Most Florida State fans, if not all, understood there were going to be ups and downs with a program that is essentially starting over with so many new faces. Tuesday night was one of those bumps in the road. However, Minnesota was no South Alabama and clearly a much better team than the Jaguars.
But this game showed the Seminoles have a ways to go to resemble that team that won the ACC Championship last season. It was a snapshot of where the team is right now, not where it could be in March.
It will take some work and patience by the coaching staff, though, because there were more negatives than positives in the loss to the Gophers.
As far as the positives go you have to like that the team did not quit after getting down by 21 points. FSU could have gone through the motions finishing out the final ten minutes. It may have been late coming but the intensity level picked up enough for the Noles to make a run at Minnesota, closing it to 59-49.
And that's where a freshman mistake basically ended any chance at pulling off the win. Following the two free throws by Aaron Thomas, Hamilton slapped the press on, putting pressure on the inbounder. It paid off as the ball was tipped with Montay Brandon easily collecting the ball. But rather than put pressure on the defender, Brandon tried to bounce pass the ball to his teammate under the basket.
The result instead was the pass being picked off and a quick transition led to two free throws. Instead of an eight point game with more than six minutes left in the game it was now 12 and shortly a 14 point game.
Those are the sort of things you deal with when you play freshman a lot of minutes, and Montay played thirty. He had five assists but there were those four turnovers. The extended time against a quality opponent will pay off down the road.
And not to pick on Brandon, because there were plenty of issues defensively, namely the inability to handle dribble penetration, but Montay was caught watching the ball leading to the back door layup.
He wasn't the only one.
They will learn. Hamilton will see to that.
Other positives were that takeaway, Brandon's four turnovers and FSU gave the ball away just 10 more times. It seemed like more than that, especially against a Minnesota team that wanted to play transition ball.
Rebounding also was a plus. Early on the Gophers controlled the boards, grabbing numerous offensive rebounds. But that reversed itself and Florida State evened that stat up and actually grabbed three more offensive boards than Minnesota.
Where I really think it went wrong for the Seminoles was shooting the ball versus the more efficient Gopher offense. Minnesota shot ten percent better, 47%-37% from the floor for the game. What dug a hole for FSU was the first half where the 'Noles shot just 32%. I think the pace the Gophers ran hurried FSU, getting them out of their preferred rhythm.
While three point shooting was not great, Minnesota was not any better with both teams converting five long range shots. The Seminoles simply missed chances.
Case in point, Brandon and Boris Bojanovsky run a nice pick and roll that was sure to result in a layup for Boris. Instead the pass wa s tad behind Bojanovsky and the turnover went the other way for two points. There were several point blank shots that would not go down either.
In addition, if you like passing you had to appreciate the passing of Minnesota in the first half in particular. Decisive, quick, with a purpose, and it negated FSU's defensive system. FSU's passing .... not so much as there was more dribbling than passing and some players trying to do it themselves. Fortunately that did abate in the second half.
The bottom line, though, is that Minnesota was the better team and reflected a team that understands the college game a little better than the Seminoles, who looked lost out there at times.
It's going to be a season-long process to see where this team ends up.
The next game for FSU is Sunday at 2 PM against Mercer, a team they should handle.
The next big test, though, is next Wednesday against Florida, who is on another level than Minnesota. What this team learned from Tuesday night's loss remains to be seen on December 5th. I suspect it will be a bit bumpy but I prefer where FSU is at right now compared to UNC, who has a whole lot of questions following their drubbing at Indiana. We know what FSU's issues are and they can be corrected. North Carolina's I'm not so sure.