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FSU basketball mailbag: Is this team good? This team is good

Let’s talk about stuff!

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

With finals going on at many colleges, hoops this week don’t have much sauce. So instead of skipping out of work early for some ACC game, or staying up late to live-stream the West Coast Conference, I’ll go to the mailbag.

Here we go!

Aren’t you surprised at us being 19 in the poll? Shouldn’t we be higher?

Well, for starters, lots of AP voters are kinda dumb. Take, for instance, Justin Jackson from the fine Morgantown Dominion Post. Mr. Jackson evaluated the college landscape and decided that Kentucky (8-1) was deserving of the No. 3 ranking in all of hoops. They’ve played one game against a ranked team (a loss to his No. 11), and their best win is Vermont. Cincinnati, which has not beaten a single top 100 team, and lost to Florida, is his No. 21. Obviously he was very impressed by that loss to Florida, as he has the Gators at No. 13. Florida State, which is 9-0 with a dominating win at his No. 13 Florida, is nowhere to be found on his ballot.

And there are four other AP voters who also include the Gators (6-3) in their top 25, but not the undefeated team which whipped the Gators in their place.

So no, with voters like that, I’m not surprised.

That said, 19 is fine. FSU hasn’t really played much of a schedule.

The bubble? This team plays harder and better defense than last year's team and is much much better inside.

Okay, not really a question, but my man Andy is questioning my opinion that FSU is a bubble team, so we’ll count it (and one!). Does this team play harder? Ehh, “harder” is pretty subjective, but sure, they bust their butts.

A better defense? Is that true? I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, but last year’s defense was pretty solid. They didn’t force as many turnovers, for sure. And they probably allowed a few more good looks. But they made up for it by at least being decent on the defensive glass. This team has the potential to be better defensively, but due to their lack of effort re: defensive rebounds, they aren’t. Right now FSU’s defense is No. 29 nationally in defensive efficiency. Last year’s team was No. 31.

As to the “much much better inside” comment, I’m just not seeing it. Jon Isaac, Michael Ojo, and Jarquez Smith were a formidable bunch on the interior. Phil Cofer has been great, but how will he hold up against much bigger players in the ACC? Christ Koumadje started off playing his best basketball, but is out with a stress fracture. Mfiondu Kabengele has been exceptional compared to expectations, but that’s only because people thought he wouldn’t be able to dribble and think at the same time until his junior year. Ike Obiagu has been solid on the defensive end.

Announcers keep talking about our depth. Is that the key to this team?

I wish.

Florida State is essentially down to nine scholarship players, and one of those (PJ Savoy) has played a total of 17 minutes in the past four games.

Compare that to last year where Florida State had 11 guys averaging double figure minutes.

Announcers are like AP voters. There are good ones, okay ones, and lazy ones. The lazy announcers who keep talking about how deep FSU is are really still talking about last year’s team.

Is this team good?

Yes, this team is good.

It’s not the team we thought we were getting. We thought we’d be getting a better shooting yet inexperienced version of last year’s team - and that’s exactly what Coach Hamilton showed in the summer and exhibition games.

Now, due to a limited roster, Florida State is playing a little bit slower than they want. They aren’t taking as many 3s as expected. And small-ball runs the day.

But they’re good. This can largely attributed to how disruptive this team is. Two things generate live-ball turnovers: steals and blocks. And this team is getting more than last year’s team. Transition offense has accounted for 32.7% of the Seminoles’ initial shot attempts, which is up 2% from last year. Couple that with improved 3-pt shooting, and FSU is keeping pace with last year’s offense, despite the loss of Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and Jon Isaac.