Florida State started the 2011-12 season Friday night with a win over Jacksonville University, defeating the Dolphins 79-67.
With Kitchen playing ball overseas and Singleton awaiting his NBA debut, the ‘Noles understood that new leaders were going to have to develop. They hoped two of those leaders would be guards Michael Snaer, a junior, and Deividas Dulkys, a senior.
Friday, those hopes became reality -- at least for one night.
Dulkys and Snaer both finished the game with 16 points. The two were a combined 6 of 10 from 3-point range and on target throughout the evening.
Coming into the season, Dulkys, a native of Lithuania, knew he was going to need to be a leader. He stepped up to that leadership role both offensively and defensively in the opener.
"We're still learning, trying to pick up where we left off defensively," said Dulkys following the victory. "At times we let guys drive by us, but then sometimes we were unbelievable. We just got to get back in the rhythm and play that way for the whole 40 minutes."
Being a leader on defense is something that both Dulkys and Snaer are familiar with. They have been with coach Leonard Hamilton for multiple seasons and understand his philosophy of defense being the key to success.
However, it's on the offensive end where new leaders are going to have to develop in order for the 'Noles to be successful this season. Kitchen and Singleton were FSU's top scorers last season.
It was nice to get 16 points apiece from two key players for a night, but Hamilton understands everyone is going to have to contribute.
"I said at the beginning of the year that we would win games by committee," said Hamilton.
In addition to the big performances from Dulkys and Snaer, the regular-season opener might better be remembered for the monster night from forward Terrance Shannon. The 6-8 junior registered his first career double-double and posted career highs in both points and rebounds with 15 and 12, respectively. Shannon also connected on 7 of 10 free throws.
"I was just trying to get the job done," said Shannon. "I just continued to work hard, and hopefully it would pay off."
Hamilton was pleased with the effort that Shannon provided.
"Terrence was a guy who gave us all the hustle baskets," he said.
Hustle and energy are two things the ‘Noles pride themselves on, and they can look to Shannon to be a leader in that regard. Giving it their best every night is going to be key to a successful season.
Although Florida State played well for most of the game, there are some things that Hamilton knows need to be fixed.
"I thought there were some moments when we got out and ran and attacked well in transition, executed well in the half court," said Hamilton. "Then there were some times where we didn't execute well at all."
The Seminoles hope their execution continues to improve with each game. Their next opportunity to do just that will be Monday, when they host the University of Central Florida. The tip is set for 7:00 p.m.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Snaer, Dulkys the leaders in opener
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