Wednesday, March 6, 2013

game preview: Florida State

Date/Time: Thursday, March 7; 7:00


Record against the Noles: 18-21

Last meeting: UVA 56, FSU 36; 1/19/13, Charlottesville

Last game: BC 53, UVA 52 (3/3); UNC 79, FSU 58 (3/3)


UVA: 60.6 (#337)
FSU: 66.1 (#169)

UVA: 110.7 (#35)
FSU: 104.2 (#118)

UVA: 88.7 (#20)
FSU: 99.7 (#152)

UVA: .9067 (#18)
FSU: .6095 (#121)

Projected lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.1 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (5.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.0 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (17.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Justin Anderson (6.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 apg)

Florida State:

PG: Devon Bookert (5.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.4 apg)
SG: Michael Snaer (14.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SG: Aaron Thomas (6.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.2 apg)
PF: Okaro White (12.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.7 apg)
C: Michael Ojo (0.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.1 apg)

I hate to say the season hangs in the balance tomorrow night because it's such an exaggeration.  All the same, at some point if you want to go to the tournament you've got to beat bad teams on the road.  Calling FSU a bad team is another exaggeration, but it doesn't matter: they're (theoretically) not as good as UVA.  Which means tomorrow night's game is sorta high on the must-win scale.

-- UVA on offense

Could've gone better than it did last time, thank you very much.  I think what we'll see against FSU is a tightening of the rotation and a little bit of a back-to-basics approach.  No sense getting fancy on the road, after all.  Taylor Barnette's shooting is undeniably useful, but the few minutes he played against BC coincided with BC's comeback run.

Leonard Hamilton's approach to his lineup is to have a center out there a little more than half the time, and "go small" the rest of the way.  Small is relative, though; Hamilton gets away with this because his guards are pretty big.  Joe Harris had a tough time against BC because opponents are finally realizing they have to have their hands up at all times, and didn't let him just pop off the semi-guarded three that he likes.  FSU ought to be able to do the same - when they're guarding him.  Their guards are tremendously inexperienced, though, with three freshmen in the main rotation, and it's led to defensive lapses and wide-open threes that opponents have been able to knock down.

FSU actually has three centers they use.  The thing with Michael Ojo has been that Hamilton starts him, plays him for like three minutes, and then permanently glues his ass back to the bench.  He's got the MPG of a walk-on, but at the beginnings of games rather than the end.  Kiel Turpin is the main guy; Turpin is a very aggressive defender who picks up both blocks and fouls with astonishing regularity.  Boris Bojanovsky also gets a few regular minutes, and at 7'3", is better than Turpin at blocking shots without hacking away.  He's probably underused, but I'm not gonna cry about that unless he suddenly gets 25 minutes on Thursday.  Point is, I feel better with Mike Tobey in the lineup as an option here, but Tobey still looks like he's feeling the hangover from his bout with mono.

With all that height, you'd think FSU would be a better rebounding team, but their defensive rebounding is outside the country's top 300.  They've missed Terrance Shannon in that regard (Shannon has been out for about six weeks and just came back on Sunday for three minutes - he was the guy that banged his head on Evan Nolte's hip and had to be carted off, so it's nice to see him even back on the court, really) but Okaro White is a 6'8" power forward who often has to deal with centers (sound familiar?) so his rebounding percentage is a little depressed.  (Also, White kind of straddles the line between three and four, whereas Mitchell is a true four and has 20-some pounds on White.)  Turpin and Bojanovsky, however, don't provide the help on the glass that they should.  Of course, Tony Bennett's don't-bother approach to offensive rebounding nullifies this advantage a little, but Akil Mitchell tends to be pretty active on the glass anyway and might find a few putback opportunities.

I think the Hoos ought to be able to score on FSU, but then, I thought they ought to have been able to score on Boston College, too.  It's the road - we never really know.  But FSU's youth in the backcourt has led to breakdowns, and I like UVA's chances to improve on that showing in Chestnut Hill.

-- UVA on defense

There's one thing that Florida State does consistently well: shoot free throws.  In conference-only play they're the ACC's leading team at the stripe.  So "try not to foul them" is the obvious advice.

That aside, there're a lot of things that Florida State can do well, but doesn't all the time.  They have a a similar build to UVA's; Michael Snaer is the Joe Harris of the outfit, a wing who can do just about everything.  (He just doesn't do any of it as well as Harris does.)  And similarly to Akil Mitchell, Snaer's primary complement is Okaro White at power forward.  White doesn't have Mitchell's size, so he's not as good a defender and can be coaxed into foul trouble, but on offense, he's got more versatility (he'll shoot a few threes) and very good skill at the rim.  Mitchell will be assigned to him most of the time, and his combination has good frustration potential.

Devon Bookert has taken over for Montay Brandon as the starting point guard, and is an improvement in every way.  Bookert is a deadeye three-point shooter, a great free-throw shooter (Brandon is horrible at both), a better creator, and turns the ball over less.  If FSU could only ever use Bookert and Snaer in the backcourt they'd be doing great.  The minutes get much less productive when used by the rest of the gang.  Ian Miller has taken a huge step back this year, and Aaron Thomas is basically replacement-level.

As for the centers, the one that gives me pause is Bojanovsky more than Turpin.  Turpin's not bad, but a little too eager to shoot when he's away from the rim, and kind of a generic big guy.  Bojanovsky has some real skill and is better at getting to the rim before shooting.  It'll be interesting to see how Tony decides to play the matchups; FSU will play their centers more combined minutes than Tobey will get, and Mitchell will have to be taken off of White when Tobey's not in the game.  It might result in a few bad-news possessions.

That frontcourt matchup issue is probably the only one where FSU has an advantage, though.  UVA's guards are much better defenders than FSU's are on offense.  They'll be able to cheat a little and help on the main characters - Snaer and Bookert - and if we get hurt because Aaron Thomas went nuts, well, OK then.  I surely don't expect to see a repeat of FSU's 36-point performance from last time, if only because they've finally found out who their best point guard is, but I think the Hoos will have some success here.

-- Outlook

In one way, the Seminoles are UVA's polar opposite.  UVA can beat anyone and lose to anyone.  FSU generally wins and loses the games they're supposed to.  That's a plus in UVA's favor.  They also tend to win close and lose big, which is why their RPI is so much better than their KenPom ratings.  I'm going to go the optimistic route here and suggest that UVA has their sense of urgency hammered back into them by the debacle in Chestnut Hill, and is likely to get themselves back on track.

Final score: UVA 62, FSU 57

No comments: