We’ll have a deeper scouting report later in the week, but for now, we have a quick breakdown of the Florida State Seminoles, who face Mizzou on Friday in Nashville during the NCAA tournament.
- Record | 20-11 overall, 9-9 Atlantic Coast Conference
- RPI | 54
- SOS | 89
- KenPom | 35th
- vs. Quad 1 | 6-7
- Quality wins | North Carolina, Clemson, Miami (Fla.), at Louisville, at Florida, Syracuse
- Bad Losses | at Wake Forest
- Adjusted Offensive Efficiency | 30th (115.8 points/100 possessions)
- Adjusted Defensive Efficiency | 76th (100.0 points/100 possessions)
- Describe their offense | Assault the rim. Whether it’s off the bounce, on a post-entry or on a fastbreak, Florida State’s trying to get to the paint, ranking 40th nationally for shots at the rim and efficiency in converting those chances, per Synergy. If you let the ’Noles do it, they’ll absolutely drill you. Need proof? Go watch tape of their win at Florida back in December.
- Describe their defense | Florida State’s size turns the lane into a no-go zone. They allow just 0.96 points per possession at the rim, ranking fifth nationally, according to Synergy Sports. And they also swat 13.3 percent of opponents’ shots, which places them 22nd in the country, per KenPom. They’re also more than capable of creating turnovers. But FSU will let foes shoot over the top, and, for all their length, they ’re mortal on plays where the ball is directly fed to big on the low block.
- What does KenPom say? | Florida State 76, Missouri 75 (Win Expectancy: 51 percent)
- What about the Sagarin line? | Florida State -0.79
The Coach: Leonard Hamilton
- Age | 69
- Year | 16th (324-207 overall, 134-133 ACC)
- Previous Division I Stops | Miami (Fla.) (1990-2000), Oklahoma State (1986-1990)
- NCAA Tournament Trips | 8
- NCAA Tournament Record | 7-8
Often, we talk about a program’s ceiling when evaluating whether a coach’s tenure is a success or failure. And it’s important to have that context when discussing Leonard Hamilton’s time in Tallahassee, a stint where he’s averaged 20 wins per season, gone .500 in ACC play and now made the NCAA tournament six times. In some locales, that performance might lead administrators and a fanbase musing whether they could do better.
At Florida State, which is undoubtedly a football school, it more than passes muster. Sure, Hamilton was on the hot seat a couple years ago, but back-to-back trips to the dance have turned down the temperature. The bigger question may actually be whether FSU offers Hamilton an extension.
Three years ago, though, the Seminoles bottomed out, missing the NIT and forcing Hamilton to re-evaluate core pillars of his program — one that had reeled off four straight NCAA tournament bids between 2009 and 2012. While Hamilton’s team always played at a brisk pace, the Noles had always been outfitted with a defense-first mantra, finishing an average 33rd nationally in adjusted efficiency his first 13 years on the job.
His offense? A meat-and-potatoes twin-post system — here’s a really basic breakdown — that could look rickety.
“I’ve always wanted to play at that pace, but the challenge is keeping that same intensity defensively,” he said. “In the past we’ve always been defensive conscious because we haven’t been tremendously gifted offensively.”
Several years ago, he ditched his old scheme for positionless basketball that maximizes pace and space. Now imagine that system stacked with big bodies. Over the past decade, the ’Noles have ranked inside the top five nationally for average height eight times, including No. 1 in 2009 and 2010.
A byproduct has also been a steady stream of NBA talent. The Seminoles trail only North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse and Louisville in the number of players selected in the draft, including Jonathan Issac and Dwayne Bacon last season. And top-10 recruiting classes in 2015 and 2016 show Hamilton still has a deft touch when courting talent to Tallahassee.
The question is whether Hamilton’s program can make a deep run in March. This season, FSU has a veteran nucleus of Terance Mann, Braian Angola and Phil Cofer, but there’s no transcendent talent on the roster. What he does have, however, is a balanced and tested collective on the offensive end.
The Star: Wing forward Terance Mann Jr.
It’s Terance Mann’s turn.
During his first two seasons, the wing could easily defer to veterans in Malik Beasley, Jonathan Issac or Dwayne Bacon. Life as the No. 4 option ended this season. For the most part, Mann, a top-100 recruit, traversed a steady developmental curve traced to fill the void left as the Seminoles’ lone returning starter.
As a recruit, Mann was viewed as an athletic tabla rasa. He had the build, length and athleticism to be an apex wing at the collegiate level — if a staff was patient enough to chisel away the rough edges.
This season, Mann was among the more efficient players (1.05 points per possession) in the ACC, while also playing in a trio that included Cofer and Angola.
No, Mann doesn’t force hard closeouts to the wing, shooting just 29 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, per Synergy Sports. But he’s a prime example of the recruiting template Hamilton’s used in recent years: a long, fluid attacker in the open court. Not only is he among the most often used players in transition, but his 1.25 PPP is well-ahead of higher ACC profile wings like Deng Adel (1.18), Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV (1.18), Duke’s Marvin Bagley III (1.16) and Trevon Duval (0.88) and North Carolina’ s Joel Berry II (1.00).
And, as you can see below, he’s diverse in how he amasses buckets on the run.
The Main Mann
|Overall Transition||26.80%||99||123||1.242||82%||Very Good||25||51||76||67.10%||69.10%||12.10%||19.20%||18.20%||59.60%|
|Leak Outs||10.10%||10||18||1.8||80%||Very Good||0||9||9||100%||100%||10%||0%||0%||90%|
Against a set defense, he’s at ease attacking out of pick-and-rolls, usually thundering toward the rim, where’s adept at finishing (64.3 FG%) or drawing contact to get to the free-throw line. Over the past three seasons, he’s also improved his decision-making as a passer. This season, his pass-outs off pick-and-rolls generate nearly a point per possession, especially when’s he kicking to the opposite wing off a side pick-and-roll.
He’s also a sound enough defender, especially on spot-up jumpers, to stabilize an FSU roster that’s weaker on that end than in the past, and provides the most activity among the Noles’ wings on the backboards.
The Stakes: a second-round date with Xavier
When the bracket was unveiled, the instantaneous consensus reached by fans, scribes and pundits was unified: the path for Mizzou is navigable in Nashville
Now, that’s not wrong. The Tigers avoided the death machine that is Villanova’s four-out offense, and it won’t be choked to death in a sleep-inducing loss to Virginia. And even if some Mizzou fans lusted for a chance to knock out Kansas in the second round, facing a hyper-focused Jayhawks squad in Wichita is different in living color.
Xavier’s potentially the most vulnerable squad Mizzou could draw among teams on the Nos. 1 and 2 seed lines. The Musketeers have a reputation for playing down to lesser competition. They don’t apply a ton of pressure or produce a ton of takeaways. And they can be prone to breakdowns running teams off the 3-point line when they settle into a 1-3-1 zone, which coach Chris Mack’s still dusts off from time to time. The Tigers also have the size to contend with the Musketeers on the backboards.
Now, Sagarin still projects a five-point loss on a neutral floor. But Martin’s squad could find a rhythm early behind the arc, control the backboards and clog up the middle enough to make wings like Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura — again — shoulder the offensive load by knocking in jump shots.
But keep in mind that Mizzou’s profile matches those of teams who don’t stick around the bracket for long. Let’s turn to Bart Torvik’s database, which compares resumes going back a decade, for proof. Only three of teams won a game, and just one advanced to the Sweet 16.
Hey, there’s a reason we call them upsets.