Oct. 31, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Junior guard Jason Rich scored 17 points and all five Florida State starters scored in doubles figures to lead the Seminoles to a 90-72 exhibition game victory over Spring Hill College at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The Seminoles shot 58 percent and outscored the Badgers, 56-33, in the second half to gain the victory. Rich led the Seminoles’ starting five and was followed by All-America candidate Al Thornton’s 16 points, 12 from Isaiah Swann, 11 from Toney Douglas and 10 from Uche Echefu.
Florida State roared back from a 39-34 halftime deficit and outscored the Badgers, 19-4, to open the second half. The Seminoles led by 10 at 53-43 after only 5:10 of the second half had been played.
Spring Hill was led by guard Noah Woolridge who scored a game high 26 points on eight made 3-point field goals. Woolridge was limited to six second half points after torching the net for 20 points in the first half. Guard Jeremy Price added 24 points as he made five 3-point field goals. Woolridge and Price combined to score 50 of the Badgers’ 72 total points.
“This is an educational process we’re going through right now; it’s a learning time,” said Seminole Head Coach Leonard Hamilton. “You always want to go out and play well, but with this team, I’m not real sure that it would have done us much good to blow this team out by thirty points in the first half. We had wide open looks that we know don’t fall, and we are a good perimeter shooting team. Our shots didn’t fall, and we didn’t play with the energy defensively, then your free throws don’t fall. That’s a mindset that you very easily get into. We probably were in more of a learning type of mode and try to learn the system and how to play together. It was a little bit more of a challenge. I thought we came back and responded in the second half, our shots fell, we got defensive stops, and we did a much better job of getting open looks.”
The Seminoles played a solid second half in outscoring their opponents by 23 points. The Seminoles shot 57.9 percent (22 of 38) from the field, 36.4 percent (four of 11) from the 3-point line and 72.7 percent (eight of 11) from the free throw line. Florida State also cut down on their turnovers (12 in the first half and only eight in the second half), picked up on their defense (six second half steals) and limited Spring Hill to 30.6 percent (11 of 36) shooting from the field. The Badgers shot 57.7 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the first half including 52.9 percent (nine of 17) from the 3-point line.
“We feel that this team has the making of the type of a team that can be a surprise and a nuisance to a lot of people, said Hamilton. “But we need all of our parts working. Right now we need two young players like Uche (Echefu) and Ryan (Reid) to step up. I think they are very capable, but they still have a lot to learn. Cassan (Breeden) was big for us. I’m very confident that our five experienced frontcourt players are so close knit on how much they have improved, I’m confident that we have a good rotation there, but I’d like to see us play a little closer to the way we played in the second half in terms of making the second, third and fourth pass in a possession that allows us to get an open look.
Echefu scored a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Reid scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds in his first game as a Seminole. Sophomore Toney Douglas, who started at a guard spot for the Seminoles scored 11 points, pulled down six rebounds and dished out five assists. It was his game as a Seminole and his first game since March of 2005 while playing as a freshman at Auburn.
“Toney is going to be fine; it was his first game and he was a little anxious,” said Hamilton. “He had a lot of shots that normally fall for him didn’t fall tonight. I think that he’s going to go through a period of adjustment, and thank goodness we have eight more practices and another exhibition before the season starts to fine tune things out. We have made some adjustments that area a lot different from what we did last year, so he has to now learn new teammates and adjust differently. But I think that he will be fine with a few more weeks underneath his belt, but we don’t have a lot of time, so we have to get ready very fast.”
Florida State plays host to Nova Southeastern on Nov 7 at 7 p.m. at the Tucker Center. All proceeds from the game will be donated to the Aubry Boyd Fund. Boyd played for the Seminoles from 1987-90 and was tragically paralyzed from the neck down in a flag football accident in 1994. He currently lives in Tallahassee.