The Florida State men’s basketball team tips off their regular season tomorrow at home against George Washington. The Seminoles are coming off a 26-win season but must replace a ton of talent and experience, as Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Michael Ojo, and Jarquez Smith all moved on.
FSU blew out two undermanned squads during the pre-season, but those games—while entertaining—didn’t exactly tell us a whole lot. Our basketball staff sat down to try and make some educated guesses as to what this year might bring. Chime in with your answers, and additional questions, in the comment section.
Who will lead the team in scoring?
Rogner: A month ago I would have said BAR without hesitation. But then he dropped the R so now he’s just BA and I’m starting to reevaluate. There has been a lot of talk about Terance Mann’s improved 3-point shooting, and he has shown it off in the exhibition games, going 4-4 so far. So for now I’ll go with Mann, with a bit of hesitation, over BA.
Josh Pick: Give me BAR (gonna have a hard time with his new name), although I think the team will have many different guys lead the team in scoring throughout the season.
Matt Minnick: It’s gonna be balanced. MJ Walker might take the most shots, but I don’t think the efficiency will consistently be there his freshman year. Terance Mann looks to be much more confident in his jump shot this season, which sometimes is all a guy with his overall talent needs to take things to the next level. He’s also a candidate to play the most minutes on the team. So give me Mann as the leading scorer. I’ll give you a sneaky contender, though...PJ Savoy. He appears to be in better shape, which will allow him to play more minutes. And we know how quickly he can heat up.
Andrew Miller: I’ll take Terance Mann. He’s familiar with the offense and shot well last season and I believe he will carry that momentum into this season. He also averaged 25 minutes last season which show’s he’ll be on the court a lot this season.
Curt Weiler: I agree with many of the above guys and will go with Mann here. What I have seen from him over FSU’s two exhibitions shows me what I needed to see in that A) he has developed as a shooter and B) his confidence in his shot has grown. Don’t think he is FSU’s highest volume shooter, but do think he is among the most efficient.
Last year FSU finished the season ranked 31st in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency on KenPom. Which unit will finish the highest this year?
Rogner: The offense. I don’t see much, if any, regression on the offensive side of the ball. The lack of late clock heroes like Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes will be made up for by much better outside shooting. I’m pretty concerned about the defense. Freshman as a rule (with notable exceptions like Michael Snaer and Jon Isaac) don’t defend, or at least not well. Couple that with our inevitable defensive rebounding issues due to having small lineups that are trying to run, and there is trouble brewing on that end of the court.
Pick: The offense, and I don’t think it’ll be close. I’ve seen the necessary effort from the defense in the pre-season, but it’s a tall task asking that many freshmen to effectively understand/execute this defense on a consistent basis.
Minnick: Give me the offense as well. I expect this to be a pretty solid overall shooting team. Though I do think Ikey Obiagu will develop into a true rim protector by season’s end.
Miller: The offense. The fast pace will give the Seminoles an edge on some of their opponents and could result in some defensive mishaps with getting back on that side of the court.
Weiler: Not providing any opposition here, but I also am siding with the offense. Think the Seminoles’ tempo will wear down opponents as it did last season and expect some growing pains on a young team on the defensive end.
Over/Under 15.2 seconds per offensive possession? (FSU averaged 15.3 seconds per offensive possession last year, fastest in the ACC).
Rogner: Under. Sign me up for FSU being one of the 10 fastest teams in the nation.
Pick: It’ll be close, but I’ll say the ’Noles are a shade quicker this season. In contrast to the football team, the basketball team will play fast/fun ball.
Minnick: Under. I’ll actually say under 15 seconds. In FSU’s second exhibition game, they averaged twelve seconds per offensive possession. We won’t be THAT fast (there’s only been one team under 13 seconds since KenPom began tracking the stat in 2010), but I do expect us to rev it up even faster than last year.
Miller: Under, slightly.
Weiler: Using as many players as the Seminoles will this season, I expect it to be a shade faster as well.
Four former Seminoles are currently playing in the NBA (with two more in the NBA G League). Will any current Seminoles eventually get drafted, and if yes, who?
Rogner: I’ll take MJ Walker as the most likely to be drafted. He’s got size and skill and plays downhill. It is always easier to reign players in than to try and speed them up. Ike Obiagu also has the size and athleticism to get there. Maybe Trent Forrest if the league keeps valuing lock down defenders (he’s not there yet, but has the tools). But the guy I’m most interesting in watching develop is Mfiondu Kabengele. Holy crap, when did that guy get so big? He looks about 6-10 now, with a huge wingspan, and lean. He is still learning basic fundamentals, but by all accounts works as hard at his game as anyone.
Pick: MJ Walker based on pedigree alone. I think “Fee” is a decent choice, as well. Dude is long & super-athletic.
Minnick: This is interesting because “getting drafted” is not always the same as eventually making it in the league. Look no further than Okaro White. The draft is so much more about measurables and potential. Which makes three guys stand out as draft prospects down the road: Obiagu, MJ Walker, and Mfiondu Kabengele. Mann could also be a second rounder if he truly develops a consistent perimeter shot.
Miller: Not after this season. The player with the best chance will be MJ Walker however I think he’ll be fringe draft status and will eventually come back for a sophomore season, which he’ll be drafted after.
Predict FSU’s OOC record.
Rogner: 10-2. The obvious loss would be at Florida, but then there are a suite of games we could also drop: George Washington, Fordham, Colorado State, Rutgers, Oklahoma State.
Pick: Give me 10-2. UF is the game FSU “should” lose, but there are many other contests that aren’t gimmes in the OOC slate.
Minnick: I’ll go 9-3. I think this team will be a decent amount better in February than November/December—especially with Trent Forrest still out with injury.
Miller: 8-4. This team will take some time to mesh together, and I think there will be a few games that end up as losses that the ’Noles should have won.
Weiler: 9-3. The learning curve that comes with a younger team doesn’t match up with a OOC slate with some tricky opponents. Expect the Seminoles to lose at least one game they shouldn’t.
Will FSU make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament?
Rogner: Well, go back to the first question. If Terance Mann leads this team in scoring, then yes, with room to spare. If he remains a role player then I believe it will be a nervous March that ultimately ends with a solid, yet disappointing end in the NIT.
Pick: I firmly believe FSU will be a “bubble team” come Selection Sunday, and there’s a good chance the ’Noles miss out due to foolish scheduling (they play FIVE teams at home that are ranked 245th or worse!).
Minnick: We will do a more robust ACC preview as we get closer to conference play. But as a sneak preview, expect chaos. After the top 3-4 teams it is a jumbled mass of “maybes.” FSU is in that mass and ultimately, I think our NCAAT chances will come down to forces beyond our control (at least beyond our control now) and we will be doing a whole lot of “games of interest” watching. If teams like Oklahoma State, Colorado State, George Washington, and Rutgers can win 18+ games, then I feel a bit better. If not, it might be a disappointing Selection Sunday. Sucks that a tournament-worthy team could get left out because of scheduling, but that’s the reality we live in for at least one more year.
Miller: FSU will make the tournament as a bubble team and will play in the “First Four” games.
Weiler: I expect the Seminoles to be sweating it out firmly on the bubble come Selection Sunday, but am leaning now towards them just on the inside. Games against the other middle of the road ACC teams (Miami, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, NC State) will be the deciding factor.