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Baseline Breakdown: FSU outlasts Tar Heels

The Seminoles take down the defending national champs 81-80.

CJ Walker looking to make a play against UNC.
Tomahawk Nation

Florida State is still a work in progress, but learning how to win is a great step forward for this developing team.

Above the Rim:

  • Defensive rebounding is likely going to be an issue all season long, but tonight was a step in the right direction. Yes, the Tar Heels still grabbed 36% of their misses, but that’s just a hair over their season long average. And late in the second half when defensive rebounds were critical, FSU grabbed almost every one. Credit perimeter players like Terance Mann (9) and Braian Angola (5) for crashing the glass.
  • Perimeter shooting was once again a strength for the Seminoles. Perhaps inspired by the Tallahassee weather, FSU made a flurry of threes during the first stanza to open up a double digit lead. Much like situational football, jumping out to a lead in basketball is different than making a bunch of threes in garbage time with the game out of reach. It forces the opposing team to expend more energy trying to catch up, and also opens up lanes for slashers to attack the basket and draw fouls. Guys like Angola, M.J. Walker, and CJ Walker did a great job of shooting in rhythm and within the flow of the offense.
  • FSU had a chance to step on the throat of an opponent for the second game in a row, and for the second game in a row they couldn’t do it. Yes, learning how to win is a skill just like shooting and dribbling. On the plus side, they didn’t wilt after UNC came back to take the lead. Quite the opposite, the young Seminoles took their intensity up a notch.
  • FSU scored a blistering 1.41 points per possession in the first half. The 51 point outburst shows you the kind of ceiling this offense has when they are executing and taking care of the ball.
  • Unfortunately, the second half started extremely sloppy. FSU had a 38.5% TO rate in first 7 minutes of the second half. UNC, a team that is 289th in the country at forcing turnovers, wasn’t even playing outstanding defense. FSU just lost focus and became extremely careless with the basketball. Like I said, learning how to win is a skill.
  • Just before the holidays, Coach Hamilton told me that his Christmas wish for this team is for them to find consistency. You can see why. Capable of brilliant stretches, this team can look remarkably careless and discombobulated at times. The full spectrum was on display against the Tar Heels. This team has potential, but for FSU to make the leap from good to very good this season, some of the mental lapses will have to be eliminated.

Court Level:

  • Trent Forrest is a perimeter shot away from being an All-ACC guard. His court vision is superb, he changes speeds on his drives like a pro, and his defense is outstanding. In fact, his defense down the stretch against Joel Berry might have won FSU the game. His free throw mechanics are obviously improved over last season (credit his tenacious work with Stan Jones for that) and he’s developing a nice little floater in the lane. Hopefully he continues to gain confidence.
  • Braian Angola (the KenPom MVP of the game) stuffed the stat sheet with points, rebounds, assists, and steals. But most importantly, the senior has cut down on his turnovers the last couple games. A few games ago I mentioned his turnover rate had drastically increased over last season. But against Duke and UNC, the senior committed just two turnovers in 64 minutes of basketball.
  • CJ wasn’t great for the first 30 minutes. He made a few threes, but he was also sloppy and out of control at times. However, he really turned it on around the 10 minute mark of the second half, starting with a ridiculous scoop pass while diving for a loose ball. Described as a “warrior” by Coach Ham, the sophomore energized the crowd and the team down the stretch and came up with some crucial plays on both ends. Other than one errant pass with about 40 seconds left, CJ was fabulous when the stakes were highest.
  • Phil Cofer had what was easily his worst offensive game of the season, sporting a 53 offensive rating (on the season he’s at 122.8). And to me he actually looked a little tired. Which is easy to understand. Not only did he have the task of defending Luke Maye for much of the game—which he did quite well—he’s also played 30+ minutes more times this season (5) than he has in the previous three seasons...combined (2). Carrying FSU’s offenses for long stretches this season, it’s a nice sign that the Seminoles can beat a team like UNC on a night when Cofer shoots 2-11. That said, here’s to hoping Phil can get his legs back between now and Sunday.

Post Game:

Roy Williams credited FSU’s ability to take UNC’s guards off the dribble and either attack the basket or kick out for an open three as being the difference in the game.

Videos of Ham and players:

Just hours after undergoing a kidney stone procedure, Leonard Hamilton coached Florida State Seminoles Basketball to a victory.

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Braian Angola on what was going on inside the Florida State Seminoles Basketball hudle late in its win over UNC.

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Terance Mann talks Florida State Seminoles Basketball’s first win over North Carolina since 2012.

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Florida State Seminoles Basketball point guard CJ Walker discusses Leonard Hamilton coaching after undergoing kidney stone surgery on Wednesday.

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

North Carolina Men's Basketball guard Joel Berry II on competing with a team like Florida State Seminoles Basketball that likes to play an up-tempo offense like the Tar Heels do.

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

North Carolina Men's Basketball’s Theo Pinson shares what allowed Florida State Seminoles Basketball to be so efficient in FSU’s victory on Wednesday.

Posted by on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Looking Ahead:

FSU will face their third consecutive top 15 team on Sunday as they travel to Coral Gables to take on the Miami Hurricanes.