Virginia Tech basketball A.c.c. Tourney preview Florida State

#45 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #11 R.P.I. Florida State:

Virginia Tech basketball remains alive in the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s 2o17 Tourney bracket after (possibly) busting the Deacon’s of Wake Forest’s March Madness NC2A tourney bubble on Wednesday night (99-9o).fsu-logo

This  after coming back from down seven points at the intermission of A.c.c. game#1 (for us) vs. the Hail Mary Les Hanson looking Dec’s right at the halftime buzzer. That being said, things do not get much easier with the always yesteryear Big East sizey and defensively starchy Florida State Seminoles on tap Thursday night at 7pm in Atlantic Coast post-season play. The 2016-2017 Seminoles are a shinny looking second seed in the A.c.c. checking in at 24 up and a mere seven down and at (12-6) in intra-league runs thus far on the year. Although these Sem’s can score the rock unlike previously defensively enhanced and yet offensively needy additions. And in case you had not heard, Florida State is towering; I mean big, bigger, biggest, making this a mightily tall order for coach Buzz and orange and maroon company down in the NYC Brooklyn borough paint. Did I mention the F.s.u. frontcourt size yet; and who will A.c.c. third-round win? Read on to find, out…

Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton: age=68, 5o1–4o4 (.554) overall, 3o1–194 (.6o8) at Florida State.

Baller Hamilton played college basketball at the University of Tennessee at Martin. After this Leo’ went into coaching and won the 1978 NCAA Championship under old-school Coach Joe B. Hall at Kentucky.

Coach Hamilton  is a two-time A.c.c. Coach of the Year (2oo9, 2o12) and he is also the is the first coach to be named coach of the year in both the Big East (Miami Hurricane, 1995, 1999), and the A.c.c. His teams have qualified for seven NCAA tournaments and eight N.I.T.’s. He was the old-school U.P.I. National Coach of the Year in 1995 for da U; and he has won two conference championships (1 B.E., 1 A.c.c.). Leo’ is the winningest Coach in Florida State History (27o wins) and the 8th all-Time winningest Coach in A.c.c. History (27o wins). He also coached one season for the Washington Bullet’s, though was un-retained by #45 M.J. himself. Leo -a Master’s degree holder his ownself- is an ace coach in the FSU.edu and former classrooms as more than 94%t of his players have earned their degrees. Bravo Leo! And the Coach Hamilton coaching tree has already sired eight other D-1 men’s head coaches. Very Pat Riley ‘esque; as Coach Hamilton teams’ have enjoyed a stinging defensive rep’ for many years.

Florida State at a glance:

  • 17th in scoring O (83 ppg)!
  • 18th in FG percentage O(48.5%)!
  • 16th in scoring margin (+11.8 ppg)!
  • 45th in FG percentage defense allowed (41.1%).
  • 26th in FTA’s (374 FTA’s so far).
  • 21st in blocks (5.2 bpg).
  • 99th in rebounding margin (+2.7 rpg).
  • Nothing less than 217th best; (FT’s=68.9%); after that.
  • no injuries listed. (thank Coach God).
  • UPDATE: nearly all F.s.u. metrics are tracking in reverse; several, noticeably.

F.S.U. Returning Starters=2

Florida State Strengths:

