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NC State’s week of opportunity rolls onward with Florida State

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Florida State: still very tall.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 15 Syracuse at Florida State Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Leonard Hamilton has Florida State on a nice little run right now—the Seminoles have been a top-four seed in the NCAAs in two of the last three seasons. And here in his 18th season at FSU, he’s certainly not about to alter the identity that’s helped him establish a good program in Tallahassee.

In the simplest terms, Hamilton wants a team with more size than anybody else, and then to go from there. Over the last 10 years, Florida State has more often than not ranked in the top 10 in average height and this season ranks first. It’s surprising when the Seminoles don’t have multiple seven-footers on the roster. (This season they have two.)

At times, this commitment to gigantitude has come at the expense of offensive production, but that has changed in recent years as Hamilton has been able to recruit more talented prospects. The Noles still have their problems, but aren’t nearly the eyesore they were for extended periods between 2009-2015.

FSU Offense

2020 Seminoles Off_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2020 Seminoles Off_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 110.3 (39) 52.3 (63) 19.4 (205) 33.7 (28) 28.6 (279)

Among the trade-offs with size: Florida State tends to be prone to turnovers. While painful at times, that doesn’t have to be a fatal flaw: the Seminoles made four straight NCAA trips from 2009-2012 despite ranking 291st or worse in turnover rate each season. The net effect of all that size was positive, since those teams played elite defense.

This year the Seminoles are shooting and rebounding well, which mitigates the turnovers for the most part. In league play, FSU is third in effective field goal percentage and second in offensive rebounding rate. Oddly enough, FSU is just 10th in 2FG% but is shooting 39.6% from three; the Seminoles have also made over 77% of their free throws in ACC games.

Hamilton is never afraid to go deep into his bench to find lineups that work, either. Eleven players have appeared in at least 21 games for FSU this season, and the Noles rank 23rd nationally in bench minutes. Ham is more than happy to keep throwing very large bodies at the problem, whatever the problem happens to be.

Starters

Trent Forrest (6’4, 210) — A solid distributor at the offensive end, and a really disruptive presence on the defensive side. He’s never been much of an outside shooter (25.3% career from three) but has been solid inside the arc and also provides value by drawing fouls—he’s making 82% at the stripe in 2020.

MJ Walker (6’5, 213) — Walker has a wild shooting split in ACC games: 40.3% from three, 29.1% inside the arc. He’s a career 37.3% shooter inside the arc, and that is not in a small sample of shots.

Devin Vassell (6’7, 194) — After playing sparingly as a freshman, Vassell has been a breakout presence in year two and could be a first-round NBA Draft pick this year. He’s making 53.2% of his twos and 41.8% of his threes. His workload is above average but still maybe not high enough.

Malik Osborne (6’9, 225) — He’s a secondary option at the offensive end but shoots pretty well when he gets the chance. He’s also an excellent offensive rebounder and one of the many guys on the team good at blocking shots.

Raiquan Gray (6’8, 260) — Gray has yet to find his footing as a scorer in college, and he’s really turnover-prone. Considering he’s 8-35 from three this season, he might should knock that off and focus more on improving in the paint.

Bench

Patrick Williams (6’8, 225), Anthony Polite (6’6, 215), Dominik Olejniczak (7’0, 260), Balsa Koprivica (7’1, 260), Wyatt Wilkes (6’8, 220), Rayquan Evans (6’4, 210).

Williams has been FSU’s best shot blocker and has been an effective scorer inside and out. He’s also 42-48 at the free throw line. Polite tends to be a jump shooter and has hit 34.1% of his threes this year. These two guys should see the most minutes off the bench.

The seven-footers are excellent offensive rebounders (surprise!) but also incredibly foul-prone. Koprivica fouled out in six minutes in FSU’s season-opener against Pittsburgh, which is a hell of an effort. Olejniczak managed to foul out in 14 minutes against Syracuse on Feb. 15.

FSU Defense

2020 Seminoles Def_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2020 Seminoles Def_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Defense 90.9 (15) 46.7 (62) 24.4 (8) 30.9 (296) 35.6 (247)

FSU tends to struggle on the defensive boards every year which is amusing given how much size the team has to work with. But the Seminoles’ interior defense is otherwise excellent; they lead the country in block rate and have limited opponents to 45.7% shooting on twos.

Florida State has five players who rank in the top 500 in block rate and would have a couple more if they met the minutes requirement. They don’t leave much breathing room for shooters, and all that length helps them generate a lot of turnovers as well.

The Pomeroy Predictor is calling this one a coin flip.