So far our season preview has focused on statistical areas where we feel FSU needs to excel in order to meet their goals. On defense the key things to watch will be opponent's 2-pt% and FSU's defensive rebounding %. On offense it will be the team's free throw rate and 3-pt%.
Now we're on to the non-statistical key, of which there is one: Aaron Thomas needs to go beast mode.
AT causes problems. If you get up on him he'll go by you. If you give him too much space he'll shoot over you. If you're too small he'll just bump you with his shoulder and create some separation. And on defense he's out there. He's lurking. A little careless and the next thing you see is him going the other way with your pass.
We should begin the season by being honest, and if truth be told then this is AT's team. By the end of his sophomore season he was the best player on both ends of the court. Now he's a junior, and with Ian Miller and Okaro White gone, he is unquestionably the man. It may not be fair, but much of how we'll eventually evaluate this season will be based on whether or not Aaron Thomas fulfilled his lofty expectations.
AT plays angry. He plays to compete. He plays for his team. Last year he showed flashes early, and then about halfway through the season he became the guy. From the end of January to the end of March (16 games) he never scored fewer than 12 points in a game. In four of eight games near the end he went to the line 10 or more times. Against Wake Forest he had 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 steals. He's no fun to play against.
Michael Snaer, Chris Singleton, Toney Douglas, Al Thornton, Tim Pickett - they were all really good as juniors. If all goes well, AT will join that quintet as the best players in the Ham era. And if he does, then this team has the chance to make some noise in March. If not, it will be another nervous day on Selection Sunday.