The Seminoles showed signs of life in the second half of the Old Spice Classic Semi-Finals against the Alabama Crimson tide. FSU struggled, once again, with the full court press in the first half to which Coach Hamilton responded with a three guard line up of Derwin Kitchen, Devidias Dulkys and Michael Snaer. It worked. The Seminoles started to distribute the ball and run a crisp offense distributing the ball to the open shooters. Chris Singleton and Dulkys landed a number of big three point shots that helped the Seminoles move into the Old Spice Classic Finals against Marquette. The Golden Eagles upset Xavier and Michigan on their way to this game. This would be a huge lift for this young Seminoles team to defeat the red hot Eagles.
Game Time: 7:30pm EST
Television: ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
Get ready for a good one folks. The Seminoles were able to fight through two poor offense performances and battle their way to the Finals of the Old Spice Tournament. During the three games, the defense led the way, limiting opponents to poor shooting efforts, permitting the offense to find a way to win. It wasn't pretty at times, but for those of you who watched the second half of the Alabama game, it seemed as if the lights went back on.
Marquette enters the game with a 6-0 record. The first four games of the Golden Eagles season were against poor opponents: Centenary, Maryland Eastern Shore, Grambling and South Dakota. Many wondered if Marquette would be able to make it through the more difficult half of the bracket in the tournament that included Michigan, Xavier and Creighton. They did so easily, defeating Xavier 71-61 and Michigan 79-65. In those two games they had an eFG% of over 50% and a TO% of less than 20% in each game. They held their opponents to poor shooting percentages.
Here are the four factors evaluations for the Marquette's two games in the tournament:
Marquette struggled on the offensive boards against Xavier but seemed to do much better against Michigan.
Here is the likely starting lineup for Marquete:
F #32 Lazar Hayward 6'6 225 Senior
F #33 Jimmy Butler 6'6 215 Junior
G #1 Darius Johnson-Odom 6'2 200 Sophomore
G #10 David Cubillan 6'0 175 Senior
G #23 Dwight Buycks 6'3 190 Junior
Despite losing two significant senior contributors, this is an experienced team that has post season tournament experience. Notice something about their lineup? They are relatively small in comparison to the Seminoles. Though they do have a 7'2 freshman on their bench. Don't be surprised to see the Golden Eagles play full court press as much as possible in the game as it will likely force the Seminoles to go small. Coach Buzz Williams was able to sit and watch the entire Seminoles game as Marquette played early in the day on Friday. Fortunately for the Seminoles, they are learning how to respond and proved they could play small ball against Alabama. It's still not perfect.
The Seminoles will continue to start: Kitchen, Dulkys, Singleton, Alabi and Reid. Though, look for a quick switch to that three guard lineup if necessary. Singleton is having an outstanding tournament and he should have continued success tonight.
Keys to the Game:
1. Be Patient. Marquette plays physical man to man basketball. Play fast but not rushed and make good decisions.
2. Limit the turnovers. Duh. This will be a theme for the rest of the year.
3. Adjust on the fly. We know that the combination of Kitchen, Dulkys, Snaer, Gibson and Singleton works. The Seminoles will continue to have a huge size advantage with this 'small line up.'
4. Don't let Marquette get out early. The Eagles only use 8 players. This is the 3rd game in 4 days. Tired legs.
This would be a huge win for the Seminoles. They have the opportunity to beat an SEC, Big East and Big Ten team in one season. Let's keep that opportunity alive.
Officials: Announced at game time.
Prediction: Seminoles 73 Eagles 66