Now the Noles season gets a lot more interesting, and not just because they're in the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam.
Today's opponent is Hofstra (2-0), which is the first high quality opponent of the year. The Pride are picked to win the Colonial, led by two preseason 1st Team All Conference players. Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley grew up playing together in Philadelphia. They told people at a young age that they'd play together in college. They both committed to Niagara and had standout underclass campaigns. Following their sophomore year, they followed head coach Joe Mihalich to his new job at Hofstra.
Hofstra was in turmoil. In the season before Mihalich took the job the Pride barely had more wins (7) than players arrested (6). The first year was a struggle while Green and Tanksley sat out due to transfer rules. Then, with his players back, they went out and won 20 games last year. Now, with four starters returning, the Pride could be on the verge of what could be a special season.
Knocking off Florida State would be the first step.
They've averaged 96 points a game in their first two contests. The 6-2 Green has averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 assists. His ability to stuff the stat sheet was demonstrated when he notched a triple double last year. He runs the show, constantly attacks the basket, and is their best defensive guard. Tanksley, at 6-5, 230, is more of a bomber. Almost half his shot attempts last year were 3s, and he made 40%.
In fact, get used to Hofstra shooting 3s. Last year 42% of their attempts were from beyond the arc.
Another player Florida State will have to track all game is 6-2 junior Brian Bernardi. He's 8-13 (62%) this year from the arc, and has made five or more 3s in eight of his last 36 games.
In the middle, they have 6-9 bruiser Rokas Gustys, who grabs 13.0 rebounds per game.
Hofstra also isn't afraid to get out and run, hoping to spot up at the arc before the defense is set. Last year they were the 19th fastest team in the nation. They also rely on tempo because they aren't very good defensively.
To win, FSU is going to have to match up well on the perimeter. The Noles switching defense can be disruptive, but in the first two games they've shown their inexperience by being out of position and hesitant on switches.
Offensively, the Noles need more of the same. They'll see plenty of zone today, as well as some full court pressure. Throw out the first 10 minutes of the Jacksonville game, and the FSU offense has been elite. Expect another high scoring game.
FSU will also have to exploit Hofstra's lack of depth. Expect the Noles to substitute early and often, trying to wear Hofstra down so that Florida State can make a big 2nd half run.
Vegas has the Noles as 7-point favorites, while Pomeroy has FSU -6.
The game tips at 3:30 and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Net.