Wednesday, November 12, 2008

season preview: Florida State

Trying to burn through these and hopefully have them done before Thanksgiving. Also working on some semblance of a game preview for the VMI game on Sunday, though I'm not real sure exactly what form that's gonna take yet.

Media prediction: 10th

ACC schedule:

Twice: Clemson, Duke, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Once: Boston College (A), Georgia Tech (H), Maryland (H), North Carolina (H), NC State (A), Wake Forest (A)

2007 all-ACC:

First team: None
Second team: None
Third team: G Toney Douglas
Defensive: G Toney Douglas
Freshman: None
HM: None

(italics: returning)

Projected starters:

PG: Toney Douglas (Sr.)
SG: ???
SF: Uche Echefu (Sr.)
PF: Ryan Reid (Jr.)
C: Solomon Alabi (Fr.)


F Jordan DeMercy (So.)
F Chris Singleton (Fr.)
C Xavier Gibson (Fr.)
G Luke Loucks (Fr.)
G Devidas Dulkys (Fr.)
G Derwin Kitchen (So.)

(italics: returning starter)

Coach: Leonard Hamilton (7th year)

Florida State is not a basketball school. Let's just get that out of the way right now. They are a football school in a basketball conference. 17 ACC seasons have resulted in just three winning seasons within the conference. That said, however, Leonard Hamilton is slowly bringing the program to the point where there are actual Expectations in Tallahassee. The last three years have brought the team 58 wins, the best three-year stretch since 1991-94 when they had 59.

Unless the kids show up to play, though, this year looks like a step back for FSU. Three of the top four scorers have departed, leaving senior point guard Toney Douglas in charge of the show. Douglas is a very respectable scorer in his own right; more of a scoring point guard, in fact. You have to watch out for him on defense as well; Douglas was 6th in the entire country last year in steals with 90. Next closest in the ACC was 64.

It's still a bit murky as to who will play the 2 guard, however. Last year, FSU had an embarrassment of riches in the backcourt. The only player who really looks like a shooting guard is Lithuanian freshman Devidas Dulkys (every team has got to have a Lithuanian dude at some point). Dulkys fits neatly into the shooting whitey stereotype and could well end up in the starting role in order to get a deadeye shot into the lineup to keep teams from sagging down low and focusing on stopping the frontcourt.

Down on that frontcourt, people will have to worry about Solomon Alabi, who is 7'1" but has a 7'3" wingspan. Alabi's only sort of a freshman, as last year was a medical redshirt year. He'll move into the starting lineup alongside forwards Ryan Reid and Uche Echefu. These are the two guys more than anyone on the team that will have to play well for FSU to have a good year. Douglas will get his buckets, but Reid and Echefu are going to be asked to help carry the scoring load for the first time in their careers.

If they can't, look for uber-recruit Chris Singleton to step right in. Singleton chose FSU over places like Georgetown, Kentucky, and Florida, and the Seminole fans will probably be clamoring for his appearance in the starting lineup if the upperclassmen can't get it done.

This team is loaded with talented freshmen and led by a battle-tested senior. But, they're going to struggle to replace all those points that graduated, and freshmen are nothing if not inconsistent. Don't look for FSU in the NCAA's this year, nor for them to improve on that long history of losing records in-conference. But these guys should be good enough to eke out an NIT bid. This won't really comfort the faithful who've been waiting since 1998 to get back to the NCAAs, but they can pin their hopes for the future on Singleton and the rest of this '08 recruiting class.

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