The game against the Buccaneers of Charleston Southern went about as expected. They took--and made--a lot of threes, we used our size to dominate the glass and points in the paint (44-10 in FSU's favor), Aaron Thomas got to the rim at will and led FSU in scoring with 19, and the Noles got the W over a better than their record suggests team from the Big South. So I'm not going to waste everyone's time with a fluff article. Instead, I'm going to use this space to share some great quotes from the press conference and reflect on the OOC performance by FSU.
Let's start with Charleston Southern head man Barclay Radebaugh, who seems like as cool a guy as his name. And keep in mind that Charleston Southern has already played Baylor, New Mexico, and Alabama, and last year played Arizona.
"They are a very difficult team to guard; their size is astounding. I’ve never seen size like that on a college team."
- "I thought we executed our game plan almost to perfection."
- "We've been there (in close games against some tough teams) unfortunately we haven't gone over the hump and won these games...and I take full responsibility for that. I thought our end of game execution left a little bit to be desired and that's not the players' fault, I didn't have them in the right plays."
- "I thought our guys played with tremendous toughness against a monster of a team."
- "No, I'm not smart enough to figure that out. That was actually the suggestion of one of the assistants." --After being asked if he saw something on tape that caused him to switch to a trapping press late in the game.
- "That's our game plan each night. We made 20 [threes] in our last game, we made 10 tonight, we average 12.7. We spend a lot of time shooting threes to make our size an advantage; the wider the floor can get the better."
- "I give them a lot of credit. I mean they really contest. And they're long. Those are tough threes out there...we wanted to create, pitch, and re-create."
- "I just want to thank FSU. Stan and Coach Hamilton are very kind to play us...we have a hard time getting games, and they've been very kind and are a really classy group of people and we enjoy working with Florida State, in particularly enjoy working with Coach and Stan; they're terrific. And we wish them the best in the season and we're big FSU basketball fans for sure."
- "Beat Auburn!"
- "I am very happy to win this game tonight."
- "The bottom line is, I thought a team that had been averaging 90 points a game, they changed their scheme. They were extremely patient with the ball...they wanted to get as many threes up as they could to kind of neutralize the size...and you have to give them a lot of credit. This was a very good game for us to play."
- "80% of the time I thought we did a very good job of defending them. The other 20% of the time they made us pay every time we faltered."
- "When we can win a basketball game where Okaro can go 1-5, Ian can go 2-7 from three, and Bookert can go 0-5...you know I feel pretty good about that."
- "The thing I was probably most disappointed in was the rash of turnovers we had the last couple minutes."
- "You don't even coach against some of the turnovers we made...I don't know when the last time I've had a guy hold the ball--we had two or three timeouts--and then step over the boundary, throw it up in the air, catch it, and then try and pass it. That's not something you coach against."
- "We all know that [Bookert's] a very capable shooter and many times shooters go through a period where they don't hit the basket very well. But to his credit he's given us good leadership. 9 assists was tremendous, I thought he really made a big difference executing against the zone defense in the second half. And I thought his defense was solid."
- "If you can win when your players are not at their very best...that's significant."
- "We have to turn our attention away from this game and to a what's going to be a very hungry University of Virginia team."
- "All I have to do is look at last year's film up there, where they gave us our hat and showed us where the door was."
- "They (Virginia) are much more talented than they were last were."
- "We wanted to avoid that (the smaller lineup with Okaro at the 4), but the way we had to defend tonight was a little more difficult for Robert and Jarquez, than it is when they're guarding 6'9 225 pound guys...so we made an adjustment to put ourselves in position to try to win."
- "Hopefully we are versatile enough that we can go big, and then if we have to we can go small. We didn't adjust that well last year...hopefully I can keep Okaro on the perimeter, which is much better for us."
- "Getting to the rim has always been part of my game, especially now with the new rules. I feel like I can get easier baskets or get fouled and go to the line."
- "We've played against big teams...we should be ready for the ACC."
- "We lost focus. We [were] rushing things. Some of our forced turnovers were from not being patient." --when asked about the end of the game
- "I don't think we did a good job of contesting shots...our rotations were not always there. We didn't always have our help-side. We will work on that this week."
