New York Colleges: Florida State Seminoles

W2W4: The NIT semifinals

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
Larry BrownAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesLarry Brown returns to the Garden for the NIT semifinals.
NEW YORK -- Here's what to watch for in Tuesday's semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. ET, and you can watch the games on ESPN2.

HOME SWEET HOME: Brooklyn native and former Knicks coach Larry Brown returns to the Garden and should receive a warm welcome.

The 73-year-old Hall of Famer has rejuvenated the Southern Methodist basketball program in just two years at the helm. The Mustangs were 13-19 in 2011-12, prior to Brown's arrival. This season they have won 26 games, the second-most in school history.

SMU was the first team left out of the NCAA tournament field, and received one of four No. 1 seeds in the NIT.

When asked last week about returning to New York, Brown said, “I don’t look at it like that, for me. For me, for our kids to have an opportunity to keep playing is great.

"I’m happy for our team, I’m thrilled for our program. After the disappointment we had [Selection Sunday], this is a privilege to still be playing.”

GAME 1: SMU (26-9, 12-6 AAC) will play No. 3 seed Clemson (23-12, 10-8 ACC) in the first semifinal. The Mustangs finished tied for third in the American Athletic Conference with Final Four participant UConn, and beat the Huskies twice in the regular season. The Tigers, in their fourth year under coach Brad Brownell, finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Their best win of the season was a 72-59 triumph over Duke at home on Jan. 11.

Two players average in double figures for SMU -- sophomore point guard Nic Moore (13.5 PPG, 4.9 APG) and sophomore forward Markus Kennedy (12.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG). Clemson has just one double-figure scorer -- junior forward K.J. McDaniels (17.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG). McDaniels was also the leading shot-blocker in the ACC (2.8 BPG).

The Mustangs are 18th in Division I in offensive field goal percentage (48.4), and seventh in defensive field goal percentage (38.2) -- quite a combination! The Tigers aren't nearly as good offensively, ranking 265th (42.4). But they are almost as good defensively, ranking 14th (39.3).

GAME 2: A pair of No. 1 seeds, Minnesota (23-13, 8-10 Big Ten) and Florida State (22-13, 9-9 ACC), will meet in the second semifinal, tipping off at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET. The Golden Gophers, in their first year under coach Richard Pitino (Rick's son), finished seventh in the Big Ten. The Seminoles, in their 12th year under coach Leonard Hamilton, finished tied for seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

These two teams met back on Dec. 3 in Minneapolis, with Minnesota winning 71-61. But the Golden Gophers' leading rebounder, junior center Elliott Eliason (5.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG), is likely out for this game due to an ankle injury, as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Three players average in double figures for Minnesota -- junior guard Andre Hollins (13.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG), senior guard Austin Hollins (12.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) and junior guard DeAndre Mathieu (11.8 PPG, 4.1 APG).

Three players average in double figures for Florida State, as well -- sophomore guard Aaron Thomas (14.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG), senior guard Ian Miller (13.7 PPG, 2.9 APG) and senior forward Okaro White (13.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG).

The Seminoles also stack up very well on both sides, ranking 49th in Division I in offensive field goal percentage (46.8) and 25th in defensive field goal percentage (39.9). The Golden Gophers trail significantly in both categories, ranking 142nd offensively (44.8) and 116th defensively (42.5).

Florida State looks dangerous in Brooklyn

November, 18, 2012
NEW YORK -- Paging Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams: Leonard Hamilton’s bunch will be a pain in the neck again this year.

Florida State has recovered from a stunning season-opening loss with three straight victories, capped off by a 73-66 win over St. Joseph’s in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center.

A night after blowing out a BYU squad expected to contend in the WCC, the Seminoles got a stiffer challenge from the Hawks, picked to win the Atlantic 10. Florida State led by just four at halftime, trailed by four early in the second half, and the game was still tied at 52 at the under-12 media timeout.

But Florida State took control from there. Star guard Michael Snaer, who was named the tournament MVP, had another solid game, with 14 points. But the real difference-makers were junior forwards Okaro White (16 points) and Terrance Shannon (15 points, 11 rebounds). Shannon came off the bench, and scored 11 of his 15 in the second half.

Hamilton said Shannon requested to come off the bench this season – he likes to watch the game unfold for a few minutes, and then provide a spark.

He certainly did that Saturday, and could be a key player for the Seminoles this year, after missing almost all of last season with a shoulder injury.

“He’s very capable,” Hamilton said. “I’m not surprised by what he’s done at all.”

Nine different Florida State players scored Saturday, with four players making it into double figures. No one took more than 13 shots, and the team had 21 assists on 30 made field goals.

“We have capable passers, but we need willing passers,” said Snaer, who took just 12 shots. “We need guys who are willing to make that next pass and make that next play, and get the other man off. If we all do that, then everybody is feeding off each other and we’re all eating at the end of the day.”

“I was especially pleased with the unselfish spirit our guys played with,” Hamilton said.

St. Joseph’s still accomplished something on this trip up the turnpike to Brooklyn, taking home an impressive 79-70 win over No. 20 Notre Dame in the semifinals Friday night.

That game went to overtime, and ended well after midnight. But St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli wasn’t interested in making excuses after the game.

“You could write that if you want,” Martelli said. “I don’t believe that. I don’t accept it. … You have to empty your tank, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Ronald Roberts followed up a 21-point, 16-rebound performance against the Fighting Irish with a 15 points and 11 boards against the Seminoles. But the Hawks shot just 16-for-26 from the foul line, and 4-for-21 from beyond the arc.

