STS: Florida State's most frequently used lineup boasts two true freshman while their second most common lineup has three. Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, and Terance Mann make for an extremely impressive recruiting class. Tell us a little bit about these freshmen and if they will stick around for a while and give Coach Hamilton a core to build around.
TN: Dwayne Bacon has been exactly what we hoped for. We knew he was college-ready, and he's provided a great scoring punch from day one. The knock on him as a recruit was his effort level being less than consistent, and that has continued at this level. But he just had a 14-rebound game against BC, so hopefully he'll build on that. He also needs more of an alpha mentality.
Malik Beasley is the surprise of the bunch. It was obvious he'd be the most athletic guy on the team, but his shooting has been a real gift. He's one of those guys who typically drills it if you give him room, and if you get too close his first step is as quick as anyone I've seen at FSU.
Terance Mann is more of the long term guy. He's like a small Chris Singleton. He can kind of do a little of everything, and the staff will just have to figure out where he can excel and put him in that position. Plus he's a coaches son with is always nice.
Bacon and Beasley could both jump early, and I'll be surprised if Bacon is here next year regardless of what his projected draft position is. Beasley is definitely the more likely of the two to be a multi-year player.
STS: Last year, FSU's front line was absolutely massive with 7-footers Bojanovski, Turpin, and Ojo rotating through the center position. This year, Turpin and Ojo are gone and Bojanovski is seeing the floor less. This hasn't seemed to affect rebounding, but blocked shots are down. How has this change impacted Florida State defensively?
TN: When we'd heard that Ojo had blown his knee, that was the first real moment of concern for this team. It's not that Ojo would play 25 minutes a night, but he allowed a Bojo/Ojo rotation so that FSU could always have a 7-footer in the middle. He's also the best rebounder on the team, and he's tough and physical in a way that just can't be replaced. Then Phil Cofer was lost for the season, and suddenly FSU has two ACC ready bigs (Bojo and Jarquez Smith). Now the team has no option but to run four perimeter players and either Bojo or Smith. Coach Hamilton's best teams have always had a deep roster of bodies to mix and match as needed and to stay fresh, but horrible injury luck has really hampered the team again. At Bojo's size, and with how fast FSU likes to get up and down, it's hard for him to stay on the floor for long stretches.
STS: Rathan-Mayes, Beasley, and Bacon combine to average a whopping 45.5 points per game and have taken over half of the team's field goals. Interestingly, they shoot very few three-pointers. Talk to us about how FSU's offense works.
TN: Ideally it's 4-out, 1-in with a lot of high ball screens to force the defense to choose. Unfortunately, XRM and Bacon's inability to be consistent deep threats means the defense can sag a lot which makes dribble penetration difficult. To counter, FSU runs at every opportunity and the team is the most uptempo in the ACC. When the defense gets stops then Florida State can score ridiculously quick. When they don't get stops, FSU has to face half court defenses, and it can become a grind.
STS: While many Clemson fans are just tuning into basketball after an amazing and emotionally exhausting 15-game football season, I want to jump off topic and ask about football for a moment. The ACC schedule was just released. How do you feel about the timing of the Florida State game and who do you think will be quarterbacking the Seminoles come October 29th?
TN: To be honest I haven't even looked at the schedule. [looks up schedule] Hey, we get a bye before the Clemson game! That's very SEC of the schedule makers. I'm not sure what you guys have in the week prior, but FSU-Clemson should always be the marquee game of the regular season, and the ACC needs to treat it that way. As for our QB, let me ask one of our football guys. [David says, "I'd bet Francois but that is far from settled."] Deandre Francois is a redshirt freshman (who people compare stylistically to your QB, not that I'm silly enough to think he'll be that good) and he'll be battling Sean Maguire who suffered a terrible leg injury in the bowl. Plus we have some hot true freshman but I never put too much stock in that.
STS: What are your expectations for the rest of Florida State's basketball season and this game in particular?
TN: In our preseason projections I had FSU as an 11-seed in the NCAAT (before I knew about the Ojo/Berwick/Cofer injuries), and right now they're a bubble team, so about right where I expected. Our young guys seem to come into each game way too tight, so I expect FSU to start slow against Clemson before picking it up. Hopefully Jordan Roper won't come out of nowhere and knock down 7-10 3s again, and I think that FSU will get the much needed win unless a Tiger goes nuts from deep like the last game. Another potential game-killer would be Bojo's shoulder injury. He got hammered twice against Pitt, and then left the BC game when he aggravated the injury. If he's not full speed then that leaves Jarquez Smith and our 7-4 freshman who needed a redshirt to deal with the Clemson front line. That doesn't sound ideal.
STS: You can see our answers to Tomahawk Nation's questions here.