A coach's view on the Seminoles
On Sunday, Maryland will host Florida State in the Terrapins' ACC opener. While Maryland's strength lies in its back court, the Seminoles offer plenty of of front-court power. On offense, the Seminoles will look first to get the ball inside to either sophomore center Solomon Alabi (7 feet 1, 251 pounds) or sophomore forward Chris Singleton (6-9, 227 pounds), according to a coach whose team already has faced Florida State this season.
"They're not going to overwhelm you offensively," said the coach, who was granted anonymity in return for his candor about an opposing team, "but they are going to try to beat you to death in the paint."
Singleton, the coach said, has become a more balanced player this season.
"He's looking not only to score from the outside, but he's also looking to put it on the floor and score from the post," the coach said of Singleton.
When the Seminoles struggle against opposing defensive pressure, the coach said Singleton will move from the small forward position (where he starts) to the power forward position so Florida State can put another guard on the floor.
The coach said Alabi has improved his ability to recognize double teams and consequently has become more adept at kicking the ball out to the perimeter when he receives such attention.
In addition to being the centerpieces of Florida State's offense, Alabi and Singleton also play significant roles in making the Seminoles a staunch defensive unit. Throw in 6-8, 238-pound forward Ryan Reid, and the Seminoles possess one of the biggest starting front courts in the league, which can be a pain for opposing guards who aim to drive to the basket.
"They have huge length," the coach said. "And what happens is they really do a great job of, they're going to guard you hard from 35 feet and in, and they're going to take away your ability to reverse the ball, almost daring you to take it to the basket or to the paint and get swallowed up by their bigs."
The key to getting Florida State's defense to break down, the coach said, is swift ball movement. If an opposing offense can get the Seminoles' defense to shift from side to side and force Florida State's big men to move laterally -- as opposed to letting them just stand there and wait for a driving guard to drive their way -- success can be had. The Seminoles are very good, however, the coach said, at leaving tempting gaps open in the middle of their defense, which often lures opposing guards into the lane where at least one member of the front-court trio is waiting to swat away the ensuing shot attempt.
"They make it very difficult for you to score inside, so now you're relying on jump shots, and with their length they can contest those shots from the perimeter as well," the coach said.
That perimeter defensive length comes from starting guards Derwin Kitchen (6-4, 204 pounds) and Deividas Dulkys (6-5, 196 pounds).
Kitchen runs the offense now that do-everything guard Toney Douglas has moved on to the NBA. The coach said that while Kitchen is not very explosive to the basket, his change of pace makes him difficult to guard off the dribble. The coach compared Kitchen to a pitcher whose low-80s change-up amplifies the visual effect of his mid-90s fastball.
"He can score," the coach said of Kitchen, "but he's more of a facilitator."
In fact, the coach said, the one component Florida State lacks right now is "a true late-game playmaker from the perimeter." The coach said Kitchen is capable of filling that role, but he currently is nowhere near as comfortable -- nor as effective -- in it as was Douglas last season.
"That's one area where they rely on Chris [Singleton] at the end of games sometimes to make stuff off a broken play or penetration," the coach said.
The player Florida State is grooming to eventually step into such a role is freshman guard Michael Snaer (6-5, 200 pounds). The coach said Snaer entered college physically ready to compete at the Division I level. The coach said Snaer is a high-energy player who is capable of shooting the ball much better than his current clip (42.9 percent from the field; 36.7 percent from three-point range) would suggest.
"But what he does is give them is a huge lift on the wing in terms of a guy who's going to attack in transition, who's going to attack the basket and is capable of maybe stretching out the defense a little by making some threes with Deividas [Dulkys] that will open it up even more so for those guys inside," the coach said.
Florida State's primary offensive weakness is its penchant for turning over the ball. The Seminoles average 17.6 turnovers per game, a stat the coach said can be attributed to the fact that Florida State has but only one capable ballhandler: Derwin Kitchen.
"Those other guys aren't great ballhandlers against pressure," the coach said of the other members of Florida State's starting lineup. "They need to catch the ball in a scoring area to be successful. One or two dribbles is what they want to take to score the ball. They don't want to take more than that, and in some cases, in Solomon [Alabi]'s case, one dribble max, if any at all. So I think that's where they might get into trouble sometimes is when they rely on Derwin so much, and he's going to wear down. That was one of our plans was to try to wear him down."
Perhaps that's one of the reasons why Florida State ranks 10th among ACC teams in scoring offense (73.3 points per game).
"Offensively, it's a grind," the coach said. "They play a lot of guys, and they make it a type of game where they're going to try to beat you 70-60. They're not trying to beat you 85-75."
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