Turnovers remain FSU's Achilles' heel

You know it. I know it. Michael Snaer knows it, too. Unless Florida State can start taking better care of the ball and stop all these unforced errors, another deep NCAA Tournament run seems unlikely.

As spectators, we know they're a problem.

If we know they're a problem, then you can be sure that FSU knows they're a problem as well.

The ‘Noles have had moments of struggle over their first 11 contests of the 2011-12 season. However, one flaw in particular has shown its face in every game thus far.


So far, the Seminoles are averaging 19 turnovers per game and have had several poor moments of handling the basketball. Despite beating Loyola Marymount 77-61 Sunday afternoon, FSU turned over the ball 16 times.

Perhaps the most telling statistic is that those 16 turnovers were a season low. Prior to Sunday's outing, the ‘Noles had averaged nearly 22 turnovers in their previous three games. Last week, they posted a season-high 26 against UNC Greensboro.

"[We] have to hold ourselves accountable for the mistakes we're making," said coach Leonard Hamilton following last Sunday's victory over the Spartans of UNCG. "Most of the turnovers are self-inflicted. 74.5 percent of the turnovers that were made were unforced."

Many of the unforced errors have occurred because of a tendency to force the ball down low. Hamilton has made a point to get around 22 post touches per game, and at times the ‘Noles tend to try to reach that number when the entry lanes are closed.

Some of the turnovers may also be a product of working new faces into the rotation. The season is only 11 games old, and FSU has already given extensive minutes to freshman Terry Whisnant and transfer Jeff Peterson. Both are in their first seasons with the garnet and gold.

However, guard Michael Snaer doesn't allow that as an excuse.

"I really don't understand how we can have a team with this much skill, this much talent, this much age, and we still for some reason continue to turn the ball over," said Snaer.

Snaer and the rest of the ‘Noles have spent extra time practicing on cutting down the turnovers. They took a step forward Sunday, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Florida State has managed to post an 8-3 mark to this point, although the level of competition is certain to rise.

The Seminoles will visit the in-state rival Gators on Thursday. Florida is coming off an impressive win over Texas A&M this past weekend in the Orange Bowl Classic.

In order to defeat the Gators, Florida State is going to have to find a way to protect the leather more than it has to this point.

Snaer agrees.

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"We got to do something to change," said the 6-5 junior. "If we don't value the ball against good teams, then we are going to get beat."

When FSU has managed to keep the ball out of the opponent's hands, the execution has been pretty good. The ‘Noles have outscored opponents by nearly 13 points per game and are shooting 46 percent from the field on the season.

Still, it's difficult to overlook how much better the Seminoles could be if the turnover issue would dissipate. Find a way to prevent giving up the basketball, and Florida State has the potential to have a special season.

The problem? It appears much easier said then done.

Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.

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