Seminole supporters were able to get their first look at the 2011-12 men's basketball team Monday, as Florida State matched up with Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the season's exhibition opener.
FSU defeated IUP by a score of 80-51 and looked strong for much of the game.
Michael Snaer connected on the team's first basket of the preseason with a 3-pointer a minute into play, and the team never looked back en route to opening up a 38-18 halftime lead.
Newcomer Jeff Peterson saw a good amount of playing time and contributed solidly with seven points and three assists. The Crimson Hawks of IUP simply couldn't withstand the Seminole depth.
Despite the Seminoles' convincing victory, an unfortunate trend continued throughout the game.: Periods of sloppy play and lazy passing resulted in a total of 19 turnovers.
Not taking care of the basketball is an area in which FSU struggled last year. Forward Bernard James knows that needs to change.
"It's something that plagued us last season," said James. "We need to focus a little more. We keep trying to make highlight plays instead of passing the ball. We need to stop doing that."
However, despite the turnovers, a more positive trend developed throughout the game as well: FSU has the potential to be simply dominating inside.
The Seminole lineup features a rotation that includes four players that stand 6-9 or taller. IUP's much smaller lineup was no match.
The 6-10 James is expected to be the leader of the frontcourt this season and led the way with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Four players scored in double figures for the Seminoles, and all four of them play either the center or forward positions Senior center Xavier Gibson matched James' effort with 13 points of his own, and reserves Jon Kreft and Terrance Shannon contributed with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"We had a goal that we wanted to get 22 post touches," said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. "I think we get better offense when we get the ball inside. We are big and strong."
That pregame goal may have contributed to the big men dominating the stat sheet, but it doesn't tell the entire story. FSU does have the potential to feature great interior offense, but the interior defense is no slouch.
The ‘Noles outrebounded the Crimson Hawks by a margin of 47-29 and secured 33 of them on the defensive end. Florida State also blocked seven shot attempts. IUP was held to only 25 percent shooting in the first half and shot just 31 percent for the game.
IUP had moments where it appeared it could break Florida State's defensive schemes. Crimson Hawk guards were able to penetrate into the paint on occasion but were always greeted by a Seminole big man.
That is something guard Luke Loucks appreciates.
"It's a guard's dream to have four or five guys over 6-9 down there," said Loucks. "It's a very good sign for our depth. It's encouraging."
FSU plays host to Georgia Southwestern in its final exhibition game Nov. 7 at 7:00 p.m. The team will begin the regular season schedule Nov. 11 against Jacksonville.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Seminoles cruise to exhibition victory
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