2008-09 Florida State Basketball Preview: #78
Florida State Seminoles
Overall Rank: #78
Conference Rank: #8 ACC
2007-08: 19-15, 7-9, 7th
2007-08 postseason: NIT
Florida State had a pretty average season last year which ended in the first round of the NIT at the hands of Akron. For the most part the Seminoles beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the teams they were supposed to lose to. The absence of a trio of guards might lead to less consistency, but the addition of a great recruiting class could lead to a few more big wins. In the end however, a few big wins will not make up for a few bad losses and that means another trip to the NIT for FSU.
Ralph Mims, Jason Rich, Isaiah Swann were the senior leaders on the team last year and combined to average 37.9 points, 6.6 assists, 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals. Not only is that a heck of a lot of production lost in a lot of categories, but their leadership might be missed even more. Forwards Julian Vaughn and Matt Zitani each started a handful of games. Experienced depth is a nice thing to have, but the newcomers will not have much of a problem replacing the production.
Forwards Chris Singleton and Xavier Gibson will not just provide depth, they could be starting. Singleton, a 6-9 small forward, is the best recruit in a strong recruiting class. He can shoot from the outside with ease and will use his size to battle in the paint. Singleton is a great athlete who can handle the ball and play defense anywhere on the court. His versatility allows him to play a lot of positions, but FSU needs him at small forward and he very well could be starting at that position before long. Gibson can shoot from the outside too, but the 6-11 freshman spends most of his time dominating the paint. Coach Leonard Hamilton did not save all the talented newcomers for the frontcourt. Deividas Dulkys, Luke Loucks, Pierre Jordan and Derwin Kitchen will help replace all the losses on the perimeter. Dulkys is a great athlete who can shoot the ball and fills a need at the shooting guard spot. However, it is Kitchen and his experience that will likely fill in at the starting spot right away. Kitchen, who signed with St. John’s before heading to the junior college level, is most known for his defense, but he can certainly score too. The 6-4 junior will likely spend most of his minutes at the two guard spot, but he can handle the ball as well and play the point when necessary. However, with Loucks and Jordan coming off the bench, Kitchen will probably not need to play the point.
Who to Watch:
The newcomers on the perimeter could hold their own in the ACC right now, but they will not have to do such things quite yet. Point guard and defensive specialist Toney Douglas will be the team leader. He led the squad with 15.4 points per game last year, but he might have to do even more this time around without Mims, Rich and Swann by his side…at least early in the campaign while the freshmen are still adjusting to their roles. Small forward Jordan DeMercy did not make much of a name for himself during his freshman season, averaging under ten minutes per game. But with that year of experience under his belt he will get the first opportunity to earn a starting position. He might not be able to hang onto it with Singleton breathing down his neck, but DeMercy will stay play an important role off the bench and has the potential to do more.
The frontcourt has more than potential. Uche Echefu averaged 10.0 points and a team high 7.3 rebounds last year and Ryan Reid has plenty of experience after starting 21 games a season ago. What gives the big guys hope to be much improved over last season is the return of Solomon Alabi. The 7-1 center only played in a few games as a freshman due to a leg injury, but there was good reason to be excited during those few games. Alabi is a fine shot blocker and his length will cause huge problems for the opposition on both ends of the floor. If everything comes together nicely, this is an NCAA Tournament team. However, that is depending on freshmen. Florida State has been inconsistent over the last few years and this young team will continue to have that problem.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Toney Douglas, Senior, Guard, 15.4 points per game
Derwin Kitchen, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jordan DeMercy, Sophomore, Forward, 1.4 points per game
Uche Echefu, Senior, Forward, 10.0 points per game
Solomon Alabi, Freshman, Center, 3.9 points per game