The Daily Nole

FSU Hoops: Five Observations From Season-Opener athletics

Florida State started its 2016-17 basketball campaign on the right foot with an 88-67 win over Charleston Southern on Saturday. The contest was never really in doubt in the second half against a team that finished 9-21 a season ago. Beating the Buccaneers was expected and there isn’t anything too substantial that can be taken away from Saturday’s opener, but here are five observations from Game No. 1:

1. Dwayne Bacon Looks Confident as a Jump-Shooter
As was expected, sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon was aggressive attacking the basket on Saturday, finishing with a game-high 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field, but Bacon also looked more confident as a jump-shooter. That was an area where Bacon struggled at times last season, but on Saturday, he was 4-for-6 from downtown and made a couple nice mid-range shots. Bacon was streaky last season, so we’ll have to wait to see whether Saturday’s effort was a sign of improvement or just a good shooting game.

2. Newcomers Will Make an Impact
Four of the six fresh faces for Florida State played on Saturday and they combined for 26 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. The most touted of the bunch, Jonathan Isaac, didn’t put up huge numbers, but was efficient, going 4-for-8 from the field with 10 points and a game-high three steals. Trenton Forrest finished with seven points and six rebounds on 3-for-4 shooting. C.J. Walker showed good hustle and pushed the tempo from the point guard position and Braian Angola-Rodas finished with five points on just 1-for-4 shooting, but drew a foul on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws. P.J. Savoy and Mfiondu Kabengele did not play.

3. Xavier Rathan-Mayes Has Control Over the Offense
Redshirt junior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes had the look of a veteran who really had charge over the offense on Saturday. Rathan-Mayes finished with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting, five rebounds and seven assists. Rathan-Mayes picked his spots to push the basketball and for the most part, was a facilitator on Saturday. Last season, Rathan-Mayes put up good assist numbers in the non-conference, but saw a significant dip when ACC play started and competition ramped up. Hopefully for FSU, Rathan-Mayes can be consistent all season long.

4. Effort on Defense Was Good
One of the biggest knocks on last season’s FSU team was the effort on defense. The Seminoles finished just 13th in the ACC in fewest points per game allowed and in field goal percentage defense. On Saturday, Florida State held the Buccaneers to 40 percent shooting and 67 points, but most glaring was the effort. The team really seemed to rotate well and jumped out on shooters. Very few baskets for Charleston Southern were uncontested.

5. FSU Seems Tougher Inside Defensively
Last season, it seemed as though the Seminoles were bullied too often down on the block. Saturday provided some hope that may change. FSU was without center Michael Ojo and forward Phil Cofer for all but 11 games last season and those two brought some toughness on Saturday along with Christ Koumadje and Jarquez Smith. Those four combined for six blocks and as a team, the Seminoles held Charleston Southern to 28 points in the paint. The question will be whether that can hold up against a physical presence like North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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