TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State will be up against two college basketball institutions when it visits Syracuse on Thursday night.
The Seminoles are looking for their second ever win at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome, which, with a capacity of more than 33,000, is the largest on-campus basketball arena in the nation.
Then once they got on the floor, the Seminoles will have to deal with the Orange’s infamous 2-3 zone defense, which coach Jim Boeheim has been running with precision for more than 30 years.
“You know what you’re going to get,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “There’s no secret to it. They have the same (defensive) shift they’ve been doing for 30 years.
“Now, it’s one thing to know it. (It’s something else) to go out and execute against it.”
If they can, the Seminoles will have a good chance to extend their winning streak to five games.
After dropping five of its first seven ACC contests, FSU has stormed back to post wins over Boston College, Clemson, NC State and Wake Forest to get above .500 in league play. At 6-5, just 2.5 games separate the Seminoles and second-place Virginia.
And this week could go a long way toward shaping the rest of the season. After their visit to Syracuse, the Seminoles are back home for a rematch against No. 12 Miami on Sunday.
The Orange and Seminoles have travelled similar roads to get to this point. After a shaky start to conference play, Syracuse has bounced back to win six of its last seven.
That run coincided with the return of Boeheim, who was suspended for the first nine games of the ACC season due to NCAA violations.
“(It’s) kind of similar to what we went through,” Hamilton said. “New team, new guys, new chemistry. A couple freshmen integrated into the rotation … I just think they’re a good basketball team that’s coming together.”
Hamilton downplayed the Carrier Dome’s significance, reminding that the court dimensions are the same everywhere and the baskets are still 10 feet tall. And any issues adjusting to the dome’s deeper sight lines behind those baskets should be mitigated when team holds its shootaround on Thursday morning.
As for the zone, the Seminoles feel they’re fortunate to have played – and been successful – against a few different zone defenses this season.
Both Clemson and Wake Forest employed a zone against FSU, and the Seminoles were able to break through with a combination of efficient shooting and a quick transition game.
“If they miss a shot, we just have to get it and go. Even if they make a shot, we have to get the ball out and run,” freshman guard Dwayne Bacon said. “Because we know for a fact they are just getting back to go to a 2-3 (defense). Their 2-3 can be a killer if you don’t do the little things to spice it up on offense.
“To not even let them get into the 2-3 would be the better way to get a push in the game and get us ahead early.”