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3 posts from December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012

Hoops: Florida State Tops ULM 63-48

Photos

Florida State handled their business against an inferior opponent on Monday, winning 63-48 over ULM, but it was hardly the kind of effort that head coach Leonard Hamilton was looking for.

"You're always happy when you come away with a win, when you don't play as well as you think you should be playing," said Hamilton after the game. "The disappointment [is] a lot of the progress we're showing in practice is not translating to the games."

The Seminoles struggled early and took most of the first half before they finally began to take hold of the game. Early on things were not running smoothly for the 'Noles, though.

Michael Snaer was not in the lineup on Monday night, instead replaced by Aaron Thomas as Snaer watched from the bench. Afterwards coach Hamilton explained that it was a disicipline issue.

"We didn't have Michael available tonight," said Hamilton. "It was a discipline issue, but it's not something that I'm overly concerned about, it's over with, done with. He'll be back to his regular position."

Florida state shot 47% in the first half but shot selection was poor initially and the team took a while to get into their offense, opting to go with a number of questionable jumpers early on rather than try and press their size advantage to get inside on ULM.

At the end of the first half it was 30-25, with Okaro White (11 points) and Thomas (8) carrying the early load.

In the second half things finally started to open up a little bit for the Seminoles, within the first media timeout they had pulled ahead by 10, but ULM quickly stormed back and got within five. 

The two teams would trade baskets for a few minutes before Florida State finally pulled away for good. Despite being able to put some distance between themselves and ULM, the Seminoles actually shot worse in the second half, dropping from 47 to 35 percent (40 on the night). Their defense improved though, as they continued to hold ULM's shooters at bay and limited their ability to get to the hoop. Florida State held ULM to just 23 second-half points, out-rebounded the Warhawks and forced a number of crucial turnovers that ended up giving them the edge.

Still, the Seminoles know they have a ways to go on both sides of the ball before ACC play starts.

"We have some challenges coming up, tomorrow we'll go back to work," said Hamilton, who will begin preparing his Seminoles for a neutral site game against 10-1 Charlotte on 12/22.

"I think we need those types of situations to challenge us to put ourselves in ACC type atmospheres we're going to have to play in [once the conference season starts]."

On the night Okaro White finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Aaron Thomas added 17 points and Devon Bookert added 10. Michael Snaer and Ian Miller did not play a single minute. 

Next up for Florida State (6-4) is Charlotte on 12/22, on 12/29 FSU will play Tulsa down in Miami.

Game Notes: Hamilton mentioned that despite the product on the court Monday night, the team's practices had been going extremely well lately, the results just haven't translated... Terrance Shannon practiced a couple times during the week, but was still rusty according to Leonard Hamilton... FSU has its next five games on the road before heading home to host UNC on 1/12... Aaron Thomas had a good offensive performance with 17 points but coach Hamilton said he felt Thomas was at times indecisive offensively, Thomas' best is still ahead of him per Hamilton... Robert Gilchrist is fighting a groin pull and is questionable for this weekend, Ian Miller is doubtful... One thing Leonard Hamilton said has to improve is his team's play against the screen, an issue he attributed to inexperience... Another deficiency Hamilton is disappointed in is his team's ability to get inside and attack the basket, as his big men (Ojo and Bojanovsky) develop, he feels that issue should take care of itself... Finally, Michael Ojo, the 7-3 center from Nigeria received a specially made pair of size 21 Nikes, it is the first pair of shoes Ojo has ever owned that fit. He arrived in Tallahassee with a pair of size 17 sneakers, he wears a 21. 

NCAA Grants Cincy QB Extra Year of Eligibility, Could Pave Way for Chris Thompson

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Chris Thompson's heartbreaking ACL tear in October at Miami put an end to his incredible comeback from two broken vertebrae suffered in his junior season against Wake Forest.

Collectively the two injuries have cost Thompson a full season (14 games since 2011) but getting another year of eligibility is looked at as a long shot given recent NCAA trends. Still, despite what initially appeared to be long odds Jimbo Fisher and staff have made no secret of their desire to get Chris Thompson an extra year of eligibility.

On Monday, Thompson got an encouraging sign as the NCAA granted an extra year to Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay.

Kay is a redshirt senior who missed 2008 (when he took the redshirt season) and 2011, but started for the Bearcats part of this season and will be eligible to lead them again next year as well.

This could potentially be the case that gives Thompson a chance at getting another year himself. Kay used his redshirt to avoid missing a year of eligibility as a true freshman and then missed most of 2011 with another injury. Coming into 2012 (when he started 9 games) he had played in just six games prior. Coming into 2012 Thompson had played in 28 games, but never used a redshirt.

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There is a distinction to be made though, while Kay didn't play much in his first few years of eligiblity, that was not entirely due to injury.

Whereas Thompson played early, Kay was buried behind a couple of other QB's (Tony Pike and Zach Collaros) waiting for his turn to play. The fact Kay was already in his fifth year of eligibility, had two season ending injuries and was still able to get the extra year may make Thompson's case stronger (especially given the fact he has never taken a redshirt and would get just four years to Kay's six).

