Heading into the current four-game home stand I detailed the importance of this stretch. Halfway home, let’s take a look the four areas of focus and see how things are progressing.
For each one I pulled out a sentence or two that sums up the overall focus area. For a full breakdown of each area, click the link above.
Losing any one of the four games would do at least a seed line worth of damage come March. It’s that simple.
It was touch and go for a bit against Western Carolina, but the Seminoles gutted out a comeback victory. Chattanooga was a blowout from the jump. So far, so good.
NET style points
Home wins themselves really aren’t worth all that much, earning just 0.6 of a win. So in order for FSU to truly take advantage of this stretch of games, they need to not just win but win convincingly. I’m talking 15+ points in every game, with 20 or more being ideal.he efficiency component is not capped, teams are rewarded for beating the crap out of cupcakes.
Loosely speaking, the Western Carolina game didn’t go according to plan. The way NET determines strength of schedule is treated like national security, so I’m not sure if it factors in opponent strength with regard to efficiency numbers. But at least in KenPom, FSU’s game against the Catamounts didn’t help. However, given the way the ’Noles fought back from a 17-point deficit and demonstrated maturity in the final three minutes, I can see an argument for that result actually being a net positive (no pun intended) when evaluating the totality of the circumstances—as long as FSU blows out the three other opponents.
The Chattanooga game was just what the doctor ordered. Kudos to the team for coming out focused and piling on the points, especially considering M.J Walker and Raiquan Gray were out injured. Even the walk-ons contributed. 18 strong, indeed.
Florida State needs to find a way to allow these guys to work on specific components of their game while also getting healthy in preparation for phase three of the schedule (the Thanksgiving tourney and @Indiana).
Let’s start with the good news. Big Dom looked much more mobile and explosive, finishing at the rim on several occasions. He didn’t practice Monday or Tuesday, but after the game he said it’s the best he’s felt since the injury.
Rayquan Evans played a few minutes against WCU, before increasing that to 14 against Chattanooga. It’s obvious he has a ways to go to rebuild his stamina (who knows when he’ll get his full explosiveness back (the kid has a wicked first step)). But Coach Hamilton raves about his potential and basketball IQ, so it’s exciting to see him working his way back.
Patrick Williams looks to be rounding into shape, though Hamilton admits he’s still not in peak game condition.
Now for the bad news. Walker took a late spill against Western and sat out the Chattanooga game with an ankle. Ham says he’s doubtful for Saturday’s tilt, as well. Gray also sat out game two of this stretch and is also unsure to play on Saturday.
Then, in this game, Wyatt Wilkes—who started in Gray’s stead—banged up his shoulder, while Malik Osborne tweaked a knee. The team hasn’t had a full-team practice since October 3rd (!), and it doesn’t seem that’ll happen anytime soon.
At this point, the best I can say is it’s still wait and see. Let’s hope Walker and Gray can come back before the matchup with Tennessee.
Build functional depth
Leonard Hamilton’s system relies on 10-12 guys capable of contributing in order to best execute. And the only way to get more comfortable and more effective in the system is to execute it at game speed. In order for the Seminoles to be a force come March, the bench (and even some of the new starters) needs to make strides in the games played now.
So far, so good for this one, as well. Let’s run down a few things that have stood out:
Balsa Koprivica showed noticeable improvement from the 1st half of the Western Carolina game to the 2nd half and continued that against Chattanooga. He demonstrated growing awareness and body control on defense, touch around the rim on offense, and adept passing out of the post to open shooters, as well as one stupendous dump off to a cutting Williams for a slam. He is building confidence and looks to have a bright future.
Speaking of P-Dub (can we call him that?), the highly touted freshman came alive at the end of the WCU game, willing the team to victory. Perhaps most impressive was his 7-7 from the FT line, including two straight to ice the game. He then carried that over to the Chattanooga game with 16 points in 20 minutes on 6-10 shooting (2-3 from deep) to go along with a pair of steals and a few more disrupted passes. Needless to say, he’s getting more comfortable. When the game really starts to slow down for him, he’ll start to impose his will even more on opposing defenders. We are talking about a seriously talented individual.
Dominik Olejniczak seems to be embracing his role and that’s great news. His interview after the game was fantastic, so be sure to watch (below). If he can provide 12-15 minutes/game of efficient scoring around the basket (largely on lobs and putbacks), strong screens, and solid defense, he’ll be a huge asset come February and March.
Devin Vassell is becoming more and more complete. Last year, he was a 3 and D guy with every single made three coming off the catch. This year, he’s scoring in a variety of ways, not the least of which is off others’ misses. After four games (all double-digits), he’s my bet to lead the team in scoring. And believe it or not, his best attribute might just be his length and versatility on defense.
As mentioned, Walker didn’t play against Chattanooga, but his performance against the Catamounts was clutch. He hit several contested threes late in the game to put FSU in position to win and his ball-handling/slashing looks significantly improved.
Nathanael Jack came off the bench for his first significant playing time of the season against the Mocs, and he finished with six points on two made threes, while adding five rebounds. He’ll likely never be a plus-defender due to lacking elite size or lateral quickness, but that doesn’t need to be his role. This team will be better if he can hit 40% of his threes and play with a high IQ, allowing him to be in position for rebounds and steals.
I’m going ask a random trivia question and you vote on the answer. I’ll reveal in the comments. Don’t be a loser and cheat.
What was the last team to defeat FSU at home in November or December?
This poll is closed
Coach Hamilton discusses Balsa’s growing confidence, the team’s improvement, and more.
Devin Vassell talks about the big win.
Big Dom discusses his experience at the FIBA World Championships, his calf injury, why FSU was so compelling as a transfer destination, his belief in Balsa, and more.