The Daily Nole

Strength in Numbers: Depth May be Biggest Strength for FSU athletics

With the start of ACC play less than two weeks away, there is some real optimism surrounding the Florida State basketball program that the team might not only be NCAA Tournament bound, but capable of doing some damage once it gets there.

When the Seminoles take the court against Manhattan in Sunrise for the Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday, they’ll come in on a 6-game winning streak following an 83-78 victory over rival Florida last weekend. The victory not only showed that FSU is capable of beating other good basketball teams and winning close games, but it illustrated how deep the Seminoles really are as a team.

For a second straight year, Dwayne Bacon leads the team in scoring and against Florida on Sunday, he was nothing short of masterful. One year after sinking the game-winning jumper to beat the Gators, Bacon scored a game-high 24 points and helped push the Seminoles to the finish line. FSU’s second, third and fourth leading scorers — Jonathan Isaac, P.J. Savoy and Xavier Rathan-Mayes — however were quiet combining for just 19 points which is less than half of their combined average.

Still, the Seminoles managed to beat a team most believe is also headed to the NCAA Tournament and depth is a big reason why.

Aside from Bacon, the only other player to score in double-figures was sophomore slasher Terance Mann, who finished with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Throughout the season, Mann rarely has a single statistical category that will wow you when looking at the box score, but he does so many things well. For the season, Mann, who stands 6-6, is averaging nearly eight points, five rebounds, two assists and more than one steal while shooting nearly 55 percent from the field.

Though he’s just a little smaller, freshman guard Trent Forrest has had a similar effect on the team, averaging 7.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a team-high 1.6 steals per game while shooting nearly 57 percent from the field.

Neither Mann nor Forrest have had a great season shooting the ball from deep, but both are good ball-handlers, great athletes and tenacious on defense. Tenacious on defense is also an attribute that could be applied to sophomore center Christ Koumadje, who at 7-4, leads the team with 1.9 blocks per game.

Michael Ojo, a 7-1 senior returning from injury, has also provided a presence in the paint, averaging 1.3 blocks per game. Ojo and Koumadje have also both made strides on the offensive end as the two combine for 11.5 points on an hyper-efficient combined field goal mark of 67 percent. Forwards Jarquez Smith and Phil Cofer are also viable options inside and provide a little more shooting range.

Isaac may be the most notable of FSU’s six newcomers, but he isn’t the only one who is producing. After battling turf toe early on, junior college transfer P.J. Savoy has evolved into FSU’s most reliable outside shooter at 50 percent from beyond the arc with 17 makes in five games.

Fellow JUCO transfer, Braian Angola-Rodas has provided length, range, athleticism and the ability to handle the ball. It’s worth noting that the Seminoles have also lost very little in terms of production when freshman point guard C.J. Walker has spelled starter Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Though Bacon, Isaac and Rathan-Mayes will be the horses who carry most of the load for FSU this season, it’s comforting to know that the Seminoles can still get the job done even if all three aren’t on their game. Including walk-on Brandon Allen, who has appeared in just four games, nine different FSU players are averaging at least six points, eight are shooting at least 50 percent from the field, seven are averaging at least one steal and six are averaging at least three rebounds.

In other words, the Seminoles are very deep and have a number of players who contribute in a number of ways. The biggest problem for head coach Leonard Hamilton may be finding a way to adequately spread the minutes around. With 12 players averaging at least 10 minutes, it seems as though he’s been up to the challenge.

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

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