'Noles roll in opener

The Leonard Hamilton era began in a positive way with an easy 79-46 win over the Savannah State Tigers Sunday at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Although both teams played a somewhat sloppy game, Hamilton was pleased with his team's effort for a first game. "I was a little more emotional than I thought I would have been," Hamilton said.

The Leonard Hamilton era began in a positive way with an easy 79-46 win over the Savannah State Tigers. Although both teams played a somewhat sloppy game, Hamilton was pleased with his team's effort for a first game. Saying their play was not quite sound in some areas, the head coach felt the Seminoles played aggressive and that that is something can lived with.

"I was a little more emotional than I thought I would have been," Hamilton said.

"I was pretty calm and relaxed until maybe an hour and a half before the game. But I'm trying to keep everything in perspective. I know where we are and we have a long way to go. Wwe cant allow ourselves to get down when things are bad. When things are going well we cant allow ourselves to get too high. Our effort was good. The guys were realy focused. Im sure we wernt as efficients as I would like us to be."

Overall Hamilton said the game plan was executed fairly well by his new team. Entry passes to the post were right on with their target number. The plays just weren't finished in some cases. Despite taking and missing maybe a few more perimeter shots than he might like, at least shooters got good looks at the basket with solid passing to set up the shot. During some spots in the game, the team did not push the ball up as much as the coach may have wanted or get as wide as needed during some instances when the tempo was to his liking.

With it being the inaugural game of the season and under Hamilton, the team was somewhat over energized. SG Tim Pickett was one player apparently affected. Pickett had a relatively off game in comparison to his two performances in the exhibition games finishing with a game high 16 points, but only 2-11 three pointers.

Defensively the Seminoles caused many problems for the Tigers forcing them into 28 turnovers. Hamilton felt there was work still to be done there as well. At times, particularly in the first half, defensive breakdowns allowed some dribble drive penetrations. In the second half, the Tigers converted some open looks into three-point baskets.

"Even though we were working hard on defense and we were hustling, we got out of position a lot, we weren't as sound as I'd like them to be," Hamilton said. "We just need time to develop our system. We're a little behind. A lot of the things we have in our defensive scheme have not become habit yet.'' "We sputtered some from execution and efficiency.But the guys are trying to do what we ask them to do. That's what will happen when you play in this system. Defensively it could be another month and offensively we're still finding our way.'' All that being said it was still a pretty decent first outing for the Noles'. Hamilton was able to utilize his nine-man rotation against the outmanned and undersized Tigers. In fact, eleven players registered points on the scoreboard.

The closest Savannah State ever got to the Seminoles was at tip-off. Twenty seconds into the game, Michael Joiner canned a three-pointer from the left wing to begin the scoring. Nate Johnson followed that about a minute later with a three from above the circle. The closet the Tigers would ever get after that is when Brian Fisher cut the lead to 8-4 at the 16:10 mark.

A tight ball-hawking defense created 10 turnovers in the first ten minutes of the game. At one point during the half, the Tigers did not score a point for a span of 6:46 and made only one basket in 9:37 of playing time. That translated into just 22% shooting from the floor for Savannah State.

The highlight basket of the half was a slam-dunk by Anthony Richardson who crashed the boards following a Todd Galloway shot.

The Noles' took a 36-18 lead to the locker room and never looked back in the second half. Executing their fast breaks a little more efficiently, Florida State eventually rolled up the lead to 40 points. Tim Pickett got his shooting a little more on track and lead the charge with 7 points in the first 7:15.

With Fisher, the Tigers only real presence in the paint, fouling out at the 11:04 mark, the Seminoles controlled the boards and the paint almost exclusively. The shot of the half though was Johnson's bomb from the right of the key four feet behind the line to up the lead to 64-26.

Following Pickett were three other starters in double figures. Andrew Wilson had 11 with Joiner and Richardson each scoring 10. Johnson, the other remaining starter, added 6 to go along with his 9 assists against 4 turnovers.

Leading the way for the Tigers was Christopher Daniel with 10 of his 12 points coming in the second half.

For the game, the Seminoles shot 38% an average brought down by just 6 of 23 from behind the arc. Free throw shooting also was not pretty as the Noles converted only 19 of 33 (57 %) of the charity shots. Defensively though the Tigers were held to 30% from the floor and could only manage 56 shots to the Seminoles' 71.

Hamilton will always tell you there is always something more to work on, but he should be relatively pleased with the team's performance. Players contributed to the win in various ways not just in points. The boxscore shows several players with a good mix of points, rebounds, assists, and other factors that indicated an all around hustling team.

Next up for Florida State is Mercer. Game time is Wednesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM.


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