The Daily Nole

FSU, Hamilton Learning to Manage Deep Roster

Colin Abbey/FSU athletics

Off to the best start since 2013, and scoring 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 1996-97 season, the Florida State men’s basketball team has shown what level it can play at. For the Seminoles to be competitive in the ACC however, they are going to have to learn how to play as a committee.

Head coach Leonard Hamilton has always been a defensive-minded coach while at Florida State, creating havoc for opposing offenses and beating teams from the defensive end of the court. That should not change this season; Hamilton has another stellar defense that is both physically and mentally ready for the season.

The interior defense is big to say the least. Michael Ojo and Christ Koumadje each come in at over 7-foot-tall, and Jarquez Smith comes in at 6-9. Getting shots off against these three big men down low will be a tough task for any team in the country. Those bigs however, have also shown the ability to finish around the rim and put points on the board.

“We man the center position by committee,” Hamilton said following a 100-84 win over Winthrop last week. “As we go through the year, how we utilize them will go directly with who we are playing against. When you have three big guys like that, it gives you a bit of an advantage when they can share playing time.”

Hamilton is approaching the offense differently for the 2016-17 season as the units will be constantly changing throughout the game. 11 guys will be rotating in and out, keeping the team fresh while wearing down opposing teams.

“They are like Noah’s ark, they have two of everything all the time,” Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey said following the loss to the Noles. “They didn’t just have two of everything, it seemed like they had four 7-footers; they just keep coming and coming.” .

Not surprisingly, Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac are going to get to the rim and put up points to carry the FSU offense for most of the season. Both are freak athletes that are going to score regardless of who they are playing against. In total, FSU has 11 guys averaging at least 10 minutes per game with most sitting between 13 and 19 minutes per contest.

“The biggest challenge for us as a coaching staff is managing the quality depth on our team,” Hamilton said. “We have to stay connected as a team and understand each night someone else will step up.”

FSU will play 11 different guys and a mix of combinations, and that is where the patience comes into play. Unlike in recent years past where FSU was only six or eight deep, the challenge is having 11 capable bodies get in sync with one another. With so many new and different faces on the court, the Seminoles are going to have to learn other player’s tendencies — something that may take a normal rotation four or five games could possibly take a few weeks for FSU.

“We’re trying to continue to keep playing with energy on the defensive end while we are developing offensively,” Hamilton said after Sunday’s 100-71 win over Detroit Mercy. “Because we have ways of executing ball movement, ball reverses, we still have some indecision that I see, but I think those are things that we have to role play and keep going through cause we’re playing with so many different combinations, and trying to develop a working unit of guys that will run the system regardless of who’s on the floor together, and we’re still struggling with that sometimes.”

Florida State has shown early that it has the talent to be a very good team. Defensively, the Seminoles will be solid, with a mix of size and athleticism that few other teams in the country have.

On the offensive side of the ball, if Florida State can buy into the constant rotation of guys it could put FSU in a situation to be better than it has been in years. March of course, is still a long way away, especially with ACC play still in Florida State’s way. Hamilton’s hope is that running the offense by committee will keep key players like Bacon and Isaac healthy and fresh as FSU fights to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.

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