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Look out for the big guy in the middle

Florida State offers a slew of big men that will clog up the lane later this evening when Maryland hosts the Seminoles at Comcast Center, but the most daunting is 7-foot-1 sophomore center Solomon Alabi. Sure, Alabi is Florida State's leading scorer (12.1 ppg) and yeah, he's second on the team in rebounding (6.9 rpg).

Alabi's biggest asset, however, might be his shot-blocking ability. As Maryland Coach Gary Williams has said before, having one's shot blocked has residual effects. For instance, the next time you drive into the lane you're a little less assertive in putting up a shot. Alabi, therefore, has been responsible for a lot of skiddishness on the part of opposing guards this season. He has tallied 43 blocks, which averages out to nearly three per game.

Alabi "is so big, he’s different, and he’s a proven shot blocker," Williams said Saturday. "There’s not many of those guys around. I mean, there’s guys around that can block a shot, but not as a defensive threat every time downcourt. That’s the difference in him. It’s not just his blocks; it’s his threat of blocking shots."

While Alabi always has been able to rely on instinct to be an imposing defensive presence, he's made strides to become a more consistent performer on the offensive end of the court, as well. His shooting percentage has improved, and he's learning to make better decisions after receiving entry passes in the post.

"He’s more comfortable offensively," Williams said of Alabi. "Last year it looked like every time he touched it, it was like, 'I’ve got to get rid of this thing. I’ve got to shoot it.' Now it’s a little more settled, and it’s experience."

By Steve Yanda  |  January 10, 2010; 9:57 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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