It's been seven years since Leonard Hamilton had a losing season in the ACC. Here is the complete list of ACC teams currently on a longer streak: Duke.
For Ham to keep that streak alive, FSU needs to make a serious run. And that run needs to start today. After being saddled with five road games in seven conference matchups, the Noles now get three straight at home (followed by a trip to Virginia Tech). If FSU can somehow go 3-1 in those games, then there's a chance.
It starts tonight with Wake Forest and their new head coach Danny Manning. After spending a decade at Kansas with Coach Hamilton's protégé Bill Self, Manning accepted the head coaching gig at Tulsa. Two years later he was at Wake Forest. That's life on the fast track for a coach, and he needs to prove himself at a high major or it may be the only chance he gets. His first season, as expected, has been rocky with the Deacons currently sitting at 1-6 in ACC play. But he is doing a very solid job retooling the roster for the future.
Offensively the team has been led by the point-post combo of Cody Miller-McIntyre and and Devin Thomas. Both are juniors, and they combine to take over half the shots when they're on the floor. CMM averages 13.7 per game and Thomas scores 13.1. Miller-McIntyre also has the 5th best assist rate in the conference (one slot behind Xavier Rathan-Mayes). Both of Wake's stars, however, have offensive ratings below 100, which is indicative of the larger offensive problems for the team. They are 191st in 2-pt%, 222nd in 3-pt%, and 234th in turnovers. They score by getting offensive rebounds and by getting to the line. Limit those two things, and their offense won't likely put up many points. Freshman Mitchell Wilbekin, a 42% long range shooter, is the only regular to make more than 32% of his 3s.
Defensively, they're better, and primarily because they are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation (4th in DR%). Devin Thomas is the best defensive rebounder in the conference.
FSU will need to repeat what they did versus North Carolina, when they did a very good job of breaking down the defense off the dribble. Xavier Rathan-Mayes is key to this, and Montay Brandon needs to get more involved as well. If the Noles can get something going to the rim, it should free up Devon Bookert who has made7-14 3s at home in ACC play.
The game tips at 7pm and will be broadcast on Raycom Sports and ESPN3. FSU is currently favored by 4.