TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After more than two months of all ACC, all the time, the Florida State men’s basketball team is about to see something different.
The Seminoles are set to host the Davidson Wildcats in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN2).
It marks just the second meeting between FSU and Davidson, who last played at Fiesta Bowl Classic in 2002 – Leonard Hamilton’s first year on the job.
When discussing Davidson, Hamilton reeled off a laundry list of basketball stars to pass through the program – “Lefty” Driesell, Fred Hetzel and, of course, NBA superstar Steph Curry among them.
Those players are all long gone from the college ranks, but Hamilton said the Wildcats still have plenty of sharpshooters.
That includes junior guard Jack Gibbs, who averages nearly 24 points per game, and senior guard Brian Sullivan, who shoots better than 40 percent from 3-point range.
“They move the ball, execute, spread the floor and penetrate and pitch,” Hamilton said. “(They) try to attack you from the perimeter.”
Both Hamilton and freshman Malik Beasley compared the Wildcats to Notre Dame, which would seem to bode well for the Seminoles.
FSU played the Fighting Irish a little more than two weeks ago and turned in one of its best performances of the season. The Seminoles held Notre Dame, which entered the game with nation’s most efficient offense, to just 28.6 percent shooting in the second half and its lowest point total of the season.
If the Seminoles can replicate that defensive performance on Tuesday, they like their chances to advance.
“It should translate,” Beasley said. “I think we’ve got enough rest now. Our bodies are rejuvenated. So I think we should be back to normal.”
Tournament time brings a little bit of chaos into the fold. Unlike the regular season, which is scheduled months in advance, FSU learned its opponent on Sunday – less than 48 hours from tip-off.
So Hamilton and his staff gathered late Sunday for initial scouting on the Wildcats, and they were back at it early Monday morning.
They studied common opponents – the Wildcats are 0-5 against teams that played FSU (North Carolina, Pittsburgh and three games against VCU) – as well as recent contests.
The scouting report didn’t reveal many surprises. Hamilton believes that defense and rebounding, two areas where FSU has been uneven this season, will play a large role in the outcome.
“I think we have a pretty good understanding of them,” Hamilton said. “I think they have a pretty good understanding of us.”
The winner of Tuesday’s game will face either Valparaiso or Texas Southern at a time and venue to be determined.