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54 posts from November 2012

November 17, 2012

Pregame: FSU at Maryland

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Florida State gets set to take on Maryland today in a game that should clinch the ACC Atlantic divison. As I've written all week, Florida State is a different team on the road this year.

That starts on offense where the Seminoles typically score 25 fewer points and gain about 200 less yards. Against Maryland's 16th ranked defense don't expect things to be easy for Florida State. But I do think that EJ Manuel will have a good game and FSU will break out of its road slump a little bit. 

Maryland's offense is not in good shape by the same token, they will have a linebacker starting at quarterback for them today and will need to rely on Seminole mistakes and turnovers to score. 

The Seminoles should be well rested for this game given that they last played nine days ago. The only real pitfall would be overlooking the Terps with UF coming in next weekend.

TV: ESPNU

Announcers: Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jon Congemi (color)

November 16, 2012

Seminoles Win Coaches vs. Cancer Semifinals, Beat BYU 88-70

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If Friday night was a glimpse of Florida State's A-game they're going to be a tough out this season. The Seminoles shots 58% and held BYU to 33% in the semifinal of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and will play St. Joseph's tomorrow night. 

Florida State looked night-and-day different from the team who lost to South Alabama a week ago, this Seminole team was focused and potent, it looked the part of a contender. Patching together performances from newcomers and veterans alike, Florida State handled BYU convincingly.

Okaro White lead the scoring with 17 points, Michael Snaer had 16, Ian Miller added 15. Snaer also had 10 rebounds and four assists to lead the Seminoles.

"Michael, being a senior on such a young team has at some points forced his will on this team," Leonard Hamilton said after the game. "He wants all the dirty work, the toughest defensive assignments, he wants to take the big shot or be on the foul line at the end of the game. He led by example..."

White and Miller also did their part on Friday as did Terrance Shannon who added 16 minutes off the bench.

The play of the newcomers, Devon Bookert and Boris Bojanovsky in particular, was the other story. The Seminoles kept a nice cushion between themselves and the Cougars for much of the game and Bookert was a big part of that. The true freshman point guard had 15 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in some of his first meaningful action of the season. If he develops into the 'Noles starting point he'll open that offense up in amazing ways.

Bojonovsky wasn't that impressive on the statsheet but had a couple blocks and rebounds and looks to have plenty of potential as he gets the feel of the college game.

On the other end of the floor it was the Seminole defense which showed up to play. The team that doesn't let other squads hit their shots was on full display at the Barclay Center at BYU never found rhythm and never really threatened down the stretch.

Florida State can make it 3-1 on the season and win the Coaches vs. Cancer tourney with a win tonight over St. Joe's.

November 15, 2012

Florida State Injury List: Week Twelve

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Not too much happening this week in regards to the injury list either, Will Tye is the only new addition. Beyond that, nothing to report on the injurt front heading into the Maryland game.

Out at Maryland

DB Justin Bright (head)

OL Garrett Faircloth (hip)

DT Moses McCray (head)

DT Derrick Mitchell (back)

OL Trey Pettis (head)

TE Will Tye (back)

 

Out for the Season

DB Colin Blake (shoulder)

DE Chris Casher (knee)

LB Ukeme Eligwe (hand)

OL Daniel Foose (back)

TE Dan Hicks (knee)

DE Brandon Jenkins (foot)

DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)

RB Mario Pender (sports hernia)

RB Chris Thompson (knee)

 

November 13, 2012

Hoops: Seminoles Intend to Use Loss in Opener as Motivation

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Last Friday night Florida State's team leaders were livid. Earlier in the evening the team had raised its first ever ACC Championship banner, they were ranked to start the season and there was even some hype this year.

Then they lost 76-71 to South Alabama.

“Everybody let the team down, everybody let people down. I felt most important we let the people who built the team before us, built where we are– down," said Terrance Shannon. "We let those guys down more importantly than anybody. I’ve been here since ‘09, we helped get to that point. I felt losing that game I had a sour taste in my mouth because I knew where we were.”

Shannon moreso than anyone, gets it. He was injured and forced into a medical redshirt last season. As his teammates fought through the ACC, he sat off to the side nursing his shoulder. This is Shannon's year to make his impression and he was not happy with how it started.

"Nobody really used the phone [after the game], nobody really wanted to talk to people, it was horrible," said Shannon. "Me personally, I was embarrassed."

