A rookie athlete faces new challenges unlike anyone else.
Whether that athlete is jumping from high school to college or college to the pros, there are certain obstacles that must be overcome.
Terry Whisnant is trying to overcome those obstacles.
The freshman has been given a vote of confidence from coach Leonard Hamilton due to his knowledge and ability on the defensive end of the court.
However, following Sunday afternoon's victory over UNC Greensboro, confidence in Whisnant may now include the offensive end as well.
The numbers weren't necessarily flashy. The 6-3 guard finished with 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Nonetheless, his 11 points were a career high. Whisnant also set career bests in field goals made, steals, assists and minutes played.
"Offensively, he has potential," said Hamilton.
Maybe the player who's going to help him reach his potential is junior Michael Snaer. The two have developed a close relationship since Whisnant's arrival on campus, and Snaer realizes how good the newcomer can be.
"I constantly tell him, 'Keep your head up, you're going to get in there, stay positive and keep playing hard,'" said Snaer. "When we needed him, he stepped up."
Whisnant, a native of Cherryville, North Carolina, looked much more comfortable out on the floor against UNC Greensboro. On a day when FSU committed a season-high 26 turnovers, Whisnant was one of the few bright spots.
In addition to setting those aforementioned career highs, he was the only Seminole that touched the court to not commit a turnover.
Keeping possession of the ball is important, but at this at point in Whisnant's short career, defense is where he excels the most. And defense is the main reason he is in the rotation.
"I'm glad to see Terry come on the floor and give us some good solid defense," said Hamilton.
It's no secret to FSU's opponents that defense is the team's specialty. It has been since Hamilton took over in 2002.
That being said, if Whisnant can become an option on the offensive end, then the ‘Noles will receive a much needed boost. Despite a solid 46 percent shooting on the year, FSU is averaging 19 turnovers per game and has had slow starts over its last handful of outings.
Florida State has also become reliant on the 3-point shot. It didn't hurt Sunday, as the attempts from beyond the arc were falling en route to an impressive 40-percent clip. The team shot 52 percent from the field overall for the game.
Still, with the number of scoring touches going primarily to the guards in recent games, it is important that the ‘Noles have outside scoring options. Snaer and senior Deividas Dulkys have been reliable long-distance threats throughout their careers.
Now, Whisnant may be ready for a similar role.
"Coaches get on me sometimes if I don't shoot because I'm looking to pass into the post and get my teammates involved," said Whisnant. "I think they are starting to get a little more confidence in me."
Confidence is important for any player, but it's especially important for someone that is learning a new system and adjusting to a higher level of competition. If his coaches and teammates continue to have faith in him, then Whisnant may have a big impact as the ‘Noles gradually approach ACC play.
Whisnant still has a ways to go to be a factor when the ‘Noles start conference competition on the road vs. Clemson in three weeks, but his progress is noted.
"I remember the first scrimmage we had," said Shaer. "[Senior] Luke [Loucks] lit him up. His defense wasn't really there. I took him under my wing and I preached to him technique, technique. He has listened to everything I said."
Snaer believes there is still plenty of room to improve, too.
"He still has a lot to go, and he still has a lot more in his tank," he said. "There's a lot of areas he can grow, and if there's a lot of areas he can grow, then he's going to be scary."
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
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