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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."

By Steve Yanda  |  January 8, 2010; 8:59 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Terps prepare for Florida State's length


No chatter about how the Terps are going to beat the Noles? I think this is a real bell weather game for the Terps at home. If they can't win this game they start to look more and more NIT bound.

Posted by: restonhoops | January 8, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Terps are going to beat the Noles.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 8, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

We all hope so Kreskin.

Of course if they dont I'm sure you'll blame it on "bleeding heart liberals" or Debbie Yow/Gary Williams for only bringing in Choi because of his skin color.

And of course if they don't you're post will just go in the big dumpster of failed predictions.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 8, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

We all hope so Kreskin.

Of course if they dont I'm sure you'll blame it on "bleeding heart liberals" or Debbie Yow/Gary Williams for only bringing in Choi because of his skin color.

And of course if they don't you're post will just go in the big dumpster of failed predictions.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 8, 2010 7:44 PM

Sounds like the dope smokin', shroom takin' Poopy/O's Exec is a "bleeding heart liberal." Big Shocker.

Instead of always cracking wise, taking shots at Barno and/or anyone who supports your supposed alma mater, why don't you get on board for the "big win" nd show a little pride in your school?

I thought Libs were suppose to be compassionate and supportive not bitter and nasty. Has the lack of Hope and Change got you down?

Posted by: Section505203 | January 8, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Great article pretty much dead-on but it doesn't sound like you comment posters have seen FSU play this year, Vasquez is your only hope to keep this game close because the Terps won't score more than 60 points against the Noles.

Posted by: chasmack99 | January 9, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Here's the way I see it:

On Defense the Terps need to concentrate on clogging the middle and the low post. They need to create turnovers and do a better job on the defensive boards. The turnovers should come, but the rebounding may be a problem.

Because FSU is a very good defensive team, the Terps need to score in transistion and be patient in their half-court offense. One big risk is GV penetrating ang getting snuffed trying to score in the paint.

We need him to penetrate (and this is something he should be able to do against FSU), but we need him to look to getting the ball back outside, especially to Eric Hayes, for open 3's. Hayes needs to step up in his willingness to take the shot.

Vasquez needs to look for assists and transition baskets. The ball needs to be worked around in the half-court.

My sense is that this could either be a very frustrating game and a bad loss, or we could break thorugh and have a win with a little cushion.

A very important start to the ACC season...hard to call.

Posted by: petecard | January 9, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Good post petecard....seriously.

Posted by: fushezzi | January 9, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

OMG, I actually agree with petecard.

The Terps cannot get into a rebounding battle with the Noles. GV needs to creste shots for himself and teammates. Putbacks will be crucial as there will not be a lot of opportunities there, so make the most of your shots while you can.

If the Terps will, it will be a major boost going into the rest of the ACC schedule.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | January 9, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Has the lack of Hope and Change got you down?

Posted by: Section505203 | January 8, 2010 10:24 PM

Ah I love that assuption. Too bad the current POTUS didn't even get my vote, and yes I voted. Ooops, better luck next time section505.

I'm very proud and prideful of being a terp, but unlike some I want my alma-mater to be above average/excellent when it comes to sports.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 9, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Petecard, I actually agree with most of your post as well, hell has officially frozen over

Posted by: Barno1 | January 9, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

"Everyone in this blog is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Posted by: Barno1 | December 21, 2009 2:57 PM

Just trying to make sure everyone keeps getting dumber! :)

Posted by: petecard | January 10, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

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