Wednesday, December 12, 2012

season preview: Florida State

Florida State Seminoles

Media prediction: 4th of 12

Last season:

Record: 25-10 (12-4) - ACC 3rd seed
Postseason: NCAA 3 seed; lost in 2nd round
KenPom: 24th of 345

Returning scoring: 45.9%
Returning rebounding: 33.3%
Returning assists: 31.1%

2011-2012 all-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: G Michael Snaer
3rd team: none
HM: F Bernard James
Defensive: F Bernard James
Rookie: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Montay Brandon (Fr.)
SG: Ian Miller (Jr.)
G: Michael Snaer (Sr.)
F: Okaro White (Jr.)
C: Kiel Turpin (rJr.)


G Terry Whisnant (So.)
F Terrance Shannon (Jr.)
G Aaron Thomas (Fr.)
G Devin Bookert (Fr.)
C Boris Bojanovsky (Fr.)

Coach: Leonard Hamilton (11th season)

ACC schedule:

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

Florida State is coming off their first ACC championship in hoops, as the conference's first non-Duke-or-Carolina champ since 2004 (and second since 1996.)   They lost a bunch of talent, but Leonard Hamilton made the case that UNC is always put back on the top no matter how much talent they lose, and FSU has a reasonably well-regarded freshman class, so why should the Noles be any different?  Accordingly, the media voted FSU 4th in the conference - one intrepid soul even picked them to repeat as champions - and they opened the year in the top 25.

Then they lost to South Alabama to start the season, and that thud you heard was the sound of the Noles falling flat on their faces.  They picked it back up with decent wins over BYU and St. Joseph's, but then went right back into thud mode with a loss to Mercer and getting blown out by Florida.  That kind of inconsistency has the fingerprints of freshmen all over it.

Which isn't surprising considering how much talent they lost.  Actually, the starting lineup is still mostly upperclassmen, but the point is now in the hands of two freshmen, starter Montay Brandon and backup Devin Bookert.  At 6'7", Brandon is positively enormous for a point guard.  Both have been turnover-prone so far this year, however, with TO rates above 30% for each.  The Seminoles have thus felt it necessary at times to put Ian Miller at the point; Miller is a solid ballhandler and the only Nole with an assist rate better than his turnover rate.  But a bruised foot that won't heal has sidelined that idea for now, and Miller is out more or less indefinitely.

Miller is likely to be missed more on the defensive end; he's steady, but his scoring can be replaced.  Terry Whisnant steps into the starting lineup with Miller out, and his shooting, although rather limited, has been sparkling this year.  Whisnant's percentages would probably drop with more usage, but right now his O-rating on KenPom is above 140, which is like holy crap.  FSU's top scoring threats, though, are senior guard Michael Snaer and junior forward Okaro White.  Snaer is sort of a smallish wing, and can score in a variety of ways.  White has decent height, but isn't a full-blown power forward the way Bernard James was.  That said, White can also score in a few different ways, including by sneaking out beyond the arc.  FSU hasn't historically been known for explosive scoring, but Snaer and White give them excellent balance and versatility on the offensive end.

If they want that traditional power forward, they call on Terrance Shannon off the bench; Shannon hasn't started a game this year but has played the third-most minutes on the team.  He's a decent scorer but his forte is rebounding, offensive rebounding particularly; Shannon gets a lot of putback buckets.  (FSU has an odd rebounding profile where they're like the 35th-best offensive rebounding team in the country but among the absolute worst at defensive rebounding.)

At center, FSU starts seven-foot juco transfer Kiel Turpin, but he's mainly just a body to put there.  FSU fans are clamoring to see more of 7'3" Slovakian import Boris Bojanovsky, who might be the biggest guy in the league getting regular minutes.  He's 8-for-12 shooting and leads the team in blocks despite being 10th on the team in minutes; he averages one every 12 minutes or so.  Neither stat is surprising considering he could probably dunk the ball flatfooted.

