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Baseline Breakdown: FSU Overwhelms George Washington

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The Seminoles used depth and pressure to breeze past the Colonials for their 22nd consecutive home victory.

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

Above the Rim:

  • Florida State’s depth was on full display this game. Coach Hamilton subbed early and often, beginning with a full line change at the under-16 media timeout. This infusion of fresh legs paid off immediately with some back-court pressure resulting in a series of steals and layups. The depth also paid dividends as the game wore on when George Washington’s shots started to fall short in the second half. To really put the depth disparity in perspective, FSU had two players go 28+ minutes while GW had five, and FSU’s bench outscored the GW bench 32-5.
  • Coach Hamilton was quick to toss out some 34 court pressure in the first half, and it worked to speed up the game, leading to several easy buckets. That won’t work against every team, but it’s nice to know that when facing opponents with suspect ball handling, the ’Noles have the ability to overwhelm.
  • It’s just one game, but the FT line disparity is concerning. FSU was often a step late on defensive rotations or out of position on rebounds, leading to reach-in fouls. On the offensive end, the Seminoles only took four free throws. For FSU to reach season goals, they have to take more free throws than their opponents.
  • Thanks to the turnovers, (GW turned the ball over on nearly 24% of their 1st half possessions, most of them the live-ball variety) Florida State was able to run at 14 seconds per possession in the opening stanza en route to a 50-32 lead. However, the second half started much differently. FSU’s weakness on the defensive glass reared its ugly head, and the Colonials were switching 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones to slow down FSU. After just five minutes, GW cut the lead to 11 at 58-47. Against better teams, FSU needs to finish the opponent when given the chance.
  • FSU turned it over on 21% of their possessions. That’s too much. Now, most of those came in the 2nd half after the outcome was largely decided, but for a team wanting as many possessions as possible, you can’t turn the ball over more than a fifth of the time.
  • Florida State shot 38% from three, despite sniper PJ Savoy going 0-4. That’s encouraging. Five different guys made a three.
  • FSU blocked 8 shots, led by Christ Koumdaje’s 5. However, George Washington still relentlessly and fearlessly attacked the rim off the dribble. Now, freshman Terry Nolan Jr. showed off some impressive athletic ability, but the ACC is full of guards who can put you on a poster. Seminole defenders must do a better job getting back in transition and closing off driving lanes as the competition increases.

Court Level:

  • Terance Mann did what Terance Mann does—filled up the stat sheet. He had 10 points in the 1st half, all on hustle plays and putbacks. Then, in the 2nd half, he displayed his improved jump shot with a smooth three. All told, the junior led FSU with 17 points on 8-10 shooting, while adding two assists and eight rebounds—six of them on the offensive glass.
  • Mfiondu Kabengele displayed the big-time potential that has folks around the program excited. In one 30-second sequence, the redshirt freshman drained a nice turnaround jumper from 16 feet, before stealing the ball at half court and leading a one-man fast break for a dunk. Make no mistake, he’s still a work in progress, but the NBA scouts next to me were impressed with his length and versatile skill set.
  • With Trent Forrest still hurt and Xavier Rathan-Mayes gone, CJ Walker played the most minutes of his career (29). In fact, it was just his second game over 20 minutes in the garnet and gold. And he handled the extra responsibility well, displaying an improved grasp of the system on both offense and defense, improved on-the-ball defense, while doing a solid job running the offense. Not that any of this should surprise, as the sophomore was known for his work ethic and leadership qualities coming out of Indiana as an all-state recruit. Still, it’s nice to see a player demonstrate progress between year one and two. For the night, CJ finished with 7 points (on a variety of nifty moves to the basket), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4 assists against only 2 turnovers.
  • Braian Angola and M.J. Walker were both big-time sparks off the bench, and that’s exactly what FSU needs. For a team that subs as liberally as the Seminoles, you can’t afford drop offs in production. Against GW, you could argue that the pair of guards actually increased FSU’s production. The senior and freshman provided instant offense, combining for 20 points and 5-9 shooting from three. Perhaps even more importantly, though, both found other ways to contribute. Angola dished out five assists while nabbing two steals, and MJ snared a few rebounds, took a couple charges, and added two assists. Unfortunately, Angola was forced to leave the game early with a groin injury, which would be a substantial loss if serious.
  • Senior forward Phil Cofer had his first healthy off-season in several years, and the initial returns were impressive. Cofer displayed a well-rounded game with a much improved shooting stroke, finishing with 15 points on 6-9 shooting—including a three. It’s just one game, but if FSU gets that kind of accuracy from Cofer, it’ll be a huge boost.

Post Game:

  • George Washington coach Maurice Joseph noted that as big as FSU is this season, they’re noticeably smaller without Michael Ojo and Jonathan Isaac. He also noted that FSU’s pressure defense really disrupted their offense.

Leonard Hamilton gives his thoughts on the first Florida State Seminoles Basketball win of the season.

Posted by TomahawkNation.com on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Florida State Seminoles Basketball guard Braian Angola talks the Seminoles’ fun offensive system after a 87-67 win in FSU’s season opener.

Posted by TomahawkNation.com on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Forward Phil Cofer on Florida State Seminoles Basketball’s team chemistry after a season opening win over George Washington.

Posted by TomahawkNation.com on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Terance Mann played a big part in the Florida State Seminoles Basketball win with six offensive rebounds.

Posted by TomahawkNation.com on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Looking Ahead:

Florida State travels to Jamaica for the second time in the last four months for a pair of neutral site matchups. They’ll tip things off Friday against their second straight A-10 member, the Fordham Rams. The Rams are 1-1 on the young season with a win over LIU Brooklyn and a 1-point loss to Miami (OH). It’ll be interesting to see if Trent Forrest or Braian Angola can play.