Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton has mentioned more than once this season that maybe coaching the minds of his young team could be more important than coaxing additional physical effort out of their bodies.
It has never been more evident that he's right. In FSU's latest head-scratching defeat – a 56-54 setback against Clemson, the Seminoles came without the necessary intensity and focus that the Tigers exhibited in victory.
Deja vu all over again. And again.
All the talent and potential wearing garnet and gold weren't enough to combat the cognitive absence that the Seminoles took to the hardwood Wednesday night.
As always, FSU had its stretches. They got a stellar 20-point performance from Alexander Johnson. They shot 47 percent from the floor.
Offsetting that in Jekyll-like fashion were 22 turnovers and several more irritating mental errors. Illustrating that was senior leader Adam Waleskowski B.S.ing his way to a technical foul that cost his team two points in a two-point contest.
Patchwork stretches of glory aren't going to cut it in a conference full of basketball behemoths.
"In the ACC – regardless of who you are playing – you have to be competitive for the entire 40 minutes as a team, especially for a team of our caliber," Hamilton said. "We don't have that kind of room for error."
Hamilton and his players said they took time to pick apart and evaluate each and every one of the 28 turnovers they committed against Virginia Tech.
In tomorrow's film session, turnovers might be second on the agenda. Item number one: take notes on the opposition. And their resolve. And how they respond to adversity.
Despite being held scoreless for the first 6:17 of the game and without a field goal for nearly eight minute, Clemson held strong, fought back and returned from intermission with a 10-2 run. The Tigers also capped several critical possessions with timely shots to stave of the Seminoles in the end.
"This is part of the journey I was hoping we could avoid," Hamilton said of his team's mental inconsistency. "We all hope for those shortcuts but developing the mental and emotional part of basketball team is so much more important than the physical part."
"This team was much more competitive than we were tonight. And that's to their credit."
"We just have to get focused and think everyone knows we will," Waleskowski said. "We need to take it serious."