Monday, June 3, 2013

FSU Hoops Preview

It was a rough year for hoops in Tallahassee. A year after going 25-10, with a trip to the Sweet 16, the Florida State Seminoles regressed. In the 2012-2013 season, the ‘Noles went 18-16, with a 9-9 record in ACC play. None of their wins came against ranked opponents. Although they made the postseason for the eighth consecutive time, they were quickly dispatched as Rasheem Appleby (27 points on 12-19 shooting) and his Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defeated FSU 71-66 in the first round of the NIT.

Due to graduation, the Seminoles will be without former All-ACC shooting guard Michael Snaer. Snaer led FSU in points (489,489) and points per game (14.0, 14.8) in each of the last two seasons. He also came through in the clutch on a number of occasions. One of the more memorable moments came on January 21, 2012 when Snaer hit a buzzer beating three-pointer to beat the then  4th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Without the 8th leading scorer in team history, FSU will have to look elsewhere for production.

It appears that much of the load will be on senior Okaro White. The 6-8 forward from Clearwater, Florida, averaged 12.4 ppg last year (second on the team) and led the team in rebounds per game with 5.9. White also shot 51% from the field and 81% from the free throw line last season. White, in addition to his play on the court, will also be asked to provide leadership in the locker room.  

Okaro White will be looked to for his leadership.
The Seminole starting frontcourt will also feature 7-0 center Kiel Turpin. The senior transferred in from Lincoln College (junior college) last year and averaged 5.4 ppg and 3.0 rpg in 15.8 mpg. Despite the low per game average, Turpin showed in a number of contests that he is a big that can score the basketball. He also showed what he could do on defense as he averaged 1.3 blocks per game.

With Snaer leaving, Coach Leonard Hamilton will have to see which of his guards will be able to step into that spot the best. Luckily, the Seminoles a good amount of depth when it comes to their guards. Coach Hamilton usually starts three guards in his offense. If last year was any indication, it looks like one of the guards will be sophomore Devin Bookert.  The 6-3 Anchorage, AK product averaged 9.3 ppg in his 11 starts last year. This included a season-high 18 point game in a senior day win against NC State.

Aaron Thomas
The second guard position will, most likely, be filled by Aaron Thomas.  Another one of FSU’s sophomores, Thomas started 12 games last year. For the entire season, he would average 6.0 ppg and 2.4 rebounds. In a February 2 loss to Duke, Thomas came off of the bench to score a team high 14 points. The final guard spot looks to be in the possession of last year’s top recruit Montay Brandon. Standing at 6-5, Brandon has the trademark size that Florida State teams usually flaunt.  A top ten point guard in the country coming out of high school last year, Brandon will now have the stage to live up to that hype.
Florida State Seminoles guard Montay Brandon (5) passes the ball in the first half at Greensboro Coliseum.
Montay Brandon

The Seminole bench will feature Ian Miller (g), Terry Whisnant II (g), Robert Gilchrist (f), Joell Hopkins (f),  Michael Ojo (c), and Boris Bojanovsky (c). With three seniors now gone, these players should see more minutes than last year. Whisnant II, should see some significant time at guard if one of the starters should begin to struggle as he started 19 games last season.  In the front court, Bojanovsky and Ojo could expect to see more of the court as Coach Hamilton will want to see what his two young 7 footers can do.

All the way until the day of his decision, Florida State was in the running to get the top high school recruit of 2013, Andrew Wiggins. The Seminole’s luck would run short though as Wiggins would choose to join Bill Self, and his Kansas Jayhawks. Despite this disappointment, the Semionles are still looking to put together a solid recruiting class. Their top recruit was Xavier Rathan-Mays, a 6-3, 180lb guard from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.  Rathan-Mays was rated as the 44th best prospect and 8th best guard in the country by ESPN.  Also coming into Tallahassee are 6-9 forward Jarquez Smith (GA). 

The Seminoles have a young, but somewhat experiences team for this upcoming season. In a ACC that now has Pittsburgh and Syracuse, in addition to mainstays like Duke, North Carolina, and Miami, the Seminoles will have to rely on their size and athleticism to carry them through the season.  While losing Michael Snaer may hurt, it will give a chance to guys like White to show that he can be the leader of this team and it will give guys like Bookert, Brandon, and Thomas an opportunity to show that they can replace that production.  

With all of that, look for Florida State to finish 5th in the ACC,  and to be one of the last four teams in the NCAA Tournament this coming season.  

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