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Five Things: Kennesaw State

For better or worse, college basketball is here

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Kennesaw State vs Xavier Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

For better or worse, college basketball season is here.

Ahead of Florida State’s season opener against Kennesaw State, this Friday, November 10th, here are five things to know about the Owls, their university and strawberry season in the Sunshine State.

  1. Was Kennesaw State good last year? They were. They went to the Dance and were tied with Xavier with 18 seconds left. Does it matter? Maybe not (but they were picked 2nd in the A-Sun by the media). Their coach – Amir Abdur-Rahim – had taken a program left in the gutter by Al Skinner (remember him?), gone 1-28 in his first season, and three years later nearly advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament.

Abdur-Rahim, who played at Wheeler High School in Georgia (take note when we’re discussing potential Ham replacements), used his NCAA exposure to land the opening at South Florida, and took with him his top scorer and two other starters.

Enter Antoine Pettaway, a 15-year assistant at Alabama, who managed to hold on to two key starters, but otherwise is bringing a refreshed roster and a new system. In recent years we’ve seen the potential peak of the 3-pt revolution. In 2001 31% of shots were 3s. Fast forward 13-years and that had only risen to 33%. Then it went up a percentage per year for the next four years. Since then? It’s hovered right around 37-38%, and last year it actually fell for the 2nd time in 3 years to 37.3%.

But don’t tell Alabama. They channeled their inner Grinnell College and jacked almost half (47%) their shots from deep. Expect Pettaway’s KSU squad to do the same.

2. The key player is undoubtedly 5-10 senior Terrell Burden. He led the team in assists, steals, free throws, and was 3rd in blocks because why not? Dude is living his best life. He’s super quick, and as we all know - tiny, fast point guards never give FSU trouble, so I’m sure everything will be fine.

Just last year in the season opener we watched Stetson roll two dudes OFF THE BENCH who were the size of middle-schoolers and they scored 38 points on 9-13 3s, but we’ve moved on. Our staff now knows that 3 is more than 2 and we should defend the perimeter. Right?

3. In my deep-dive for information, I learned that:

  • Kennesaw State became a four-year college in 1976,
  • They are a “space-grant” school which I had no idea existed and these schools are dedicated to outer space-related research. In the wise words of my college weed dealer, “outer space is like right there,” which turns out to be true, just ask a Kennesaw State grad,
  • They certify and monitor election machines which seems like a super fun and relaxing job in Georgia,
  • Larry Nelson went there. He first picked up a golf club after returning from his infantry service in the Vietnam War, was shooting in the 60s nine months later, decided to give college a try and once he turned pro went on to win 3 majors.

4. This is the first game of an entire non-conference slate that takes place in Florida. Hey, Florida’s great! Why travel? There’s no U.S. state quite like Florida, where strawberries grow in winter and beaches beckon year-round (www.visitFlorida.com, 2023).

5. From February 27, 2016 – January 20, 2022 FSU went 85-5 at home. Since then they’ve gone 8-14. According to kenpom.com FSU is favored by 12.