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MBB Game 31: Regular Season Finale, VTech 53 at FSU 63.

Florida State's Uche Echefu has control of the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against California on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008, in Las Vegas. From AP Photo by Ronda Churchill. Florida State's Toney Douglas(23) is pressured by Clemson's Trevor Booker (35) as he drives past during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. Douglas had 23 points as Florida State defeated Clemson 65-61. From AP Photo by Mary Ann Chastain.

Keep it Simple

Win and You're a 4 Seed

Win and You Get a First Round Bye

Let's Send Toney and Uche off the Way they Deserve

Preview and Game Thread Inside


Photos from

Before I get into the meat of this article, there are a few congratulations that need to be mentioned. First, Congrats to FSUncensored for participating in the NCAA teleconference and providing such thorough coverage of the recent sanctions.

Second, I don't think we should forget there is another basketball in team and they deserve some attention. The Lady Noles finished 25-6 overall, 12-2 in the ACC and shared the ACC Regular Season Title with Maryland. Thy beat Boston College (recap) in the first round of the ACC Tournament and at the time of writing this are preparing to take on Duke, the #3 seed in the tournament, for an opportunity to play either Maryland or UNC.(Unfortunately they lost 75-57, Duke was ranked 10th in the nation and we were 13th) And to top all that off, Sue Semrau was named the ACC Coach of the Year. She has been with the Noles for 12 years and has led them to 111 victories in the past 5 years alone. The Noles were 10-0 on the road this year. We also had three players named to 3rd Team All-ACC Team honors.

We should also congratulate Toney Douglas, Uche Echefu and Brian Hoff (yes we have three seniors on our roster) for completing their college careers. This will be their last appearance on the Tucker Center floor as Seminoles. See my previous post to learn more about Uche and his quiet yet productive college career. Brian Hoff has played in 10 games this year and averages about 4 minutes per outing. He's a 6'6" guard out of Jacksonville and has only played in a total of 42 games. Regardless of his limited contribution, he's a senior and deserves at least some mention. I will have a piece about Toney in the future...but we all know that he has carried this team. So a round of applause to our seniors. (If you want to check out what Brian Hoff looks like, he makes an appearance in this video, an excellent piece about FSU Basketball and the community)

And finally we should congratulate the entire team for doing what no one, including myself, expected them to do this year. They have fought to the end in every game and have matured drastically. This is a very different team than the one we were discussing in November as we started with a very close win at Jacksonville, 59-57. Since that time, we have gone on to have 22 wins, only 2 OOC losses and 6 ACC losses with the chance to win 10 games in the ACC since the 1992-1993 season and our first tournament bid in years.

Toney Douglas put it well when he said the following about the upcoming game: "All we've got to do is take care of business and we'll be top four." And followed by saying, "It's going to be a war. Because we're both playing for something. They know if they want to get in the tournament, it's a must-win for them. And for us, we're playing for top four in the league and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. So we have a lot we're playing for, too."

If my understanding of the ACC Seeding rules and the current state of affairs in the standings are correct, a win guarantees us the 4 seed in the ACC tournament and boosts our seed in the NCAA tournament. A loss paired with a Clemson win means trouble as we would likely drop to the 6th seed. A loss paired with a Clemson loss puts us in the 4 spot. (Please correct me if this is incorrect)

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 14: Head coach Leonard Hamilton of the Florida State Seminoles looks down against the North Carolina Tar Heels during day two of the 2008 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Bobcats Arena on March 14, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. From Getty Images.

Image from

Keep it simple, coach. "There's no question this is a very important game for us," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "This is a special opportunity for us." Leonard said this about the upcoming match up with the Hokies: ""We realize what they're capable of doing. They've got three guys that are tearing it up. … And they've played everybody down to the wire, whether they've won or lost."

Last time it came down to this:


Image from

Here are the numbers from that game. This was a huge win on the road in the ACC. We shot the ball extremely well and the reason we won the game was the turnover discrepancy.

