four total times during the OOC portion of the season.

Looking forward, the fact that FSU now has a top 50 offense AND defense is big when it comes to advancing in the NCAA Tournament. Over the last two seasons, only two teams made the Elite 8 without ranking in the top 50 in efficiency on both O and D: 2012 Louisville (116 on O and 1 on D), who had one of the best defenses in recent memory. And 2012 UF (3 on O and 90 on D), a 7-seed who benefitted from playing an injury depleted and worn down UVA team in the opening round and 15-seed Norfolk State in the second round (who upset 2-seed Mizzou in the first).

Around the ACC:

Duke drilled Miami last night down in Coral Gables (in front of Lebron and Kobe no less) to move into a tie for 4th place with FSU and Clemson. Clemson does not play until Sunday (@UNC), so the Noon game in Cameron will be for 4th place outright. (The winner could actually move into a tie for 3rd if Pitt or UVA loses, but neither should as they play Maryland and VT respectfully).

Wake, who is quietly playing decent basketball, snapped a 17-game road losing streak in ACC play, holding on to beat Virginia Tech. FSU only plays Wake once this year (Feb. 15th) and it’s in Winston-Salem, where the Demon Deacons are 11-0 on the season. So that could be a tougher game than expected.

A clear dividing line is emerging in the conference, as most of the teams have played 1/3 of the league slate. So for my ACC Power Polls this year, I am limiting the ranking to 8 teams. Call it an incentive plan.

1/23 Power Poll (Remember from last year, the Minnick Power Poll takes into account recent performance/trend lines, in addition to overall season results).

1. Syracuse (18-0, 5-0)
2. Pitt (17-2, 5-1)
3. Duke (15-4, 4-2)
4. UVA (14-5, 5-1)
5. FSU (13-5, 4-2)
6. Clemson (13-5, 4-2)
7. Wake Forest (13-6, 3-3)
8. Maryland (11-8, 3-3)

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