  • Fighting these ‘noles is like fighting China; they just send wave after wave of sunshine state ballers to run at you. As this is a very deep roundball squad.
  • That being rightfully said, the chief Seminole is clearly all-A.c.c. Academic Team member: Dwayne Bacon. Bacon is a 6’7”, 221 lb. critical over-match at the Shooting-G spot. And his hype job from the F.s.u. wrap was, phenomenal. They have him listed as a honors candidate for all-everything, this side of all-Earth and all-N.b.a. Though he is pretty dang good and so is is team leading 16.91 ppg, his 44% from the floor and his second-best 36% from 3-point land. Such is up a very healthy looking ~8% from last season from range and that was the one pre-season knock to Bacon’s game; that his J lacked true 3-point range and that you could sag off of this now multi dimensional scorer accordingly. The other Bacon rub being that Dwayne is said to try to do too much at times and therefore needs to tighten up a bit on his handles (turnovers, 2.2 last year; now down back up to 2.o tpg). So it looks like this Bacon has gone Sizzlean on most of his off-season spreadsheet. Bacon leads F.s.u. in FTA’s (122) on an adequate 73.8%, and gets you .9 swipes (steals) per game to boot. Or in other words, for whatever oversold foibles Bacon still has, Bacon is still good for you, and a lot of other teams would welcome Bacon’s, problems. As this second year flavor of Bacon is easily the most heralded and anticipated recruit in the history of the Florida State basketball program; and he was merely the #1 ranked scholastic baller in the nation after his junior season and he only won McDonald’s Slam Dunk Contest after his senior H.S. year! (UPDATE: this Bacon has been cooked of late, quite a bit all over)
  • Lindy’s pre-season magazine Most Versatile baller award winner for the whole darn A.c.c. is… 6’4”, 2o8 lb, Jr. year off-G: Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Xavier is third in scoring (10.4 ppg), he runs down 3 caroms for you and he sets the Seminole pace in dropping dimes with 4.8 assists. 46% overall and 33% from distance is useful enough, nevertheless, Xavier -strangely enough- is down in scoring (and shooting) for his third consecutive season in a row. That’s not a trend, that’s not a slump; that’s, outright regression off of nearly 15 ppg as rookie 2.4 seasons ago. His pops, Tharon Mayes, is a legacy ‘nole and ran for the Clips and 76’ers and put in 20 total years of professional ball when you include overseas deployments. So the hardcourt sporting Human Genome Project would seem wiling enough. And least we forget, Xavier is the only, A.c.c. rookie to go for 30 or more three times in a season! You do not do that, just because you suck, nonetheless, his overall game has been unselfish to a fault, in decline, or both; take thy pick. (UPDATE: X is down, though not a whole helluva a lot)

    "I will always love you" Whitney Houston by Ojo, pre-game; serous!

    “I will always love you” Whitney Houston by Ojo, pre-game; serous!

  • Jonathan Isaac is a 6’10”, 21o lb., human pogo stick of a nugget (Fr.) year Four or P/F. Who same as Fletch, stands in at about 7’3” with the house party ‘fro. Jon’ is a bouncy stretch-Four by trade who has good range on his J and is very comfortable facing up on the wing/perimeter. He is second in scoring (12.2 ppg) and number one in rebounding (7.2 rpg) on 52% from the floor and a reasonable 37% from downtown. This from a kid who was a Guard until he grew a whopping 7” and change in the final ~20 months of his scholastic career! So you can see why/how he is still something of a backcourt player in mind, if no longer so much so in frame. Lindy’s said Isaac needs to add some girth and that his overall game is a little raw; although he is one of the highest ranking Seminole hoops recruits’ of all-time for reason(s); plural; as the #9 kid last year according to ESPN.com. As this is a fluid, very talented kid, who nobody really seems to know just how high his eventual ceiling may be? They only seem to agree that Isaac is a ways away from the same {sic: ceiling}, as a t-Fr. starter; and that’s a sobering 2020 thought for the rest of the A.c.c. (UPDATE: a very linear or level player, I only updated one stat! )
  • After that Len’ Hamilton’s team packs depth, size (lots of it), more depth, and a staggering and triskaidekaphobic 13 different kids who net between 3 ppg and just shy of 17 ppg; and most of ’em see minutes on most nights.

Florida State Weaknesses:

  • There just ain’t much to list here; all 27 statistical categories I track are basically C— or better.
  • Only caveat I can offer is, Leo’s line-up is not exactly modern era G.State backcourt wizardly savvy. More parts John Thompson and Georgetown savvy –although I for one find that very refreshing indeed; and that’s a real bear of a match-up peccadillo for most 2017 squads.
  • m.s. (mid-script): and it looks like last years moderate defensive lapse is over, with an improved and more fluid offense to boot.
  • UPDATE: F.s.u. closed a nearly belly-up 1 for their last 8 dates away from home or merely .5oo ball in the last three weeks!