FSU has certainly already ruined their chance at repeating their #3 seed from last year's tournament.  The main culprit there is not scoring, it's that their defense is well off of last year's suffocating standard.  No more chances to put a flower on their OOC resume, either.  Despite the iffy start, however, I wouldn't write them off completely just yet.  They're not to be taken lightly; they have decent depth and good balance.  They don't rebound well on the defensive end, they turn the ball over too much, and they lack a true facilitator for the offense, until the freshmen come around and get on track.  But they've also got lots of ways to score, and have been known to show some flashes of their old selves.  They're the kind of opponent that will take advantage if you sleep on them.  They've got to put together a really good ACC season if they want to avoid dropping to the NIT, but they'll probably do a little giant-killing somewhere along the line.


A couple interesting items in the wake of Louisville's attachment to the ACC.  Some worthwhile reads from the perspective of the runners-up, namely Cincinnati and Connecticut.  Major takeaways: Cincy tried really hard to make the cut, to the extent of trying to fly their president to ACC schools for one-on-one sales pitches with ACC presidents.  And some revealing numbers that compare Louisville and UConn that really highlight why Louisville was the better football option.

The other is that I have been proven remarkably correct in my assessment that the Catholic, basketball-playing side of the Big East would soon look to break away from the conference.  Not that I deserve much credit for it; it's one of the biggest no-brainers there is.  These are schools that don't derive a lot of their value from football.  Basketball is their golden goose, and playing Tulane and SMU on a regular basis is a great way to kill it.

Whether they'll be able to do so is a tricky thing.  They could vote to dissolve the conference; they're not that far from being able to do so, and if it was just those seven against three (UConn, UC, and USF) they could do it.  Alas for sanity, Temple appears to also have a vote, despite being a football-only associate member at the moment.  7 of 11 is not the two-thirds vote they need, assuming each one of them would even go along with the plan and they could vote as one big Catholic bloc.  Sneaky way to get it done: grease the Big 12 skids and get Cincinnati admitted there.

If they dissolve the conference, they would probably re-form it immediately, call it the Big East (the name carries a lot of weight in hoops circles), and invite a few other basketball schools to join and tell football to take a hike.  If they wanted to limit it to Catholic-only schools they could; a sizable chunk of the Atlantic 10 is Catholic, as is most of the MAAC and parts of the NEC and Horizon League.  If they didn't want to limit it, they could open up the rest of the A-10 as a possibility, as well as the CAA.  They'd have lots of nice options to pick from.  As for what would happen to Memphis, SMU, Tulane, etc., well, that would certainly be a nice little sideshow.  One of the realignment truisms is it's all fun and games when it's going on below you.

(The A-10, by the way, is not stupid and knows darn good and well how this would go.  Hence their pre-emptive floating of a 21-team league idea that would include the Big East Catholic bloc.)

They'd have to act quickly if they want to go that route, though; once July 1 rolls around, they lose any semblance of anything resembling the necessary supermajority.  The other option is to do like everyone else and pay the exit fee, which is one thing when you're Louisville and quite another when you're DePaul.

My guess?  One way or another, these seven schools (which are Villanova, Georgetown, Marquette, St. John's, Providence, DePaul, and Seton Hall, in case my lack of journalistic standards in identifying them has been confusing) will figure out some way to extract themselves from that mess.  The cleanest way (for them) would be sending Cincy to the Big 12, but one way or another they will figure it out.  At this point it's probably their priority #1.


The Ole Philosopher said...

What will poor old UConn do if the basketball only schools withdraw from the Big East? As previously stated I have no sympathy for UConn basketball, their outlaw coach, and outlaw program so objectionable that the NCAA won't let them play with the other kids in the tournament. And the UConn administration has never expressed any regret or tried to rein in Calhoun. I know the reason the ACC did not take them is because of football not an odiferous basketball program but I still see some justice in the way all this appears to be coming down.

Brendan said...

In the short term I see two options for UConn: band together with the schools who were headed to the BE (Memphis, ECU, Tulane, etc.) and form a weird-ass conference of their own. Or else the six CUSA schools that were headed to the BE can try and get back into CUSA, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if CUSA welcomed them back with open arms, plus the three orphaned ex-BE schools, and created a 22-team monstrosity (remember CUSA has 7 schools lined up as future members to replace the losses to the BE.)