Thursday, December 15, 2011
season preview: Florida State
Florida State Seminoles
Media prediction: 3rd
Record: 23-11 (11-5) - ACC 3rd seed
Postseason: NCAA Sweet 16
KenPom: 31st of 345
Returning scoring: 63.2%
Returning rebounding: 58.6%
Returning assists: 57.4%
1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: F Chris Singleton
Defensive: F Chris Singleton
(italics indicate departed player)
PG: Luke Loucks (Sr.)
SG: Michael Snaer (Jr.)
SF: Okaro White (So.)
PF: Bernard James (Sr.)
C: Xavier Gibson (Sr.)
G Deividas Dulkys (Sr.)
PG Jeff Peterson (Sr.)
F Terrence Shannon (Jr.)
C Jon Kreft (Sr.)
G Terry Whisnant (Fr.)
Coach: Leonard Hamilton (9th season)
Twice: Clemson, Duke, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Once: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest
We should really be liking the whole idea of Florida State right now. They're living proof that you can have a semi-adequate offense but if you pair it with a nasty, suffocating defense, you too can be a Sweet 16 team.
FSU has officially gained a nationwide reputation for lockdown defense, and that is not an overrated rep. Last year they were KenPom's #1 defensive team with an 86.2 rating; this year that rating is down to 83.7, which is, like, ridiculous. (It'll come up some during the ACC season, but still.)
FSU's thing is that they have a guy playing power forward who'd play center on every other team, and then an actual center as well. The former is Bernard James, who's done a heckuva job evolving his game from novelty (as a former NCO in the Air Force) to actual threat. It won't surprise you to learn that at 6'10", James blocks a ton of shots. Xavier Gibson gets the starts at center, and he's 6'11", and between them they're blocking 4.1 shots a game this season. James by himself has 2.5 BPG, which is....a lot.
Blocks and steals, the secret to success. Nearly every guard chips in at least 1 steal per game, and sixth man Deividas Dulkys is going strong at 2.2. FSU averages nine steals and seven blocks per game, which nobody in the conference can touch. All those blocks lead to an opponent's effective FG% (so far) of just 39%. The only strange thing is that you'd think a team that tall and that active would also be good rebounders, and they are on the offensive end, but not defensively. Good numbers for defensive rebounding are the ones above 70% - that is, you get 70% or better of available defensive rebounds - and right now FSU checks in at 65.5%, which is well below average.
(Oh by the way - do you know who the best defensive rebounding team in the country is right now? It's your own Virginia Cavaliers at 78.6%. This is a really sneaky thing to do to people. At some point this season, there will be an opponent blogger who looks at the big numbers on the ESPN profile that show UVA as the 264th-best rebounding team in the country and they will assume that we're an easy mark and ought to be easily outrebounded. Then we'll beat their team by 15 and they'll criticize their team's lack of effort on the glass. This is why your basketball stats should generally be tempo-free, especially rebounds. Obviously when there are so few possessions in a game, there will be fewer total rebounds.)
But I digress. Florida State. Now, they have that great defense, but the scoring - tthhbbbpppttt. They actually do miss Chris Singleton in this department. FSU's offensive efficiency has gotten quite a bit worse since last year. Point guards Luke Loucks and Jeff Peterson are strictly enablers who don't pose a major scoring threat; Peterson is a grad-student transfer from Arkansas (and Iowa earlier) and he's okay at taking care of the ball and all that but he's only shooting .378 from the field, which ain't good. Loucks may have found a shot this year, as he's hitting on .453, but for most of his career he's been a long way belong the .400 mark. Most of the scoring load falls on shooting guard Michael Snaer, and he's not very efficient, only shooting .402 himself. Truthfully, though FSU likes to play a little bit up-tempo, a lot of their offense comes from putbacks or from simply working the ball inside and letting their considerable size advantage go to work. Dulkys is the only legitimate threat from outside. And they'll never be a good offense until they take care of their turnover issue. It's something I brought up in last year's preview of this team - at which time they were turning the ball over on almost 25% of their possessions - and it's only gotten worse as this year they're up to an even 27%. (In this regard, no higher than about 19% qualifies as "pretty good" and 27% puts you in the nation's bottom ten. So it's definitely a thing.)
Still - that defense. There's a reason Tony Bennett preaches it. Because it makes you a good team and keeps you in every game, which is where FSU will be. This is a senior-laden, experienced bunch, too. They might be looking at a drop-off next year what with so many graduating, but they'll be tough to get to this year. FSU is 7-3 this year, but all three losses are to tournament teams and won't necessarily be held against them come seeding time. Not even the Harvard one. It'll hurt that they don't have a marquee nonconference win and won't get one unless they beat Florida, but they should do well against one of the tougher ACC schedules out there (Duke, UVA, VT twice, and BC, GT, Wake just once) and earn another tournament bid.
So no post yesterday, and I'm vewy sowwy about that, but it's finals time you see. If the basketball team gets 12 days off between games, I'm allowed one night to take my last final of the semester too. A couple things from while I was out:
-- Auburn will be heading to Atlanta minus both coordinators now, with Ted Roof having been fired like last week, and now Gus Malzahn going to Arkansas State to replace Hugh Freeze, who left for Mississippi. (It makes you wonder why Ole Miss didn't just cut out the middleman and hire Malzahn.) So no coordinators and no Michael Dyer - the Tigers will be awfully shorthanded. Obviously it's not like the Auburn offense is just gonna shut down, but I think the #1 effect here is that there won't be a ton of crazy wrinkles in either offense or defense. Gene Chizik is taking over DC duties for the bowl, no doubt Auburn has a second-in-command to take care of the offense, but going in without their field marshals and one major piece of artillery can only spell good signs for the Hoos.
-- It was kind of a no-brainer, but now it's official: the ACC will go to an 18-game hoops schedule next year. Is this a way of unofficially announcing that Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be joining up that quickly? I doubt it - I think the most likely reason for making the move now, as opposed to waiting for the newcomers, is so that teams can nail down the scheduling logistics now and get comfortable with two fewer openings for OOC games. 18 is no great revolution; the Big Ten has been doing it for years and with only 11 teams at that. It should be fun next year with seven teams on the schedule twice, the closest we've been (and the closest we'll ever get) to the double-round-robin since it went away.
Anyway, with 14 teams in the conference this almost had to happen, otherwise we'd only get to play three teams twice and everyone else once. That would suck. If we add two more teams that'll happen anyway, but oh well.
-- There've been so many all-America nominations for our Hoos (and not just in football) that I haven't even mentioned them, so routine has it become. (That sounds horrible, in a way. I should be happier about this stuff.) Chase Minnifield, Demetrious Nicholson, and Austin Pasztor all have various nods from various sources; Minnifield has shown up everywhere. Pitcher Branden Kline (only a couple months til baseball season!) is a first-teamer in the preseason per the NCBWA. But maybe the coolest one is Morgan Brian of the ladies' euro-football team being named Freshman of the Year by Soccer America. I think we're quickly gathering up some strong contenders for this blog's Cavalier of the Year award next summer.