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NoleGameday

Florida State Beats St Francis: 3 Game Changing Plays

For the 4th time in 5 games, Florida State had a different leading scorer. Both teams were fairly warm from behind the arc and decided to make this a 3-point shooting contest, despite neither team shooting a ton of them coming into the game.

St Francis was without one of their key players, Isaiah Blackmon, but received a huge lift from Myles Thompson, a career 28% shooter from 3-pt range and scoring 8.0 PPG yet had 23 points on 9/12 shooting and 4/5 from downtown.

Every time FSU started pulling away, the Red Flash would bounce back with big shot after big shot. It never got close enough to be worried about the outcome, but the final score should’ve been a much larger difference.

Some box score notes before moving onto the plays.

Wyatt Wilkes, aka the Vanilla Sniper/Bread Man, had a career day. He led Florida State in scoring with 14 points, including a nice display of shooting going 5/7 from the floor and 3/5 from downtown. He’s a really underrated passer and is finding his way in this system. If he can find this shooting stroke in ACC play, it’s going to provide a huge boost to the team. He also had a really nice block, but for some reason he didn’t receive credit for it in the box score.

I’ve been really impressed with Balsa Koprivica these last few games. His rapid improvements point towards an incredible career at Florida State. He finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals in 20 minutes of action. He’s gaining trust from the coaching staff and is just so talented around the rim. He also didn’t foul at all against St. Francis. He’d been averaging 3 fouls per game, so for him to not have any is a massive improvement. His footwork and foot speed on both ends of the floor is special.

Trent Forrest again does whatever is needed to win, this time doing a ton of damage from the free throw line going 7/7. He finished the game with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. His all-around versatility lets this team do so much offensively and defensively. He throws perfect lob passes, and these lobs were missing against Pittsburgh because of the injury to Olejniczak and foul trouble with Koprivica. The basket is always open, and Forrest is putting it to where only these vertical threats can get it.

Malik Osborne started at the power forward, and he made it count showing extended shooting range and looked much more comfortable operating on the wing instead of in the post. I still really like him down low, but going 3/5 from distance is just one more thing teams will have to worry about in the coming games.

Devin Vassell may have only finished with 4 points, but watching back on film, there were 3 or 4 times that he was about to get a breakaway dunk or a transition lob before the play was blown dead, whether it be because of a foul, bad outlet pass, or turnover. His lack of scoring doesn’t bother me as much as his 4 fouls do, but I think the frustration of not getting the easy highlight plays was getting to his head.

Onto the plays (excuse the iffy quality on the pictures, WatchESPN wasn’t feeling itself tonight).

Play 1

Situation: 18:00 remaining in the first half, St Francis is in their halfcourt offense

Set the standard early. That’s what every game is about. Florida State’s identity is defense, so closing out with high hands on shooters early and often is what was going to get the Red Flash out of their rhythm. This play had three equally great closeouts, first by Trent Forrest on Keith Braxton, their leading scorer.

Then it was Dominik Olejniczak on Scott Meredith, a 52% shooter from distance coming onto the game, which ran him off of the line.

Then it was finished by Devin Vassell, who came to help after Meredith got around Olejniczak and forced a toughly contested mid-range shot.

These are phenomenal rotations. Look at Anthony Polite and Malik Osborne also crashing towards the basket knowing 1) Olejniczak got caught out of position and more help is needed for the immediate scoring threats, and 2) that a shot has gone up and they need to find a body to box out. Excellent defensive possession by Florida State.

Play 2

Situation: 18:16 remaining in the second half, Florida State is in their halfcourt offense

St. Francis had cut the lead to 8 and was on a 14-4 run to close the first half and open the second half, and Florida State really needed a big bucket to stop the bleeding. So they went to a big.

Olejniczak had set a screen on the opposite side of the floor, but the defender was a little lazy on keeping up with him. Forrest notes this and delivers an entry pass. Ideally, a quick turn layup would be the option here, but Olejniczak does a great job of steadying himself and puts up a nice baby hook shot over the defender. His still recovering calf is probably what made him slow down, but that hook shot is sonething we wanted out of Christ Koumadje last year, and we’re finally getting it with Olejniczak.

Play 3

Situation: 7:00 remaining in the second half, St Francis is in transition

Patrick Williams really is the perfect Leonard Hamilton player. After missing a wide open 3, most freshmen would sulk back on defense and not be active. Most freshmen are not Patrick Williams.

Someone was blocking this shot, it just happened to be Williams who got his hand on it, got the rebound and pushed the ball in transition. Most people would find the point guard immediately on a breakaway. Patrick Williams is not most people.

He pushes the ball and waits for the defense to be in their transition alignment. Williams gets to the 3-point line and sees a 3-on-2 scenario, and knows the best scoring option will be a lob, but not from him or to him.

He gives it up to Trent Forrest who immediately throws a beautiful lob as the defender in the paint is rotating towards him from just inside the 3-point line to Balsa Koprivica, who is at the free throw line, and puts it in a place where only Koprivica can get it. This is as perfect as transition offense can get, and two true freshmen were behind it.

Florida State will take on Chicago State next on Monday night at 7pm.


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