December 16, 2013

FSU seeking outside shooting to loosen up defenses

Florida State's offense is looking for a boost from deep. Heading into a difficult stretch of games against UNC-Charlotte and Massachusetts before starting ACC play, teams are packing the paint with zone defenses against the Seminoles.

It's the obvious answer as to how to stop FSU's offense, which excels in getting into the paint and driving. Teams are daring FSU to shoot it from beyond the three-point arc, and Florida State, so far, hasn't been able to do so.

So far this season, FSU ranks 328th nationally in three-point field goal attempts, a dismal rating considering that open looks from outside the perimeter have been there for the taking.
"I just think it's something we're going to have learn to start hitting," FSU guard Ian Millersaid. "We're seeing a lot of teams trying to play zone because they can't match up with us Man-to-Man. So they try to slow us down with the zone, and as long as we keep our inside presence and learn to kick out 3-pointers, we should be pretty tough to stop."

Against Jacksonville state, FSU finally started to let it fly. The Seminoles took a season-high 18 three-point shots and made 7 of them, a 39 percent clip that's more than respectable from a team standpoint, and coach Leonard Hamilton said his team's shooting against a zone isn't as much of an issue as its schedule against tough opponents - so far three of them ranked.

"We hope that we can become a complete team," Hamilton said. "We've lost to some pretty good basketball teams. I'm not really sure it's been zone or man to man I think it's been the quality of the people we've played against."

Florida State does shoot the ball reasonably well as a team from three-point range. FSU knocks in 34.2 percent of its shots from beyond the arc, which at least isn't terrible. FSU's three-point hopes, to some extent, rest with forward Okaro White.

White leads the team in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 47 percent of his shots there. But White has only started showing as a real deep threat in the past three games.

Against Florida, Minnesota and Jacksonville State, White is 6-9 from the perimeter. In the first six games of the season, White was 1-6.

White's best shooting performance of the season came against Jacksonville State, when he went 7-9 from the floor including 3-5 from three-point range. That was also the first game that FSU has put White exclusively at the small forward position instead of rotating him in and out of the post throughout the game.

"I needed him to have that game last week," Miller said. "Now that we're playing against ACC teams, as long as he's hitting those shots I think it'll be a mismatch at his position."

White and teammates added that after FSU's barrage of three-point shots, Jacksonville State's defense loosened up noticeably. FSU hopes for a similar equation against UNC-Charlotte, the team which won the Puerto Rico Tipoff.

"It's very important for us as a team to show we can (hit three-pointers)" White said. A lot of the most recent teams are packing it in. We need to take these shots and get things down inside to open up."

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