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FSU basketball film review: The ‘Noles opening run vs Louisville

The first few minutes were the key to the game

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is a game of runs. When two good teams face off, both of them will make several runs during the game. It’s just the nature of the sport. Sometimes, those runs happen at the opening tip, and it was FSU’s 14-0 burst to begin the game which created a hill too big for Louisville to be able to climb.

Here’s how it happened.

[Opening tip]

Before the ref was able to toss the ball, Michael Ojo noticed that he didn’t like Jonathan Isaac’s alignment. He was in the center of the floor, about 15’ from Ojo toward FSU’s basket, and a Louisville player was on his left. Ojo moved him so that the Louisville player was on his right.

On the tip, Ojo and Anas Mahmoud both got their hands on the ball, only Michael Ojo is way stronger. So the ball went high and left, right into the pocket where Ojo had moved Isaac. Isaac kicked to Xavier Rathan-Mayes who, as always, gave the basketball quick kiss and we were off.

Louisville opened in a zone. FSU reversed the ball through a Michael Ojo screen to Dwayne Bacon on the right wing. Ojo cut to the basket, but Louisville’s zone was slow to cover up Bacon, and so he launched an open three, which missed. The rebound was perfect - high and soft - and Ojo, with Cardinals draped on either shoulder, tipped the ball to himself, gathered, and went over Mahmoud for the game’s opening score.

[FSU 2, UL 0]

Louisville’s opening possession had absolutely nothing going until Dwayne Bacon got hung up on a down screen. XRM was in position to switch, but it doesn’t look like Bacon signaled for it. The crowd was also very loud at this point, and if he called for it, XRM didn’t hear him. Regardless, VJ King, a very solid 3-point shooter, had the exact shot that Bacon had on the other end - an open three from the right wing. Only King’s shot was a brick. Luckily Bacon didn’t mope after getting caught in traffic, and as soon as the shot went up he got a body on Mahmoud and fought him for the rebound.

As FSU is want to do, the rebounder initiated the fast break. With Mahmoud hounding him, Bacon pushed middle. Ahead of him, Ojo raced to the rim with his man (Mahmoud) at least 20 feet behind. Ojo hit the block, turned, and Bacon’s pass was there. Mahmoud recovered enough to at least commit a hard foul, but Ojo drilled both FTs.

[FSU 4, UL 0]

On the other end, Donovan Mitchell came off a screen and put up a tough 17-foot jumper with Terance Mann in his face. Airball out of bounds.

Louisville set up a man-press, and XRM waved all of his teammates to the other end, knowing that it would leave him one-on-one, and he got over the timeline easily to initiate the offense.

Louisville tried to confuse FSU by beginning in a zone, and then switching to man. But again, they gave Bacon too much room, this time on the left wing.

Bacon knocks down the three.

[FSU 7, UL 0]

Louisville inbounds to Mitchell with XRM on him. As he races up the floor, X gets absolutely destroyed by an illegal screen from Mahmoud. Mitchell attempts to go coast to coast, but Jonathan Isaac is waiting at the rim and does a great job of maintaining verticality. Mitchell’s wild layup misses, and Ojo is there for the rebound.

Ojo sees Bacon racing up the left side and throws a great outlet pass past midcourt where Bacon grabs it on the first bounce. XRM is now in the left corner, and Bacon hits him. Louisville does a solid job getting back on defense, but X is open, and for some reason he passes on the three and chooses to set the offense.

FSU clears out for XRM on the left, and Ojo slips a screen to create movement. X is being guarded by 6-7 Deng Adel, and he drives middle, goes behind his back, and hits an open step back.

[FSU 9, UL 0]


With Quentin Snider - Louisville’s starting point guard - out with injury, XRM attacks Donovan Mitchell as soon as he crosses midcourt. Mitchell can’t retreat because of the timeline, and X tips the ball, but is unable to come up with the steal. But he continues hounding Mitchell, who tries to pass the ball to his right and throws it out of bounds. The ref blows the call, and assumes that XRM tipped it, and the replay shows that he didn’t.

But the ball doesn’t lie. Louisville’s inbounds pass goes wild and gets tipped by Jonathan Isaac. Ojo recovers, and as Louisville drops into a zone, the Seminoles go to one of their favorite zone-offense quick hitters.

As Ojo advances, he stops at the top of the key and screens the zone while XRM kicks it to Dwayne Bacon behind the screen.

Open three. Bottoms.

[FSU 12, UL 0]

Louisville is rattled. FSU’s defense is having nothing of their pick-and-roll offense, and is switching every screen.

Ray Spalding drives left with Jon Isaac on his hip, and Dwayne Bacon steps out to cut him off. Spalding tries a little floater, which Isaac blocks, and once again Ojo recovers the loose ball.

For the 2nd time in three possessions, Ojo launches a 50’ outlet pass. This time it is to Terance Mann who beats everyone down the floor for the layup.

[FSU 14, UL 0]

And that was it. Louisville would close the game at several points to one possession, but because of the opening run, Florida State beat No. 12 Louisville and led for the entire game.