November 12, 2013

FSU adjusting on the fly with Thomas, Miller's return

Leonard Hamilton says he's more anxious about his team this season than any other in recent memory. It's easy to see why: FSU is still working players into its backcourt rotation - Hamilton said the rotation was still in flux - and still adjusting to new NCAA rules about contact.

Plus, the Seminoles hit the road to face UCF on Wednesday, meaning there's no time for gradual adjustments.

Specifically, FSU guards Ian Miller andAaron Thomas spent the entire preseason and the first half of last Friday's season opener on the bench, suspended for violations of team rules. Those two players combined for 18 points, six assists and just one turnover in the second half.

They both bring a lot to the table," forward Robert Gilchrist said. "Are both great scorers and both defenders. It gives us more players to go and our bench is pretty deep as well."

Hamilton said specifically having the versatility of Miller and Thomas on the floor helped FSU handle full-court presses more efficiently. Jacksonville pressed FSU during the season opener and Hamilton said he was pleased with what Miller and Thomas were able to do against it.

"I thought in the first half we would beat the press and then set up and then run our offense. I thought what they gave us was the ability to beat the press and then attack the basket and create not only for themselves but for their teammates once they got across halfcourt."

While Miller and Thomas both appeared to shake off the rust easily, center Kiel Turpin continues to be out with a patella strain. Hamilton said Turpin still isn't pain-free and will have another MRI to ascertain how he's healing. Hamilton said missing Turpin has slowed the development of FSU's backup centers Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo since they don't have an experienced player to match up against in practice. Hamilton said FSU might work on some lineups with Gilchrist and freshman Jarquez Smith that still maintain enough size to be competitive, but said FSU's defense still not quite at the level he would like.

It may not get to that level at all this season. New NCAA rules severely limit contact between players on the defensive end, meaning FSU is having to adjust how it defends.

"You're seeing that they're going to have a lot higher scores and it's a little bit of adjustment for us defensively. It's almost like they don't want you to have any contact and I just don't know how that's possible."

The players also noticed the difference Bojanovsky said he had two fouls called on him in the season opener that he didn't think were fouls. Gilchrist admitted FSU will have to adjust.

"You have to keep your hands off people," Gilchrist said. "They're calling literally anything. It's challenging but we have to adjust to it."

Those adjustments will have to come quickly. Not does the Seminole schedule includes nonconference games against Minnesota, VCU and others, but Hamilton said FSU's road game against UCF would have a bit of rivalry flair given the in-state tensions between FSU and UCF. Gilchrist said he didn't mind.

"That's something we're going to have to get adjusted to," Gilchrist said. "So why not start early?"

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