Florida State Basketball Preview: #52
Overall Rank: #52
Conference Rank: #7 Atlantic Coast Conference
2008-09: 25-10, 10-6
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Leonard Hamilton (131-95 at Florida State, 331-305 overall)
Florida State reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years and there is reason to be excited about the future. However, the future will not include Toney Douglas. As a senior last year Douglas led the team with 21.5 points and 2.9 assists per game. Nobody else on the team even averaged over nine points per game. This year might be a little less successful without Douglas, but the future looks bright.
Key Losses: G Toney Douglas, F Uche Echefu
Shooting guard Michael Snaer should be a big part of the future, and even the present, success of the Seminoles. The 6-5 Moreno Valley product was named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in California and is expected to immediately step into a starting role and help fill the scoring void left behind by Douglas. Terrance Shannon is a little more of question mark. The 6-8, 220 pound power forward missed his senior year of high school with a knee injury and it may take him some time to get adjusted to life in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Snaer will join Derwin Kitchen in the backcourt and together those two should be a dynamic duo. Kitchen missed the first semester of the season last year and it took him some time to get into the swing of things. Still he managed to average 7.9 points per game. Kitchen should be much more productive with a half of a year playing under Coach Leonard Hamilton and the team will need him to emerge as a leader. However, Luke Loucks could end up being the most important player on the perimeter. The 6-5 point guard dished out 2.1. assists per game in limited action as a freshman and could take over the starting job this year. If Snaer and Kitchen can score as well as they should be able to, Loucks will have a successful year simply giving them the ball and letting them do their thing.
By the end of the 2008-2009 campaign, the FSU frontcourt was dominated by freshmen. Solomon Alabi was second on the team in scoring with 8.4 points per game and first in rebounding with 5.6. Although he started all 35 contests, Alabi got better with every single game. And even though his offense is good, it is on the other side of the floor where Alabi really shines. Even as a freshman playing just over 22 minutes per game, he averaged 2.1 blocks per contest and he is already considered one of the best shot blockers in the conference. Chris Singleton was one of the players by Alabi’s side. He needs to get a little stronger if he wants to play the four spot on a consistent basis, but Singleton proved to be a dynamic scorer both inside and out.
Who to Watch:
Depth should not be much of an issue with the return of Ryan Reid, Jordan DeMercy and Deividas Dulkys. Reid and DeMercy, both forwards, started 16 games last year and are more than capable of filling in at the four or five spots, especially if Singleton is moved to the wing. Reid is the better scorer and rebounder around the basket, but DeMercy can stretch the defense with his mid-range jumper. Dulkys will provide much of the depth on the perimeter and the 6-5 sophomore is full of potential.
This could be another NCAA Tournament team, but the loss of Douglas is huge. Where are the points going to come from and who is going to take the big shots? Eventually those questions will be answered, but this is a group that might struggle to find their identity early in the season and that could be the difference between the NCAA Tournament and the NIT.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Luke Loucks, Sophomore, Guard, 3.1 points per game
Michael Snaer, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Derwin Kitchen, Junior, Guard, 7.9 points per game
Chris Singleton, Sophomore, Forward, 8.1 points per game
Solomon Alabi, Sophomore, Center, 8.4 points per game
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