But Florida State circled the wagons this weekend and its team leaders took the young guys to task. They intend to use this loss like they did losses to Harvard, Princeton and Clemson last season.

“I think the main thing that really turned us around was [Sunday] we held a players only meeting– we have like one or two a week," said Okaro White. "So we held that players meeting and me, Mike [Snaer] and Terrance [Shannon] really expressed our feelings to the young guys and we basically told them we let down everybody who helped build this program.

"We’re stll not there yet but it was our first game, the home opener, the revealing of the banner and we basically let down the older guys who had worked to win the ACC championship.”

Both White and Shannon were adamant that this would be all the motivation they needed to make sure not only them, but the rest of the team keeps their game up. 

If the Seminoles do anything this season, it's going to be on the shoulders of their leaders.

It's likely this weekend Florida State will pare down its rotation and play more veterans to try to cut down mistakes and play more efficiently. Leonard Hamilton mentioned this before the season and if anything I think Friday night reiterated that point.

But the feeling around the Florida State team is that the loss could end up being a good thing if the team uses it to get better and truly grow. Right in the first game the Seminoles were pretty much slapped in the face with their biggest deficiencies. That means they'll be able to figure out how to compensate for them (if possible) while they wait to develop some of their young guys throughout the season.

For now though, Hamilton's primary focus (as he stated last week) is balancing the development of his young team with winning basketball games.

I think the next two games in New York the rotation gets smaller in a more competitive road setting and then as FSU's schedule eases up again after Minnesota and Florida come calling, you'll see more young guys start to get serious looks.

That's just conjencture, but given some of the young mistakes this team has made, it may be untenable to go with a bigger rotation against teams like BYU, Notre Dame, St. Joe's, Minnesota and Florida. 

We'll find out in Brooklyn.

November 12, 2012

Seminoles Cruise to First Win, Clip Buffalo 95-68

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After a bit of a misstep in their season opener on Friday, Florida State put its best foot forward on Monday night beating Buffalo 95-68.

"There's no question that Okaro, and Mike and Terrance are going to have to carry us while we develop," said Leonard Hamilton. All three turned in good performances on Monday night.

Lead by Okaro White's ten first half points, the Seminoles had little trouble opening up against the Bulls after an inconsistent performance against South Alabama just a few days before. The loss put a terrible taste in Florida State's mouths and lead to a couple of hard weekend workouts that seemed to have paid off on Monday night.

"We held a players only meeting [on Sunday]," said Okaro White. "Me, Mike and Terrance really expressed our feelings to the young guys and we basically were telling them we let down everybody who has helped to build this program. We're still not there yet, but you know first game, the home opener, raising the ACC banner and we basically let down the older guys who had worked to win the ACC championship."

"Nobody used the phone, nobody wanted to talk to anyone [last Friday], it was horrible," said Terrance Shannon. "I had a sour taste in my mouth as well, because I knew where we were... but me personally I was embarrassed."

Florida State has said all year it would take a while for their young team to round into form. They weren't supposed to lose to South Bama, but considering the losses they took early last year, one or two early mistakes likely won't sink this team.

They cannot afford more than a couple though, much like last year when the 'Noles dropped embarrassing games to Harvard and Princeton, USA falls into that category too. On Monday, Florida State did its best to bury that game and put a better product on the court. 

12 players saw first-half minutes with ten scoring and Devon Bookert and Michael Ojo contributing in their own ways. Leonard Hamilton has said he views the first few games almost like a preseason so you can expect FSU's rotation to look different in Brooklyn this weekend, but against Buffalo the 'Noles got plenty of young guys minutes and unlike Friday, it didn't come at the expense of productivity. 

The second half was a lot closer than Florida State would have liked though, with Buffalo pulling to within 8 points at around the ten-minute mark. The Seminoles quickly got on a roll though. Lead by Michael Snaer, Montay Brandon and Terrance Shannon, FSU went up by 20 with five minutes remaining and coasted the rest of the way to a win.

At the end of the night, Snaer lead the Seminoles in scoring with 19 points in 21 minutes. White finished with 13, Aaron Thomas had 10 and Terry Whisnant and Terrance Shannon both added nine of their own.

Defensively the Seminoles can still clamp down more. They gave up 68 to the Bulls and allowed Buffalo to shoot 50%. 

