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4 posts from November 27, 2012

11/27/2012

Florida State Reactions to the Departure of Mark Stoops

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It's now official that Mark Stoops will become the head coach of the University of Kentucky after the Seminoles play Georgia Tech in this weekend's ACC Championship game. That news came out this morning and tonight we got the opportunity to talk to Jimbo Fisher as well as Lamarcus Joyner and Bjoern Werner, two of the leaders of the defense.

"I'm very proud of him, very happy for him," said Fisher in the rain after practice tonight. "He got an opportunity to move on and further his career and that's something he wants to do and I'm happy for him and elated for him and I like I said I think those are things that are very indicative of the players we have and the way that he's coached and our program that people want to hire our coaches."

Fisher said he was apprised of the situation in the morning and then they told the players shortly afterward. 

"I want guys to do that," said Fisher. "Like I said I wanted Mark to stay for a long time until he got what he wanted to do and he got what he wanted to do."

For Fisher, life just got complicated though. The timing isn't ideal on a Tuesday during preparation for a conference title game, but it is what it is. Now Fisher has to juggle finding a replacement, contacting and assuring recruits from this year's class and preparing a team to try to win its first conference championship in seven years.

I also wouldn't expect Stoops to coach the bowl game. It's likely Greg Hudson will take over interim duties while Stoops moves along to start his new job. Florida State doesn't let media talk to assistants, the first availability Stoops will have is Sunday morning Lexington. Have you ever seen a guy go to a school, get introduced as a head coach and then turn around and go back to being an assistant for another month? No.

If Brian Kelly didn't coach Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl to take another head coaching job, I really don't see Stoops coordinating in the Orange Bowl.

When we spoke to the players they didn't seem too caught off guard.

"I was more happy for Coach Stoops than anything," said Lamarcus Joyner. "He's a coach that put in work and after he explained it's what's best for him and his family and it will set him up then that's a blessing for him, he's a great man and he deserves it."

Joyner and Bjoer Werner were informed before the rest of the team. Stoops pulled Joyner aside personally, the two share an extremely close relationships and Stoops has acted as a mentor to Joyner at times. Werner found out at Unity council.

"We're happy for coach Stoops, everyone knew he wanted a head coaching job and it's going to be Kentucky and everyone was happy for him," said Werner. "Nobody was sad that he's leaving, everybody has to look out for themselves at some time and he did everything he could have done [while he was here]."

One thing that both players said would make Stoops successful, that worked with them at FSU, is that Stoops treats his players like adults. Just listening to both of them talk about the move, they had mature and realistic perspectives that sounded more like Stoops had been honest with them along the way than they were caught off guard.

As Werner said, they're my coaches but they're people too. That's a healthy perspective and it should serve Stoops well in Lexington.

Both players also realize the relationship was symbiotic. They helped Stoops get his first head gig and he helped them towards realizing NFL potential.

"Him being a great coach and us being a few great players on that defense, we all get to eat from the situation," said Joyner. "He gets to move on to better blessings and so do a few guys from the defense so it's a blessing for a lot of people."

Florida State falls to Minnesota in ACC-Big Ten Challenge 77-68

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Florida State was measured and found wanting on Tuesday night against Minnesota. 

The Seminoles, fresh off four straight wins and a Coaches vs. Cancer tourney championship, came back to Earth tonight against a very talented Golden Gopher team 77-68.

No. 21 Minnesota was just better than Florida State tonight in every phase of the game tonight, they shot better, defended better and rebounded better than the Seminoles and it showed as the Gophers lead wire-to-wire and looked the part of the better team.

"I like this team, I think we have the potential to be a good basketball team," said Hamilton. "I just hope we can keep winning while we develop. But we got beat by a better basketball team, I expected them to be a little further along than us at this point. 

"But you also want to die with your boots on and I didn't feel our effort was where it needed to be early."

Much like the Seminoles teams of old, FSU hung just 25 first-half points. While FSU actually out-played Minnesota 43-39 in the second half, the hole they dug early was too big to get out of.

That being said, this is actually a good learning experience for this Florida State basketball team. You never want to drop a game, but early in the season against a ranked opponent this was an excellent measuring stick to gauge where FSU is and where they need to improve before ACC play starts in January.

Now the Seminoles have until Mercer comes into town on Sunday to make adjustments, live in the film room and go hard at practice. This is the sort of loss that helps a team improve itself.

"We'll go back to the drawing board," said Hamilton. "Thank goodness we have another game on Sunday and another game on Wednesday. That's one thing good about basketball, you can't wallow in self-pity too long because you've got another team coming right around the corner.

"We always seem to bounce back when we falter, it's just disappointing that we just didn't give them the same kind of effort that they gave us. That's part of the challenge you'll face sometimes though with a team that's trying to find itself. We just need a few more games under our belts but we also need to not lose games while we develop."

Terrance Shannon lead the way for Florida State with 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, Michael Snaer added 12 points and both Okaro White and Terry Whisnant had 10, but Florida State's offense was out of rhythm for most of the night and it wasn't until late that the baskets really started falling. 

"Everybody's mad, upset at the game, but it can still have a positive effect, we can definitely learn from this," said Terry Whisnant. "It brings us closer, we'll stick together and so on. Now we'll have meetings and practice, work hard and just fix the things we need to fix."

