Florida State Smashes Chicago State: 3 Game-Changing Plays

Let’s be real, this game was over before it started.

Chicago State was down by double-digits less than three minutes into the game. The spread was 40 points, and it was a 36-point game at halftime. The phrase “and the lead has been cut to 41” was actually said on air in the second half. There are no game changing plays in a blowout like this, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t highlight plays or plays to learn from. Let’s take a look at some of those, but first, some box score notes.

Florida State was phenomenal shooting the ball as a team, putting up a split of 65.5(!!!!!)/43.5/87.1. 65.5% from the field is phenomenal; the ‘Noles haven’t shot that well since February 2017, a 109-61 win over Clemson where they shot 66.1% from the floor. All of those shooting splits give a lot of hope for the rest of the season, especially the 3pt shooting. The better this team can shoot from the outside, the more the floor opens up on the inside.

The team defense was just as stifling, holding Chicago State to 36.5% from the floor and 21.4% from 3. Besides the Western Carolina game, every team has been held below 39.0% from the field, which is typical for a Coach Hamilton team, but doesn’t make it any less impressive.

Nathanael Jack lived up to his reputation as the next PJ Savoy, going 4/6 on the game – all attempts from 3pt range – in just 14 minutes of action. Pure shooters don’t get a ton of minutes in this system as defense will always come first, but his shooting is going to be needed throughout the season.

After a quiet outing against St Francis, Patrick Williams bounced back with a 16-point outing against Chicago State to push him back to averaging double digit points per game on the season. He missed some really easy looks, and could’ve easily had 20+, but this was still a great showing.

Devin Vassell also has a quiet night against St Francis, but he made up for all of those missed chances for dunks and lobs by also dropping 16 points on just 7 shots. He was also in the passing lanes, nabbing 3 steals and one that led to the best highlight of the season so far.

The two bigs of Dominik Olejnjczak and Balsa Koorivica again had a great night, combining for 18 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. They’re supposed to dominate the lesser opponents, but with this big tournament coming up, confidence is only going to help them.

Now, onto the plays.

Play 1

Situation: 7:53 Remaining in the first half, Devin Vassell gets a steal

Devin Vassell took flight, and we were all witnesses. SportsCenter labeled it as “Shades of ‘Nique” as in Dominique Wilkins, one of the greatest dunkers of all time. Let’s just appreciate this beauty.

It’s important to note how the play started: a steal. Great defense turning into easy offense. Some only see the flashy dunk and that’s what they care about most, but Vassell did a great job of sinking in with his usual help defense, react when the ball-handler picked up his dribble, and then jumped the passing lane when he realized where the pass was going.

Great play all around.

Play 2

Situation: 10:04 remaining in second half, FSU is in their half court offense

I was going to include this play anyways, but the fact FSU Hoops tweeted the video of the play makes it so much easier for me. Look at this gorgeous ball movement.

Two bounce passes in four seconds is awesome. Beating the 2-3 zone requires tough entry passes before the defense can rotate, and all three players did an exceptional job of knowing where to go before getting the ball. Great zone offense led to the easiest dunk Patrick Williams will have in his whole career.

Play 3
Situation: 1:48 remaining in the second half, Florida State is in transition

Justin Lindner was given the nickname “Stockton” very early on in his career at FSU by one of the coaches and it stuck. So much so, that when Olejnjczak wanted the #15, Lindner happily obliged and switched to #12, John Stockton’s old number from the Utah Jazz.

Anytime the Green Team gets on the floor and can do something flashy, it has to be highlighted. Lindner shook this dude to Madison County.

The defender was originally in great position.

*insert Chris Berman “WHOOP” here*

The bench then loses it. This play was so disgraceful, when Lindner went 1-on-1 with a defender at the end of the game, the defender just wrapped him up and fouled out of the game, rather than Lindner embarrass another poor soul.

Florida State will play Tennessee next on Friday at 7pm in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic.

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