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December 11, 2011
Xavier Gibson knew exactly how Terry Whisnant was feeling. So when Whisnant, a freshman, passed the ball back inside to Gibson, a senior, Gibson gave him one simple instruction as he kicked it back out.
At the time Whisnanat had connected on just 1 of 10 three-point attempts in his short career at Florida State, but when Gibson encouraged him to throw up another shot he was finally able to connect.
He then hit another on the ensuing Seminoles' possession and added a late lay-up to finish with a career-highs of eight points and 19 minutes of playing time as FSU cruised to a 76-51 win over Charleston Southern.
Whisnant will look to keep things going against UNC-Greensboro today at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. EST.
"I just understood how it is to be a freshman and just want to do all the right things," Gibson said. "Sometimes you just need that extra push to do what you do, and he's a shooter. I just tried to encourage him to shoot."
Like most freshman Whisnant has been going through a transition period as he adjusts to life in Division-1 hoops versus high school ball. The 6-foot-3 guard was a star for Cherryville High in North Carolina.
His senior season he was named Mr. Basketball in the state of North Carolina as he averaged 31.7 points per game. He said the encouragement from Gibson helped him keep his confidence up as he gets comfortable at this level.
"In high school you hit all the shots, but coming in as a freshman the game is faster," Whisnant said. "Everybody is quicker, so for a veteran guy to tell me to shoot he realizes I'm a shooter. I just need to get confidence up so when I get that up I'll knock down shots. So when he told me to shoot and it went in that helped me out a lot."
While Whisnant is known as shooter, on Monday head coach Leonard Hamilton, to the surprise of no one, said he was most pleased with Whisnant's defensive development.
Hamilton praised the effort the freshman guard gave on the defensive end of the floor against CSU, and said he was glad to finally see him not have second thoughts about shooting the ball.
"Early in the year I thought he was a little hesitant and I thought he was a little lost on the defensive end," Hamilton said. "(Monday) night, I thought he was aggressive, he knew his slides, he knew his position, he went and got some loose balls, went down hard on the boards, sprinted down the court. I thought he played with a tremendous amount of energy and savvy on the defensive end.
"Obviously we expect him to gain more and more confidence and I expect him to be a guy that before the year is out we'll be putting him in the game and he'll be knocking down jump shots on a consistent basis."
Whisnant knows the next two games will be a great opportunity for him to show the coaching staff how much he has developed already this season as FSU takes on UNC Greensboro on Sunday at 1 p.m. and Loyola Marymount on Dec. 18.
"I can't take this for granted," he said the next few games. "Just going to practice every day, just work hard and compete with the veteran guys. Try to learn as much as possible, learn the system so when I get on the court everything clicks."
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