We were wondering why Devon Bookert looked hobbled yesterday, and this morning we got the answer. He needs surgery on his already repaired right foot. With Bookert out of the lineup, FSU turned to freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes for his first career start. His injection into the lineup breathed life into the Seminole offense and the Noles jumped out to an early lead. But UMass battled back. And that's when FSU's players starting dropping.
With Bookert already out, Robbie Berwick took an elbow to the nose and was sent to the locker room (later, it looked broken). Then Rathan-Mayes landed awkwardly after a shot and came up clutching his back. Still, the Noles were able to take a 35-34 into half despite an oddly quiet showing from leader Aaron Thomas.
But something happened in the locker room. Word leaked out that Aaron Thomas had been strapped to a gurney and rushed to the hospital. At this point we're just hoping he was sick and dehydrated, but there has been no official word. After the game Coach Hamilton said it was a "mystery dizziness" and that he was being tested at the hospital.
Without their starting back court, and with Berwick in a protective mask, FSU leaned on their freshmen Rathan-Mayes and Phil Cofer. XRM was able to get just about anywhere he wanted on the court, but had trouble finishing. He is still short arming everything. But he was filling up the scoresheet in those moments where he stopped thinking and let instinct take over. Phil Cofer was also getting work done. He rebounded with passion on both ends of the court.
Unfortunately, UMass adjusted to the fact that FSU was without Thomas and Bookert, the only real 3-point threats. So they packed everything in on defense and forced the Noles to operate with no spacing. Points were hard to come by. The 3-ball was non-existent (0-7 for the game), and FSU missed multiple key free throws which would have kept them in the game.
Ultimately, it was all too much to overcome, and UMass won 75-69 dropping FSU to 1-3.
XRM led all scorers with 22 points, but was 0-5 from deep and just 6-12 from the line. Boris Bojanovsky had a solid game, scoring 16 and adding five boards. Phil Cofer just missed his first career double-double with eight points and 12 rebounds. Montay Brandon added eight points and nine boards.
Now the Noles are struggling and injury luck has been terrible. Will Bookert be able to play through the pain or will he have surgery? Is Turpin's knee ever going to be 100%? What's up with AT?
These aren't the questions you want four games into the season.