On Friday Florida State found out they'd be without their best player for the remainder of the season. On Saturday, we saw what that means on the court, and it wasn't pretty.
Florida State was matched up with an elite offense in Notre Dame, which features one of the main candidates for the ACC Player of the Year in Jerian Grant. Grant, who would have been guarded by Aaron Thomas, quietly sliced up the FSU defense for 40 minutes. The Noles defended him by playing heavily on his inside shoulder, forcing everything to the corner. This caused the Irish some issues early, but once they made adjustments, FSU couldn't stop them. While FSU focused on trying to contain Grant, center Zach Auguste repeatedly found space in the middle of the Noles defense leading to plenty of easy buckets. And once they got rolling, they really got rolling. The 2nd half was a dunk show by the Irish. In the end it was 83-63. Notre Dame scored 1.29 points per possession, which is the worst defense by the Noles int wo years. Grant finished with 18 points, five boards and five assists. Auguste had 26.
FSU is now 4-5 (0-1), and if the defense doesn't get better immediately, then it is going to be a very long season. Ham and staff are out recruiting high school juniors right now, and the last time FSU had a losing record these kids were in 1st grade. That might change this year. Florida State has five more out of conference games before returning to ACC play, and only one is against a team rated outside of Pomeroy's top 160.
The good news, if there was any, was the play of Devon Bookert. The junior returned from foot surgery and played 37 minutes. He made 3-7 3s and was able to stretch the Notre Dame defense in a way that only he and Aaron Thomas could do. Bookert finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds. Montay Brandon led FSU with 14 points, but had his most inefficient game of the season. Boris Bojanovsky finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
FSU now has to turn around and host North Florida on Wednesday, a team coming off a big road win at Purdue.