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3 posts from November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013

Hoops: FSU Men Upset No. 10 VCU in Puerto Rico


Florida State pulled off a stunning early season upset in Puerto Rico on Thursday night when they dominated no. 10 VCU.

The Seminoles lead throughout most of the evening, building a 12-point halftime lead and eventually pulling ahead by as much as 30 in the second half before cruising to an 85-67 win over the Rams.

 “I thought our effort tonight was a result of the healthy respect that we have for the VCU program. They’ve done a tremendous job over the last four or five years – how they have branded themselves and how well they have played in tough situations," said FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton. "Evaluating them and trying to come up with a game plan, we knew we had to be at our very best in a lot of areas."

FSU played well on both ends of the court, but their defense was elite on Thursday night. For years Hamilton's Seminoles teams have prided themselves on playing top-notch defense. Against VCU, Florida State fans saw the return of the "junkyard D."

Virginia Commonwealth was held to just 29.3 shooting during the game. The Seminoles forced 14 turnovers, blocked six shots and made VCU rush their possessions for most of the game -- in turn forcing a lot of errors and offensive mistakes that kept the Rams from ever really getting things rolling on that end. 

"Their players were very aggressive and overall they were obviously a much better team, tonight," said VCU head coach Shaka Smart. "I thought for us this was definitely a wakeup call or realization that we can’t just take the floor and be who we want to be, we’ve got to make it happen. We’ve got to get back to being more aggressive, but also playing with better discipline."

On the offensive end Florida State turned the ball over 25 times against VCU's fullcourt press, but they also managed to beat it with regularity too, shooting 53.7%. Seniors Okaro White and Ian Miller played exactly like a team's senior leaders should play in this sort of matchup, with Miller distributing the ball well against the press and White cleaning up underneath the basket.

“I think we can average a lot more points if we don’t have those turnovers in games," said Miller after the game. "We need to slow it down a bit, take our time and think things through sometimes. We get a bit sped up, but we’ll learn. We’re young and we’re still finding ourselves.”

Miller lead Florida State with a career-high 22 points and seven rebounds -- he also added four assists. White had 14 points and nine boards, Montay Brandon had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Devon Bookert also added 18 points. 

It was not the most efficient effort FSU has turned in on the young season, but the offense looked potent, the team made good passes and the defense was suffocating. FSU made a statement on Thursday night.

"We’ve got a reputation of being a defensive team, but what we’ve done is try to play to the talent that we’ve had," said Hamilton. "Now we have a little different team and we’re trying to utilize the strengths of our basketball team.”

“Most of the teams that are rated high this early in the season, they are rated for what they did last year. And so, quite naturally, [despite the fact] we have been playing very good basketball for four years, we had to start over and regroup last year and weren’t quite as successful, so we get recognized for what we did last year. VCU went to the Sweet 16 and had a great season last year, so they’re getting their recognition. That’s one thing good about college basketball; you have the chance to earn your rightful place. That’s what our goals are right now. It’s too early to think about rankings, we try to keep it in perspective. We want to be in the power place at the end of the season. This is one victory, one game, and we’ve got a whole lot more to go.”

Florida State gets Michigan in the semifinal round of the Puerto Rico tipoff on Friday night.


For all the latest Florida State news and updates, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

FSU Injury Report: Week Thirteen (Idaho)


Here's the injury list for this weekend's game between Idaho and FSU. Not too many changes for the Seminoles. The biggest question will be the long-term status of Jameis Winston going forward. 

FSU Injury Report vs. Idaho  - Nov. 20, 2013

Out for Game
WR     Isaiah Jones (foot)   

Out for Season

QB      Jacob Coker (knee)
OL      Ira Denson (shoulder) 
WR     Jarred Haggins (knee)
TE      Kevin Haplea (knee)
DB      Tyler Hunter (neck) 
LB      Matthew Thomas (shoulder)


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Public Statements Undermining the Viability of the Winston Case


The trial of Jameis Winston has already begun in the court of public opinion.

For the past eight days anyone with a Twitter handle and their own two cents has been able to weigh in on the situation that has surrounded the now week-old sexual assault allegations against Winston. Those allegations became public last Wednesday and since then a torrent of rampant speculation has continued to rage around Florida State and its redshirt freshman quarterback. 

There really is no way to describe this other than a circus, either. If this were an episode of Law and Order you'd criticize the writing as being too unrealistic. There have been fingers pointed, information has been leaked and conflicting statements have been made by the State Attorney, Tallahassee Police Department and the victim's family. 

And ironically, as Winston's trial in the court of public opinion continues it may be the very public nature of one of those opinions that will ultimately keep a real trial from playing out in a real court.

If Winston is charged -- and that is the 64,000 dollar question at this point -- pre-trial statements from the family of the victim and state attorney Willie Meggs could ultimately go a long ways towards getting the case tossed out and the charges dismissed -- at least in the opinion of some legal experts.

The statement from the family of the victim is less disruptive to due process but could still come into play at a later stage.

A victim can say whatever they want in a case like this. That being said, anything said can also be used as evidence. As one attorney told me, "if a victim is able to develop substantial local press, it could form the basis for an attorney to move to change venue.  The statements by a victim are also admissible at trial for, at least, impeachment of motive -- often used to explore whether the victim is trying to get a book deal, make money through public appearances, etc."

The more 'troublesome' of the public statements made in regard to this case was made by state attorney Willie Meggs though. Over the weekend Meggs told the AP: "Now they've been talking to lawyers, they've been talking to each other and getting their stories together. ... People have had 11 months to decide what they're going to say."

Attorneys are governed by the following rule in Florida:

Rule 4-3.6 Trial Publicity

(a) Prejudicial Extrajudicial Statements Prohibited.
lawyer shall not make an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding due to its creation of an imminent and substantial detrimental effect on that proceeding.

In addition, The American Bar Association has the following special rule on prosecutors. It has not been adopted in Florida, thus Florida attorneys are not bound by it, but it is worth noting.

Rule 3.8 (f) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor's action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.

Last Saturday Meggs stopped just short of telling the Associated Press, a national news organization, that Jameis Winston and his associates were perpetrating a massive cover-up.

In this case, as one attorney told me, Meggs' comment "is particularly troublesome, because it essentially alleges a conspiracy to obstruct justice and subordination of perjury, which are very serious allegations and probably not something that the prosecutor could prove. ... A statement like that can be used as a basis to file a motion to dismiss, alleging that the statements are so inflammatory and prejudicial that the defendant, particularly in light of his prominence and the knowledge that it would be used in the press, require a dismissal."

Jameis Winston could still be charged. That is well within the realm of possibility. But Willie Meggs -- who has accused the TPD of botching this investigation -- may have already laid the foundation for Winston's attorney to have this case thrown out. 


For all the latest Florida State news and update, follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...



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