TSX Hoops: Florida State
His team's recent history of quick recovery from a forgettable performance gave Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton hope the Seminoles would look like a different team when resuming ACC play Jan. 8 against Virginia Tech.
Instead, it was a near carbon effort of the disparaging loss five days earlier at Auburn.
The Seminoles (11-5, 1-1 ACC) were again the gang that couldn't shoot straight, if at all, missing 40 of 62 attempts in a 71-59 loss to the Hokies. The good news is they finally return for a pair of home games this week. The bad news is that No. 1-ranked Duke is up next for a prime-time, nationally televised game Jan. 12.
Even if the Seminoles improve shooting, drastically, it will take a monumental effort to stay with the unbeaten Blue Devils and avoid a third consecutive loss for the first time in four years.
Florida State supporters, already tired of constant shooting struggles in recent years with this basketball team, are losing their support for Hamilton. This team will need a drastic turnaround to get back into position for an NCAA Tournament spot. But right now, the Seminoles can't beat the worst team in the SEC (Auburn) and the worst team in the ACC (Virginia Tech).
"We, for whatever reason collectively as a team, have not been shooting the ball very well," Hamilton said. "It's very difficult to be successful when you're shooting the ball as poorly as we're shooting."
Virginia Tech played with only eight players dressed for the game, yet the Hokies won easily. This does not bode well for a Florida State team that may be seeing its season crumbling.
"Chris (Singleton) was very relaxed and under control," Hamilton said of his star forward, who had a team-high 22 points. "He was solid, but in our league, you've got to have more than one guy stepping up. And we didn't have that."
--In losses to Auburn and Virginia Tech, the Seminoles failed to shoot 35 percent in either game. The biggest problem? Their guard play has really struggled. Starters Deividas Dulkys, Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer, all returning players, combined to make only 7 of 30 shots from the field. Kitchen, who missed all five of his field goal attempts vs. Virginia Tech, had averaged 14 points in the previous four games.
--About the only positive stat for the Seminoles is rebounding, where they outrebounded nine consecutive opponents, including a 39-30 edge against Virginia Tech, through Jan. 8.
--The Seminoles went the final 6:48 against Virginia Tech without scoring a point.
BY THE NUMBERS: 33 -- Number of turnovers the Seminoles have made in their last two games, while making only 28 assists.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I still like this team. And I believe that we'll have a good year. Hopefully, we'll be better than we were last year. And I have reason to believe that." -- Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Duke, Jan. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: The Seminoles will try to avoid losing three consecutive games for the first time since 2007, but it will be a tall order. The Blue Devils are easily the class of the ACC and one of the elite teams in the country. The first challenge will be trying to slow Duke senior guard Nolan Smith, who scored 22 or more points in his last five games through Jan. 8 and leads the league in scoring and assists. FSU will likely try to put Derwin Kitchen on him and hope Kitchen can produce his best game of the season.
--vs. North Carolina State, Jan. 15
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolfpack does not have a scorer among the top 20 in the ACC, but senior forward Tracy Smith is back after missing 10 games with a knee injury. He has averaged 15.5 points a game, but will be shadowed by Chris Singleton in this game. Like Florida State, the Wolfpack has struggled shooting and scoring, but has stayed competitive with aggressive rebounding and solid defense.
FUTURES MARKET: With the exception of Duke, the Seminoles will be seeing a steady diet of straight zone and matchup zone defenses this season until their perimeter players can knock down shots. Duke will be the one team playing the Seminoles man-to-man, because that's been the Blue Devils' style and they have superior talent to get it done. Florida State's problem is trying to figure a way to get one of its guards to gain confidence and get hot, because this team has few other options.
--Freshman G Ian Miller, who has not played since early December, did not make the trip to Virginia Tech. Hamilton said a decision about Miller's status will be made later this week. There is a chance he could apply for a medical hardship.
--Junior F Chris Singleton was the lone bright spot for the Seminoles against Virginia Tech, scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds. He went into the game having averaged a double-double of 16 points and 10.3 rebounds in his last four games. "Chris was very relaxed and under control," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He was solid, but in our league, you've got to have more than one guy stepping up. And we didn't have that."
--Junior C Jon Kreft, a 7-foot-1 player expected to be a big boost when he finally became eligible Dec. 16, has made minimal impact. Playing sparingly in both games, he scored only three points apiece against Auburn and Virginia Tech -- teams where he should have enjoyed a big height advantage. None of the Hokies' starters, for example, were taller than 6-8, but it didn't matter. Kreft, 24, a player Hamilton signed six years ago before Kreft ran afoul of the law, played only six minutes against Virginia Tech but picked up three personal fouls in that time.
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