The TV play by play commentator summed up Florida State's basketball team pretty well when he compared it to the Mona Lisa. Beautiful defense. Ugly offense.
And if you like defense it was beautiful to watch as the Seminoles shut down the Massachusetts' defense in a 73-53 win in game one of the Battle4 Atlantis tournament.
In a game played at breakneck speed almost all game leaving both teams gassed at the end, FSU held UMass to 28% from the floor including just 2 of 23 from three point territory. Add in 14 steals and 9 blocked shots and it was just your typical Florida State defense that Seminole fans have come to expect over the last few years.
Key in the victory was shutting down the Minuteman's leading scorer Chaz Williams way under his 17.3 ppg average. Williams managed just 8 points on 3 of 14 shooting, thanks to a perimeter defense that rarely let the speedy guard drive the ball inside. And, of course, in those rare occasions when he did he was met by the tall timber in the frontcourt, namely Bernard James who had five blocks.
Leading the way in that defensive effort was Michael Snaer who was given the assignment of guarding Williams. The junior guard was just about Mr. Everything on the floor for FSU. Snaer managed a double double with a game high 18 points, scoring in a variety of ways, and 10 rebounds. He even delivered three of FSU's seven assists.
What made Snaer's performance even more impressive was that he had to log 32 minutes on the floor.
Key also was an in-game adjustment of moving Okaro White from the three spot to the four to utilize his height better. With White's athleticism, the move paid off with White collecting 11 boards and 3 steals. It paid off on the offensive end, as well, as White scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
Reading the boxscore, it doesn't look good for the 'Noles who shot just 35% and only 3 of 12 from behind the arc. Accumulating 23 turnovers didn't help either as well the Seminoles missing numerous layups and shots from around the rim.
Those aspects did not please Hamilton, as you expect, noting the turnovers and missed layups specifically.
"The effort was good", Hamilton said afterward. "We just did not make good decisions with the ball. Hopefully that was just first game tournament jitters."
The bottom line though, as Hamilton commented, was FSU is 5-0. So it wasn't all bad.
"There were a lot of positive things in this game, but there is a lot of things to work on at this time of the year," Hamilton said. "We are moving in the right direction, though."
FSU took an early 7-0 lead and held that lead until the 5:11 mark of the first half when UMass took a 21-20 lead, its one and only lead of the game, on two of three free throws from Raphiael Putney. FSU took the lead back less than a minute later en route to a 36-25 halftime lead.
Hamilton made his locker room adjustments and the 'Noles outscored UMass 9-3 in the first 5:21 to open up a 45-28 margin. This despite the Seminoles turning over the ball three times, twice on inbound plays. The Minuteman did not capitalize on the FSU miscues however.
Then later it appeared UMass might make a run when they threw a full court press on FSU that caused four turnovers on four straight inbound plays. Massachusetts' move managed to close the gap to 45-35 with 12:54 to play.
But FSU once again fought them off, outscoring UMass 9-2 for a 54-39 lead with 9:35 to play.
Massachusetts would never threaten again with FSU up by 25 points with 3:45 remaining.
It was not all bad on offense for the Seminoles. In a game that turned chippy, FSU did attack the basket and went to the line 39 times, connecting on 30 freebies. And there did seem to be a sense of purpose when the 'Noles moved the ball either by the pass or the dribble. Finishing opportunities and turning the ball over negated a lot of those positives. Still this team seems to be more comfortable when playing in transition.
Joining Snaer and White in double figures was Luke Loucks with 12 points, who had a good game overall with 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. His only drawback was the 6 turnovers he committed.
FSU moves into the winner's bracket and will play again on Friday at 4:30. The opponent will be either Harvard (currently leading at the time of this writing, 49-24 at the half) or Utah. Should it be Harvard expect a completely different style that the Seminole defense will have to contend with. Harvard, led by Tommy Amaker, likes to employ a lot of the Princeton-type principles.