Monday, June 28, 2010

ACC basketball preview: Florida State

Florida State

2009-10 record: 22-10 overall, 10-6 ACC (third)

Postseason: NCAA Tournament (0-1, lost to Gonzaga)

Projected starting lineup: G Derwin Kitchen, G Deividas Dulkys, G Michael Snaer, F Chris Singleton, F Xavier Gibson


• Defense

The Noles led the ACC in scoring defense (60.4 points per game), field-goal percentage defense (.377) and blocked shots (6.3 per game) last season.

Even with the loss of forward Solomon Alabi, the ACC's leading shot-blocker, FSU will still be one of the ACC's best defensive teams.

Coach Leonard Hamilton has led the Noles to consecutive 10-win ACC seasons and trips to NCAA tournament because of his ability to recruit top-end talent and teach those players how to defend.

Junior forward Chris Singleton, who led the ACC in steals (2.2 per game) and ranked fifth in blocks (1.5 per game), was the ACC's best defender last season and will be again this season.

Guard Derwin Kitchen and forward Xavier Gibson are also capable of being exceptional defenders but have to be more consistent.

• Guard play

Between Kitchen, Michael Snaer, Deividas Dulkys and freshman Ian Miller, the Noles have a variety of versatile backcourt options.

Kitchen, a senior, played better off the ball as a sophomore with Toney Douglas than he did last year as the primary ballhandler. He's too talented to average less than 10 points per game and maybe with the addition of Miller, a true point from Charlotte, he'll have the opportunity to score more.

Dulkys is the team's best 3-point shooter and had two of his best games in the final three of the season, including a team-best 14 in the NCAA tournament loss to Gonzaga.

Snaer's the best athlete of the group and has NBA size (6-5, 200) but also NBA shot selection. If the sophomore learns that his scholarship is not dependent on the number of shots-per-minute, he will be more popular with his teammates and a more productive player.


• Offense

There's no more frustrating exercise in the ACC than watching Florida State play basketball in person. The roster oozes with NBA talent (and still does without Douglas or Alabi) yet Hamilton insists on taking the air out of the ball and dragging every game down to the 50s and 60s.

Teams without talent, like in the Ivy League or service academies (or Tempe, Ariz.), want to limit possessions and shorten the game, not teams with a conspicuous talent like Chris Singleton, whose scoring average (10.2) would be double at say Kansas or Maryland.

Ken Pomeroy, the rockstar of basketball mathematicians, measures offensive and defensive efficiency. Not surprisingly, FSU ranks first in the country on defense but 130th on offense.

The number of teams from a major conference that ranked behind FSU in Pomeroy's metric? Six. The number of those teams that had a winning record? Zero.

The point is FSU has been a bad basketball team on offense. But here's the frustrating part, the quality of the parts is not commiserate with the level of production.

Which inevitably leads us to Minus No. 2 ...

• Coaching

Leonard Hamilton can recruit and coach defense and he is humble enough to get out of assistant Stan Jones' way and allow him to handle the Xs and Os during the game.

Hamilton took an FSU program, which will always been an afterthought to football, to the NCAA tournament (twice!) after a 10-year drought.

Those are his positives. The negatives are he just doesn't understand how to use the talent on his roster.

Mike Krzyzewski isn't a great coach because he has won four national titles (although obviously that helps), he's a great coach because he adjusts the way his teams play based on the available personnel.

The majority of coaches (in all sports, really, not just college basketball) are too dogmatic to divert from what they do because that's "what they do."

You can't always drive a Ferrari, but if you have one, you owe it yourself to drive it as often as possible.

With this FSU team, Hamilton has a chance to crank the gas. He can take the next step from "just happy to be in the NCAA tournament" to legitimate Final Four threat but he needs to give this team more freedom to, for the lack of a better term, just "out-athlete" everyone else.

Bottom line

With Alabi gone, Singleton needs to take ownership of this program the way NBAers Douglas and Al Thornton did before him.

Hamilton and Jones also need to put the spectacularly talented, yet inconsistent, Singleton, in a position to carry this team and fulfill his vast potential.

There's good backcourt depth and enough frontcourt options to win 12 ACC games. You get the sense, though, that Hamilton's going to take safe route and pull the Prius out for a 10-6 spin, while the Ferrari sits in the garage.

Returning players
F Chris Singleton Jr. 10.2 7.0 2.2
G Michael Snaer Soph. 8.8 2.7 1.3
G Deividas Dulkys Jr. 8.7 2.3 1.1
G Derwin Kitchen Sr. 8.1 4.9 3.9
F Xavier Gibson Jr. 5.5 2.8 0.3
G Luke Loucks Jr. 4.4 2.5 2.8
F Terrance Shannon Soph. 1.7 1.1 0.1
F Solomon Alabi (NBA) 11.7 6.2 0.5
F Ryan Reid 6.8 4.0 1.1
G Ian Miller Fr. 6-2 175 21
F Okaro White Fr. 6-8 185 57
F Bernard James Jr. 6-9 240
F Jon Kreft Jr. 7-0 240

Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep,

Miller: "This is the biggest steal for a team outside Tobacco Road. Hamilton waltzed into North Carolina and landed a potential All-ACC point guard. Miller's a stud, he can score and his point-guard play has improved with each season."

White: "Like Miller, he finished high school on a high note. This guy has bounce, skills in the lane and he should be college ready."


Anonymous said...

The word is commensurate, not commiserate. but we can commiserate in watching them score.