Seminole Bench: (depth=7’ish, a VERY very deep bench )
I’m listing Michael “name that tune” Ojo and Christ Koumadje here as they don’t quite log starting minutes; even at 14’5” and 537 lbs. combined! Ojo, all 7’1”, 3o4 lb. graduate-Sr. Nigerian born of him is back off of a torn left-meniscus. So are his 5 ppg, his 3.4 boards, and his .9 swats all on 54% from put-back range right at the basket. (UPDATE: big Ojo is down since we faced him last )

Even bigger would be the back-up C, 7’4” 233 lb. N’Djamena, Chad native and t-Soph. year Christ Koumadje. Yes, that is his first name and no, I’m not making that up. Koumadje drops 3.4 ppg with 1.9 rpg, on 67% shooting while leading the ‘noles with 1.1 bpg in very limited minutes. This with a stress-fractured left-leg once he got to State’s campus after going 59-1 with a stellar .983 winning percentage in high school- along the way to winning the 2015 high school national championship (Montverde Academy, Florida). Koumadje is raw, he is huge and if he ever gets any semblance of offensive acumen to his exalted Roy Brown game? He’s a Pro’ on rim protecting metrics alone, not if, when. (UPDATE: down vote here as well)

6’5”, 215 lb. nugget (first year) Trent Forrest logs the most substitute minutes for coach Hamilton and he nets you 5.4 ppg with 2.9 rpg on 49 slashing percent from a driving Two-G who needs to work on his 12.% range from back. The book says Trent is a passing 2-Guard who is a weapon in transition; 47th ranked outta high school to boot. (UPDATE: truly down here)

Jarquez Smith is a 6’9” 236 lb. final year thumper at P/F. Smitty scores 4.7 ppg to go with 3.5 rpg and is basically an impoverished man’s Maurice Lucas as an enforcing 1 bpg defender down-low. And yes, back-up P/F Mfiondu Kabengele is Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew. (UPDATE: this is the only ‘Nole to actually move in the A.c.c. meantime)

fsu-match-ups

Predicting this A.c.c. Tournament 3rd round winner is all about ... what???

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Illation, conclusion (s) and OPT digits:

Number of 'noles who could start @Tech=3 to 5.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… this is a bad, badder, worst, match-up in frontcourt terms on proverbial and theoretical O&M paper alike.”

Has some court-side, pop!

Has some court-side, pop!


“As Florida State is ginormous and the little O&M engine that could just became the small, smaller, smallest frontcourt compact Geo’ team in the whole darn A.c.c. Seriously, F.S.U. is a macro low-post team and coach Buzz and company are pretty mirco at least in power conference contemporary line-up terms.”

That’s what I opined two months two days ago and none of that has changed; less the Clarke injury (Godspeed); which makes this match-up down-low in the paint even worse than it already was.

That being science-fact, objectively and measurably rightfully said, let us ask our pet metrics what they have to say before we go synthesizing the OPT cart out in front of the OPT horse; yet again…

  • Rest: State is +5 here, major fresh legs advantage. EDGE=F.s.u.
  • Overall trends: F.s.u. is +7 in scoring margin, +2% overall, VT is +1% from downtown, VT is actually +5% from the line and F.s.u. is +5 on the glass. EDGE=F.s.u., small.
  • Neutral Court splits: F.s.u. is +1 point in scoring margin, +11% on FG percentage margin, VT is +1% from deep and F.s.u. is +4 on the boards. EDGE=F.s.u. medium.
  • Most recent five-game stats: scoring is a Mexican standoff (virtually even), however, VT is close to +6% from the floor with +13% from 3-point land and the ‘Noles are only +3 in rpg. EDGE=VT, medium.
  • other???

