Last year, the Florida State Seminoles made a surprising charge through the Atlantic Coast Conference to the NCAA Tournament in what was one of the most successful seasons in team history. Riding squarely on the shoulders of Toney Douglas, the Seminoles made their first NCAA tournament appearance in 11 years,earned numerous post season awards and made it into the national spotlight.
As soon as the clock struck 0.0 in Boise, Idaho, the questions about the Seminole's future without Toney Douglas started. With one of the youngest teams in the country and with limited offensive production from it's future, many immediately questioned the Seminoles' ability to return to the spot light in the 2009 - 2010 season.
Now, it is time to see if the Seminoles are up the challenge of becoming an annual competitor in the best basketball conference in the country. Mark your calenders: Midnight Madness begins as the clock hits 00:00 on October 16th. Will the Seminoles continue their Cinderella story or will they return to the pumpkin patch of basketball mediocrity?
Photo from here.
Continue reading for Tomahawk Nation's Men's Basketball Preview...
Before getting into the details of the preview, check out the updates that have been provided over the summer:
The New Guys: A review of the new additions to the basketball team. Of note, Bernard James will likely join the team in 2010 and Jon Kreft is not eligible yet but may join the team after January 1st.
An In-Depth Analysis of Solmon Alabi: If the Seminoles expect to make some post-season noise, Solomon Alabi needs to have a big year.
A Detailed Look at Luke Loucks and Derwin Kitchen. With one year under their belt, can these young guards be the answer to Toney Douglas's departure? Here is a discussion with Derwin's Head Coach at Iowa Western Community College. Looks like Derwin has the tools to lead this team to a successful season.
What does the schedule have in store for the Seminoles? Take a look at this article. The Noles have their work cut out for them
Should the Seminoles play an up-tempo offense? Here is the argument for and against it.
Wonder who are the fresh faces in the ACC? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the ACC Recruiting Class of 2009.
Check out the pre-season reading list.
Last year was an exciting season for the Seminoles as they made their first NCAA appearance in 11 years and saw the development of young talent at the national level. For those of you who are new to Tomahawk Nation, welcome to the site and we hope you enjoy our coverage of the basketball team. The analysis done here is a little unconventional in that we don't simply rely on your typical basketball stats. Many of the arguments and discussions here are presented using tempo free statistics that were developed by the work of Dean Oliver and Ken Pomeroy. We highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with their body of work at the Basketball Prospectus and KenPomeroy.com.
The chart above demonstrates the basis for which we will evaluate the Seminoles through the upcoming season: The Four Factors. These use of these statistics to evaluate a team was developed by Dean Oliver. In general, these four elements can be used in the analysis of a basketball team. These statistics primarily focus on the offensive skill set of a team: effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage and free throw rate. These contribute to a team's offensive efficiency which, in general, has a direct association with a team's success. Of the top 60 teams in the country ranked by Ken Pomeroy, only three teams has an offensive efficiency ranked 100 or higher in the nation: #36 Florida State (100), #35 Washington State (121) and #60 Cleveland St (107). The reason those three teams were successful was due to their outstanding defense. Florida State ranked 12th in the nation in overall defensive efficiency.
Last year, the Seminoles offense was the rate limiting step to their success. Night in and night out they were able to play a defensive heavy slow tempo game to keep their opponents out of their comfort zone. However, their offensive efficiency was prohibitive to them winning more games. Despite playing some very close games with some of the top teams in the nation, the Florida State offense couldn't put the points up to break through. The interesting thing about the Seminoles' offense was that they were a relatively consistent team. In fact, they ranked third in the nation for consistency, meaning the variation in points they scored from game to game. It didn't matter if the Seminoles were playing Western Illinois or Duke, they played the same style of game and put up the same number of points, which made for some frustrating early games in the year.
Looking at the Four Factors, the Seminoles ranked 163rd in the country for Effective Field Goal Percentage, 89th in Offensive Rebounding%, 57th in Free Throw Rate% and 291st in Turnover Percentage. The Seminoles turned the ball over on almost one out of every four trips down the court. Fortunately, they forced their opponents to do the same. Imagine if those squandered opportunities had gone towards scoring opportunities. Not surprisingly, turnovers had a significant impact on the Seminoles offensive efficiency. Clearly, the Seminoles will need to minimize their turnover percentage to get to the next level.