The Hokies turned the ball over on every 1 out of 4 possession. Can't win basketball games like that. Toney Douglas led the way that night with 22 points in 37 minutes of play. Kitchen had 19, shooting a ridiculous 8 of 11 from the floor and 3 of 3 from the three point line. Uche had 12 on a bad shooting night, going 3 for 14. Jeff Allen, Malcom Delaney and AD Vassallo, who was in foul trouble most of the night, led the Hokies with 25, 12 and 15 points respectively. Only 3 other Hokies scored for a total of 13 points. Allen and Delaney combined for 7 documented turnovers. Our starting 5 had 8 total turnovers, with Uche carrying the load with 4.

VTech is coming off two tough games against, losing to Duke and UNC at home. They have gone 1-5 in their last 6 with the lone win against a then struggling Clemson team. VTech has lost by a combined total of 46 points in their last seven losses, including a 14 point loss to UVA, which averages to 6.5 points per game. In their last 5 wins, they have won by a combined total of 31 points. VTech is no stranger to close games. Here is the preview from that last game.

Here are their current stats from Ken Pomeroy:

Raw Tempo: 68.0 poss/40 min National Rank=114
Adj Tempo: 66.7 poss/40 min National Rank=163

Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 105.2 (107) 101.8 (188)
Adj Efficiency : 110.3 ( 54) 97.6 ( 94)

Effective FG% : 49.1 (168) 47.0 ( 77)
Turnover Pct. : 19.3 ( 97) 18.1 (303)
Off. Rebound% : 35.5 ( 77) 31.7 (121)
Free Throw Rate: 41.2 ( 53) 33.3 ( 98)

3-Point FG% : 34.2 (159) 32.8 ( 86)
2-Point FG% : 48.1 (166) 45.8 ( 85)
Free Throw Pct.: 71.7 ( 81) 72.6 (323)
Block Pct. : 9.2 (193) 12.4 ( 37)
Steal Pct. : 8.8 ( 71) 9.3 (214)

3PA/FGA : 31.4 (207) 34.5 (228)
A/FGM : 53.4 (187) 54.7 (188)

There are two numbers that play directly to our favor. They don't generate turnovers and they allow you to get to the line. In fact, they are one of the worst teams in the country. We have been very effective at getting to the line and we do better against teams who don't create turnovers. If you recall, VTech sat in a zone against us the last time we played until we quickly shot them out of it. One would then think that going to man defense would cause you to be called for more fouls. Apparently that doesn't hold tru in Blacksburg, let's see if the rules are different in the Tucker Center. As you can see, we got out to a really nice lead only to see us try and get into a three point shooting contest with the Hokies. There was a period where it seemed as if they couldn't miss:

So where are our stats now:

Raw Tempo: 68.6 poss/40 min National Rank=101
Adj Tempo: 67.8 poss/40 min National Rank=110

Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 100.2 (192) 94.0 ( 29)
Adj Efficiency : 105.0 (113) 88.5 ( 11)

Effective FG% : 48.7 (188) 44.7 ( 21)
Turnover Pct. : 22.6 (281) 22.9 ( 49)
Off. Rebound% : 35.1 ( 94) 35.4 (271)
Free Throw Rate: 40.9 ( 58) 35.3 (154)

3-Point FG% : 34.0 (170) 32.5 ( 71)
2-Point FG% : 47.5 (190) 42.5 ( 20)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.2 ( 66) 68.3 (136)
Block Pct. : 8.1 (124) 16.1 ( 6)
Steal Pct. : 10.0 (184) 12.3 ( 28)

3PA/FGA : 33.6 (149) 36.1 (276)
A/FGM : 53.2 (193) 47.0 ( 22)

Our weaknesses continue to be the same: Turnovers and Opponents offensive rebounding. I find it interesting to see such a huge discrepancy between our offensive and defensive rebounding. For a team that defends so well in the paint, why the missed opportunities? It may be that we're able to defend in the paint with a limited number of players, meaning Solomon and Uche don't need a ton of help and therefore the rest of the team is playing tight on the perimiter. Some of it is that teams are throwing up a ton of three pointers against us, which makes rebounding less predictable. Teams shoot 36% of their shots from behind the line which is well above the 33% national average.

So how do we beat VTech? Shoot the ball well and force turnovers. Uhm, shouldn't we do that against every team? Yes, but looking at the correlation between VTech and their opponents wins and losses, it comes down to eFG% and TO%. Actually, if you have a good defensive night against VTech, you should win the game.

