Despite the presence of one of the nation’s best guards in Michael Snaer, Florida State fought inconsistency brought about by the overall lack of experience on its roster last season. The end result was an 18-16 record (9-9 ACC) and a loss to Louisiana Tech in the first round of the Postseason NIT.
Now with Snaer having graduated, Leonard Hamilton’s team will look to make a return to the NCAA tournament without its leading scorer. Okaro White, Devon Bookert and Ian Miller all return, and the addition of talented freshmen Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jarquez Smith should help matters as well.
What can also help the Seminoles is the fact that next month they’ll take a summer trip to Greece next month, taking on the Greek national team in games that they won’t be expected to win. The bonding experience Hamilton’s team will experience both on and off the court is something he hopes will pay off once practice officially begins in October according to Natalie Pierre of the Tallahassee Democrat.
“It’s going to be great. I feel like we’re going to spend a lot more time with each other instead of tweeting and texting our friends,” second-year Seminole Robert Gilchrist said.
“This is going to bring the team together.
“Like coach (Stan) Jones has said, the teams that he’s been on these tours with they always have a good year. So I think it comes down to chemistry, and that was one of the big things we were missing last year.”
The trip will make this an especially busy summer for Rathan-Mayes, who represented Canada in the Under-19 World Championships that came to a conclusion on Sunday. Canada finished sixth in the event, with Rathan-Mayes averaging 12.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest.
He’ll factor into a perimeter rotation that has both depth and experience, and if this group can develop the chemistry that wasn’t always present in 2012-13 Florida State can rebound in 2013-14.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.