If Saturday night’s 67-51 win over Boston College wasn’t the best game Florida State has played this season, it certainly is among the top three. Which coincidently all have occurred in the last week and a half.
With four players in double figures for the second time in the last three games, that is an indication that this team is starting to get it. They are learning to play as a team and understand their roles as evidenced by shooting 62% in the second half.
Combine that improvement on offense with the killer defense FSU has and Leonard Hamilton very well could be proven correct when he said before the season began that this squad had a lot of potential to do something exciting.
This team seems to be developing a killer instinct, as well. Not once in the second half of the Duke game did I have a sense that the Blue Devils would go on one of those long scoring runs and overtake the Seminoles.
Against NC State the ‘Noles put the hammer down in the second half completely dominating the Wolfpack.
In Miami, despite an offense that even had Hamilton’s wife pacing the floor at home as she watched the game on TV, FSU displayed a determination in the end part of the game that said they were not going to lose.
Clearly the catalyst to this light bulb coming on has been Derwin Kitchen, who led the Seminoles with 16 points. It was Kitchen’s five straight points starting at the 13:00 mark, a three pointer and a blazingly quick drive to the rim to the left of the lane that sparked a 15-3 run. He looked for his shot and the team responded on offense as well as defense.
When Kitchen plays like that, the ‘Noles are a tough team to beat. FSU can survive with Chris Singleton scoring a season low four points because he brings so much more to the floor, notably his defense. Kitchen however, after that player’s only meeting where teammates implored him to be more aggressive, needs to be the leader, if nothing else by virtue of the position he plays. Better late than never, but fortunately he is beginning to play that way.
I found last night’s defensive matchups to be interesting. Michael Snaer, who always draws the assignment of guarding the opponent’s best shooter, was a given to play Reggie Jackson, who was identified as priority number one in drawing up the game plan. And Snaer did a hell of a job doing it, holding him to 0-5 from the floor in the first half.
Also a given was Bernard James on Josh Southern. And FSU got a break of sorts when Biko Paris came down with the flu and was unable to play, forcing Gabe Morton to play, where Kitchen thoroughly overwhelmed him.
But the ones I found most interesting was Chris Singleton, a great defender as we know, on Danny Rubin, who is definitely not going to beat you, and Terrance Shannon on Joe Trapani. For whatever reasons, that is what was decided in forming the game plan and it didn’t exactly work like they thought it would.
Singleton’s matchup was basically a throwaway because it was a bad matchup, for Shannon was just burned by Trapani in the first half for fourteen points. The staff adjusted at halftime by moving Singleton over to Trapani and he did not score another point until 5:15 was left in the game.
Shannon ended up on the bench for much of the second half. It didn’t help his cause that he made a silly foul on Jackson with one second left on the clock in the first half, while Jackson was standing on the eye of the Seminole head at mid court. And then when Shannon did come in the game in the second half he promptly turned the ball over. That ended his night right there and maybe his position as starter, it was speculated after the game. But it was not the sophomore’s night at all.
Interestingly to me, a key moment leading to the victory occurred in at the 7:59 mark of the first half. A wide open Southern had just connected on a jumper from the left elbow giving BC a 16-14 lead. Hamilton immediately called a timeout. A fired up Hamilton (and Stan Jones) could be seen in the huddle expressing a not so calm manner for his team to get their hands up to contest shots and clog passing lanes.
That was the last lead the Eagles would have in the game. They may have come close a few times, the Eagles are a decent team after all, and BC’s new coach has them playing well in the new system, but the ‘Noles answered each time the margin was reduced to one.
Of note: Official attendance was listed as 11,604. As we know that number is always not the actual attendance. If it was 9,000 I'd be surprised. That was disappointing considering the magnitude of the game.