November is now in the rearview mirror and Indiana’s segment of cupcake games is officially over. The Hoosiers dive straight into the deep-end of the tough conference schedule with a match up against Florida State, who are currently the 15th best team according to KenPom at the time of writing. They are ranked around the top 50 in offense, but the emphasis is in their defense, which is top three in the nation.
The Seminoles are currently 7-1 on the season, which includes winning the Emerald Coast Classic over the Purdue Boilermakers in a gritty, grind-out game. They will visit Bloomington as the No. 17 team in the nation in an updated AP Poll on December 2.
Since the ACC scheduled conference games to open the season, Florida State has an opening road loss to Pittsburgh, which is the only loss for them on the season. Since then, the Seminoles have been on a 7-game winning streak like the Hoosiers, and they have beaten opponents by an average of nearly 19 points per game.
Their most impressive victories include a road win against No. 6 Florida, neutral court win against No. 17 Tennessee, and a neutral court win against Purdue.
Considering their size, specialization in defense, and depth of the roster, this Florida State team mimics Indiana very well in their profile. Their offensive philosophies may be differ and their defensive schemes are nuanced differently, but both teams are going to try to slow down the pace of the game defensively and they will use their size to close off passing lanes.
How to Watch
|Who||Indiana Hoosiers vs. No. 17 Florida State Seminoles|
|When||Wednesday | December 3, 2019 | 9:00 p.m. ET|
|Where||Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Ind.|
|Tickets||Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek|
|Listen||IU Radio Network|
|Spread||IU -3, Over/Under 140|
Getting to Know the Seminoles
Coached by a legendary head coach Leonard Hamilton who is currently 71 years young and is reaching his 1,000th game milestone, the Seminoles are coming off a 29-8 season that included a Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA tournament. Florida State was voted to finish fifth (behind Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, and Louisville) in ACC preseason polls.
Florida State is literally the tallest team in the nation according to average height. They average a whopping 6-feet-7 inches. The Hoosiers, who have size of their own, will be matching them as the 12th tallest team in the nation in the same metric.
The Seminoles are led by senior guard Trent Forrest who is the leading returning scorer on this Florida State team. The 6-foot-4 point guard has an impressive ability to muscle his way into the paint. While he does not play like a pure point guard, he is as short as Hamilton is willing to go and can handle the ball respectably at his length. He is a great free throw shooter at 82.4% on the season but not the most efficient on the floor, as he has shot just 28 of 65 from the floor.
Generally speaking, this Florida State team hangs their hat on their defense and not their offensive efficiency.
Supporting Forrest in the backcourt, Florida State will deploy two guard/wing combos in M.J. Walker and Devin Vassell. The two natives of Georgia are 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7 respectively and they are unafraid of attacking the basket. Both shoot free throws at a rate better than 74% and they have drawn the most fouls outside of Forrest. Neither are particularly great three-point shooters, but Vassell is currently 40% at 8 of 20 from distance.
In the front court, 6-foot-9 Malik Osborne and 7-foot Dominik Olejniczak will serve as Florida State’s main rim protectors and will be the assignments for Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk, Race Thompson, and De’Ron Davis. The Hoosiers will need to be careful of Osborne as he can stretch the floor with his occasional three point shooting. Hamilton’s group prefers to rebound by committee, so their rebounding will not rely on the Seminoles’ front court. All five players for Florida State will be able to crash the glass.
Clearly, Hamilton has the intention of recruiting size. In the 2019 recruiting class, the Seminoles picked up four players that are 6-8 or taller. The prized recruit is 6-foot-8 forward Patrick Williams who is a five-star from North Carolina. The 7-foot-1 freshman from Serbia Balsa Koprivica was recruited out of Monteverde High School. That pair is currently averaging 38.8 minutes, 16.0 points, and 6.4 rebounds per game combined. Expect both freshmen to be important contributors off the bench.
To round off the freshman class, Florida State has three-star 7-foot-1 center Naheem McLeod and 6-foot-7 forward Zimife Nwokeji from Tallahassee.
Projected Starting Lineups
|G: #3 Trent Forrest||G: #1 Al Durham|
|G: #23 M.J. Walker||G: #2 Armaan Franklin|
|G: #24 Devin Vassell||F: #3 Justin Smith|
|F: #10 Malik Osborne||F: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis|
|C: #15 Dominik Olejniczak||C: #50 Joey Brunk|
What to Watch for
1. Prepare yourself for a low possession, defensive game going down to the wire
In Florida State’s games against formidable opponents, the scores look very similar:
- Loss vs Pittsburgh 63-61
- Win at Florida 63-51
- Win vs Tennessee 60-57
- Win vs Purdue 60-63
Florida State is only trying to score in the 60s, but use their defense to hold opponents under that. If the Hoosiers cannot score above the 60 point mark against the Seminoles, then most likely they will be in a lot of trouble.
They accomplish this by an incredibly high opponent turnover rate (see #4 below), steal percentage, and block percentage. The sheer size of the team at all five positions on the floor create havoc. Florida State will handle teams that are unable to shoot from the perimeter, which Indiana has yet to prove.
2. Three-point shooting will be a key to victory on offense
Like last season, the Hoosiers are still struggling to find their rhythm from behind the arc. The good news is that Florida State is also not a great three-point shooting team.
Attempts from behind the arc have been successful just 34.7% of the time for Indiana this season. That rate may increase considering Armaan Franklin and Jerome Hunter are a combined 6 of 34 (17.6%). Both Al Durham and Devonte Green are shooting at over 42% and Damezi Anderson right at 40%. With the games increasing in difficulty, expect the senior guards to take the majority of the attempts moving forward.
That being said, Franklin and Hunter have to confidently take and make the shot if they are left open, which Florida State may allow at times.
3. Win the glass, win the game
Indiana is currently the 21st best offensive rebounding team in the nation and they are tenth in the nation in preventing opponents from getting offensive rebounds.
On the other hand, despite their size, Florida State ranks in the 280 in allowing opponents to pull down boards for second chance opportunities. The Hoosiers have a soft spot to potentially open up the game if players like Jackson-Davis, Brunk, and Justin Smith can continue putting back missed shots.
The Seminoles rebound by committee, which means that nearly every player on the court is in charge of grabbing boards. Despite rebounding an average of 36.3 balls per game, the highest single rebounder is Osborne who grabs 5.8 per contest.
4. The Hoosiers have to get back to taking care of the rock
Florida State is one of the best teams in the nations when it comes to creating turnovers. Opponents are averaging 18.4 turnovers per game against the Seminoles. They forced 24 turnovers against the Boilermakers and 21 against Tennessee.
Players like Anthony Polite and their starters in Vassell and Forrest all have double digit steals on the season.
This is a dangerous time for Indiana because the Hoosiers are coming off their two worst turnover performances of the season. Indiana tallied 18 turnovers against Louisiana Tech and 19 against South Dakota State.
Indiana has to get back to playing calm, collected, and intention. With true point guard Rob Phinisee out for the past several games, the Hoosiers have not been the same team in terms of ball handling.
5. Packing the Hall
Finally, as the first “major” game of the season, the Hoosiers have not yet seen Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in full effect this season. With a ranked team visiting town, Indiana fans have an opportunity to pack the arena in the popular annual Big Ten-ACC challenge game, where the Hoosiers have taken on Duke in three out of the last four season.
No excuses for the evening game, because Thanksgiving break is over.
With a break from the Blue Devils, Indiana has an opportunity to defeat Florida State for their first ranked game of the season as well as the first game against a top 50 KenPom opponent.
Featured Photo: Alicia Devine / Democrat