Monday, December 20, 2010

season preview: Florida State

Florida State Seminoles

Media prediction: 5th

Last season:

Record: 22-10 (10-6), 3rd in ACC
Postseason: NCAA 9 seed; lost in 1st round
KenPom: 24th of 347

Returning scoring: 73.5%
Returning rebounding: 65.2%
Returning assists: 87.8%

2009-'10 All-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: F Chris Singleton, F Solomon Alabi
Rookie: G Michael Snaer
Defensive: F Chris Singleton, F Solomon Alabi


PG: Derwin Kitchen (Sr.)
G: Michael Snaer (So.)
G: Deividas Dulkys (Jr.)
F: Chris Singleton (Jr.)
C: Xavier Gibson (Jr.)


F Bernard James (Jr.)
F Okaro White (Fr.)
G Luke Loucks (Jr.)
G Ian Miller (Fr.)

Coach: Leonard Hamilton (9th season)


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

The first and last thing about Florida State these days is always defense. Leonard Hamilton has developed the Seminoles into one of the country's elite defensive teams, spearheaded (haw!) by Chris Singleton, the ACC DPOY as just a sophomore last season. Despite playing one of the faster games in the country, FSU has held every opponent but one under 70 points this year; even in their losses their opponents didn't top 60.

Everything starts with Singleton, a terrific athlete with few weaknesses in his game. Singleton has length and quicks and can by himself take eight or ten points off the board for the opposition. He's also a scorer, with the caveat that he's not a great three-point shooter.

The fact that Singleton is the best scorer FSU has is probably a little bit of a liability, though, because Singleton is an elite defensive player but merely a very good offensive one. The lack of a great scorer is what keeps this FSU team from the upper echelons of the national conversation. FSU has three-point options in Deividas Dulkys and Michael Snaer, and a quality point guard in Derwin Kitchen, but all of them are best suited to play a role, not take over a game.

One thing FSU has that most teams don't is a good scoring center. Xavier Gibson acts as something of an (I am so sorry about this) X-factor for the Noles. He's averaging seven points a game and is capable of double-digits, but he's also somewhat prone to foul trouble and turnover trouble. Still, you don't find as many 6'11" scorers as you'd like, and Gibson is also one of the team's best free-throw shooters, ensuring that FSU will win the majority of their battles in the paint. Off the bench, Okaro White and former Air Force staff sergeant Bernard James provide better frontcourt depth than most teams can boast.

Put it all together and the result is a Florida State team that should have little trouble in the ACC's nightly slog through January and February, but has a few key weaknesses that keep them from being one of the nation's best. Given a true lead scorer, preferably one who can play on the perimeter such as BC's Reggie Jackson, the Noles could be a national title darkhorse (if not outright contender) the way they play defense. Unfortunately they lack that, and they also turn the ball over far too often (nearly 25% of their possessions according to KenPom) to make a real national threat of themselves. FSU should be a tournament team and one of the toughest matchups in the ACC, but not much more than a Sweet 16 contender, if that.

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