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Seminoles Lose to La. Tech 71-66 in NIT First Round, Can't Send Snaer Out a Winner

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The lone silver lining in Florida State's disappointing National Invitation Tournament bid was that it gave the Florida State faithful one last chance to see senior guard Michael Snaer in action.

And the 6-5 former McDonalds All-American did not disappoint, playing all 40 minutes and scoring 24 points in his final appearance at the Tucker Center.

But much as was the case all season, Snaer's best effort wasn't enough on Tuesday night. The Seminoles lost to Louisiana Tech 71-66 in the first round of the NIT.

"Since I've been here we've never been put in a situation where we've had to put so many inexperienced guys on the court at one time," said head coach Leonard Hamilton. "Michael didn't have to worry about that [as a young player] because he was surrounded by veterans. 

"I think that all the way back to the beginning of the season it became obvious to me that this was going to be a tremendous learning experience for this team. We've had some good moments and we have shown that we have a lot of growing up to do."

The first half was a perfect illustration of that. Michael Snaer was really the only offensive bright spot for the Seminoles, he hit four three-pointers and had 14 in the opening period. Between the Snaer threes and the 7 blocks Florida State had defensively, the crowd at the Tucker Center had plenty to get on their feet for.

But the Seminoles also had plenty of issues facing them in the first half too. Devin Bookert, typically a very sound distributor, played 11 minutes and committed four turnovers without recording a single assist, for instance. The Louisiana Tech defensive pressure also caused plenty of issues for the Seminoles at the outset. FSU had 11 turnovers and scores of other possessions ended when FSU mishandled solid passes or succumbed to poor shot selection.

Despite their offensive issues the Seminole defense was stout, swatting shots left and right and limiting the Bulldogs to just 26% shooting. At the end of the first half it was 28-24 with both teams searching for offense.

"In the second half after we get up eight, we turn the ball over three, four times," said Hamilton. "They were just playing at a high level of energy that we just didn't seem to match."

After allowing Tech to start a run, Bookert's rough game continued when he capped Tech's run by getting the ball stripped under his own basket after an in-bounds pass, and then letting the layup in to tie the score at 35.

The game would stay tight from that point on with both teams using a full court press (Louisiana Tech all game, FSU intermittently) to frustrate the other offense while each team's star shouldered the load.

For every basket Snaer was able to throw down, Louisiana Tech G Raheem Appleby was there to match it. Appleby ended the night as the game's leading scorer with 27 points.

"When we went into half-time my coach told me to use the pump-fake or try not to go see deep because they were blocking so many shots," said Appleby after the game. "So I just came out and tried to do that with the floaters and the lay-ups."

At the final media timeout Florida State trailed 60-59. The two teams traded possessions coming out of the break but some sloppy play from the Seminoles allowed the Bulldogs to take control on a 6-0 run.

FSU was forced to resort to fouling as the final seconds ticked off the clock. They did manage to get the ball back with just over 30 seconds remaining, with three points separating them from Tech, but their best offensive efforts failed to produce anything and the ball was turned over again after Snaer's attempt to drive from the wing and lay it in off the backboard failed to connect.

Tech hit two more free throws at the other end to make it 71-66 before a last desperation three point attempt from Snaer rimmed out inside of five seconds.

As the final buzzer sounded, Florida State's senior leader found himself walking off his home court one final time- but at the receiving end of a loss.

Now Snaer will turn his focus to his NBA ambitions and the rest of the Florida State team will turn their attention to what could be a promising 2013-14 season.

"I think from a talent standpoint it's here, but I think from a maturity standpoint it's lacking," said Hamilton when asked about his team heading into next year. "I really think that because we've been put in this situation we've had enough good moments that we can learn from and we've had too many bad moments where I think we also can learn from those.

"But I also think these guys have been put in a situation where some of our teams in the past have not have the opportunity to grow, to learn by fire. I think [with solid off-season work] I'm hopeful that we will learn from the challenges we faced this year, but I'm also hopeful the things that we did positively we can learn and grow from too. It's obvious this teams still has some growing up to do.

"But the good thing is I'm going to add some pieces."

Notebook: There were some positives to take away from the rest of the Seminole team too. Montay Brandon for instance had ten points, including two impressive finishes after getting good penetration and driving to the hoop against the Bulldogs. Where that was all season is anyone's guess, but heading forward if he can continue making those plays next year he'll be a quality component of the Seminole offense... The team struggled agaisnt a full-court press all evening, turning the ball over 18 times against Tech... Ian Miller had his foot casted to try and help him heal from his foot injury, he was not available. Leonard Hamilton said he was not encouraged by Miller's progress though because the injury had not improved despite a drastically reduced workload in practice... Bookert finished with five turnovers and no assists... Eight of the ten Seminoles that got minutes committed a turnover, Turpin and Whisnant were the lone players without a giveaway... Okaro White had three blocks against the Bulldogs, he finished with 11 points and six rebounds in addition to the blocks... Hamilton said he felt his team didn't respond appropriately to the intensity of La. Tech, he chalked it up to inexperience... "I felt the officials let the game be played physically, and we should never complain about allowing a game to get physical," said Hamilton.

 

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