It was not a pretty victory, but the Seminoles out lasted the Iona Gaels to move on to the second round of the Old Spice Classic with a 54 -49 victory. It was a turnover happy affair that the Seminoles once again had difficult handling full court pressure. Derwin Kitchen led the way with 16 points. Chris Singleton had 13 points and 7 rebounds, but 6 turnovers. Solomon Alabi only had 6 points on a 1-7 shooting night with 7 turnovers. The Gaels were crashing down on the big man, triple teaming him at time. Terrance Shannon made his first appearance of the year, pulling down 1 rebound in 1 minute of play. Once again, the Seminoles a good defensive game, limiting Iona to 32.7% shooting from the floor and had 12 blocks. However, turnovers once again killed any momentum the Seminoles may have generated. The Seminoles turned the ball over on 39% of their possession.
Now, the Seminoles turn their attention to the Alabama Crimson Tide who beat Baylor 79 to 76 in the first round of the tournament. This is going to be a difficult game.
Game Time: 5pm EST
After the frustrating loss, Florida State fans hoped that the Seminoles would bounce back against Iona and get back to their winning ways. They got the win, but it wasn't the team that dominated during the first three games of the year. It was sloppy basketball that was rushed, resulting in poor shots and turnovers.
This says it all:
If it wasn't for the defense, this would have likely been a loss. So far this year, the Seminoles have the 7th best defense in the country, holding teams to about 0.77 points per possession and an eFG% of 35.4%, which is 3rd in the country. No team has had an offensive efficiency of greater than 100 so far this year. Only two Iona players scored in dougle digits last night, both of whom came off the bench. The Noles held Mochado and McFadden, argualbly the Gaels' best players, in check only scoring 15 points combined.
However, the offense failed to show up again.The Noles started out the year with three games in a row with an offensive efficiency of 110+. In the last two games that number has dropped to the 70s and there has been a significant increase in the TO%. Iona generated 13 steals to the Seminoles 8. Once again, Florida State looked rushed against the press. Even when they broke the press, they were quick to shoot rather than settling and getting a good shot on the secondary break or working into the half court set. Derwin Kitchen scored 16 points and shot 54% from the field, but had many poor decisions and turnovers, but it was nothing in comparison to the night that Alabi had: 1 for 7 from the floor, with 7 turnovers. Iona did an excellent job of taking Alabi out of his game early, triple teaming him and pushing him out of his comfort zone. Granted, there were many plays on which a foul could have been called, but that's the way the game goes.
Tonight, the Seminoles take on the Alabama Crimson Tide who are 3-1, with their only loss in the opener to Cornell 71-67. Alabama is all about scoring with the 36th best offense in the country. Their defense however pales in comparison to their offensive ability, ranking 242nd in the country, allowing 1.06 points per possession and 72 points per game. The Seminoles' opponents have been held to 53 points per game.
Last night, Alabama defeated a much bigger Baylor team in a close game. Baylor hit a long three at the buzzer to make the score appear closer than it was.
Here are the Four Factors numbers from Alabama's victory:
Look at that turnover percentage: 14%. Baylor sat in a zone for most of the game, but the Tide are very careful with the ball, averaging a TO% of only 15% per game.They also get to the line often. Fortunately, the Seminoles typically do a nice job of not committing a lot of fouls. The game against Iona had many silly/questionable calls. We try to be as partial as possible with respect to fouls and try not use them as an excuse, but there were a lot of eyebrows raised yesterday.
Alabama showed a lot of full court pressure last night. Baylor was a significantly taller team and 'Bama was likely trying to keep them out of their half court sets and use that size to their advantage. First year head coach, Anthony Grant served as an assistant to Billy Donovan for 5 years and then as Head Coach at Virginia Commonwealth. His team almost knocked off UCLA in the NCAA tournament last year and upset Duke two years ago.
Here is the likely lineup for Alabama:
F #32 JaMychal Green 6'9 220 Sophomore Montgomery, AL
F #40 Justin Knox 6'9 240 Junior Tuscaloosa, AL
G #2 Makhail Torrance 6'5 210 Senior Eight Mile, AL
G #21 Senario Hillman 6'1 192 Junior Irwinton, GA
G #25 Andrew Steele 6'3 215 Sophomore Birmingham, AL
This team only has one freshman on the team and only lost one starter from last year (Alonzo Gee). Mikhail Torrance had a really nice season last year and likes to distribute the ball. Torrance and Green are average double digit points and Freshman Tony Mitchells is scoring double digits coming off the bench. Green and Knox are the tallest players on the team. Thought they do have two players at 6'8 coming off the bench. This smaller line up plays in to Coach Grants philosophy: pressure defense and shoot the three. Alabama hasn't shot the 3-ball a ton this year but look for them to try and open it up against the Noles who have essentially closed down the pain to opponents. Iona did get a ton of penetration into the paint last night, but Alabi and company cleaned anything up around the basket.
The Noles will continue with the lineup of: Kitchen, Dulkys, Alabi, Singleton and Reid. If Alabama continues to go small and try to run, the Noles might go small to match. Seeing more of Michael Snaer would be nice. He is proving he can play in the limited minutes has has played. Also, look for Shannon to get more minutes.
Keys to the Game:
1. Stop the turnovers. The defense can only bail out the offense for so long.
2. Establish the paint. The Seminoles have the size advantage. Get Singleton, Alabi and Gibson working in the low post early an often.
3. Play fast, but don't rush. Just because you break the full court press doesn't mean you need to rush up a shot. There is a sense that this team is trying to play at a higher pace because the team has outstanding athletes. They don't look comfortable when they try to press.
4. Prevent dribble penetration into the paint. Alabama did a really nice job working its way through Baylor's zone and passing around the basket. They will be more than happy to drive and kick for open threes. The Seminoles were late on transitions last night, at times, and can't afford to do the same tonight.
Let's hope that the Seminoles were looking past Iona for tonight's match up. The Noles have had little no practice time, so don't be surprised if the turnover woes continue. If the Seminoles can win tonight, they will face Marquette, who upset Michigan, in the finals. This should be a very exciting game if the Seminoles can hang on to the ball and not make so many silly mistakes. They also need to shoot better tonight to stay in the game. 33% from the floor will not cut it against a good team like Alabama. The one factor that might keep the Noles in this game is that Alabama's defense is poor.
Officials: Announced at Game Time
Prediction: Alabama 68 Seminoles 63.