Florida State jumps out to 2-0 record
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – After the ship had finally been righted, Michael Snaer admitted what the rest of the world suspected during Florida State’s non-conference woes.
The Seminoles hadn’t played like a Leonard Hamilton-coached team, he said. They hadn’t played like the Seminoles they were supposed to be.
They lost to South Alabama, Mercer and a down Auburn team. They were young and dealing with injuries, but critics wrote them off as underachieving and disappointing.
How quickly everyone forgot what happened last season – when Florida State went 9-5 during non-conference play before posting a pristine 12-4 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference and reaching the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Now, these Seminoles are 2-0 in ACC play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season after winning at Maryland Wednesday night.
“That’s an accomplishment in itself,” Hamilton said after the game.
But more than that symbolically important milestone, Hamilton was excited about his team’s growth – particularly that of his five freshmen and his transfer players.
“Our youngsters are learning a little more about the focus you’ve got to play with at this level,” he said. “We learned a little bit more about how to utilize the defensive principles we’ve been learning all year. That’s been an elusive mindset we’ve not been able to get.”
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon pointed out the Seminoles’ defense in the paint as one of the most frustrating parts of the game for him. Florida State junior forward Okaro White had six of his team’s 13 blocks. Turgeon summed it up succinctly: “They protected the rim very well. … They are good defensively, and they are getting better.”
But it was more than that, Snaer insisted. It was the way Florida State prepared for the game. That’s what felt different to the senior, different from those bad non-conference losses.
“We kept calling out every single one of their plays,” Snaer said. “We kept talking about the scouting report. We kept talking about what they were trying to look for. Throughout the whole time, I only remember us missing about two or three assignments.
“That’s the biggest key for us – we’re … [For more on Florida State jumps out to 2-0 record in ACC play, click here.]