Just in time to take away some of the hangover of Florida State's heartbreaking upset in Raleigh, the Seminole men's team is set to tip off practice on the Friday and all this week we'll be starting to preview the upcoming basketball season.
Truth be told of the three major mens' sports (football, basketball and baseball), right now hoops is king in Tallahassee. Historically, Florida State is a football school. But it's been a rough decade for football, and using Jimbo Fisher's tenure as head coach as a window, Leonard Hamilton's squads have made two tourney appearances (including a sweet sixteen) and won an ACC title while Fisher's teams have won... two bowl games.
While Florida State football is headed in the right direction, the basketball team are the reigning ACC champs with an All-American guard in their backcourt and a brash confidence that makes them fairly compelling heading into the year.
This is a dramatically different team than last year. Six seniors are gone, including three big men and three guys from the backcourt. Underneath is where Florida State could have some issues, they lost a lot with Bernard James, Jon Kreft and Xavier Gibson leaving. Terrance Shannon is back and Okaro White has been working all offseason on becoming more dynamic. But the 'Noles will need to rely heavily on contributions from underclassmen to fill the void.
What's excting is the Florida State backcourt. Ian Miller and Michael Snaer could form one of the best tandems in school history. They've already said how they're looking at the duo of Delonte West and Jameer Nelson at St. Joe's as a parallel to themselves.
"You won't have to worry about anymore games like [Princeton]," said Ian Miller. Last year the 'Noles scored just ten first half points and lost in triple overtime to the Ivy League school.
"We''re not going to have problems putting the ball in the bucket."
For a team that prides itself on defense, the early challenge will be to gel and have the defensive nuances click for seven new players. Admittedly that took some time last year when the team was comprised mostly of seniors.
But this year, with underclassmen it could prove even more challenging. The good news is that with an NCAA rules tweak the team did get more time with coaches over the summer. That should help speed the process along, but in the meantime Florida State may have to rely on the offense of Snaer and Miller (as well as White and a collection of other up-and-coming players) to carry them while the defense starts to click.
That should make for a much different season than 'Noles fans are used to.
Practice tips of on Friday and the season kicks off with an exhibition game on the 30th of October against Lincoln Memorial. The team has one other exhibition against St. Leo's before starting the Coaches vs. Cancer classic on 11/9.
I'll have plenty of basketball coming up this week in addition to the usual football lot. Keep checking back for updates.