March 21, 2011
|Players of the Game|
Chicago, IL – The United Center was supposed to be a home court advantage for second-seeded Notre Dame but it turned into Cinderella’s castle Sunday night as No. 10 Florida State (23-10) and No. 11 VCU each advanced to the Sweet 16 where they will meet Friday. The Seminoles upset the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish (27-7) thanks to a deadly combination of their typical suffocating defense and a hot night shooting from the outside in a one-sided 71-57 victory.
For the Seminoles this is the lowest seeded FSU team to ever advance to the Sweet 16 and the school’s first ever win over a team seeded as high as No. 2. The last time FSU advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1993 the squad entered the tournament as a No. 3 seed. It also ties the deepest NCAA Tourney run ever for a Leonard Hamilton coached team.
“It means the progress that we have been making will obviously receive a certain level of recognition and I also feel that our players will feel better about themselves and their hard work is paying off,” said head coach Leonard Hamilton when asked about the significance of Florida State’s Sweet 16 trip. “For me personally as a coach, I felt all along we could get to this point, but I also feel we can be a lot further along than we are.”
Entering Friday night’s game with Notre Dame the biggest question was how would the Seminoles defense do against the sharp shooting Irish but it was the Florida State offense that became the storyline. Not only did the Seminoles shoot nearly 46% for the game but the Seminoles also converted on 9 of 19 threes.
“We played a lot of inside-out, you know the bigs on our team, we have kind of struggled this year as far as posting up and doing what we need to do on the offense,” said Bernard James. “I think we executed pretty well tonight, catching the ball and kicking it out when they covered down. When our guys get spot-up threes they are pretty good at knocking them down. Once they got on a roll they just kept going.”
While the offense excelled, the Seminole defense was humming along at its usual stingy pace. The Irish flirted with a new season low for points in the first half. The fewest points scored by Notre Dame in the opening half was 19 versus St. Johns, mustering just four more in Sunday night’s game. Notre Dame’s season low shooting percentage in the first half was 28.1% versus Cal and the Irish barley eclipsed that mark against the Seminoles converting on just 30% of their shots in the first 20 minutes. Even more impressively Notre Dame came in shooting nearly 40% from behind the arc but was limited to just 1-10 shooting from three point range in the opening 20 minutes.
Things didn’t get any better for the Irish in the second half. For the game Notre Dame shot just 30.6% from the field and only 23.3% from three point range. A major accomplishment for the Seminoles considering all five Irish starters shoot better than 40% from behind the arc.
Despite the lopsided shooting numbers and a 23 point second half lead, Notre Dame closed the gap to 12 points but Florida State seemed to find an answer every time Notre Dame began to turn the tide. With 5:35 remaining Notre Dame got to within 13 but a 5-0 FSU run seemed to suck the life out of the Irish and the Notre Dame heavy crowd that began to turn for the exits as the clock ticked under 3:30.
“The momentum was on their side, it was basically a home game for them,” said Derwin Kitchen. “The crowd got so loud when they got it down to 12. I got fouled and made a few free throws and kind of quieted the momentum down and we took care of the rest.”
The Seminoles will head to San Antonio for a first ever meeting with the darling of the NCAA Tournament Virginia Commonwealth who had to win a play in game and has now moved on to the Sweet 16 in what will be the first ever match-up of 10 and 11 seeds. More info on game time and tickets is currently available on Seminoles.com.
Orders will be taken from all Seminole Boosters and season ticketholders through the end of the day Tuesday. General public may request tickets with fulfillment based upon availability after Seminole Boosters and season ticket holders have been prioritized.
All tickets are priced at $180 each and include tickets for BOTH sessions on Friday, March 25 and Sunday March 27.
Call 1-888-FSU-NOLE or (850) 644-1830 with questions or to order tickets.