Essentially, if the NCAA holds the fact that Thompson played early against him, it could be detrimental to his case. But all things equal, Thompson played early because he had won the opportunity to, Kay did not.

While Florida State is still not likely to get Thompson the extra year given the recent precedents, this is definitely a promising sign for Seminoles fans hoping to see CT4 back next season.

Thompson lead Florida State in rushing this season with 687 yards on just 91 carries, even despite missing half the year with a blown ACL. He was easily the most dynamic player on the Florida State offense and looked more explosive than he had at any point in his career before going down for good against Miami in October. 

While Thompson has expressed a desire to stay, whether or not the NCAA allows him to will be another story.

The Seminoles should make their formal appeal on Thompson's behalf in the coming weeks and you can be sure Brendon Kay's case will be referenced as they advocate for Thompson.

"What do we have to lose, anyway?" joked Jimbo Fisher on Friday. 

Penn State to Florida State: The Odyssey of Kevin Haplea

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Not too many players can claim to have had as tumultuous of a year as Kevin Haplea has these past 12 months. This time last year he was caught up in a scandal that was taking down Penn State and eliminating any post-season prospects the Nittany Lions would have for the next four years.

This year, after recording a few catches and a touchdown for his new team, he's preparing for an Orange Bowl game on January 1st. 

Kevin Haplea was originally recruited by Florida State. As a high schooler Jimbo Fisher and James Coley attempted to recruit the 6-4 250 lb. tight end but ultimately Haplea chose to stay closer to home and enrolled early at Penn State.

"I liked Florida State a lot, I kind of visited [Tallahassee] sort of late in the process and at the time coming out of high school I wasn't that keen on getting too far away from home," said Haplea. "I was like 17 years old, but I had a really great relationship with [the FSU coaches]."

That relationship proved to be vital in the days and months following the Penn State scandal. After allegations of a sexual abuse cover-up were alleged against former Penn State coach Joe Paterno and school administrators, the NCAA came down hard on PSU and gave its players the option to transfer to another school without penalty.

After some soul searching, Haplea decided he wanted to move on. Unfortunately the timing of the decision couldn't have been worse.

"It was so close to preseason camp for all these schools that were starting up, so mutual interest wasn't the only factor, scholarship availability was something you had to factor in and once that got factored in academics.

"I had to make sure I wouldn't lose half my credits. It was pretty stressful, it was a really long, but fast process."

Haplea knew he had to make a decision quickly so that he could get started at his new school, after considering his offers out of high school, he immediately thought back to his trip to Tallahassee and the coaches at Florida State.

"I just kind of was thinking about coaches I knew from recruiting," said Haplea. "I knew coach Fisher and coach Coley were still at Florida State and I had a great relationship with both of them when I got recruited, so yeah I got my permission to go talk to other schools and gave coach Coley a call just trying to feel things out. He was really excited about it, and was just on the horn back and forth with him and coach Fisher a little bit just trying to see where everything was and it worked out that the situation looked good.

"I just thought it was the best move for me."

T0930-usfbulls-jb-14Florida State had stumbled upon a few extra scholarships as a result of players either transferring or being kicked off the team. Special teams holder (and walk-on) Chris Revell got one of them and Roberto Aguayo (Dustin Hopkins' future replacement) was moved from grayshirt to redshirt. The last spot was Haplea's if he wanted it.

So Kevin packed up and moved to Tallahassee the day before camp was set to kick off. The team got his living situation set up in the 11th hour, got his credits all to transfer and enrolled him. The next day he showed up to FSU and met his new teammates.

But Haplea was further behind than just learning a new offense. He was joining a team that had already had a chance to gel and grow close over the summer. He would have to develop a camaraderie with his teammates quickly in order to assimilitate on to his new roster.

"The summer is the time when a team will bond and gel the most," said Haplea. "It's 12-14 weeks, whatever it is and there's not really people around, there's some kids taking classes but you're pretty much with your team everyday. You know you're working out together, you're eating together, you're hanging out in your apartment.

"So it was tough to come in just right before camp started and I'm showing up 'oh yeah, hey guys I'm here now too.' But all the guys have been awesome, they've been really receptive of me and made me feel part of the team which is really important. Just getting the extra time in the spring to gel with the guys will be really important for me."

Haplea will likely be in a better position to contribute next season after a full year in the Florida State offense and with more time to form close bonds with his teammates. He's contributed three receptions and a touchdown already, but has played primarily in two tight end sets as a blocker this year. 

"The biggest thing for me is I was trying to learn the playbook as fast as I can, anytime you're learning a Division I offense it's not going to happen overnight," said Haplea. "That was my first priority, I'm still not even all the way there yet but I've made progress every day I've been here."

For now though, even as a player on a learning curve, the junior tight end is much better off than he was a year ago.

On January 1st Haplea will play in the Orange Bowl. Meanwhile his teammates at Penn State will watch bowl season from home.

"It's just really kind of unfortuante the way it's had to play out," said Haplea. "But I think it's worked out for the best."


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