There are a number of F-words that could describe the Seminoles' Wednesday night 96-85 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies in the ACC Tournament. Frenetic. Frenzied. Frustrating. And I'm sure FSU fans could think of at least one more.
Florida State came out frazzled, repeatedly out of position on defense and fumbling to recover, as VT finished time and again at the rim in the first half. Their offensive game plan was quite well-founded: knowing the Seminoles' faults with off-the-ball D, Buzz Williams had his team spread the floor in the half court, which challenged FSU to keep track of players without the rock, which has proven a killer through most of the year for the 'Noles. The same was the case in the first half, as Tech shot 60%, thanks to converting on a number of bunnies at the rim en route to a 45-38 halftime lead.
In the second half, the refs decided that another F-word should take over: fouls. 53 fouls were called in the game, with 38 coming in the second stanza. A game that flew by in the first half was all but frozen in the second, as officials lost control of this one by often whistling phantom fouls that only served to flabbergast players on both sides. The game got out of control not despite the refs' whistles; instead, the chaos was fomented by them-- players get frustrated when they're competing hard and still have no idea what they can do to stop the opponent.
By so often taking the ball out of the realm of live action, the refs essentially forced this game to be decided by another F-word: free throws (I know, that's two words). Ironically, for FSU, which came into the contest the superior team from the foul line, they were dumbfounded therefrom, sinking 60% (21-35), while VT flourished at 81% (30-37).
The fragmented second-half action saw FSU give a fine effort, trimming to it five, at times, while committing just four turnovers all night, but the all-too frequent fouls precluded a chance at establishing any real momentum. The fervent refs really insured that this wasn't so much a basketball game in the second half, and that's a shame, because both teams competed to the final whistle. Devon Bookert led Florida State with 19 points, while Jarquez Smith registered a career-high 14 rebounds. But the 'Noles needed a W-- not a collection of Fs. And that brings us to one last F-word, which now describes Florida State's NCAA Tourney hopes: finished.
The NIT awaits, in which the Seminoles could very well host at least one game. For what it's worth.