FSU men's basketball to host Krzyzewski for last time tonight
basketball Edit

Seminoles gear up to battle No. 6 Duke, superstar freshman Banchero

Tonight will be the last time Mike Krzyzewski walks inside the Tucker Center as head coach of the Duke men's basketball team.

The coaching legend has won more than he's lost in Tallahassee, but his Blue Devils have suffered some memorable upsets over the years as well.

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The Florida State Seminoles are hoping to hand him one more tonight at 9 p.m., when they welcome his No. 6-ranked team to Tallahassee for a nationally televised game on ESPN.

FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton knows it won't be easy.

"We have a team that we're playing [Tuesday] night that I think is one of the best Duke teams that I've seen," Hamilton said Monday morning. "It might not have some of the preseason decorated players with the reputation that some of those guys have had coming to Duke, but in terms of execution, in terms of playing the right way, they have the ingredients, I think, to win a national title.

"Regardless of what the rankings might say, Duke is the No. 1 team. I personally think they're the No. 1 team in the country, regardless of where they're ranked."

Duke freshman Paolo Banchero could be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Duke freshman Paolo Banchero could be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. (USAToday Sports Images)

The Blue Devils (14-2, 4-1 in the ACC) are led by freshman Paolo Banchero, who might be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He's averaging 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

But, of course, it's Duke. So he's far from the only future pro on the roster.

Wendell Moore is currently averaging 15.4 points and 5.7 rebounds, freshman Trevor Keels is averaging 12.1 points per game, and center Mark Williams is averaging 9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds an ACC-leading 3.4 blocks per game.

Making matters even tougher for the Seminoles (10-5, 4-2), who are riding a three-game win streak, is the fact that senior forward Malik Osborne might miss the game with a sprained ankle.

Osborne ranks second on the team in scoring (11.1 ppg) and first in rebounding (7.2 rpg). He sat out Saturday's game at Syracuse, but the Seminoles were able to find a way to win anyway. They hit 12 of 20 shots from 3-point range and held on for a 76-71 victory at the Carrier Dome.

All season long, Hamilton has talked about how inexperienced his team is and explained how that has led to some of the early-season difficulties.

On Monday, though, he seemed to change his tune a bit.

"At this point, I'm looking at them and saying they're young, they're inexperienced, but in reality, that's almost disrespectful to them," Hamilton said. "So, I'm expecting them to step up.

"I'm expecting them to play at a higher level, just like the players that we are playing against. I'm not willing to accept the fact that these guys are inexperienced; everybody's inexperienced at some point in time. It shouldn't keep you from going out and doing your very best. That's the way we're going to approach this."

Freshmen Matthew Cleveland, John Butler and Jalen Warley will all be playing against Duke, which is a five-point favorite, for the first time in their careers. As will newcomers like Cam'Ron Fletcher and leading scorer Caleb Mills.

Yes, it's their first year in the system. Yes, it's been an adjustment. And yes, tonight will be unlike any environment these newcomers have experienced in their basketball careers.

Hamilton just doesn't want to talk about it anymore.

"I'm gonna quit talking about their inexperience," he said. "I want them to go out and get the job done regardless of who we're playing. Duke's up next, so we've got to be at our best. The inexperience, the adjustment, learning each other, at this point, we've got to get past that."

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