As for Florida State, after losing its opener at home to South Alabama eight days ago, people wondered if the Seminoles – coming off their first ACC tournament win ever last March – were going to take a dip this year.

They were picked to finish fifth by the conference’s coaches, and fourth in the media poll. But Hamilton did lose four starters from last year – perhaps that would be too much to overcome?

Instead, the Seminoles head home to Tallahassee with their heads held high, and high expectations re-established.

“I think we have a bunch of talented youngsters (and) that we’re still trying to find our way,” Hamilton said. “We’re not really in sync offensively, and as a coach I’m still trying to find the right rotations, trying to define roles with these guys.

“We’re still kind of a work in progress,” the coach added. “What I’m hopeful of is that we can continue to keep winning while we’re trying to find ourselves. I think we have pretty good potential.”

Duke, North Carolina and company – consider yourselves warned.

Rapid Reaction: FSU 73, St. Joe's 66

November, 17, 2012
What it means: Florida State is your 2012 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic champion.

The Seminoles (3-1) followed up an 88-70 pasting of BYU on Friday with a 73-66 victory over St. Joseph's in the championship game, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

St. Joe’s (2-1) notched an impressive overtime win over No. 20 Notre Dame in the semifinals, but will leave the Big Apple disappointed, feeling they had a chance to win this game as well.

The skinny: The first half was a back-and-forth affair – nine lead changes, and neither team led by more than four. A dunk by Florida State forward Terrance Shannon at the buzzer gave the Seminoles a 36-32 leading heading into the locker room.

The second half started with more of the same – St. Joe’s went back up by four early, Florida State went on a 9-0 run to surge ahead by five, then St. Joe’s posted five straight points to tie the game at 52. That’s when the Seminoles took the lead for good, starting with an Okaro White dunk off a set play coming out of the under-12 media timeout. The Hawks hung around for a while after that, but Florida State eventually put them away.

Star watch: Florida State star guard Michael Snaer scored 14 points, but the Seminoles were led by the junior forwards White (16 points) and Shannon (15 points, 10 rebounds). Shannon scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half.

For St. Joe’s, Ronald Roberts followed up a 21-point, 16-rebound performance against Notre Dame on Friday with another double-double Saturday – 15 points, 11 rebounds. Also, Carl Jones – the team’s leading scorer last year, who was suspended for the first two games of this season – scored 13 points off the bench in his season 2012-13 debut.

Number crunch: St. Joe’s shot itself in the foot at the foul line, making just 16 of 26 free throws. Seven of those 10 misses came in the second half, proving very costly. The Hawks also shot just 4-for-21 from beyond the arc (19 percent), while the Seminoles were 6-for-13 (46.2 percent). Langston Galloway and C.J. Aiken were both 0-for-5.

What’s next: Florida State has one more game before Thanksgiving, hosting North Florida on Wednesday.

St. Joseph’s will play Harvard, the defending Ivy League champs, in Philadelphia on Tuesday. That won’t be easy.

W2W4: Florida State vs. St. Joseph's

November, 17, 2012
Here are three things to watch for when Florida State (2-1) faces St. Joseph’s (2-0) on Saturday at the Barclays Center, in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Tip-off will be at approximately 9:30 p.m., and you can watch the game on truTV.

FRESH LEGS? Both teams are on a high, after wins in the semifinals Thursday night. Florida State blew out BYU, 88-70, while St. Joseph’s rallied late to force overtime and eventually upset No. 20 Notre Dame, 79-70.

It’s a quick turnaround -- especially for St. Joe’s, who played the late game, and played an extra five minutes. We’ll see if fatigue is a factor.

THE SEMINOLES: Florida State got upset in its opening game of the season, losing to South Alabama at home, 76-71. The Seminoles then beat Buffalo by 27, before the win against BYU. They were picked to finish fifth in the ACC in the conference’s preseason coaches poll, and fourth in the media poll.

FSU lost four starters from last year’s squad, which defeated Duke and North Carolina back-to-back to win the ACC tournament for the very first time. But they still have Michael Snaer, a 6-foot-5 senior guard who leads the team at 15 points per game. Okaro White, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, adds 13 points per game. Coach Leonard Hamilton is playing a lot of guys -- 10 different players are averaging at least 13 minutes per game.

THE HAWKS: St. Joseph’s pasted Yale, 61-35, in its regular season opener, before the victory over Notre Dame. The Hawks were picked to win the Atlantic 10 in the conference’s preseason poll.

St. Joe’s has four players averaging in double figures, led by 6-foot-2 junior guard Langston Galloway (16.5 ppg) and 6-foot-8 junior forward Ronald Roberts Jr. (15.5 ppg, 14 rpg). Galloway lost a tooth while diving for a ball late in regulation against Notre Dame, but quickly returned to the game.

Senior guard Carl Jones, the team’s leading scorer last season (17 ppg), will make his season debut Saturday night. He missed the Hawks’ first two games after being suspended “due to a violation of the university’s community standards.”

Coaches vs. Cancer field is all set

March, 12, 2012
The 2012 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic field was announced on Monday -- BYU, Florida State, Notre Dame and St. Joseph's will tangle at the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn on Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17.

All but St. Joe's are in the field of 68 for this year's NCAA tournament.

Tickets will go on sale this coming Saturday, March 17.