The defense, in general, was stellar last year, ranking 12th overall in the nation for defensive efficiency. (Offensive and Defensive efficiency are based on the number of points a team will score given 100 possessions.) The stifling man to man defense, highly characteristic of a Leonard Hamilton team, held opponents to a 44.7 eFG%, forced turnovers on 22.1% of possessions and had a block % of 16 for 6th in the nation. The defense struggled, however, in limiting the opponents offensive rebound percentage. Teams were able to have a number of second opportunities when they shouldn't have, especially given the fact the Seminoles were one of the tallest teams in the nation last year.
Replacing Toney Douglas
Toney Douglas was Florida State basketball last year. When the NCAA tournament started, the national media finally provided Toney the attention he deserved as one of the most decorated players in Florida State basketball history. Earning multiple post season honors at the conference and national level, Toney set the standard for the Seminoles offense and defense. However, all too often when our young team became frustrated, stuck on offense or scared, the ball was forced back to Toney, placing him in numerous difficult situations.
Toney started all 35 games and played 36.5 minutes per game, averaging 21.45 points per game. Not a single other player on the Seminoles' squad averaged double digit points last year. The next highest point total was Solomon Alabi with 8.4 points per game. Chris Singleton, a true freshman, averaged 26.9 minutes per game, the second most on the team. No other player in the ACC played more minutes per game than Toney Douglas. Only 25 players who played more than 30 games in the season played a higher percentage of minutes than Toney.
Here is a chart that demonstrates the impact of Toney on the team:
Clearly, no single player on the current Florida State roster will be able to fill in the void left by Toney's departure. It will need to be a collective effort, which will make the Seminoles a greater threat in the ACC if they are not reliant on one player. Last year, there were 7050 total minutes played by the Seminoles, Toney Douglas accounted for 1279 of those. Based on total minutes, Florida State will be returning only 70.7% of their minutes. If you imagine that each position takes up 20% of a team's total minutes, we are essentially replacing one player next year. The other 10% loss is from Uche Echefu, who had limited minutes toward the end of the year.
The 2009 - 2010 Team
#21 Michael Snaer 6'5 200lbs Freshman Moreno Valley, California
Photo from here.
Without a doubt, Michael was one of the most exciting players in high school basketball last year and is considered a recruiting steal. Snaer took the fact that he earned little national press after his Junior year as a challenge and his work paid off. After having a very successful senior season, Michael went on to earn numerous post-season accolades during tournament play. He is an outstanding athlete who can shoot from anywhere on the floor. He plays aggressively around the rim and can score with both hands around the basket. Many have questioned his shot selection. Being paired with Derwin Kitchen will make Michael a better player as he won't be required to manage the game. Some say he will be a one and done, but don't be surprised if he sticks around for more than one.
#22 Derwin Kitchen 6'4 204lbs Junior Jacksonville, FL Stats: 25mpg 7.8ppg 98.4ORtg 50.4 eFG% 20.8 ARt
Photo from here.
Meet your new floor general. Derwin had a relatively slow start to the season as he didn't make his first appearance until December 13th. However, by the end of the year his presence was key, particularly in the Georgia Tech game in the ACC Tournament. Derwin is a natural point guard and played that role at IWCC and per his old coach, the motion offense is natural fit for DK. Look for increased minutes, increased assists and a very different style of game from Derwin as he looks to set up the rest of this team.
#3 Luke Loucks 6'5 196lbs Sophomore Clearwater, FL Stats:16.9mpg 3.1ppg 86.3 ORtg 46.9 eFG% 23.7ARt
Photo from here.
Loucks saw a lot of minutes at the beginning of the 2008 - 2009 season, only to see them fade towards the end of the season as Kitchen played a larger role in the offense. Plagued by turnovers early in the year, Loucks has worked incessantly during the off season to improve his quickness, ball handling skills and understanding of the offense. In general, Loucks played excellent defense. From pictures taken during the off season, Loucks has slimmed down and changed his physique. Look for Loucks to get significant minutes off the bench giving Kitchen and Snaer some rest.
#4 Deividas Dulkys 6'5 196lbs Sophomore Silute, Lithuania Stats: 13mpg 3.6ppg 89.5 ORtg 41.5 eFG%
Looking at last year's numbers, it looks like Dulkys will be riding the end of the bench this year. However, that is not the case. This summer, the Seminoles spent two weeks in Spain on a trip sponsored by Nike, during which they played 4 games against some top level teams. During that trip, Dulkys found his shot, having multiple games in double digits. In one game, he hit five three pointers and scored 30 points. Despite playing limited minutes, Dulkys shot the third most three pointers on the team. If his shoot made it through customs, watch for Dulkys to have a big offensive year. His defense still needs significant work.
