CougCenter is your place to be for everything related to the Diamond Head Classic. This is the third of eight capsule previews of the participating teams.
Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton (340-308, 8th season)
Record: 9-2 (#32 Kenpom Rank)
Best victory: 75-69 over No. 59 Clemson (home)
Worst loss: 55-51 to No. 16 Florida (home)
|Four Factors||Stat (Rank)|
|Shooting (eFG%)||50.9 (93rd)|
|Turnovers (TO%)||24.4 (307th)|
|Rebounding (OR%)||37.8 (39th)|
|Free Throw Rate||39.0 (160th)|
I have some good news and some bad news.
Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Florida State is an excellent rebounding team. Chris Singleton (6'9", 227) and Xavier Gibson (6'11". 240) are an absolute handful on the glass. They're part of the reason FSU still retains almost 38% of the shots they miss. Singleton is a handful just about everywhere on the floor, but we'll talk more about that later. In the meantime - if the Cougs were to face FSU (Good news! This probably wouldn't happen until the finals), they would be pressed up against an opponent that should be able to control them easily on the boards. Florida State is physical, athletic, shoots the ball well and can get plenty of second chance opportunities if they don't do the latter.
Ready for the good news? Here it is. Despite a schedule that has been (like most AQ-conference teams at this juncture) mostly pushovers, Florida State gives away the ball like they're everyone's Secret Santa. 307th nationally in turnover percentage, and 319th nationally in getting the ball stolen from them, FSU is an advantageous matchup for Ken Bone's pressure-style defense. The most common culprits are Michael Snaer, Xavier Gibson and Derwin Kitchen (pictured). This is really FSU's only clear weakness on offense, but boy is it a big one. Kitchen is a double-edged sword: he's their best offensive player by rating, but also a turnover risk. Sounds like a job for Marcus Capers.
|Four Factors||Stat (Rank)|
|Shooting (eFG%)||38.4 (2nd)|
|Turnovers (TO%)||23.0 (81st)|
|Rebounding (OR%)||30.7 (108th)|
|Free Throw Rate||32.3 (82nd)|
Florida State is the third best defense team in the country as rated by kenpom's defensive efficiency rating. Fun Fact! Baylor - also in the tournament - is number two. If those two teams meet in the finals Dick Bennett will watch it like it's porn.
For the Seminoles, this is far from a fluke. Last year's team was Numero Uno in defensive efficiency for the entire nation. Turnovers and horrid free throw shooting were the only thing keeping FSU from being an elite team last fall, and they were promptly booted from the tournament by a rather decent offensive team in last year's Gonzaga Bulldogs.
If you like DeAngelo Casto, you'll love Florida State. They're currently number one in the nation in block percentage. Singleton, Gibson and Bernard James are a three-man defensive line that may just be unparalleled in this aspect of the game. But if you think you can beat them from the perimeter, you'd also be crazy. They are second nationally in three-point shooting defense, and that contributes to them being second overall in effective field goal defense.
If you're the Cougs (or Hawai'i, the Seminoles first opponent), your only hope is to try and crash the offensive boards, where the Noles are surprisingly average. Outside of that, we'd have to hope Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden have incredible shooting nights, and that Reggie Moore can keep attacking the basket to earn fouls. The real key - for anyone playing FSU in the tournament - would be to try and use FSU's turnover prowess on the other end against them. Transition attempts against FSU would be a much better option than going about it the old-fashioned way.
Check out CougCenter's full coverage of the Diamond Head Classic here.