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Seminole Leaders Kick Defense Into Gear

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Florida State's exhibition win over Lincoln Memorial was a nice chance to see FSU run the court and score a little bit, but the game left a pretty bad taste in the mouths of more than a few of the veterans on the team.

"It was embarrassing last Tuesday so I’m really looking for our defense to get better in general and in rebounding, defensive rebounding," said Okaro White. "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.”

The Seminoles gave up 65 points to a team that shouldn't have hung that many. After establishing Florida State as a defensive power over the past half-decade, Leonard Hamilton is accutely aware of the fact his young team needs to get their defensive game together.

“Unfortunately we don’t have nearly as much time now to experiment," said Hamilton. "And we still have some young guys who we are dependent on to be successful who are not really where we need for them to be."

“The biggest thing now is we’ve got to get back to our defensive principles and just start locking back up,” said 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.”

A hard practice was a good way for some of Florida State's team leaders to send a message to the rest of the team.

“[The film study] wasn’t even that long, you’d think after a game like that you’d think it would be long and tiring," said White, now a junior. "But it wasn’t even that long because we kept on making the same mistake after mistake. So after you show it once or twice, then like the other ten plays are the same thing, we know what we’re doing wrong. So that’s the good thing about that.

“Our practice was a different story, we definitely had a defensive practice yesterday. But that’s a good thing, we’re trying to change the culture and win another ACC championship so you’ve got to have practices like that. You’ve got to have knock-down, drag-out type practices.”

If you're a Seminoles fan that's the kind of leadership you want out of your team. Snaer, White and Terrance Shannon have said all off-season to the young guys that if 'you don't play defense, you don't play.' They demonstrated that in practice last week with a tough, all-out workout that got heated at times, but will pay dividends down the stretch.

“It’s amazing how much more energy we practiced with yesterday after watching the lack of execution on defense negatively impacting the game," said Hamilton. "It’s a learning process.”

Fortunately for the 'Noles, their leadership is forcibly bringing the underclassmen along by challenging them at practice and putting in extra time in the classroom. 

Next up, on Tuesday, Florida State will take on St. Leo's, a school that knocked of Miami over the weekend. While it's still just an exhibition, you can be sure Hamilton and the Noles' leaders will be looking for defensive improvement out of the whole team.

“We know our defense is going to get where it needs to get," said Michael Snaer. "We just have to do our work in practice.”

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