"I'm mindful of the fact there have only been three or four teams in the past few years that have scored over 50% on us," said Hamilton. "I'm glad we've been challenged like that, it says a lot on the defensive end we have a long ways to go. I think you can see [though] we have some young guys with some pretty good potential."

"But as a coach it's obvious we still have a long ways to go."

All things considered though, Florida State is making progress as it prepares for its first road game. Now 1-1, the Seminoles will test themselves at the Barclay Center this weekend against top competition like BYU and either Notre Dame or St. Joe's.

"We hope that our first road trip won't be as much of a struggle as our first home game," said Hamilton. "Tomorrow we'll start preparing. We talked a little bit about travelling on the road, not letting tickets be an issue, not letting family or friends (distract us). This is a business trip for us."

Notes: Hamilton complimented Kile Turpin's defense underneath the hoop... Terry Whisnant didn't start but played 24 minutes and shot 3-5, including 2-3 from three point land... Michael Ojo saw more playing time but came down with cramps... Hamilton said the team is working on all phases, but with his young players says the biggest issue is just adjusting to the college game... Florida State shot 59.6 percent on the evening and 55.6 percent from behind the arc... Terrance Shannon continues to work on his conditioning, he played 17 minutes on Monday night... Walk-on Joey Moreau hit a rare basket to close out regulation, the senior guard went Scalabrine on the Bulls and dropped a three-pointer in the final seconds to bring FSU to 95 points... Hamilton said he is still searching for the rotation, Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon both look to factor heavily and Ian Miller is coming along as well... FSU will likely visit a hospital in Brooklyn to volunteer some time before the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament next weekend.

November 11, 2012

Florida State Holds Steady at 10 in BCS

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The BCS rankings are out and Florida State is held up at 10th despite some movement up in front of them. The Seminoles are stuck largely due to weak strength of schedule, poor conference prestige and the computers.

Florida State was originally going to play West Virginia, but had to settle for Savannah State as an 11th hour replacement when the Big 12 schedule prevented them from making the trip.

The ACC doesn't help strength of schedule either, outside of Clemson who is stuck with much the same issue (but actually fares better with the computers– more on that later), the ACC is awful. Miami is down. Virginia Tech is down. UNC is on probation. The league is so far down Duke is bowl eligible this season.

And that all plays out in the computer rankings where FSU is an average of 18.75, ranked 33rd and 26th by a couple polls and ranked behind Clemson in all six. That kills the Seminoles because it's a third of what goes into the decision so even though both of the voter polls have Florida State at sixth, they're 10th in the BCS rankings.

K-State is first, Oregon second, Notre Dame third. Bama fell to fourth after losing to Texas A&M (who is now 8th). Georgia is fifth and Florida sixth. Three two-loss SEC schools round out the top 10 in front of Florida State, LSU, TAMU and South Carolina finish 7-8-9 as FSU stays static.

Going Polling: Florida State Holds at 6 in Harris, Coaches, 10th in AP

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Polls are out and the two polls of note have Florida State exactly the same, holding steady at six. Meanwhile in the AP poll the 'Noles dropped two spots to 10th.

I mentioned right after the NC State loss that the Seminoles' ceiling would be about five or six in the BCS and I expect that trend to continue with Florida State hanging around the back half of the top ten of the BCS and all three major polls.

Alabama losing was actually a negative impact on the Seminoles who saw Texas A&M jump them after knocking off the Crimson Tide, while Bama stayed well ahead. The AP top 5 featured Oregon, K-State, Notre Dame, Bama and Georgia.

In the Coaches' poll, Florida State was behind Oregon, K-State, Notre Dame, Georgia and Bama, and a spot ahead of Clemson. The Harris was the same with Georgia and Alabama flipped. 

Clemson is ranked 9th in the Harris and Coaches, 11th in the AP. No other ACC schools are ranked or near ranked or will even remotely help either the Seminoles or the Tigers with the BCS computers. 

I'll be back with a BCS update later tonight...

November 09, 2012

Seminoles Raise ACC Championship Banner Before Season Opener

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Florida State started out its season in style on Friday night, hoisting their first ACC championship banner in the Tucker Center before tipping off the 2012-13 season with a game against Southern Alabama.

