Welcome back to the bandwagon, folks! Have the Eagles turned a corner, or is our 2-1 record in our last three games merely a mirage in the desert of an otherwise desolate season? We'll find out much more about this team today.
To preview today's game between the Eagles and the Seminoles, we sat down with the Florida State SB Nation blog Tomahawk Nation to the site for Five Good Minutes. Thanks to Tomahawk Nation's FSUncensored, CelticPride and basaltrock for taking the time to answer our questions.
BC Interruption: Can you talk a little about the performance thus far of the Seminoles front court. 7’1" Solomon Alabi and 6’9" Chris Singleton have proven to be forces to reckon with in the paint. How have they matched up against your ACC opponents to date?
Tomahawk Nation: Solomon Alabi has shown off his defensive prowess for quite a while and is currently ranked 2nd in the ACC for blocks/gm with 2.6. His offensive game is coming around and he's finally getting into position more often for aggressive plays under the basket. His hook is solid and he's an excellent FT shooter. His weakness is when he gets away from the basket and has to work his way back in. Due to this, he's averaging 1.9 TOs/gm. It doesn't appear that BC plays a tall, strong body inside who can move him around for more than 15 minutes a game, so a double team or zone is the only way to prevent him from getting the ball inside.
Against Duke, Singleton finally played to his biggest strength - his ability to slash to the hoop. As a 6'9 SF, he poses a huge mismatch for most teams. If BC wants to slow him down, they're going to have to play Joe Trapani on him in man coverage. I foresee that leaving a big hole in post coverage though, making FSU's size advantage a dealbreaker once again. If Singleton stays away from popping 3's and instead takes it inside, he can put up 20pts with no problem... unless you foul him. He's been a miserable FT shooter as of late (6 for 17 over the last 2 games). On defense, Singleton is ridiculous, and may give FSU back-to-back ACC defensive Player of the Years. He leads the ACC in steals, is 4th in blocks, and 9th in rebounds. Between Alabi and Singleton, driving to the hoop is near impossible.
BCI: Moving to the back court, how much does this team miss Toney Douglas? How has the Seminoles game plan changed now that Douglas is gone and Derwin Kitchen and Deivadas Dulkys are featured in the back court?
TN: Toney Douglas is missed most in 3 ways: the lack of a last minute shooter, ball control, and perimeter defense. Dulkys has turned into a very efficient gunner from behind the arc (2nd in the ACC for 3PM and 5th for 3PT%). He hasn't had many opportunities to prove himself though in late game situations with everything on the line.
FSU's biggest problem all year (and in past years too) has been TOs. This year, the offense is often out of position and making dumb passes. Defenses that play zone well rip apart FSU's offense. TD was excellent last year at controlling the ball and running the offense. He covered up for other players' lack of proper position by just making plays himself. This year, there is no go-to guy for that leadership. Kitchen can drive, but his jump shot is weak. During the Duke game, he finally fell into more of a true PG role, picking up 10 assists in the process. When he runs the offense and gets the ball to the bigs inside effectively, FSU goes on big runs.
Perimeter defense still is a problem though. Dulkys is a good perimeter defender, but the rest of the guards aren't pulling their weight. They're all having trouble with motion and will leave a man open on the outside for the open shot. That is the prime reason why FSU lost to Maryland and NC State. It doesn't appear though that BC has a strong 3PT presence though.
Michael Snaer is coming on strong as a scorer late in the season. As a McDonald's All-American, his scoring presence off the bench at SG is becoming trouble for opposing defenses. His defense and ball control though need to get better in order for him to see the starting lineup. His 5 TOs against Duke cannot happen again.
BCI: Florida State rebounded nicely from back-to-back ACC losses (Maryland and NC State) to defeat both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. What was the cause of FSU’s losses to Maryland and NC State? And what was different in the Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech victories?
TN: As I noted above, FSU lost the Maryland and NC State games because of the 3. Both teams got hot from behind the arc after moving the ball well on the outside and consistently finding someone open. Due to FSU's height, the team matches up very well against big teams (like GT) and can force them to play our game.
BCI: The ACC basketball standings this year are a mess. I can’t seem to make heads or tails of it. We are finding out that teams like Miami who got off to a fast start are actually a pretender this year, while other teams like North Carolina have dug themselves into a bit of a hole. Is this Seminoles squad a tournament team? Where do you expect them to land - seeding wise - come March?
TN: I expect FSU to make the tournament as a 6 or 7 seed. A successful year would be if they won a game in the tournament though. I expect them to fall victim to a well-disciplined team with strong guard play. If they hit a 1st round match-up that lacks those factors, they'll be lucky and can continue on. Otherwise, it might be another year of one-and-done.
BCI: Some would say BC had a favorable ACC schedule last season, but this season, not so much. Has the unbalanced ACC schedule helped or hurt Florida State’s chances this season?
TN: FSU is lucky in that they only have to play Duke and UNC once (though both are away). Same with Wake Florida. FSU does not have much practice time between games going forward. I feel like FSU has a great shot though going forward into the ACC Tournament.
BCI: Leonard Hamilton has done a tremendous job with the Florida State program. In your opinion, will he stay in Tallahassee for the long haul?
TN: While Ham is a solid recruiter and an excellent defensive coach, he is miserable on the offensive side. He simply can't coach a disciplined offense. Due to this, I believe our program has plateaued. If we want to improve, we need a better coach.
BCI: How is fan support for Florida State basketball relative to football support? 50% of what football is? 25%?
TN: FSU's basketball fan support has gotten significantly better over the last 2-3 years. Early in the decade, it was a major struggle to fill the Tucker Center on games not against UNC and Duke. These days though, after the likes of Al Thornton and Toney Douglas pushed the program into national relevance, most games are fairly packed. We're no Cameron Crazies, but still get pretty loud.
BCI: Now onto some quick hitters. First up, your ACC regular season champ?
BCI: ACC Tournament champ?
TN: Duke (again).
BCI: ACC Most Valuable Player?
TN: Jon Scheyer (with Greivis Vasquez dancing like an idiot over his shoulder), and FSU's Chris Singleton for Defensive POY.
BCI: Greatest player to ever play for Florida State basketball?
TN: I'd say NBA HoF Dave Cowens, who averaged 19.0ppg and 17.2rpg from 1967 to 1970 at FSU. Hugh Durham and Sam Cassell are close runner-ups though.
BCI: Last one, prediction time. Who ya got in this one? What's the final score?
TN: Florida State 69, Boston College 62.
BCI: Thanks for joining us. Let's hope your prediction doesn't come true.
To read more information on the Florida State Seminoles basketball program, be sure to check out Tomahawk Nation.