Revisiting Florida State
Florida State has gone 3-2 -- including a 61-57 victory at Boston College on Saturday -- since Jan. 10, when Maryland earned a 77-68 win over the Seminoles at Comcast Center. Florida State stands 16-5 overall and 4-3 in ACC play, locked in a three-way tie for fourth with Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. On Thursday night, Florida State will host Maryland (14-6, 4-2) at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
According to a report in the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida State may have turned a corner with its second-half performance during Saturday's win over the Eagles. The Seminoles shot 68.2 percent after the intermission. At one point during the second half, Florida State scored on 10 of 12 possessions.
"I just think it's a better understanding of execution and moving the ball and moving bodies," Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton told the Democrat. "Guys were finally getting the picture. We don't have to necessarily play a slow-down style, but if we don't have a transition basket, if we don't have a secondary [fast break], we need to execute and get a great shot as a result of moving the ball."
Now whether or not you want to consider one solid half of offensive play against Boston College a turning point is up to you. The Seminoles had tallied 12 points in the final 14:47 of the first half against the Eagles and had suffered a 14-point loss at Duke three days earlier.
Florida State is riding some trends, however, that are a little more certain. For example, the Seminoles continue to be plagued by turnovers. They are averaging 17.6 turnovers per game, which ranks No. 325 in the nation (out of 334 teams).
Junior point guard Derwin Kitchen (6 feet 4, 204 pounds) is ranked No. 2 in the ACC in conference play in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4), but he remains the lone capable ballhandler on Florida State's roster. The Seminoles, as a team, own a 0.7 assist-to-turnover ratio in ACC play, which ranks last in the conference.
Florida State also has not defended very well along the perimeter. In conference play, the Seminoles have allowed opponents to shoot 43.3 percent from three-point range (last in the ACC). That likely bodes well for Maryland, which is shooting an ACC-best 47.6 percent from beyond the arc in conference play.
The Seminoles' efforts to shore up their perimeter defense were not aided by the departure of junior forward Jordan DeMercy (6-7, 215 pounds), who announced on Sunday that he was transferring out of the program because of lack of playing time. DeMercy, an athletic player who was one of the team's top perimeter defenders, played 13 minutes against Maryland on Jan. 10, tallying two points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Florida State does, however, possess two of the league's best rebounders in sophomore forward Chris Singleton (6-9, 227 pounds) and sophomore center Solomon Alabi (7-1, 251 pounds). In ACC play, Singleton ranks third in the conference in rebounding (8.4 per game), while Solomon is tied for seventh (7.9). As a team, Florida State has registered a plus-3.4 rebounding margin in conference play. But, as you may remember, the Terrapins did outrebound the Seminoles, 40-34, in their Jan. 10 meeting.
Singleton and Alabi also provide Florida State a strong front-court defensive presence. Singleton is averaging 2.3 steals and 2.4 blocks per game in ACC play, both of which lead the conference.
"He has great instincts," Hamilton said Monday during his segment of the ACC coaches' teleconference. "You find players who some of them have great instincts as passers, some of them have a knack for rebounding. You know, I’m encouraging Chris to be more of a complete player. Maybe he’s not doing any one particular thing, you know, exceptional other than stealing the ball, but I think he’s developing into becoming a more well-rounded, complete player."
As for Alabi, he is averaging 2.1 blocks per game in ACC play, which ranks third in the conference. Alabi also is shooting an ACC-best 57.8 percent in conference play.
During this week's ACC coaches' teleconference, Hamilton was asked to choose between Singleton and Alabi in terms of which front-court player was the more impactful defender.
"It’d be kind of hard to pick one over the other," Hamilton said. "Chris affects the game with his length, his ability to get his hands in passing lanes and deflect balls and get timely steals. Solomon kind of changes the game a little in the back line. When people do break our defenses down, he’s able to change some shots and block shots. Solomon probably has more of a presence in the interior, and Chris does a good job on the exterior, breaking on balls, deflecting balls and then kind of being a second line of defender as he rotates over and has his share of blocks and steals."
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