FSU seeks to get back in gear, honor seniors on Wednesday

Get back on track and in rhythm.

Leonard Hamilton made it clear in his press conference following Florida State’s loss at North Carolina: No excuses. But as good as the Seminoles looked in the first half they didn’t have the same energy and determination in the second half. And while FSU did have M.J. Walker, Malik Osborne and Tanor Ngom back on the court, Hamilton said they had been limited in practice or not been able to practice until arriving at the arena in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday.

If anything, the loss was a reminder that even the ACC’s best teams are susceptible in the 2020-21 season. In FSU’s case, the lack of energy and focus were factors in the 11 second-half turnovers as well as struggles from the floor and free-throw line in the last 20 minutes. 

Let’s take a look at some key storylines and stats as FSU faces Boston College on Wednesday at 9 p.m. (ACC Network).

Don’t focus on opponent

The Seminoles must refocus and have all of their rotational players in sync even if they are facing one of the ACC’s worst teams in Boston College (2-9 in ACC play and hanging out in the basement with 3-15 Miami). Quite simply: FSU shouldn’t sleepwalk through this game but it is one where the Seminoles should dominate and get more playing time to the likes of Nathanael Jack and the Green Team.

FSU (14-4, 10-3 ACC) is also still in position to claim the league’s regular-season title with victories over BC and Notre Dame (9-13, 6-10) on Saturday. Virginia is at 12-4 with a game to go, at Louisville, and the ACC will use winning percentage as well as head-to-heat meetings as the tiebreaker. The Seminoles will be expected to win their next two games. Beyond securing the victories it’s essential the team returns to form as the ACC Tournament is ahead next week.

With what has been a stop-and-start season, including pauses in January and February as well as Walker’s injury, it’s impressive that FSU has won 10 league games. It’s also good to see FSU is in position to achieve the next goal, which is to add another ACC regular-season championship banner at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

Honoring seniors

FSU will honor its seniors before the final home game on Wednesday. The Seminoles will not say goodbye to two of them as center Tanor Ngom and guard Nathanael Jack have told the staff they plan to return for a second senior season in 2021-22.

As part of Wednesday’s ceremony, which will begin at about 8:40 p.m., M.J. Walker and RayQuan Evans as well as the Green Team — Harrison Prieto, Will Miles, Justin Lindner and Travis Light will be honored. The walk-ons are all in graduate school. Walker and Evans have not stated their intentions with regards to professional basketball — Walker has steadily improved and evolved into an all-around player, while Evans could play overseas if he chooses.

“Says a lot about the commitment that these youngsters have had, to doing the right thing, being focused academically, as well as following the direction and cooperating with the academic tutorial people and being represented with what a student-athlete term means,” Hamilton said. “So I’m very proud of them. And people will never know how much input our walk-ons have to our program, the Green Team, as we call them. They are an integral part, they have as much input as the leading scorer on our team. 

“I’m very proud of the relationships and the culture that we’ve been able to develop. I’m excited to see them completing one chapter of their career. I’m sad to see them go. So my emotions are all over the place. I’m happy, sad and excited all at the same time. And I don’t know what kind of terminology you can use to express that mindset, but I feel all of them.”

Tuck Talk

On the latest Tuck Talk, Ariya Massoudi goes 1-on-1 with Balsa Koprivica. We are also joined by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Curt Weiler to discuss FSU’s push to the finish in the ACC regular season and the prospects of claiming another title. Listen here, on the Apple podcast app or tell your Alexa to play “the Osceola podcast.”

A few notes on BC

The Eagles have really struggled this season, seeing coach Jim Christian dismissed and winning just two ACC games. The Eagles are 127th in KenPom’s rankings. Scott Spinelli is the interim head coach and picked up a big win in BC’s last game, 94-90 over Notre Dame.

Jay Heath, a 6-3 sophomore guard, leads BC and is 13th in the ACC in scoring (14.6 points per game). Steffon Mitchell, a 6-8 senior forward, is on BC’s all-time top-10 list in rebounds, steals and blocks.

FSU leads the series 12-7, including an 80-62 victory in the regular-season finale in March 2020 when the Seminoles secured the ACC regular-season title.