Florida State kicked off its exhibition season on Tuesday night with a comfortable 81-38 victory over Division II Delta State. Proceeds from the game benefited the Aubrey Boyd Charitable Foundation - a fund set up for former Seminole Aubrey Boyd, who was paralyzed following his career at Florida State.
The Seminoles found themselves up by 10 points midway through the first half and extended that lead to 20 heading at half time. Eventually, FSU's built its lead to as high 42 points thanks to a 25-5 run coming out of the locker room.
"Overall, I think we showed strengths and I think we showed a lot of room for improvement," Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I think this team has a lot of potential to develop into a good basketball team. I like our potential, but we realize we have a lot of room for improvement."
Offensively, Florida State utilized an up-tempo attack to create numerous easy buckets. Even with several easy scores, FSU still had some shooting struggles. Overall, the 'Noles shot 34-for-77 (44.2%) from the field, and only 7-for-25 (28%) from 3-point range.
"That has been our goal to work on, a more up-tempo style all summer," sophomore guard Luke Loucks said. "We got out here, got the ball out pretty fast, and tried to take quick shots but smart shots at the same time. We didn't want to just throw the ball at the rim every time. We felt pretty good about it though."
Defensively, the Seminoles employed pressure throughout the evening helping to force 26 turnovers which led directly to 33 points. Sophomore forward Chris Singleton led the defensive charge with four steals.
On the boards, Florida State held a dominating 50-36 advantage and were led by junior wing Jordan DeMercy and his nine rebounds.
Overall, Hamilton was pleased with his team's debut.
"I thought that we gave pretty good effort on the defensive end. We were very active, got a lot of deflections which I was very pleased to see," Hamilton said. "However, I think we were a little anxious offensively. I think we are a much better field goal percentage team than what we showed tonight, but that is why I like playing exhibition games in front of the public. I think that is part of the growth pattern of the preseason to get in front of crowds, officials. It gives you an opportunity to get over that."
Sophomore center Solomon Alabi led all scorers, finishing with 16 points. The only other Seminole to score in double figures was sophomore guard Deividas Dulkys, who contributed 10. Junior guard Derwin Kitchen, sophomore guard Luke Loucks, sophomore forward Xavier Gibson, and freshman forward Terrance Shannon each contributed eight points. Shannon also had eight rebounds in his debut.
Throughout the evening, Florida State routinely used mass substitutions to try different lineups. No Seminole played more than 22 minutes and 11 played 14 or more minutes.
"We are so far away from developing a working unit, a rotation, maybe even a starting lineup because we have so many guys that appear to be close," Hamilton said. "So we just wanted to use this as a glorified practice. Get guys minutes so we can watch them on film and go back and show them and use it as a teaching tool that will hopefully accelerate our development.
Hamilton believes his team is a bit ahead of where they were at this point last year.
"I would love to be farther along, but you still have to be conscious of the fact that we have eight freshmen and sophomores," Hamilton said. "Even though we like the potential, we still have to fine tune it. We are probably a little farther along than we were this time last year, but like I said earlier, this is a time for developing and not a time to really evaluate."
His feelings were echoed by Alabi, who had six rebounds and three blocks in addition to his 16 points.
"I think we did alright, but we still need to work on a lot of stuff," Alabi said. "The exhibition game was something that we needed to see how much we need to work on and to see how hard we worked."
Florida State returns to the court next Monday when its host Georgetown (KY) for a second and final exhibition game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The Seminoles' regular season begins on November 16th when they host the Jacksonville Dolphins.
Shannon, as well as fellow freshman, guard Michael Snaer made their debut on Tuesday. Shannon contributed eight points and eight boards. However, Snaer struggled some from he field and was only able to contribute five points while grabbing four rebounds. Despite his offensive struggles, the talented freshman excelled on defense.
"I think it was a little emotional for them. I thought they got a little stiff early," Hamilton said. "Terrance was extremely aggressive like he normally is. I think he got tired really quick, but that is part anxiety, just the inexperience and excitement of the first game. I thought that Michael was a little tight, obviously. He is a much better shooter and scorer than what he showed, but that is why you have these games. I thought he did some nice things. I thought he did a very good job of pressuring the ball."
Even though he hit just 2-of-9 from the field, Snear's teammates are confident that he will become a major offensive contributor this season.
"He was a little tight and a little anxious," Loucks said. "We just told him to get all those misses out now because we are going to you when Jacksonville rolls around. He will be fine. He just had the freshmen jitters. He will wake up. We have all seen in practice what he can do and I am sure the fans will get a good look when the season finally rolls around."