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FSU basketball opens the season vs Charleston Southern

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The game tips Saturday at 1 PM from the Tuck

NCAA Basketball: Miami at Florida State Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Few college basketball coaches rely on the 3-pointer like Charleston Southern’s Barclay Radebaugh. Over the past four seasons his teams have attempted roughly 45% of their shots from deep. And this team shouldn’t be any different.

He has been recruiting bigger players for the interior, but in the end, this is a team that lives and dies behind the arc.

And if they’re able to win this game – which is highly unlikely – it will be because they go nuts from deep.

Raemond Robinson - a 6-2 senior - made 41% of his attempts last year, and attempted 10+ threes five times. Once was in their 75-64 loss at Florida State, where he made 3-10. This year don’t be surprised if he averages 10+ attempts a game, beginning with this one.

They also brought in seven newcomers with a variety of skillsets. To blend these players, Charleston Southern took their NCAA allowed once-every-four-years foreign trip and played four games recently in Canada. So they should be a bit sharper than FSU, as they’ve had more time to practice and study film.

But really, this shouldn’t be a game that FSU loses. It shouldn’t be that close. Anything closer than a double digit margin in the final ten minutes of the game will be a disappointment. FSU is too big, and too athletic. And Charleston Southern’s defense has typically - with the exception of rebounding - been terrible.

So what are we watching for?

First, how good is Florida State’s defense? At this stage, it will likely be reflected more in effort than in efficiency, at least for the new guys. But the effort needs to be there. They need to be tough and physical and disruptive. They need to by flying around the court. They need to be communicating.

Second, can the Noles score in the half court? We know that the transition offense should be pretty good, but what happens when teams have time to sink into a stance? Are FSU’s bigs ready take a post pass and make teams pay? Can the Noles break down the defense off the dribble? Who is making 3s?

Lastly, I just want to see the chemistry and focus of this team. It’s the first game, so there will be nerves, especially early. But Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon need take control of the game in stretches in order to keep everyone relaxed. I’d like to see the new guys play with passion and at least some understanding of what the team is trying to do. And I’d like to see the vets – Michael Ojo, Jarquez Smith, Terance Mann, and Phil Cofer – show noticeable changes in their games.

This is the first step of a journey that won’t end until March. A win is obviously the main thing that matters. But this is college basketball. Style points count as well.

The game tips Saturday at 1 PM from the Tuck, and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra (ie ESPN3).