Notebook: Tubby Smith was very complimentary of Terrance Shannon in particular... Smith also said FSU, like all Leonard Hamilton teams should mature into a very talented ball-club by the end of the season... Florida State went with a smaller rotation for this game than they have previously, Leonard Hamilton has said his team needs to get guys experience while still being competitive, tonight FSU played 10 guys but Michael Ojo and Robert Gilchrist both didn't get minutes... Many of the mistakes Leonard Hamilton alluded to were technical issues that can be addressed quickly in practice... Hamilton said he doesn't see a lack of leadership, rather his team is going through a growing up process and learning the frame of mind they need to be in to play at an ACC level... Boris Bojanovsky showed plenty of growth under the hoop for Florida State tonight, he blocked three shots and had three rebounds while responding well to Minnesota's physical play at the basket... FSU trailed by as many as 21, but were able to cut it to single digits in the final minutes. Unfortunately the rally came up short as Minnesota was able to hit enough shots to run the clock out down the stretch... Terry Whisnant is quickly becoming a bigger part of the Seminole rotation, he started, had 10 points and played 19 minutes on Tuesday night...

Mark Stoops is "The Guy" at Kentucky, Leaving FSU

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A day after saying "no" to Kentucky, it appears Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops may have changed his tune and could be accepting the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky as soon as today. 

Yesterday Stoops' name was rumored to be in the coaching mix up at UK, but Jimbo Fisher denied the rumors at his morning press conference and then a number of "sources" close to Kentucky had Stoops declining the Wildcats' overture.

I said jokingly last night that Stoops 'No' could have been more of a, "not-while-my-friends-are-around" kind of no that really meant 'call me later...'

That may have actually been the case though.

Stoops is still on campus at Florida State, and per FSU SID's will be at practice today. Despite Florida State's attempts to contain the story though, Kentucky is making arrangements. The Seminoles still have games to worry about, the Wildcats do not.

Mark Stoops will be the next head coach at Kentucky. At this point that's been confirmed by multiple people in the know and it's now just a matter of making it official.

We'll find out later today how long Stoops stays on for and get comments from him and Fisher. But this is obviously going to be a new wrinkle to consider as FSU prepares for GT in their conference championship game and then a bowl game. Fisher and staff also need to go contact recruits and try to avoid losing any players during the coaching turnover. 

Keep checking back for updates...

Hoops: Seminoles Set to Host Minnesota for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge

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The ACC-Big Ten challenge is here again. It's time for the Atlantic Coast Conference to take the floor over the next couple of nights and compete with the country's most numerically challenged athletic conference– one that hasn't actually had ten teams in well over a decade and grows larger by the season.

Unlike in football, where the ACC is the new Big East in the same way animal print is like so the new black, basketball is still a strong point for the Seminoles' conference. And though it doesn't mean anything in the greater scheme of things, you know Leonard Hamilton and the other ACC coaches would love to win some bragging rights.

Minnesota, coached by Tubby Smith, is a veteran team ranked in the top 25 that will attack the boards and could potentially exploit some of this young Florida State team's weaknesses.

"This is a good basketball team and they're extrememely athletic," said Hamilton. "Anytime you're averaging over 16 offensive rebounds per game that means you're getting work done on the boards. We're really inconsisten there ourselves. That's been part of an emphasis [for this game], but it's been part of the emphasis since day one and still somewhat of a challenge for this team."

Minnesota has had a year to adjust and learn to play in their system, young guys are maturing on their team and they will represent a legitimate NCAA tourney-caliber test tonight for the 'Noles at the Tucker Center.

"From what I hear this probably [Tubby Smith's] best team since he's been there," said Fisher. "When Tubby says this is probably his best team, and he's usually a little conservative with his praise, that's a huge statement."

Florida State is going to need to avoid shooting itself in the foot with a lot of mistakes and their defense will need to be technique-sound against a very athletic Gopher squad. One way coach Hamilton plans to do that is to taper down his rotation. He said after UNF he couldn't substitute so liberally against tough competition and that will be in effect tonight.

"I think what we're going to do is probably coach the game a little differently because we have so many young guys now that I've got to try to be careful not to put them in situations they're unfamiliar with," said Hamilton. "I'd like to get guys as much playing times as possible– because we're preparing for the ACC schedule in January– but games like this you've got to be a little more cautious in how you utilize players and we won't be able to play through as many mistakes because you're playing a high caliber team."

That also means Florida State's veterans will have to lead by example and help mitigate Minnesota crashing the boards. The Gophers are an excellent offensive rebounding team and the Seminoles can ill-afford to lose possessions by giving back the ball on that end of the court.

"The best thing to do is when you've got some big guys who are going strong to the offensive glass, an offensive rebounder doesn't like you blocking them out and hitting their legs," said Okaro White. "When they're constantly getting hit in the legs when you're boxing them out they're going to eventually stop going.

"You know when you're averaging so many offensive rebounds [though] they can get hit and they're still fighting for those rebounds so sometimes you're going to have to faceguard, block them out, make sure your guy doesn't get the ball. It's all about taking pride in rebounding."

Florida State will have to take pride in rebounding if they want to pull out a win tonight and improve to 5-1. This is certainly a winnable ballgame for the 'Noles, but only if they put their best foot forward like they did up in Brooklyn.

The game tips at 7 PM at the Tucker Center and will be televised by the ESPN family of networks...


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