FSU Hoops Preview

Florida State last season rode its defense to a third-place finish in the ACC and a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, and that approach doesn't figure to change this season. Though they lose the intimidating presence of 7-1 Solomon Alabi, who opted out for the NBA draft after two years.

The Seminoles still return the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year in forward Chris Singleton and will welcome another 7-footer, junior college transfer Jon Kreft, to the front court.

Singleton led the conference in steals per game (2.2) and also averaged 1.5 blocked shots, which was fifth in the league but second on the team to Alabi's 2.3 average.

Another key returnee, guard Derwin Kitchen, was eighth in the league in steals with 1.5 per game.

The question for this season is whether the 'Noles can add a little offensive juice to the game plan.

While allowing only 60.4 points per game, fewest in the conference and 19th best in the country, the 'Noles averaged just over 68 points a game at their offensive end, ranking fourth in the conference in scoring margin (7.8).

Singleton, however, can do it at both ends of the court. He scored at a 10.2 clip as one of two players in double figures for the 'Noles.

Guard Michael Snaer could be capable of more production after averaging 8.8 points a game as a freshman. He shot 34.8 percent from 3-point range.

Kitchen, too, could join that scoring mix, and a third guard, junior Deividas Dulkys, shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range last season after hitting just 28.6 percent as a freshman.

A guy who could make a big difference inside is 6-11 Xavier Gibson. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in under 13 minutes of playing time a game.

NOTES, QUOTES

--It's not all about steals and blocked shots when it comes to defense for the Seminoles. They led the nation in field goal defense last season, allowing opponents to shoot only 37.7 percent from the field against them. They held half of their opponents to under 40 percent shooting for the game. The 16 times the 'Noles did allow an opponent shot hit 40 percent or more of their field goal attempts accounted for nine of their 10 losses.

--Junior F Chris Singleton has been named as one of the Top 50 candidates for the 2011 John R. Wooden Award. Singleton averaged a career-high 10.2 points, a career-high 7.0 rebounds to go along with 71 steals and 48 blocked shots.

--Florida State will play Ohio State in the 12th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, hosting the Buckeyes in Tallahassee on Dec. 30.

LAST YEAR: 22-10 overall, 10-6 in the ACC.

HEAD COACH: Leonard Hamilton, 9th year at Florida State (131-96 at Florida State, 331-306 career).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There were a couple of shooting drills that we learned and the overall concept of the camp, but I think we already have much of it in our system at Florida State." -- Junior F Chris Singleton, in a Q&A with the university, on his workout routines with the USA Select Team in the summer.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: PG Derwin Kitchen, SG Michael Snaer, SG Ian Miller, F Chris Singleton, F Xavier Gibson.

LINEUP BREAKDOWN: The Seminoles could pick up their scoring pace if Snaer continues to develop and Miller lives up to his five-star billing. Singleton is known for his defense, but he also is the leading returning scorer and the only one among returnees who averaged in double figures last season (10.4 ppg). He likely will be an all-ACC selection. If Gibson comes through, he could take the Seminoles to an even higher level.

SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS: G Ian Miller out of United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C., is a good defender and will bring intensity to the lineup, just what coach Leonard Hamilton likes. Junior college transfer Bernard James out of Tallahassee Community College is an older player who spent six years in the Air Force. A 6-1 forward, he brings leadership qualities not found on younger player. At 7-0, Jon Kreft has a good shooting touch for a big man. He was a member of FSU's 2006 recruiting class before running into some legal problems and getting back on track at Chipola (Fla.) Community College.

ROSTER REPORT

--G Deividas Dulkys started the first 22 games of last season and averaged 8.7 ppg.

--G Luke Loucks had only one start but was second on the team in assists (2.4 apg).


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