FSU 64 - UM 59
Florida State won this game, but watching you had no idea who would pull out the victory. Both teams, Miami and FSU, had the same strategy: Drive, Draw, Shoot.
Drive to the ball to the basket, and hope the big man can jump up and drop it in. If not, drive it there yourself and draw a foul. If you're lucky, someone will be open and you can pass the ball before you have to shoot. If you're being covered, pass the ball again and pray someone gets open.
This is not an uncommon strategy in zone-college ball, I've seen it all season from Florida State, because FSU has never really had a "jumper" - someone who can jump over the one-on-one coverage and arc the ball through the net - but it really does take an Austin Rivers type of player to win a title, or at least make it to the final four. Come to think of it, in my five years as a Seminole, FSU has always sacrificed the shooting guard position for defense.
Sometimes a Seminole has an outlier game and turns into a jumper. Deividas Dulkys had one of these games over UNC. By the end of the night, Dick Vitale was taking his picture with #4, it was such an incredible show; but that flirtation with hitting three's has not turned into a season's worth of production. Okaro White and Bernard James are big men who can wait for the ball under the basket, but they perform one dimensionally. Luke Loucks, love him as I may, has great passing skills, and above average defense, but no ability to get the ball through the net.
FSU needed 21 points from the bench to pull off 64 points against a B-level offense in the ACC. I'm proud of the bench for stepping up, but doesn't say much for a team that lost by four to Boston College on Wednesday. The Seminoles only other ACC loss was to Clemson. Neither team has more that three ACC victories to this point, but FSU has stayed ahead of the curve with dominant wins over the Tarheels and Duke.
I'm proud of FSU's victories thus far, and luckily there has been junior guard Michael Snaer, who has been the leader FSU needed after Chris Singleton graduated to join the Washington Wizards. He's consistent from the field and a presence on the court. Without Snaer, the season would be over, because the Seminoles are surviving on spirit and determination. The pessimist inside me would call it running on fumes, though.
We'll see where the #17 Seminoles stand after the six remaining games: VT, @NCST, Duke (#9), @MIA, @UVA (#20), CLEM
Followed by the ACC championship and March Madness. There is a lot of basketball to be played, and I could be eating my words come April, but FSU needs to regain its composure on offense. The Seminoles made 54% of baskets against Duke and they won by three, hitting 7-of-14 beyond the arc. FSU hit 49% against UNC while shutting down the Tarheel offense completely and winning by more than 30 points. In each of those victories, the Noles limited their opponents to hitting less than 40% of shots taken.
Likewise, FSU's losses against Clemson and Boston College saw the Noles hit less than 40% of attempts. Tonight against Miami, the Seminoles hit 46% and barely pulled out the win, limiting the Hurricanes to under 40%. They say defense wins championships, but Florida State needs to maintain its offensive production. FSU has yet to lose a game they made at least 43.4% of their shots. If that's all it takes, the Seminoles can cruise to the Sweet 16.