TSX Hoops: Florida State
Another league win assures FSU of a 20-win season and upper-level finish in the ACC. It might be good enough to finish third. But the Seminoles will be hard-pressed to do it against Maryland on the road Wednesday. They have always struggled at Maryland, which means the Miami game at home on Saturday takes on added significance.
In either case, the Seminoles are in great shape right now, despite the loss of star forward Chris Singleton, who may or may not be able to return for postseason after undergoing foot surgery. They have two home games, two road games left. With the exception of their home finale against North Carolina, the Seminoles will play three teams in the bottom half of the ACC standings.
"When Chris went down, it hurt us," said forward Terrance Shannon, speaking to the Tallahassee Democrat. "We knew we had to play without him, so everybody was trying to be more assertive going to the glass, getting rebounds and everything. So if he does come back, I think we'll be a better team."
But in the meantime?
"In the meantime, we've got a very, very tight ACC race that we're in the middle of," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "And we want to keep pace with our ACC brethren. In order to do that, we've got to utilize the talents that we have and make sure that we maximize every opportunity that's available."
"We're not going to really replace a guy who's 6-9 with the quickness who can guard anyone from (point guard) to (center). That's not an easy thing to do. That's not our concern."
--Nine players played at least 11 minutes in FSU's win against Wake Forest.
--Florida State finished with more assists (15) than turnovers (13), while their defense was stellar. The Seminoles held Wake Forest to 32.8 percent shooting. The Deacons made just 3 of their 17 3-point attempts.
--Junior F Bernard James is now expected to be more of a leader and go-to player with Chris Singleton out with an injury. James played well in a stepped up role against Wake Forest, making 6 of his 8 field goal attempts and also added 8 rebounds and two blocked shots.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- A magic number for the Seminoles as of Feb. 20 after clinching their third consecutive winning season for the first time in school history, following their win against Wake Forest. It also keeps FSU as the third winningest program in the ACC during the past six seasons. And it was their third ACC road win this season, making them the third winningest road team in the ACC in the last three seasons with 12 wins.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We tried to create a mindset with them that we absolutely cannot make any excuses. We are not the only team that's been hit by an injury bug, and we have to find a way to overcome it. I think our guys have responded very well." -- FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton, following his team's win against Wake Forest, on how he tried to approach the team's first game without star forward Chris Singleton.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Maryland, Feb. 23
KEY MATCHUPS: The Seminoles only game this season against Maryland will be against a team that must win its remaining games to have a realistic shot at NCAA tourney consideration. The Seminoles have historically struggled at Maryland. The biggest test for the Seminoles will be guarding Maryland forward Jordan Williams, who leads the ACC in double-doubles (20) and rebounding (11.7). The Seminoles will likely try and put the Bernard James on him and hope to negate some of Williams' success in the paint. This game features a matchup of opposing team strengths. Maryland is the third-best scoring team in the ACC, behind Duke and North Carolina and is second in field goal percentage.
--vs. Miami, Feb. 26
KEY MATCHUPS: Depending on what happens against Maryland, this could be a crucial game for the Seminoles' quest to reach 10 ACC wins and likely seal an NCAA tourney spot. It's a home, it's on a Saturday, and it's against a team the Seminoles have dominated in the past several years. The Seminoles have to slow Miami's two best players, guard Malcolm Grant and forward Reggie Johnson, both of whom are in the top 10 in the ACC in several different categories. The Hurricanes, however, suffered a damaging loss at home Feb. 20 to Clemson in a game that was make-or-break for any faint hope of NCAA tourney consideration, plus they must play at Boston College on Wednesday, so there will be limited rest and practice.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman F Okaro White delivered a solid performance as the replacement for injured Chris Singleton. Making only his fifth start of the season, White produced 13 points, blocked two shots, had two steals and grabbed two rebounds in 23 minutes of play. The Seminoles opted to go with a three-guard lineup with Derwin Kitchen, Deividas Dulkys and Michael Snaer as starters for Wake Forest. With forward Terrance Shannon coming back from injury and center Jon Kreft a relative newcomer, having joined the team in late December, this will be the likely emphasis.
--Junior F Chris Singleton had surgery Feb. 14 on broken right foot, the university announced. Team doctor Bill Thompson said there were no complications and the fracture was easily repaired. The Seminoles have not ruled out the possibility that Singleton could return for the ACC tournament which starts on March 10, or perhaps the NCAA Tournament, if the Seminoles get a bid, which starts the following week. Singleton traveled with the team to Wake Forest and was a sideline cheerleader from the bench.
--In the meantime, the Seminoles got a dose of good news on the injury front when sophomore F Terrance Shannon played against Wake Forest, only two weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery. He played 16 minutes, scoring five points, getting four rebounds, two assists and a steal.
"He brought the energy to our team," freshman forward Okaro White said. "We kind of fed off of him. It's great having him back."
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