Closer Look

Most Florida State basketball fans got their first taste of this year's edition when the Seminoles (3-3) came from behind to beat Minnesota 70-69 in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge on ESPN2 earlier this week. See what several preview magazines had to say prior to the season and click here to reveal The Territory's five keys to a successful hoops season.

In their first appearance on television, Florida State turned in perhaps its most complete performance of the season Tuesday.

The Seminoles rallied from 14 points down and held the Gophers scoreless for a five-minute strech.

Most importantly, Von Wafer took the first steps toward becoming the clutch shooter the 'Noles will need to rely on post-Tim Pickett.

Promising, talented and hopeful have all been adjectives used in local publications to describe the program in this, Leonard Hamilton's third season at the helm.

While losses to Texas Christian, Kent State and Texas – A&M Corpus Christi was have tempered those expectations somewhat, some sources outside of Tallahassee saw the rough start coming.

Here's a sampling of what some prominent preview magazines had to say:

LINDY'S: Preview written by Bob Thomas of the Florida Times-Union identifies the "biggest challenge will be putting together the newcomers and veterans into a successful combination"…picks FSU to finish seventh in the ACC ahead of Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Miami…names Jason Rich the best jump shooter on the team…predicts this will be the year that FSU "breaks through to the NCAA stage."

SPORTING NEWS: This publication anoints Hamilton's most recent recruiting class as the best in the conference and points to seldom-used Antonio Griffin (so far) as a possible breakout performer thanks to his athletic prowess… SN positives include praising the team's potential in the frontcourt with Griffin, Alexander Johnson and Diego Romero and names Adam Waleskowski as one of the most underrated players in the ACC.

Negatives pointed out Anthony Richardson's "disappearing act" and a charge that Wafer as "not yet lived up to the hype."…predicts an eighth-place ACC finish in front of VT, UM, CU.

STREET AND SMITH'S: S&S deals its credibility a huge blow by calling Jason Rich "Justin Rich"…Does make a good point saying that FSU will benefit from expansion, trading some games against Duke and Maryland for contests opposite VT and Miami…predicts FSU will snap its ACC road losing streak in its first chance, a Jan. 15 trip to Coral Gables…forsees a 20-12 (8-8) season that will be good for seventh in the ACC.

CBS SPORTSLINE.COM: Another decided seventh-place finish…charges that Wafer's lack of development last season was due to the fact he saw just 17 minutes a game…says Andrew Wilson will provide a "stabilizing presence" for the team and that Ralph Mims will be the "biggest impact player"…Finishes my stating "the perception of the program has changed tremendously" and that FSU will need to find a definitive leader before conference play to be successful.

Overall, there was some good insight and couple of baseless claims but most publications were fairly accurate in their assessments. We'd like to add our own. Here are five realistic goals that could land the Seminoles in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven seasons.

THE TERRITORY'S FIVE KEYS TO THE SEASON

Get on the boards: With one of the tallest and most athletic teams in recent memory, there is no reason the Seminoles should be getting outworked in the rebounding column in the manner that they have so far this season.

Take care of business at home: Mission accomplished last season. With a proven inability to win away from Tallahassee, FSU will have to scrape up wins wherever it can.

Get a go-to guy: One of Hamilton's favorite lines is one about winning games "by committee". Someone among that committee (see: Wafer) has to step up to take shots at crunch time.

Finish!: The Seminoles had a chance to win countless games last season against quality opponents (at UVA, at GT, Iowa State, at Duke, at North Carolina) but faltered down the stretch in each.

Play in a Championship Environment: This one falls on the fans. Hamilton downplays crowd involvement but his players have said numerous times that they get motivated when the Civic Center seats are filled with rowdy fans.


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