- 5-1 is a good start for this team. I would’ve put the over/under for losses to this point at 1.5 or maybe even 2 after the injury to Phil Cofer. Ken Pomeroy has the over/under right about one for the remainder of the out of conference season (Purdue, Saint Louis, Connecticut, etc..).
- By year’s end, the wins over Florida and LSU will probably be solid, but not great. Both have crazy talent levels, although they also possess glaring shortcomings (the “more with less” crowd really needs to pay attention to other teams). It’s a safe bet both squads will finish in the top half of the SEC and make the NCAA Tournament. If they were ACC teams, each would be a toss-up to make “The Dance”. Florida State’s loss to Villanova won’t be a negative. The Wildcats are still favored to win the Big East. The one bummer is that FSU won’t get the blue blood treatment on Selection Sunday, and the committee won’t care that ’Nova won when FSU’s leading scorer (Cofer) couldn’t play due to injury. If FSU were Syracuse or Duke they committee would be fighting each other to see who gets to talk to the media.
- Speaking of which, no boot for Cofer in Orlando. He was even jumping around with the team a bit in the celebration after the comeback win over LSU. The one glaring take-home from the early season is that FSU really needs a healthy Cofer.
- The ’Noles have three top-100 recruits on the roster, which is fewer than 10 ACC teams. They have the same number as Wake Forest. Look them up if you want to see the possibilities of that talent level. Success will be driven by system wins. There isn’t a player on this roster that can take over a game like Dwayne Bacon. Playing teams such as LSU and Villanova make that point obvious. So it’s good to see everyone buying in, up to this point. It’ll be interesting to see how the coaches manage 12 egos moving forward.
- It’s clear that every team on the schedule is going to try and slow Florida State down. Villanova even refused to run on live-ball turnovers. For about three possessions in the 2nd half the Wildcats turned it loose, but Jay Wright immediately shut that down.
- Terance Mann and Trent Forrest need to be more aggressive. Over-sharing is a problem most coaches dream of, but it’s still a problem. FSU is routinely turning down good shots in order to try and find a great one for their teammates. Unfortunately, a lot of these possessions immediately turn stale. Both players seem to be trying too hard to get others involved. But both play their best when they have a singular focus on getting to the rim. At the end of both the LSU and Villanova game, everyone in the arena knew Forrest was going to the rack, but he still got there. And finished. It’s time to learn from that.
- M.J. Walker and PJ Savoy have both been really good from beyond the arc, but who’s going to be another shooter? Mann has made 5-8, but often turns down wide open looks, as mentioned previously. Devin Vassell and Anthony Polite could be the guys, but will they earn enough minutes? Florida State needs to be able to more effectively stretch the floor in order to open up driving lanes. Right now, defenses are too packed in. Look how Villanova had the personnel to play 5-out and create a ton of space, negating FSU’s help defense. The Seminoles small-ball lineup doesn’t get that kind of respect, yet. Once again, Cofer obviously helps a ton here.
- Offensive rebounds and getting to the line are the strengths of this offense. But the turnover trend (21.4% of possessions and rising) is alarming. I’m fine with turnovers that come from charges or pushing the pace. I’m not fine with seniors making lazy passes out of a double team. I think more aggressive play from Mann and Forrest (and the return of Cofer) is the key there.
- I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the defense. The big question after last year’s NCAA Tourney run was whether the improved defense was simply luck, or a sign the guys finally understood what the coaches were asking them to do. So far, they’ve easily exceeded expectations, and that’s without Ike Obiagu erasing shots on the back-end after his off-season transfer to Seton Hall.
- The transition defense is where I’m seeing the biggest difference. The Seminoles aren’t rebounding as well as last year (hey, another area where Cofer will help), but they’re forcing more turnovers to make up for it. Really, though, they’re a top-20 defense because they’re doing a great job turning the ball handler and denying quick hitters.
- We’ve seen more looks from FSU this year, which is a nice thing about a veteran team. It gives Leonard Hamilton more options with his game plans, and we’ve seen new wrinkles each game.
- While FSU is great at getting to the line, they’re nearly as bad about sending the opponent to the line. The current free throw rate stands at 40.2%, which would be the highest in Leonard Hamilton’s tenure. And opponents are making 71.2% of their freebies, and scoring over 22% of their points from the charity stripe. FSU is going to foul a lot because they’re constantly pressuring the ball handler, so they’ll need to cut down elsewhere. The hook by Terance Mann was an absolute killer late vs Villanova.
- Go ahead and sharpie Carsen Edwards name onto the All-American 1st Team list. The Purdue guard is the best scorer in the NCAA, and is as quick a guard as FSU will play this season. They surround him with a bunch of shooters. This will be another grinding game, similar to FSU-Villanova.