Growing up, I was always told to stay positive. So we'll start there because there are, after all, lots of positives to examine early in the 2011-12 Florida State men's basketball season.
The Seminoles are 3-0. They have won all three games by double digits and held the lead for virtually the entirety of their first 120 minutes of basketball to start the year. Bernard James has dominated inside. Deividas Dulkys and Michael Snaer appear to be gaining confidence in their shot. Okaro White is progressing in his new role.
However, FSU's first three opponents consisted of Jacksonville, UCF and Stetson. All three have inferior talent, depth and size. All three lack the ability that the Seminoles possess, and none of them are in the ACC.
Although Florida State has managed to defeat those teams, there are certain things that are troubling and the ‘Noles must fix these problems or the season might be a struggle.
The Seminoles defeated Stetson on Wednesday 79-66. However, despite the 13-point victory, there are some glaring issues that must be addressed before FSU can call itself an elite program.
"We did not execute and get the quality and consistency that I think we're going to need," said coach Leonard Hamilton following the win. "We realize we have to become more efficient on the offensive end."
The triumph over Stetson was somewhat misleading. The ‘Noles did secure their third victory in three games and had three players score in double digits.
However, despite those positives, Florida State played sloppy basketball for much of the game. The Seminoles turned it over 17 times and failed in spurts to share the ball amongst each other in an effort to create better shots.
FSU guard Jeff Peterson agrees.
"We have to focus more," said the Arkansas transfer. "They're unforced turnovers. It's a mindset of being focused and being patient."
The Seminoles also allowed Stetson to gather 19 offensive rebounds. White suggests this might be an issue of taking the Hatters too lightly.
"We just underestimated our opponent," White said, "not valuing our opponent's skill."
Despite the underestimation, turnovers and lack of execution, one thing is clear: FSU isn't having moments of poor basketball because of a lack of effort.
The Seminoles never trailed against the Hatters and shot 57 percent from the field. The ‘Noles were dominant inside the paint and used their size to push around Stetson for much of the contest.
The effort is clearly there, but the execution isn't quite where FSU would like it to be.
"We came out with effort," said Peterson. "It's a lack of execution on both ends. I think [Wednesday] was more a lack of execution than being tired or selfish."
Being tired and selfish might pass by the wayside against inferior opponents. But when Florida State enters into ACC play, those negatives have to disappear.
The Seminoles must find a way to play good basketball for the entire 40 minutes. Dulkys knows this and understands that the Stetson game was not what the team expects.
"We turned the ball over, and we were careless," said Dulkys. "It wasn't Florida State basketball. We are very disappointed in how we played [Wednesday], but hopefully we can improve."
The season is young, and the ‘Noles have plenty of games left to show improvement. With a rotation that has featured 10 players, there are going to be moments of lackluster execution. There are new faces and new player roles. Not everyone has become accustomed at this point.
However, FSU better become well adjusted quickly. Effort should be praised and complimented, but execution is the key. Otherwise, this might not be the successful season for which Seminole supporters have hoped.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
FSU's effort there, execution isn't yet
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