Once again, the way to think about correlation coefficients is that they measure how related two things are and they range from -1 to 1. The strength of the relationship is dependent on how far way from 0 it is. A correlation efficient of 0 means there is no association at all, +1 means a perfect positive correlation and -1 means a perfect negative correlation. So, if for example, if VTech has a good shooting night or let's say a better night than their opponent, their correlation coefficient is +0.82. There is a very good chance they will win. However, if they have a worse TO% then their opponent they have a -0.7 correlation, meaning they are likely to lose. But, the eFG% is the stronger correlation, meaning they could likely over come a bad TO% night with good shooting. Sounds familiar...that is what they almost did against us. They shot the ball better than us but had a terrible TO%. The strongest correlation for VTech is actually their opponents defensive eFG%, it's +0.83. What do we do well...defend shots. Unfortunately, the same story applies to the Noles. If we shoot the ball well we win (+0.7) if we turn it over (-0.46 we lose). The strongest correlation for us is, again, our opponent's defensive eFG%. They hold us to a bad night and we're likely done. However, the correlation isn't as strong as it is for VTech (+0.83 vs +0.78)

Here are the likely starting line ups from

F #31 Chris Singleton (8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg; 5 pts and 2 rebs vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 21, 2009)
F #41 Uche Echefu (8.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg; 12 pts and 6 rebs vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 21, 2009)
C #32 Solomon Alabi (8.2 ppg, 2.2 bpg; 6 pts and 6 rebs vs. Virginia Tech, Feb, 21, 2009)
G #22 Derwin Kitchen (8.3 ppg, 2.4 apg; 19 pts and 3 asts vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 21, 2009)
G #23 Toney Douglas (20.8 ppg, 1.9 spg; 22 pts and 4 asts vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 21, 2009)

F #40 A.D. Vassallo (18.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg; 15 pts and 3 blks vs. Florida State, Feb. 21, 2009)
F #0 Jeff Allen (14.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg; 12 pts and 11 rebs vs. Florida State, Feb. 21, 2009)
C #34 Cheick Diakite (3.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg; 3 pts and 8 rebs vs. Florida State, Feb. 21, 2009)
G #23 Malcolm Delaney (18.4 ppg, 3.9 spg; 25 pts and 4 asts vs. Florida State, Feb. 21, 2009)
G #10 Hank Thorns (3.0 ppg, 2.7 apg; 5 pts and 6 asts vs. Florida State, Feb. 21, 2009)

After putting up 81 points on Duke's defense, look for the Noles to continue to score. We are fortunate to be playing this game at home. We need to stop their big three, or at least limit them, very similar to the Duke game. Unfortunately, Singler and Henderson decided to have great games. This is going to be an absolute battle and a very physical game. Let's hope that no one gets hurt and we don't get pulled into an extra-curricular activity resulting in ejections or suspensions. Given the character of this team, I doubt the latter will happen.

Remember, VTech is relatively big team, ranking 61st overall in average height at 77.3 inches. However, their effective height is -0.6 inches, or 197th in the country. They crash the offensive glass extremely well, grabbing 35% of their possible rebounds. Their offense is their strength and Vassallo and Delaney lead the charge. However, they don't come off the floor.

Notice a trend. When they don't get to play the entirety of the game, VTech typically loses.It is not a perfect correlation, but just something I noticed. Therefore, we need to get Vassallo or Delaney into foul trouble early and let them watch the game from the bench. In the last meeting, things really heated up when the two of them were in the game.

In other news, Toney Douglas was named to NABC All-District 2 First Team Honors. That team also includes Hansbrough, Lawson, Teague and McClinton. He is now eligible to be named to the All-American teams. Look for that announcement on April 4th.

Solomon Alabi was named as the ACC rookie of the week last week, the second time this year. He is also a leading candidate to be on the Freshman All-ACC team as well as the ACC All Defensive team.

Look for the game on or The game will be televised on Raycom Sports. Sirius XM users go to Channel 190. And for those of us not going to the game, watch this and imagine you're there..

This has been an exciting season and thanks for hanging on to the very end. It hope it has been as fun for you as it has been for me. Let's take care of business and get ready for the ACC and NCAA tournament.

A nice video to sum it all up.

Go Noles!