Last week's preview of the Duke Blue Devils taught us a little bit about what to expect from the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium. What should we expect from the Florida State Seminoles' crowd at the Donald L. Tucker Center? Well, I had hoped for a little more energy than this when it came to the tomahawk chopping, I can tell you that.
Maybe it was a noon game. That would explain it.
I hate noon games. They are the worst. Actually, anything before 1:00 PM is utterly horrendous. How do we know that they're horrendous? Sean said so. And you know what else? The Seminoles veto early games, too. Head coach Leonard Hamilton had this to say on the subject:
I didn't think we played that well in our last Noon game, we didn't have the same level of energy.
Do you hear that, schedulers? No one likes your shenanigans. Now, onto the preview...
2012-2013 Record: 18-16 (9-9)
Conference Ranking: 6th
Historical Notes: FSU leads the all-time series 3-1. The most recent meeting was during the 1997 NIT. 'Cuse lost. There were 5,385 people. At the Dome. Donovan McNabb played 8 minutes, and recorded the team's only block. It was the Twilight Zone.
What they're known for: Defense, actually. Coach Hamilton's aggressive help-man defensive system has been really good for the Seminoles since his arrival in 2003. If you look closely, especially at where the players focus their attention and how far they drift from their man, the defense starts to look a little zone-y sometimes.
Season Summary: Well, 2011-12 saw FSU win its first ever ACC championship and make its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, so repeating that success would be hard. Even though they lost six to graduation, the 'Noles were hopeful. Unfortunately, Michael Snaer's buzzer-beating ridiculosity aside, FSU struggled last year. They were just too young and inexperienced. It didn't help that three important players were injured at various points in time, either. After falling to UNC in the conference tourney, their record only warranted an invite to the NIT, where they lost in the first round to Louisiana Tech.
Okaro White (12.4 PPG/5.9 RPG/2.5 APG). The 6-8 forward was the second-leading scorer on last year's squad, and had the occasion to take over a game if FSU needed him to. Now a senior, he will need to take over the leadership role, as well.
Devon Bookert (6.5 PPG/1.8 RPG/2.4 APG). It took time for things to click for the freshman point guard after hurting his knee in an "infamous" moped accident. But once they did, he showed fantastic decision making skills. What sort of decisions, pray tell? Shot selection. He only took 61 three-pointers, but he made 52.5% of them. Um what?
The 7-footers. There are three. They all play. That is all.
Personnel Changes: The Seminoles take a hit with the departure of their leading scorer, senior guard Michael Snaer (14.5 PPG/4.5 RPG/2.5 APG). Another guard, Terry Whisnant (5.2 PPG/1.0 RPG), is transferring to East Carolina. Also bailing is Terrance Shannon (7.8 PPG/5.6 RPG), one of the aforementioned injured trio, who is heading to VCU. Incoming recruits are Jarquez Smith and 2013's No. 8 ranked shooting guard, Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
2013-2014 Potential: Not too shabby. Losing Snaer is tough, but FSU's returning players will pick up some of the slack, and freshman Rathan-Mayes should help with the rest. Two of the 7-footers, Boris Bojanovsky (2.9 PPG/1.9 RPG) and Michael Ojo (.7 PPG/1.0 RPG), shouldn't have as many deer-in-the-headlights moments. The sophomore big men had a year to learn from senior Kiel Turpin (5.4 PPG/3.0 RPG), so coach Hamilton's signature defense won't suffer like it did last year. On top of that, Bookert and fellow PG, Ian Miller, have recovered from their injuries.
Are the 'Noles improving? Yes. Will they regain their spot as the third-best team in the ACC? Meh. Especially now that they'll have some new teams battling them for that position, probably not.
Orange Match-Up: FSU's offense was best last year when they played aggressively. Syracuse should take advantage of that overzealousness and exploit the height of the low post players by trying to draw some early charges from the foul-prone Okaro White, as well as from the 7-footers. If the Orange is successful, the Seminoles will likely tone it down a little, and the zone can do its thing.
At the other end of the court, be prepared for on-ball pressure as soon as Syracuse crosses mid-court, and expect to see three guys rotate under the basket on drives or layup attempts. Shot fakes and smart passes will get the Seminoles' defense to move from side to side, which is key to creating gaps at the elbow for C.J. and (from what we're hearing) the three-point line for Michael Gbinije.
If that doesn't work, just wait until one of the big guys blocks a Baye Keita shot attempt. That's all he needs. The switch will flip, and "The Matrix" will make the 'Noles wish they took the blue pill.