If you read the italicized updates, and if you dared to look back and compare… you would see that only the Blocks metric for Florida State basketball moved, well, forward (pardon the sporting pun) since we saw State last. As beyond a betterment in swats, everything has tailed off a bit or flat out gone in reverse for F.s.u. Nevertheless, now recall that we/Virginia Tech basketball got beat by -a presumably better (than now)- Florida State hoops club 78-93 out on the road back in early January.acc tourney logo

However, as the quietly epic Steve McQueen movie: The Sand Pebbles teaches us, there are two types of steam: “strooooong steam and bad steam” and you have to wonder just how much steam a very short Hokie playing rotation has left? As the O&M star’s just logged the following minutes/vitals…

  • Seth Allen: only 75% of the game with 18 timely points. (ankle tweak)
  • Zach LeDay: 85% of the game great for a combined career high of 31 and 15 (pts/rebs)!
  • Justin Robinson: 88% of the game with one ankle sprain.
  • Justin Bibbs: 90% of the game good for 15 big late points.
  • Amhed Hill: 92% of the game with 12 chippy points.
  • Do you Sand Pebbles “savvy” a… trend?

As Coach Buzz and company went with a downright truncated rotation and a very short two-man bench that saw only one sub’ log more than 15% of the opening round contest!

On the other hand, it sure seemed to me like our (outsider) shooters finally riffled their sights in just right as sharp-shooters with vastly crisper ball-rotation from range in the final 20 minutes of play. That plus the rather heretofore -although statistically detectable- Florida State sag in the last couple of weeks gives us hope. Despite what is a down right towering bad, badder, baddest match-up in the lane that is all in favor of the raiding-party from Tallahassee Florida. As this is easily the deepest playing rotation we will see all year; with a stunning 12 different ‘Noles log nine minutes or more of playing time per game!

***

This tells me that this one is all about Hokie shooting from the outside (42% last nite); or, this one is all about Hokie fatigue as Virginia Tech just courted five guys who industrialized 30 minutes or more and another kid with 24 {sic: minutes}.

So either way this one is all about Virginia Tech as Florida State is a bigger and slower hoops team and we are the one who has actually improved in the last few weeks of hardwood play.

Though who will have the steam come 10pm Thursday night?

the skinny…
So, in short, what someone has found is… the whispers hint that Isaac of F.s.u. may be a bit dinged up as his play has been off of late; though is break may be just what he needed as well. J.Rob’ has a hurting right-ankle (class II) and will try to give it a go —which seemed more questionable than probable to me. S.Allen moved better as the game moved along and his loosened up a bit with a smarter second-half. Robinson’s is the fresher and even the more severe (ankle-roll); and none of that helps any version of matching-up vs. State. (and it is very odd to me that we took our practices to a local/neighboring college and not inside the Barclay’s Center —no wonder we shot better in the second-half; anywho….)

the closer…
Well, I was rather toying with this upset pick, as methinks me likes the speed, quickness and just general high level swag’ of Virginia Tech vs. a Florida State hoops squad whose sense of regular season closure left something to be, desired. Ditto the whispers of coach Hamilton that raised a clinical (or chemical) flag that something is off, or even ‘rong at F.s.u. when you are talking about the NCAA’s even before the 2017 docket ends –and before your very own rather prestigious league tourney begins. Also liked the quiet, focused, determination Buzz’s bunch showed prepping for Wake Forest up there. They were traveling for business, not pleasure.

That being said, coach Buzz and company just look too lame to me, as their margin of error is slimmer with every ankle roll; and none. As in there is no room for error at this level with such a truncated and now a 28% lame playing rotations. That’s too much vs. too much depth from Florida State. As the greater numbers of legs and the fresher legs at that; have more, steam…

(~68% confidence interval)

Virginia Tech=7o, Florida State=83

LETS GO!

Hokies!

bourbonstreet**

V.A.D.A. approved.

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