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Men's Basketball Preview and Game Thread: Stetson Hatters vs. Florida State Seminoles, 7pm EST

After an impressive 87-61 win over the Jacksonville Dolphins, the Seminoles turn their attention to the Stetson Hatters, the second of three Atlantic Sun Conference opponents in a row. With the exception of the last 5 minutes of the first half, the Seminoles played an excellent season opener. Michael Snaer scored 14 points in his college debut and Solomon Alabi scored 17. The Seminoles shot 59% from the floor. Tonight, they turn their attention to the Stetson Hatters who enter the game 1-1, coming off a 74-46 loss to the University of Florida.




Game Time: 7pm EST

Television: This is only one of two games that will not be televised this year.

Last year, the Seminoles defeated the Hatters 79-77 at home on a game that finished by Ryan Reid taking a charge as the clock ran out. The Seminoles shot an eFG% of 45% last year and turned the ball over on 23.6% of their possessions. Toney Doulas an company only shot 1-10 from the three point line while the Hatters went 13 of 32. Toney Douglas led the way with 26 points and Chris Singleton posted a double-double with 10 and 10.

As you can see, this was not an easy win for the Seminoles:

Compare that to the game over Jacksonville on Monday night:

Coming into the game, Stetson averaged 58 points per game while giving up 69.5 per game. They have only played two games, say what you will about those stats. During the off season, Steton's Coach, Derek Waugh, admitted that the team needed to shoot more three pointers, stating that it was one of the keys to survive in the Atlantic Sun conference. They are averaging 18 three point shots per game, which is no different than what they averaged for the entire 2008-2009 season. However, during their match up with Florida, it seemed that Stetson was willing to throw up threes at ill-advised times, but a majority of their strategy was to try and penetrate in to the paint.

Here is a pretty typical offensive set for Stetson. The ball started high on the perimeter and was passed into the wing position that is illustrated below:


Next, you essentially have an exchange on the wing as their post player makes a v-cut and comes to the high post area before he receives the ball, which is illustrated in the second image.



The wing player then essentially runs a vertical pick and roll to get the player who is on the block the ball again. The player on the block was the one who started the play and was running from right to left in the initial image. This pick and roll type play results in a mismatch at the top of the key and an open three point shot for the Hatters:


The Gators had late and poorly timed switches on the play resulting in the gap. The defender for the player shooting the ball is hidden behind the larger wing player who is on the elbow and caught between a rock and hard place. The two player at the top of the screen ran a pick for each other, essentially switching positions. You can also see the player in the lower left hand corner already taking off down court on the long shot. The other thing to note is the positioning of the Stetson players and their ability to rebound.

Here are a couple of other images of how Stetson likes to set up their offensive sets:




The images show three primary offensive sets: a 2-3 set, a 3-2 set and a 1-4. Florida played strictly man against Stetson and it was clear that Stetson tried to spread the floor and win the one on one matchup at the guard position. The Hatters also played a lot of two and three man games on the wings, which essentially cut the ammount of space they had to play in half.

Defensively, they showed a number of looks to slow down the Gators, as indicated by the score, it didn't work. Florida took advantages of Stetson's misatkes and got out quickly in the half court.

The Hatters played a good ammount of man to man defense, but moved into zone on almost every other possession. Of note, they played a significant ammont of 2-1-2 zone, which is essentially a 2-3 zone with the center playing higher in the pain, as illustrated here:


As you can immediately see, there are some huge openings on the wings and a relatively large vacancy in the low paint under the basket. The void under the basket was exagerated by the aggressive press that the center player of the box played. This will be demonstrated below. First, here is a simple diagram of what the 2-1-2 zone looks like on paper:


One of the primary reasons to use this type of zone is to establish a triangle of rebounders in the low post area. If you play a typical 2-3 zone, the wing players are further away from the post. This type of zone can be used to break out into a fast break, but is easily broken down by good jump shoting in the soft spots that are located just inside the three point line on a 45 degree angle from the basket. The way that Stetson plays this zone does not help them with rebounding. Look at this series to see what we mean:





A few images were left out of the sequence, but you can see how Florida moves the ball relatively quickly around the top of the key. In the last image, the central defender for Stetson moves very high in the post. The Florida player passed it to the player on the wing who hit and open three. This type of defensive spacing creates a lot of passing lanes and open shots. Plus, none of the Stetson players are in good position to box out.

Here are the likely starters for the Hatters:

F #5 Ridge Graham 6'5 208lbs RS Fr Stuart, FL (Martin County HS)
F #13 Graeme Radford 6'10 240lbs JR (Victoria, Australia)
G #2 A.J. Smith 6'0 175lbs Sr (Cocoa Beach HS)
G #3 Brandon Williams 5'10 170lbs (Monsignor Pace HS, Miami)
G #15 Mark Lohuis 6'4 205lbs (Vero Beach HS)

As mentioned earlier, the success of Stetson will be dependent on their ability to consitently make three point shots. The reason they stayed in the game last year was their three point shooting and our lack there of. Radford and Graham are very strong players who will battle in the post. Outside of Radford, the Hatters only have two other players over 6'5. Once again, the Seminoles will have a huge size advantage. They will have difficulty containing the quadruple headed monster of Alabi, Reid, Gibson and Singleton.

The Seminoles will start the same five as the Jacksonvile game: Alabi, Reid, Singleton, Dulkys and Kitchen. As noted in the last game, Hamilton went to his bench early and often. FSU plays 8 games between now and December 6th. Only then will they have a few days off in a row. Therefore, the rotation off the bench will be frequent as the teams gets its playing legs and gets into game shape.

Keys to the Game:

1. Slow the Hatters down. With a smaller lineup, the Hatters will want to run and shoot threes in transition. The Seminoles need to play great perimiter defense and keep the Hatters to a low three point shooting percentage. Do not give this team confidence.

2. Get it done from the free throw line. Don't give away easy points. The Noles should get to the line quite frequently during this game. The Gators were able to get Stetson into foul trouble early.

3. Adapt to the multiple defenisve fronts. Stetson will throw the kitchen sink at FSU on defense. Beating a team like FSU would be huge for the Hatters. Given the fact they have so many seniors on the team, they will try to confuse the young Seminoles. Be patient and take what they give you.

4. Continue to develop the confidence of Alabi and Snaer. Both had outstanding games. Make this the norm.

5. Limit turnovers.

Florida State leads this series 38-11 and has won 14 straight. The last time that Stetson beat the Seminoles was in 1975. Once again, there is no reason that the streak shouldn't continue and the Seminoles move to 2-0 against the Atlantic Sun conference this year. Look for another balanced score sheet. The Seminoles had multiple players in double digits against Jacksonville. They will need that night in and night out to replace Toney Douglas's scoring.

Prediction: Seminoles 79 Stetson 65

Officials: Karl Hess (Referee), Ed Corbet (Umpire) Tony Greene (Umpire) Karl Hess is an ACC official and has called the more games for FSU than any other official. In 5 games this year, he has favored the home team, calling 5 fewer fouls.




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