#0 Pierre Jordan 6'0 165lbs RS Freshman Atlanta, GA Stats: 4.6mgp 1ppg
Pierre only played in 6 games last year, making the only 3 point attempt he tried. Pierre is an extremely athletic but undersized guard. However, he did get a lot of minutes under his belt this year during the Spain trip. However, with the traffic jam at the guard position, playing time will continue to be limited. He was red shirted this year which means he has likely shown the coaches something in the off-season we haven't been privy to. He has he skill set to be an excellent college player, just hasn't been given the opportunity yet.
#31 Chris Singleton 6'9 227 Sophomore Canton, Ga Stats: 26mpg 8.1ppg 94.7 ORtg 48.3 eFG% 5.6 Blk%
Photo from here.
One of the top high school prospects, Singleton had an up and down season, showing flashes of brilliance and potential at times and disappearing at others. This shouldn't be surprising for a player who was expected to produce in an offensive system that didn't necessarily play to his skill set. Singleton is a highly athletic forward who creates match up nightmares. Florida State needs to do a better job exploiting those match ups and allow Singleton to use his athletic skills. Unfortunately, Singleton fell in love with the three point shot at times during the season. He needs to put the ball on the floor more and attack the basket. The three point shot will always be available for him. Singleton needs to have a big year for the Noles to continue their success. Don't be surprised if he is named First Team All Defense this year either. Singleton has the talent to put up a double-double every night, but he has to play more consistently.
#42 Ryan Reid 6'8 238lbs Senior Lauderdale Lakes, FL Stats: 19mpg 4.9ppg 3.7rpg 81.9 ORtg 9.7 OReb%
Photo from here.
Ryan Reid is the only Senior on the Seminole basketball team. Don't expect Ryan to be the center piece of the offense, except for keeping possessions alive. During the off-season Reid has slimmed down and looks to be in great shape. Reid is going to be the physical presence in the post and will see a lot of playing time this year. With added scoring from Snaer and the development of the rest of the team, Reid shouldn't have to play a significant role on the offensive end. If Reid can be a work horse on the glass at both ends of the court, the Seminoles could be a force to reckon with in the ACC. Reid needs to be comfortable distributing the ball out of the paint and not feeling pressured to put the ball on the floor.
#2 Jordan DeMercy 6'7 215lbs Junior Norcorss, Ga Stats: 19mpg 3.1ppg 81.2 ORtg 42.8 eFG%
Photo from here.
DeMercy has the athletic potential to be an excellent college player. Unfortunately, his stats do not reflect the effort he put forth last year. The more he can play around the rim and in transition, the better he will be. DeMercy is another example of the size and athleticism that the Seminoles possess and can pose significant match up problems if used appropriately. Again, the Seminoles offense did not play to DeMercy's skill set. However, watch for DeMercy to be a continued force on the defensive end, as was demonstrated during the ACC tournament.
#15 Terrance Shannon 6'8 220lbs Freshman Forsyth, Ga
Photo from here.
Terrance could be a sleeper sensation on the Seminole basketball team this year. During the summer between his Junior and Senior year, Terrance tore his ACL playing AAU ball, meaning there are significant questions about him going into this year. All signs indicate that he is fully recovered and ready to contribute. Terrance has the size and energy to be an outstanding player in the post. He has a huge wing-span and a very good post presence. If he feels confident in his knee, watch for Terrance to have a good freshman season and excellent career at Florida State. He will fit in nicely to Leonard Hamilton's defense.
#32 Solomon Alabi 7'1 251lbs RS Sophomore Kaduna, Nigeria Stats: 22.2mpg 8.4ppg 5rpg 2bpg 102.9ORtg
Photo from here.
Last year, the ACC saw the coming out party of Solomon Alabi...on the defensive end of the court. One of the best shot blockers in the country, Solomon was a nightmare for teams on the inside. The Seminoles success will be highly dependent on Alabi's success. Despite being timid at times on the offensive end, Solomon showed flashes of brilliance, particularly when the Seminoles played above the rim with him. If he has developed his low post offensive game and is confident in his moves, watch out as Solomon could be one of the best centers in the country. Many NBA draft boards have him listed as a potential lottery pick next year. Expect great things out of Solomon. He has already been named to a number of pre-season award lists, no reason he shouldn't be on those lists at the end of the year. Anything less than a double-double should be a disappointment
#1 Xavier Gibson 6'11 240lbs Sophomore Dothan, Ga Stats: 6.4mpg 2.2ppg 1.3rpg 99.6ORtg 52.8 eFG%
Highly underrated and underutilized. Gibson has an amazing skill set and moves up and down the court with ease despite his 7'0 frame. When Gibson saw long stretches of minutes last year, he was highly productive and is an absolute match up nightmare. He has the ability to play the 4 and step out to take jump shots or even put the ball on the floor. He can also play with his back to the basket. He needs to settle down and trust his skill set as he, at times, got ahead of himself on the offensive end. Look for a break out year from Gibson if he gets the minutes. Florida State's opponents didn't see enough of Gibson last year.
