Entering his last year of eligibility, Florida State guard Luke Loucks knew he would be looked at as one of the team leaders. Taking the role vacated by Derwin Kitchen, the Clearwater native was set to become the quarterback of this offense.
On Sunday afternoon, he proved he might be coming into his own.
Loucks was a major part of FSU's 80-39 dismantling of South Alabama. He led the team in scoring with 18 and only turned the ball over once in 32 minutes of action.
The ‘Noles were without reserve point guard Jeff Peterson, who is currently sidelined with a sprained knee.
"Knowing that Jeff was going to be out for [Sunday], it gets you more in an aggressive mindset," said Loucks. "Knowing that role is going to be on your shoulders, it got me going."
Loucks and Peterson are expected to share time at the point guard position this season. The two have done a nice job complementing each other's games through the first few contests.
However, with Peterson sidelined, Sunday was Loucks' time to shine.
The 6-5 graduate student seemed more assertive offensively from the beginning. Part of South Alabama's game plan contributed to that aggressive mentality.
"I could tell from the first few plays that their game plan was, Don't help on him because he's only going to pass," said Loucks. "Any time their defense is geared toward my passing, you have to be aggressive and make them pay."
Still recovering from foot surgery, Loucks seems to be getting more comfortable in his role. Known more for his distribution skills than scoring ability, he only averaged 2.9 points per game last season, which was the lowest of his career. The injured foot might have played a role in that low production.
This season, the first-year starter insists he is feeling much better.
"[To] not worry about nagging injuries, it's been incredible," Loucks said at FSU's media day last month.
If he can indeed stay healthy, as he suggests, then FSU might have one more scorer that can help a team that already gets its points by committee. The ‘Noles rotate 10 players, and the anticipation is for most of their points to come from down in the paint.
Big men such as Bernard James, Terrance Shannon and Jon Kreft have all shown improvement through the first four games. The defense has been stellar, and guards Michael Snaer and Deividas Dulkys have led the backcourt offensively.
Still, Sunday was a reminder that the team performs as its point guard does. Loucks was a leader, and the team followed.
"Luke had to step up tonight," said coach Leonard Hamilton. "I thought he gave us good leadership. He's cut down on his turnovers, and he's become a little more aggressive offensively."
The Seminoles would like to continue to receive that type of production, as they head on the road for the first time this year. The team will be playing in a tournament in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving weekend. Their first opponent is the University of Massachusetts on Thursday night.
Although the ‘Noles do enjoy playing at home, there is a lot to like about spending a hoops weekend in the Caribbean.
"As much as I love the Tucker Center, I'm not going to complain about going to the Bahamas and playing a game that I love," said Loucks. "At the same time, you have to take a business-like approach to why we're going there and what we're doing."
The Seminoles have certainly taken a business-like approach through their first four games of the season, having defeated each opponent by double digits. They hope that trend continues taking their show on the road.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Loucks playing with confidence
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