- "If you ask me, I would prefer the bigs on the court. But different matchup situations where there's gonna be 4 guards out there, so you know you just have to adjust."
- "Terrance was [providing the energy] last year. So with Terrance gone, I just have to step up and bring something to the table for this team."
- "The funny thing is, me and Boris off the court are very good friends. We have the same classes, we walk around together on campus every day. So the funniest thing is we go against each other every day in practice. He's quicker than I am. The only thing I can use is my body...so he gets by me in practice with his quickness, so that's what he does in games too, when playing against guys that are bigger than him. Now me, I have to use my body and my strength...so it's a very good competition in practice and we transfer it to the games."
- "My conditioning now is much better. It's not where I want it to be, but at least it's better than last year."
- "I have to start from somewhere...if I'm not the guy who can dribble, or get my own shot off the dribble on the offensive end,the only thing I can do to help my team is put my body on someone on the defensive end and just get some rebounds."
- "I spend a lot of time working on free throws. I figured out as a big guy...they are going to foul you a lot...so I work on free throws a lot in practice...hopefully it will come around...we work hours each day on my free throws with Coach Jones, trying to work on my fundamentals, my form. And I have to play against him, and he's like a 100% free throw shooter!
Reflecting on the OOC:
As Michael mentioned after the game, FSU has put itself in very solid position for a bid to the NCAA Tournament as they head into ACC play. Not only did the Seminoles avoid a head-scratching loss, but they also notched multiple wins against teams who will likely finish in the top 50 of the RPI.
We've discussed the RPI on here before, but just as a reminder, I'm not in favor of using it as a barometer for how good a team is. While it is true that the top teams in the RPI are generally among the best teams in the country, it's just too simplistic of a formula to really be an accurate predictor of future performance, or reflection of past performance. That said, it is still quite reliable at determining who will get the coveted at-large bids to the Dance.
In terms of better computer ratings for determining actual performance, I go to Kenpom.com. The BPI that ESPN has started is also pretty worthy, but since it's only a couple years old there is much less historical data to compare against.
So where does FSU stand after completing the OOC? As of December 31st, FSU is 27th in KenPom's rankings and 32nd in the RPI (courtesy of ESPN.com). For a team predicted to finish 9th in the ACC, that is a very good spot to be in.
Since the 2009-10 season, only 6 teams have finished in the top 40 of KenPom's rankings and still MISSED the Dance. Iowa (25), Baylor (29), and Virginia (40) last season, Stanford (36) in 2012, Wichita State (25) in 2011, and Dayton (18) in 2010. So what do all of those team have in common? All six of those teams had an RPI below 50 on Selection Sunday. In fact, the average RPI of those 6 teams was 67.8, which is definitely at-large danger zone. The main cause of those poor RPI rankings was bad strength of schedules, and for teams from a power conference that usually means a bad OOC strength of schedule.
As it stands now, FSU's OOC SOS (which takes the entire year to fully calculate due to continued wins and losses) will likely end up somewhere between 35 and 60. Basically, if FSU can just finish above .500 in the ACC, they won't have to worry about a sub-50 RPI. According to RPIforecast.com, if FSU goes 10-8 in the ACC it's RPI would be 42. That isn't great, but when you have a neutral site victory over a top 5 RPI team (UMass is currently number 1) it will get you a bid. Go 11-7 and FSU's RPI is predicted to be 33. Finish 12-6 in the ACC and it jumps to 26, which would likely mean a top 7 seed depending on how the ACCT went.
The most important thing now is to take care of business at home in conference play, starting with a talented UVA team on Saturday, and steal a few road wins when the opportunity presents itself. The Wahoos were just railroaded by Tennessee and if they don't spend too much time feeling sorry for themselves, should roll into Tallahassee knowing that if they want to make the NCAA Tournament they will need to do some work in conference play. And road victories look mighty nice on the ol' resume. So fans, do your part and make sure FSU has a packed house behind them for the start of ACC play. The team has done the winning, now the fans need to show up.