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Inside the box score: This is Trent Forrest’s team

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Not the ideal way to begin a basketball season...

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  1. This is Trent Forrest’s team. For the game he took 16 shots, which is his new career-high. Unfortunately, it took him 20 minutes to settle in. His 1st half play was sub-optimal, to put it mildly, while his 2nd half play was inspired. FSU can’t afford for him to be sloppy, as he demonstrated in the 1st half with a spin move in traffic where he tried (and failed) to maintain his dribble, or his behind-the-back pass to the wrong team. He also played 39 minutes, which is a career-high in a non-OT game.
  2. While Matt already covered this in his observations, I need to go podcast style and also give my thoughts on the same subject. FSU is now 0-1 in conference play. There are 32 conferences in college basketball, and 31 of them have figured out how to give their teams six to eight weeks to warm up before the conference season begins. Yet somehow - the ACC which is the supposed king of college basketball - has to have teams in conference play on day one. Due to Pitt’s overseas trip, they had 10 more practices than FSU and played in three more scrimmages. Having this game be a huge part of the resume come March is just terrible planning by the conference leadership:

3. I’ve watched a lot of basketball in my days, and I certainly can’t recall a non-contact flagrant foul being assigned to a player on the court. Now I can’t say that anymore. The flagrant on M.J. Walker was baffling. More importantly, it gave Pitt two free points in a game the Panthers won by two. I know by now the NCAA will never address the elephant in the room which is a multi-billion dollar industry being refereed by part-time employees who they have little control over, so there’s really no point in complaining. But this was a very physical game with players from both sides trash-talking for 40 minutes, and the refs pick this very bizarre moment to make what I assume they thought was a point.

4. Rayquan Evans somehow made his way into the official box score despite not being dressed for the game. And he even picked up a turnover. Tough luck, kid. If the scorekeeper would have been more attuned to the action he would have assigned Evans a foul.

5. Speaking of fouls...I have no issue with Ham sitting players in the 1st half with two. It’s been shown that players mirror their overly conservative coaches by playing more cautiously when they have fouls. And Ham’s “two 1st half fouls and you sit” rule certainly isn’t unique. Tony Bennett and John Calipari have hung a lot of banners with the same philosophy. But there are times to break that rule, and it should be based on the player’s value over his replacement. If Devin Vassell were sitting 18 minutes in the 1st half, and Walker and Anthony Polite were picking up the slack - great. Save him for the 2nd half. But against Pitt, both Vassell and Walker went to the bench with more than 17:30 on the clock and never reappeared. Instead, Wyatt Wilkes and walk-on Harrison Prieto got extended minutes. No offense to either, but the drop off from Vassell and Walker to Wilkes and Prieto is pretty significant. Pitt was rattled in the 1st half by FSU’s pressure, but the ’Noles were unable to capitalize. Hindsight is 20-20, but had they been able to take a six or eight point lead into the break, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.