Maybe it was a holiday hangover, or perhaps an underestimation of the opponent.
Nonetheless, for whatever reason, the Seminoles started awfully flat against Princeton on Friday night. Florida State trailed the Tigers 27-10 at the half and, after a valiant comeback, fell short 75-73 in triple overtime.
Despite the loss, Seminole supporters did witness history, as it was the first triple-overtime game in the program's existence. There were lots of positives to take away from this contest, but moral victories don't show up in the win column.
Still, junior Michael Snaer hit some big shots down the stretch to force the game into double overtime, and sophomore Ian Miller, playing for only the second time this season, contributed with a solid 17 points.
However, with the defeat, Florida State now drops to 8-5. The ‘Noles have just three wins in their last eight games, and their NCAA Tournament resume is losing its luster with each passing day.
They are also 0-2 against Ivy League teams this season, as Harvard got the best of them in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
In addition, the Seminoles will now begin a difficult slew of games that starts with Auburn on Wednesday night. Following the matchup with the Tigers, FSU travels to Clemson to battle a different group of Tigers to begin ACC play. Powerhouses Duke and North Carolina loom ahead in January, as well.
Therefore, the ‘Noles will have plenty of opportunities to show that they are better than they have played. After all, it's not how you start, but rather how you finish that matters most.
The Seminoles are now facing more adversity than they have in recent years and must find a way to overcome it in order to have a successful season. It won't be easy, and Florida State is going to have to find something within itself that it has yet to show this season.
The potential about-face has to start with the senior leaders.
Deividas Dulkys, Bernard James, Xavier Gibson and Jon Kreft have all been in coach Leonard Hamilton's system for multiple years. They understand it and know how to execute it. They have the experience to stop this slide that FSU has been in recently and turn the season around. They also must take it upon themselves to be vocal leaders in the locker room.
Being a leader is about instilling confidence in your fellow teammates, and basketball is all about confidence. A player must be confident in his defensive ability, shooting ability and passing ability. He must also have trust that his teammate is going to make the right decision.
It's safe to say right now that Florida State's confidence is somewhat shaken. Losing five of eight games and failing to close out an inferior opponent on your home floor will do that to a team.
Nonetheless, the season is still young, and FSU has plenty of games remaining to change what has been a difficult start. Overcoming adversity is what defines a team's character. Any team can remain "all in" when things are going well, but it's how a team responds to difficult circumstances that speak volumes.
The Seminoles are now being given an opportunity to show exactly what they are made of.
Only time will tell what it is.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Seminoles facing some real adversity
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