Date/Time: February 12, 3:00
History against the Noles: 17-18
Last matchup: FSU 69, UVA 50; 2/17/10; Charlottesville
Last game: Miami 70, UVA 68 (2/5); FSU 72, GT 63 (2/10)
Opposing blogs: Tomahawk Nation, Scalp 'Em
National: UVA #123; FSU #43
Offense: UVA #117; FSU #193
Defense: UVA #136; FSU #2
This is a day early; you get nothing tomorrow because I'm flying to New Mexico to go skiing. Skiing is the shit. I don't know if I'll have anything Monday or not. Possibly, bordering on probably. In fact, maybe it's kinda likely after all, because, having posted yesterday what passes for a lacrosse season preview, I now have baseball to get to. And other stuff. So yeah, posting on Monday. But not tomorrow.
Florida State, in a nutshell, plays defense. Amazing defense. If they could score like even a medium-good team instead of the Sun Belt-level output they have - note the KenPom national ranking of 193 out of 345 on offense - they'd be a top-16 outfit. But they don't, so they're not.
HOW WE CAN WIN
- Start hot. FSU's defense is insanely good. They block a ton of shots, so you can't count on driving to the hoop for layups. They're athletic as hell and can deny the three-point shot. You've got to loosen them up a little, and you can do this by hitting the first threes to make them respect the ability to do that. Otherwise they'll just swat every layup you try, they're that good at shot-blocking.
- Yet more active hands. One reason FSU is worse than mediocre on offense is because they turn the ball over a ton. Almost a quarter of their possessions end in turnovers, which is horrible. This worked against Clemson and it worked against Miami, with plenty of steals against both. FSU is also prone to losing the ball.
- Let Chris Singleton get what he gets, and deny everyone else. Singleton is FSU's go-to guy, but he's not actually an elite scorer like a Malcolm Delaney. FSU is deep, with pretty much everyone being capable of scoring, but they're basically a collection of role players. They can be stopped if your defense is stout enough. They're dangerous mostly only if you let them be. Singleton's an NBA talent, and at first glance he looks like the guy you ought to game-plan against, but he's just not gonna go off for 30 points all of a sudden. The defensive plan should focus on winning as many one-on-one matchups as we can and double-teaming the post when necessary.
HOW WE CAN LOSE
- Pass the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock reaches four, then hork up an ugly, off-balance three. This is our usual modus operandi against good defensive teams. It never works. It's the sort of thing I envision happening on a third or so of our possessions.
- Don't finish layups, regardless of whether or not we're fouled. If I were Leonard Hamilton, I'd be having my players go crazy-aggressive for the shot block any time a Hoo gets within eight feet of the basket, and don't worry if you foul. Like UVA can hit a free throw. And FSU runs deep - they can handle foul trouble. Getting slammed on the arms by someone intent on making triple sure the ball goes nowhere near the hoop is one thing, but any time there's a layup or dunk opportunity, it really needs to go through whether or not there's a foul, because otherwise those points will probably just get left there and not go on the board.
HOW THE GAME WILL GO
If this were a home game, I might look at our close games lately and find reason to be optimistic. FSU's conference losses are all on the road, and in fact they tend to play poorly there. At home, though, even Duke has felt their wrath. They've been beatable in Tallahassee only by teams named Ohio State. (OK, Florida beat them too, but still. By four, and Florida's ranked for a reason.) That alone is reason for great pessimism. Then there's FSU's defense. A really, really good defense against an offense made of spit and duct tape is a bad formula. At this point I've got no illusions that UVA'll finish out of the double digits in ACC tournament seeding, but I do think we've got one upset in us that'll make some other team's fans deploy swear words and strong pessimistic opinions about their future prospects. This is not that game.
In what seems destined to be an ongoing story, here is the Cav Daily update on the Three Knuckleteers that got themselves in hot water in Harrisonburg. Let's pretend for a minute that everything printed in the papers - except the eyewitness account from the Cav Daily which we can assume is truthful but biased - is gospel truth; here is what we know so far:
- Wallace, Walcott, and Price (a name for a law firm if I ever heard one) are each charged with three misdemeanors ("assault and battery by mob") and one felony ("burglary-entering a dwelling with the intent to commit an assault") each.
- This is because they barged into what sounds like your average college party, which no doubt was in full swing at 1:30 in the morning, and started throwing punches. One guy got a split lip and eight stitches; the other trip to the hospital was probably something similar.
- This is the second time Wallace has been arrested for something, and he didn't tell either the coaches or the school. Neither did he bother ever going back to Harrisonburg for any court proceedings whatsoever, nor pay his fine.
These are the facts. The opinions, then:
- The felony charge will probably be dropped. Yes, they are each guilty as sin of the very letter of the wording, but the courts typically are loath to wring felony charges out of a simple college brawl, which happens all the time. As long as the defendants do the proper amount of yes-sir'ing and don't yell THE BITCH HAD IT COMING in court, their lawyers will plead this thing down to a misdemeanor or two each.
- Kyle Kelly, the JMU student quoted in the Cav Daily, is probably telling the truth, mostly, but I don't buy the babe-in-the-woods line about "gee, I have no idea why they'd want to fight." Maybe he doesn't, but someone does. If there were racial slurs being thrown around (and this is credible because Kelly mentions it right off the bat, rather than this coming out as a statement some weeks later) and if the police pinpoint the speaker (very unlikely, but you never know) then that person's in hot water too. Regardless, fights always take two sides to start.
- Even so. What the fuck, gentlemen. How hard is it to just flip the bird and walk away from the house?
- Wallace should be gone. I don't blame London for not giving him the ax right away, because there are facts to be found. But if he's not kicked off the team, it sends the message that if you get in a little court trouble out of town, the best thing to do is never tell anyone. It's pretty obvious Wallace never bothered showing up for any of the court proceedings from his previous minor-in-possession or whatever he got. I bet he doesn't even know his damn sentence. Or didn't. He figured he'd just blow the whole thing right off and hide it from Coach. Then he's stupid enough to go back to Harrisonburg. And get in more trouble. MIPs (that's what we call 'em here in Michigan) are never a big deal in my book - I really don't care and neither does anyone except the media - but not telling Coach, and blowing off the proceedings, is. So is this little beatdown. Wallace should be kicked off this team.
- Price and Walcott's scholarships should hang in the balance until the semester grades are out. No spring practice. After a while they can come back and lift, but make them jump through every hoop in front of them to try and keep that scholarship. Study their asses off, follow all the provisions of their eventual sentence and be there for every court date, and get exceptional grades. And definitely no more JMU trips for either of them or any partying at other schools. The usual show-me-you're-serious stuff. And then, if they make it, suspend them for two games of the season. That's how I'd roll with this if it were me.