1. Tallahassee, we have a problem. In our ‘keys to the season’ piece written before any games were played, we mentioned defensive rebounding:
If there is a giant red flag warning for this year’s team, this is it. How is the team going to clean the glass?
Tiny Kennesaw State was able to grab 39% of their own misses, which puts the FSU defense at 35.4% for the year, good for 295th nationally. You have to go back to the 2015 NCAA tournament to find a team that earned an at-large bid while allowing opponents to rebound at that rate (St. John’s, 35.4%). Allowing your opponent to have free possessions turns close wins into close losses.
2. If players had to run on Thanksgiving morning for not bringing their full attention to the Kennesaw State game, Phil Cofer could just sit in the bleachers and watch. He played a complete game - hustling, communicating, boxing out. He scored the first six points of the game and finished with 21, matching his career-high. For the season, he’s made 69% of his 2s and 82% of his FTs, while only committing 1.7 fouls/40 (compared to 3.0/40 for his career).
3. I’ve been harping on Terance Mann’s refusal to shoot wide open 3s, as something bad happens on most of those possessions he turns them down. So I’m thrilled he attempted three in a game for the first time in his career, right? Well.....on his first attempt, he passed up a wide-open look and drove right, before attempting a very difficult step back 3-pointer, which - predictably - was short. On his second attempt, he again passed up a wide-open look and pump faked instead. When his defender didn’t budge, he took the shot and drained it. The third was a repeat of the second, only it didn’t fall. At some point he just needs to catch and shoot in rhythm when he’s wide open. It’s obviously not a comfortable move for him, but it needs to be. On the positive side, he’s been unstoppable in the paint, making 84% of his 2s. But most of these shots are easy putbacks and lobs, which won’t come so frequently when the level of opponent increases.
4. MJ Walker was the instant offense in the 1st half, scoring 11 quick points. He’s now made 11-19 3s (58%). Last season, Jonathan Isaac made 12-24 (50%) to begin the year, but only 19-65 (29%) the rest of the way. Walker certainly won’t shoot 58% for the year, but anything at 40%+ will be a huge bonus, especially if he’s averaging five attempts a game.
5. FSU won 98-79 in a 70 possession game. The 1.12 points per possession scored by Kennesaw State was the most they’ve scored against a high-major opponent since joining Division I in 2005.