TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Hamilton and Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes have been unable to get on the same page, and until they do the sophomore’s playing status remains unclear.
Rathan-Mayes’s may not play in Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh after the Atlantic Coast Conference assists leader didn’t play in the Seminoles’ 84-65 loss at No. 17 Louisville.
Hamilton said on Friday he “hasn’t made up his mind yet” on if the 6-foot-4 point guard, who averages a team-leading 30 minutes per game, will face the Panthers.
The benching of Rathan-Mayes, who is averaging 5.3 assists and 12.1 points per game, has not only impacted the Seminoles offensively, but defensively as well. He is third in defensive rebounds on a team that was struggled boxing out during conference play.
The Seminoles (12-6, 2-4 ACC) have been outrebounded in four of six conference games, which is not a surprise to Hamilton. He expected some problems with a four-guard lineup but believes his players can put out a better effort.
Before the Louisville game on Wednesday, the coach said if he had to stop practice each time he needed to stress boxing out, they wouldn’t get much accomplished.
Looking to turn things around against the Panthers might be difficult.
Pittsburgh (15-3, 4-2) comes into the game second in the ACC and 17th in the nation in rebounding margin at 9.1 per game.
“Everyone has been crashing the boards on us,” Hamilton said. “With that lineup teams are bigger, stronger and more athletic but we have to find a way to box out, be more aggressive and fundamentally sound.”
While Florida State’s players aren’t going to magically grow six inches or gain 20 pounds overnight, freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley say the issues can be corrected with better discipline on the court.
“We can’t come out and have a bad rebounding night. Everyone, even the guards, have to chip in,” said Bacon, a 6-6 guard who is second on the team in points (16.4) and rebounds (5.7) per game. “Some nights we are near the rim but don’t box out or we don’t jump for the rebound. We are standing near the rim waiting for it to drop in our hands. We can’t do that.”
Beasley, who leads ACC freshmen in scoring (17.4) while averaging a team-best 5.8 rebounds, saw firsthand against Louisville how casually going up for a rebound without boxing out in the ACC can be costly. The Cardinals’ Damion Lee missed a 3-pointer but guard Donovan Mitchell – with an unimpeded path to the basket – soared over the top of Beasley, grabbed the rebound and dunked it over him.
The play was part of an 8-2 Louisville run that helped the Cardinals take control of the game.
Beasley said he has learned the hard way about paying attention to details.
“We are not having a technique problem boxing out, it is about knowing we have to do it and focusing on it,” the 6-5 guard said. “In high school it was easy to get rebounds. In the ACC everyone is athletic and can touch the backboard.”