Those that follow me on Twitter probably know about the “Len Elmore Rule.” It works like this. Half of what comes out of Len Elmore’s mouth is accurate. He was not only a great basketball player, but he also has a law degree from Harvard. So he’s not dumb. You want him to get things right. But the other 50% of the stuff that comes out of his mouth is not only wrong, it is the exact opposite of the truth. For example, he’ll let you know that Florida State loves a grinding pace, when the reality is that they’re the most uptempo team in the ACC. He would never say that Duke likes a grinding pace, because - while wrong - it does have at least an element of truthiness as they are sort of a middling paced team.
The trick with Elmore is figuring out if what he’s saying is correct, or diametrically opposed with the truth. There’s no middle ground.
So when he kept saying that FSU lost to Temple because they lost their poise, I decided to dig into it. Was he right? Was he wrong?
To the film!
For those at home, Jonathan Isaac has just made a driving layup, and then duped the Temple team into inbounding the pass right back to him for yet another layup. Florida State leads by 18 and the city gates seem to have been blown open.
But this is where Temple made their comeback, and here is how it happened.
Lineup: Smith, Cofer, Angola-Rodas, Forrest, Walker
TEMPLE: The Owls begin their comeback by settling for the worst shot in basketball: a long, contested, 2-pointer, with plenty of time left on the shot clock. With Phil Cofer in his face, freshman Quinton Rose jacks an 18-footer which pinballs around the rim and backboard before dropping. 60-44.
FSU: Phil Cofer drives baseline, gets buried beneath the rim and forces up a terrible shot. Airball.
TEMPLE: CJ Walker is lazy going through a screen, leaving Quinton Rose open in the right corner for a 3-pointer. 60-47.
FSU: Trent Forrest tries to do too much. He drives into traffic and instead of pulling up, he plows into the defender for a charge.
Lineup: Smith, Cofer, Angola-Rodas,
Forrest, Bacon, Walker, XRM
TEMPLE: They go back to Rose, this time in the left corner. After a hard closeout by XRM, Rose steps on the sideline trying to drive.
FSU: The ‘Noles clear out for Bacon in the left corner. A jab step backs his man off and he buries a three. 63-47.
TEMPLE: Cofer or Bacon get a deflection (bad camera angle) but the ball goes out of bounds. After a failed BLOB play, Temple has absolutely nothing going and the shot clock down to :03. Shizz Alston has the ball 28 feet from the basket. At this point he is 2-20 for year from beyond the arc. With Bacon in his face, he buries it because of course he does. 63-50.
FSU: Ball into the post where Jarquez is held, but unlike Temple, FSU is not yet in the bonus. On the inbounds play FSU screens an open three for XRM but he misses.
TEMPLE: Rose drives and shoves off XRM. This is a point of emphasis this year for refs, and though the ref is 5-feet from the play and staring right at the arm bar he decides that maybe he’ll just call it next time around. X then reaches and commits the foul. Rose makes both FTs. 63-52.
Smith, Koumadje, Cofer, Isaac, Angola-Rodas, Mann, Bacon, XRM
FSU: XRM drives, collapses the defense, and kicks to Bacon who drains the open three. 66-52.
TEMPLE: PNR leads to a Rose three. XRM whistled for the foul and looks confused. Replay shows that there was no contact. Hey, it’s just a game. Rose makes three FTs. 66-55.
FSU: Run a nice PNR to free Isaac for a three. For some reason Isaac passes it up and dribbles into an 18-footer which he nails. 68-55.
TEMPLE: Shizz Alston, now a sizzling 14% on the year from the arc and feeling it, drives hard left and does the XRM step-back into another three. Bottoms. 68-58.
FSU: Back to the PNR well, this time run perfectly by Terance Mann and Chris Koumadje for the Koumadjam. 70-58.
TEMPLE: Shizz Alston decides that offensive sets are overrated, and instead goes with the YOLO heat check with 7-4 Chris Koumadje in his face. Why not? He knows it’s going in. We know it’s going in. Chris Koumadje, who is like shooting over your buddy while he’s waving broomsticks, knows it’s going in. In the post-game Shizz said that after he made this one he wanted to cry. Yeah, me too, Shizz. He’s now made more 3s in the past five possessions than he made in the previous 4 ½ games. 70-61.
