The Florida State men's team will play in its second of two exhibitions tonight, ahead of the season opener against South Alabama on the 9th.
In Florida State's first exhibition they won 83-65 over Lincoln Memorial, but in spite of the scoring, most of the guys in the locker-room were unhappy with the team's performance.
“What I’m really looking for from the second exhibition game is- not even just from the freshmen- is our defense, they’ve got to get better," said Okaro White. "It was embarrassing last Tuesday so I’m really looking for our defense to get better in general and in rebounding, defensive rebounding. I don’t really care too much about the offense right now. I know we’ve got a lot of talented new guys and older guys back, so I’m just really focused on the defense.”
Florida State knows they have very few chances to get some of their more elementary mistakes corrected before the games start to get difficult at the end of the week. Their first exhibition was also somewhat eye-opening for head coach Leonard Hamilton:
“In talking with some of the players, the first thing Boris [Bojanovsky] says is 'I need to practice a little harder.' Kiel Turpin said coach, 'three minutes seemed like 20 minutes.' [Michael] Ojo’s comment was, 'I was a little nervous,' Montay [Brandon's] comment was 'I’ll get used to it but I expired myself because my adrenaline was flowing a little bit.'”
Tonight the Seminoles face a Division II school in St. Leo's that upset the University of Miami 69-67 over the weekend. FSU should handle their business tonight, but Miami is picked to finish ahead of the 'Noles in the ACC this year and couldn't, so Florida State should probably also be on the look out. Regardless of outcome though, tonight's game is invaluable to a young Florida State team.
“As far as I’m concerned this is preseason and we have to take advantage of it because we’ve got to get ready for the conference and playing time and being on the floor will help you gain confidence and improve but then at the same time we’re trying to win basketball games, so there’s a fine line we’ve got to operate here," said Hamilton.
"Michael Ojo played 15 games in his life, this is a new tempo, a new pace for Boris, I thought Robert played a lot better in the game than he has in practice, I thought Ian had 8 assists and only two turnovers was a good sign that he’s trying to learn to be a distributor, but I was not very pleased with his defense. And I think he’s playing better defense than he has been but we need him to be a little sharper in those areas.. Terry was solid, we asked him to pick up the ball a little bit so we can allow ourselves to have other guys who can pick up the ball and put it on the other end of the court...”
Essentially it all comes down to defense after the young guys get used to the new pace. Florida State is a program that predicates itself on defense and if the young guys can't pick it up, they won't play early on.
“The biggest thing now is we’ve got to get back to our defensive principles and just start locking back up,” said Michael Snaer.
“We’re hoping to be one of those teams this year that can really lock down on people and also score a lot. That’s what we’re hoping to do, be that type of team.”