*Jon Kreft may or may not be a part of this group after January 1st. His is a Junior College transfer who is currently working on his eligibility. For a full story on Jon's journey to the Seminoles go here.
Likely Starting Line-Up:
Point Guard: Derwin Kitchen
Shooting Guard: Michael Snaer
Small Forward: Chris Singelton
Power Forward: Ryan Reid
Center: Solomon Alabi
The average years of experience for this group is 2.4 years. Last year, it was 1.25, which ranked 294th in the nation. If Alabi, Reid, Singleton and Gibson can make significant contributions you will see a significant increase in the effectiveness of our guards. Forcing teams to cover down low will open up the easy shots for Snaer and Dulkys and give Kitchen the space he needs to distribute the ball.
Gibson will likely see a lot of playing time next to Alabi, which will be an absolute nightmare for opponents. Could he potentially start? Absolutely, but I think he poses more problems coming off the bench and playing the 5 than starting at the 4. With Reid in the starting line-up, you can hide his offensive deficiencies by the surrounding cast.
Key Dates to Watch For:
October 16th: Practice Begins (Remember, we already had a number of structured practices with the coaching staff due to the Spain Trip. Shannon and Snaer were not able to participate in those but have been on campus playing in unscheduled sessions. Check out this article from Corey Clark about the Seminoles off season conditioning.)
November 16th: Jacksonville - Home/Season Opener
November 24th: @ Florida- Can the Seminoles continue their winning ways against the Gators?
November 26th to 29th: Old Spice Classic in Orlando- Could see the likes of Marquette, Michigan and Xavier
December 2nd: @Ohio State - Big Ten/ACC Challenge
December 20th: @Georgia Tech - Can the Noles stop Derrick Favors in the ACC opener?
January 27th: @Duke
February 24th: @UNC
March 11th: ACC Tournament Starts
Check out the Schedule Article for all of the details on the schedule. Duke and UNC on the road. Two games against an excellent Clemson team. Two games against what could be a surprising Georgia Tech squad. The ACC is never easy but we have a rough run this year.
This team has all of the potential and talent to compete for an ACC Championship. However, there are a number of questions that will need to be answered in out of conference play before that can become a reality. Coach Hamilton has his team focused and prepared to compete with the best. But, will Derwin Kitchen run the show night in and night out? Will Solomon continue along his trajectory? Is Michael Snaer the real deal and will he put up the much needed points? Can the defense continue to play as it did without Toney Douglas? Will the turnovers decrease significantly enough to increase the offensive efficiency?This Seminole team will surprise a lot of people this year. Dick Vitale predicts the Seminoles to be one of the top 40 teams in the country (#15), Lindy's has the Noles at #36. Andy Katz doesn't rank the Seminoles in the top 25 but has 4 other ACC teams in his list (Duke, UNC, Maryland, Boston College). This demonstrates the potential and questions that surround this team.
If the Seminoles can establish consistent success in the paint on offense, the outlook on the season is favorable. With the height and depth they have in the front court, the Seminoles should dominate in the paint as they did last year. Hopefully a year of experience will remove some of the hesitancy and timidness we saw at times last year. If they can establish the paint, the floor will be open for guard play in the back court. Toney Douglas was a shut down defender and his presence will be missed. However, Coach Hamilton prides himself on establishing outstanding defensive units. Expect nothing less this year.
The Seminoles showed significant improvement in their offensive ability during their trip to Spain. The value of that experience is unmeasurable. Playing 4 games against quality competition with scheduled practices can only help this young team continue to develop. The turnovers should be down and the pace should be higher this year. Even though pace does not necessarily equate to success, this team is built to run. I will be disappointed if this team settles into a sluggish offensive set.
Prediction: I won't make any specific predictions but will say the following: Top 4 in the ACC, 20+ wins, ACC Tournament Semi-Finalist, NCAA Tournament Appearance. Once we get to see the Seminoles in action, I will be more specific. Should these be surprising? Absolutely not.
As the season gets underway, look for detailed previews of the ACC similar to last year.
This should be an exciting year for Florida State basketball. What are your thoughts on the team? As always, we appreciate your input and feedback. We want to provide you with the best analysis on your Florida State Seminoles.
Photos from life.com