Commentary by Bill from Tampa
Normally I am one to catch every single Florida State basketball game whether it is on television or not. Unless I have a job (gig in musician’s terminology), I’ve got the radio on. I’ve got the internet on gametracker. And if it is on TV I’ve got the sound turned down with the radio and the internet on to catch the first second of the pre-game all the way to the last second of the post-game show. That’s how much I follow FSU basketball games.
So on those occasions there is a conflict I have to resort to catching what I can of the game anyway I can.
Such was the case Thursday night in our game against Wake Forest. I only was able to catch the last eight plus minutes. We were down 53-47 at that point.
As I listened to Gene Deckerhoff it did not take me long to ascertain what had transpired up to the point I turned on the car radio.
Stop me if you’ve heard this scenario before.
We come out and play flat without much intensity. We get behind in the first half by double digits. We come out in the second half playing like we should have in the first half and actually make a game of it pulling to within single digits. However, fatigue and a few key errors here and there in the closing stages of the contest lead eventually to a loss.
Does this sound familiar?
It should because it would describe at least eight of Florida State’s eleven losses this season.
And that is exactly what happened in the FSU/WF game. We get down by 21 points, play much better after intermission, pull to within three points, and then the ceiling caves in, and its another check mark in the loss column for the Seminoles.
And this was after an eight day layoff!! Against a team that had not won an ACC road game in about ten games.
What really struck me were Hamilton’s post game comments. This was as public example of calling out the players as I think as I have ever heard from any coach. He chastised them for their effort and accused them of not “selling out” from the start of the game. “I felt that they paced themselves," was one comment he made several times.
All that is true. From his point of view.
From my point of view, here’s what I see. I see a team that was short-handed with Isaiah Swann out with a knee injury and Ryan Reid tossed for a very bogus flagrant foul. Add in the other injuries and transfers that have been well documented.
And Leonard wants them to sell out and not pace themselves?
Look at the boxscore, please! You had your starting point guard playing 39 minutes. Two others played 37 minutes with one other playing 33. Is it any wonder they paced themselves? They would have been dragging their tongues by the end of the game.
This is not new. Florida State’s starting five have logged huge numbers of minutes this season.
And that is where I just don’t understand some of Hamilton’s coaching moves.
The four fouls he picked up against the Deacons aside, Jordan DeMercy could have been more prepared for this game had he gotten more time on the floor. That would have given at least one of the starters some more rest.
But that is not in Leonard’s makeup. He just won’t play freshmen just like he didn’t play Julian Vaughn (13 minutes). Again, another lost opportunity for a starter to get some rest.
He obviously won’t play the walk-ons either, no matter how short the bench is. Brian Hoff is the example of that. Here’s at least a threat to hit a three pointer that might have opened up someone else that has instead languished on the bench. And oh yes, give a starter some needed rest.
Okay, defense could be an issue using walk-ons and freshmen?
Or could it?
Wake Forest shot 56% from the floor and 61% from the three point line!!!! This was a team that was shooting 38% from the floor and 31% from behind the arc. Could it have been any worse with walk-ons and freshmen on the floor? I highly doubt it.
If Leonard wants his players to sell out, you can’t play them un-godly minutes and expect to get that kind of effort you are looking to get for 40 minutes without making some adjustments to your coaching. Those are apparently some adjustments will not make and we’ve seen the results of that.
Something has to change.
Strategy? Probably in terms of how players are rotated in this up-and-down the floor system.
Motivation? Definitely because it’s now obvious the players are not buying into whatever the coaches are telling them and have stopped listening to what he wants them to do on defense.
The coaches themselves? Well, there are a whole bunch of people thinking that would be the way to go right now. It won’t happen, I guarantee you. But when I have a friend who is a good FSU fan tell me that on Thursday night his wife asked him if he wanted to watch the rest of the game and he said why bother and she says “Good point," that’s an issue for the FSU administration. Apathy is THE worst thing you want in your fan base. And unfortunately Hamilton has seemingly lost that excitement and momentum from his first two seasons in Tallahassee.
Comments? Questions? Kudos?