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Baseline Breakdown: FSU beats Kennesaw State, loses to RPI

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NCAA Tournament resume takes a hit after easy win.

NCAA Basketball: Kennesaw State at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Above the Rim:

  • This game will cost FSU in March. Despite the RPI being an incomplete metric at best (and some might argue completely asinine), the NCAA selection committee still relies on it heavily. It’s the foundation for all the “top 50 wins” and “non-con SOS” talks that permeate the resume discussions leading up to Selection Sunday. And this game unquestionably hurt FSU’s resume. RPIForecast.com allows you to modify a team’s schedule and run a simulation to see what their projected RPI would be with this new schedule. As of November 22, Florida State sported an expected RPI of 42 with a SOS of 61. However, if you simply drop Kennesaw State from the schedule (and don’t replace them with any other team), FSU’s expected RPI jumps to 34 and the SOS goes up to 53. On Selection Sunday, that 8 point RPI drop could very well be the difference between being included or your bubble bursting. And should FSU rack up enough wins to not be on the bubble, playing this game might lead to an 8 seed instead of a 6 or 7 seed.
  • The defense was not good. In fact, it was downright bad. Now, some of this probably has to do with lineup experiments, but there is no way Kennesaw State should score 1.13 points per possession against Florida State. Rotations were lazy—if they occurred at all. Guys jogged back on perimeter defense, defensive rebounding was again a significant problem.
  • Leonard Hamilton consistently preaches that in order for this team to be successful, they have to win with depth. Well, FSU looks a little less deep than we anticipated pre-season. Christ Koumadje missed the game with a foot injury (not expected to be serious) and with Raiquan Gray logging zero minutes through four games, it seems likely he’s looking at a redshirt. On top of that, freshman Wyatt Wilkes struggled during his limited action. For the game, only 8 Seminoles logged double digit minutes. None of that is good news for a team wanting to push tempo, extend defensive pressure, and wear out opponents. Suddenly, FSU is an injury or two away from having a real issue with functional depth.
  • Free throw disparity continues to be a glaring problem. FSU attempted just two FTs in the first half, while Kennesaw State took 13. Some of it is youngsters being a little over-aggressive on defense (M.J. Walker, Mfiondu Kabengele). And some of it is FSU taking more perimeter shots this season. But regardless, this is an area where FSU simply has to improve in order for the team to reach their season goals.
  • Offensively, the Seminoles pretty much did whatever they wanted. But against an over-matched opponent like this, what does that really mean?
  • There were no injuries in the contest. That’s a good thing considering the game itself is already damaging.

Court Level:

  • Perhaps the brightest spot for FSU in this game was Phil Cofer. Phil came to play. He scored the game’s first 6 points on his way to tying his career with 21. And it wasn’t all garbage points either. He displayed range with a corner three, a nice turnaround jumper, and mixed creativity and authority at the basket. Best of all, he did all this while playing within himself. Additionally, he was big time on the offensive glass and was really the only guy who appeared interested in blocking out on defensive rebounds. It was just Kennesaw State, but it was still nice to see from a guy who has battled so many injuries.
  • Braian Angola does a really nice job of setting up the lob. Coming off an 8 assist game, Braian added 4 more, most of which come from getting into the lane, sucking in the defender, and throwing over the top for an easy two. Coach Hamilton mentioned how they want to get him off the ball more, to allow him to get loose for more catch and shoot threes, but it’s great to have a third guy capable of running the offense.
  • MJ had another nice game from the perimeter, going 3-5. His stroke looks more compact and consistent even compared to just a couple months ago. But the freshman is still fouling too much and it’s costing him minutes on the court.
  • Trent Forrest is just a steady playmaker on both ends. A natural leader, he runs the offense with ease and makes the right pass to the right player at the right time to give them an easy look. In the last two games, the sophomore has 12 assists to just two turnovers. On the defensive end, Forrest is the best perimeter defender on the team and is also a high-level rebounding guard, with a 20% defensive rebounding rate.

Post Game:

  • Coach Skinner said he thought this was maybe the deepest Leonard Hamilton team he’d ever coached against.
  • Coach Hamilton attributed much of the defensive struggles to him tinkering with lineups and probably putting the wrong combinations on the court at times.

Phil Cofer talks about the need to improve the defense and rebounding, his career day, and what he worked to improve over the summer:

Trent Forrest discusses the unique challenge The Citadel presents, coming back from injury, keeping up with former teammates, and more.

Looking Ahead:

The team heads over to Coach Ham’s house tomorrow for Thanksgiving, feasting on some homemade corn puddin’, mac & cheese, and several turkeys. Then it’s right back to action on Black Friday, as the Seminoles take on The Citadel in what might be the highest scoring game in Tallahassee in quite some time.