Last season the Seminoles won the ACC tourney for the first time in school history behind the play of six seniors and ACC-tourney MVP Michael Snaer. A lot has changed since last year. Bernard James is now in the NBA, several other 'Noles are playing professionally in Europe and the returning players from last year's team are busy bringing along a large class of newcomers in the hopes of continuing on last season's success. 

Things don't start easily for the 'Noles this season, they start off the year in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and after hosting South Alabama and Buffalo over the weekend will travel to Brooklyn to finish the tournament at the Barclay Center (the home of the Nets). There they draw BYU and either St. Joseph's or Notre Dame. As Leonard Hamilton joked last week, "it gets serious quickly."

So Florida State really doesn't have much of an opportunity to revel in hanging the banner, they need to move on and focus on a couple of difficult games next weekend, but for tonight, the 'Noles were proud to honor last year's ACC Champs.

November 08, 2012

Rapid Reaction: FSU 28 Virginia Tech 22

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Florida State snuck out of Blacksburg with a win after the Hokies gave the Seminoles a serious scare on Thursday night. It took a Rashad Greene touchdown reception on the definitive drive of the game after Virginia Tech went ahead on a safety and a field goal to settle the game for Florida State. 

Things never really got rolling for the Seminole offense, who looked much like last year's squad as it struggled to control the line of scrimmage and establish the run. The 'Noles finished with -15 yards rushing tonight and gave up five sacks. Devonta Freeman also made a mistake trying to pitch a ball out of the endzone that cost FSU a safety and set up a dramatic final six minutes.

Once again FSU struggled on the road, they had issues during all four quarters and were saved by a defense that eventually wore down in the fourth quarter.

But it wasn't all bad, the defensive line– Tank Carradine in particular– was dominant for Florida State. Tyler Hunter had two interceptions including the game-sealing pick with less than a minute left. And despite some of his more questionable decisions EJ Manuel stepped up on the final drive. 

FSU got the ball back with 2:19 left down 22-20 after a safety and a field goal erased their three-point fourth quarter lead. Manuel quickly lead the Seminoles down the field in 8 plays, going 68 yards in 1:39 and culminating with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene. The pass was more Greene being speedy after the catch than anything else, but it was the big play Florida State needed to silence the crowd at Lane Stadium and help the Seminoles escape with the win.

There was a symbolic moment on the drive where on 4th-and-1 James Wilder ripped off a fearsome run, converting on second effort as he brutalized several Virginia Tech defenders. A Hokie left the field hurt and the Seminoles offense seemed energized afterwards. A few plays later they iced it.

Credit the Hokies for playing a great game defensively and giving FSU its best shot. 

I'll have a lot more later on tonight and tomorrow morning, keep posted...

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: EJ Manuel (25-42, 326 3 TD INT)

Rushing: JC Coleman (16-41)

Receiving: Rashad Greene (6-125 2TD)

Halftime: FSU 13 Virginia Tech 10

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It's halftime at Lane Stadium and Florida State's offense may have finally just shown up for the last drive of the first half. Through the first 30 minutes they'd managed to muster just 161 yards, but a 70-yard drive to close out the 2nd quarter gave the Seminoles the late lead at the half.

The defense has been alright, the touchdown they gave up was more a product of being on the field too much than of any major deficiency on their part. The story of this one so far as just been the issues on the offensive end.

For starters, the VT defensive line has controlled the trenches so far and Florida State cannot run the ball. They have tried draws, pro-forms and option and nothing has worked so far, they are at -8 yards for the first half. The pass rush has also been good enough to keep EJ Manuel out of rhythm and keep the Seminole offense from gaining any kind of momentum.

Up until the last drive all the Seminoles had managed was two field goals and 90 yards, but a late TD-drive gave them the 13-10 lead heading into the half. The Seminole offense needs to get settled down and stay calm in the second half though- starting with EJ Manuel. He was 4-4 for 76 yards and the TD to Rashad Greene on the last drive but will need to sustatin that for Florida State to avoid an upset situation.

A lot of football still left to play, but there's some reason for concern amongst Seminoles fans. FSU also struggled with fumbles again in the first half, losing a muffed punt and getting back a fumble at the end of first quarter reception. If the Seminoles want to make it out of Blacksburg 9-1, they'll need to clean it up in the second half.

Statistical Leaders:

Passing: EJ Manuel (10-18, 169, TD, INT)

Rushing: Logan Thomas (3-17)

Receiving: Rashad Greene (4-76, TD)


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