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Preview: FSU – Ga. Tech basketball

The ACC basketball season starts, pauses for two non-conference games, and returns just ahead of New Year’s.

For a Florida State team that is just coming off matchups with Indiana and Florida, Tuesday’s home game with Georgia Tech is an early peek at the pressure cooker that is ahead.

“As I watch film we still are not on point with our execution with relation to our offensive or defensive system,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We have a lot of areas where we need to improve on.”

Hamilton reminds that it’s not about the core starters and a few backups but “in reality our system includes 1-12. That’s who we are.” And even though Hamilton hasn’t had the luxury of an exhibition season to get a feel for the players and rotations, nine players average 12 or more minutes. 

One player who Hamilton would like to find more minutes is junior-college transfer Sardaar Calhoun. He has made the most of his minutes, making 4 of 7 shots from 3-point range, but is just 1 of 6 from inside the arc.

“We need to find ways to get him on the floor more and allow him to play through some of his mistakes,” Hamilton said. “He has the potential to really be a special guy. All of this is new to him.”

Hamilton said it takes time for players to make the transition, whether it’s from high school or junior college to the ACC. Often it’s about not forcing shots, maximizing the energy in the minutes they are on the court on defense and offense.

“It’s a learning experience,” Hamilton said. “Most players that play at our level, they are the best player on their high school teams or their junior college teams. They get all the touches. They play extended minutes. … It’s impossible to give maximum effort offensively and defensively on the court without getting fatigued. When you are fatigued and the pace of the game is such you have to look for a spot during the game to recover and rest and at least catch your breath. We try to not have those periods on the court.”

Upcoming game times

Whether it’s coffee, tea, soft drink or energy drink, get it ready. There will be some late tip-offs in the week ahead for FSU. The Georgia Tech game on Tuesday will tip at 8:30 p.m. (ACC Network), and Saturday’s game with UCF will tip at 9 p.m. (ACC Network). 

FSU probable starters

G RaiQuan Gray (8.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg; 4 pts and 2 rebs vs. Georgia Tech, December 31, 2019)

G Anthony Polite (10.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg; 8 pts and 4 rebs vs. Georgia Tech, December 31, 2019)

G Scottie Barnes (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg; First career game vs. Georgia Tech)

G M.J. Walker (17.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg; 9 pts and 1 reb vs. Georgia Tech, February 16, 2019)

C Balsa Koprivica (10.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg; 3 pts and 2 rebs vs. Georgia Tech, December 31, 2019)

FSU top reserves

RayQuan Evans (3.0 ppg, 1.3 apg; 3 pts and 2 asts vs. Georgia Tech, December 31, 2019)

Malik Osborne (4.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg; 7 pts and 4 rebs vs. Georgia Tech, December 31, 2019)

Wyatt Wilkes (3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg; 0 pts and 2 rebs vs. Georgia Tech, February 16, 2018)

Quincy Ballard (1.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg; First career game vs. Georgia Tech)

Sardaar Calhoun (4.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg; First career game vs. Georgia Tech)

Nathanael Jack (4.5 ppg, 0.3 apg)

Tanor Ngom (3.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg; First career game vs. Georgia Tech)

Ga. Tech probable starters

Jordan Usher (11.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg; 11 pts and 3 asts vs. Florida State, December 31, 2019)

Moses Wright (21.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg; 13 pts and 10 rebs vs. Florida State, December 31, 2019)

Michael Devoe (12.5 ppg. 2.8 rpg; 19 pts and 3 asts vs. Florida State, December 31, 2019)

Bubba Parham (13.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg; 3 pts and 4 asts vs. Florida State, December 31, 2019)

Jose Alvarado (17.8 ppg, 3.8 apg; 4 pts and 5 asts vs. Florida State, December 31, 2019)