Koumadje, Smith, Isaac, Mann, Bacon, XRM
FSU: Isaac drives and is fouled. Still not in the bonus. Bacon drives and is fouled, and hey a 1-and-1 which Bacon promptly bricks.
TEMPLE: After the missed free throw, everyone but Smith and Mann loaf back down the court. Meanwhile, freshman Quinton Rose decides to take the opportunity for a 1-on-2 break. He back rims a teardrop and Bacon, Isaac, and Mann all decide that they don’t really need to block him out because someone else will probably do it. Right? I mean, we’re all friends here. Wrong. Rose gets the board and lays it in. 70-63.
FSU: The ‘Noles go away from the high PNR, and instead try a corner PNR. Same result, this time for Jarquez. Unfortunately, as he lands and looks to go back up for an uncontested layup he turns his ankle and falls to the floor. Turnover.
TEMPLE: Quinton Rose, who clearly learns on the fly, figures to try the whole fast break when there shouldn’t be a fast break thing again, and sure enough Terance Mann loses track of Obi Enechionyia who is rewarded with a layup. 70-65.
FSU. Back to Quez in the post. He’s immediately doubled and instead of kicking to an open XRM, he holds the ball until it is stripped. Then he immediately fouls Shizz Alston who has clearly been possessed by the ghost of Reggie Miller.
TEMPLE: Shizz makes two FTs. 70-67.
Smith, Cofer, Isaac, Mann, Bacon, XRM
FSU: The Seminoles clear out for Mann and his favorite play, which is a baseline drive from the right corner. He’s fouled and knocks down both FTs. 72-67.
TEMPLE: It’s Shizz Alston’s world and we’re just living in it. He yo-yo’s Cofer and then sticks a three. It is the 2nd time in his career he’s made more than two 3s in a game. If an NBA exec had only watched the last three minutes then Anthony Bennett would be off the clock as the worst No. 1 pick of all time. 72-70.
FSU: To the post for Cofer who is being guarded by 5-10 Alani Moore. After he catches the ball, Moore (5 foot 10!) slips around him and pokes it free.
TEMPLE: On the fast break two players go left for a screen. XRM yells for Isaac to switch, and Isaac listens. He switches…..to the man Dwayne Bacon is already guarding. Alani Moore is now alone in the corner and nails his only three of the game. 72-73, and the comeback is complete.
So what did we learn?
A) Young guys made some young guy mistakes. Trent’s charge. CJ’s lazy trip through a screen. Isaac’s switch to someone who was already guarded. These things happen. You take the bad with the good and hopefully the mistakes become learning experiences.
2) Shizz Alston, who has zero business taking over a game, played the best three minutes of his life. He might as well hang ‘em up right now, because he’ll never play a better stretch of basketball. When players do that all you can do is tip your cap. They’ve all done it a hundred times, alone, in a gym on Saturday night when all their friends were out having fun. But now he’s done it a real game.
D) Keep basketball weird. Quez falling down instead of getting a layup. The phantom foul on X. The no-call push off by Quinton Rose.
The young guys making young guy plays, weird breaks, and Shizz Alston are things you just have to live with. Which brings us to:
$) The vets made some unforgivable mistakes. Two straight fast breaks that should never have happened. The missed box out by three guys. Cofer and Smith not being strong with the ball. If you are a coach, this is what makes you angry. It doesn’t matter if you are tied or up 18, you have to play hard all the time. Will they learn? We’ll see.
Florida State bounced back and played with great effort and enthusiasm against Illinois. If they play like that over the next 25 games, then they’ll be dancing.
The hope here is that the big lead in a strange arena just led to them being unfocused. But the past several iterations of FSU basketball teams have had these problems.
Do 100% of college teams share these problems? Of course. But for the ones who aren’t stocked with blue chippers like Duke or Kansas, then the consistency of effort is often what separates the tourney teams from the NIT teams.
The next chance we get to evaluate is tonight when FSU hosts Minnesota. If we’re lucky, Len Elmore will be on the mic.