TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State isn’t expecting any surprises from the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday.
FSU’s toughest opponents have taken advantage of the Seminoles’ small lineup and turned rebounding advantages into victories.
And up next is a Panthers team ranks second in the ACC with plus-9.1 rebounding margin.
“Everybody’s been crashing the boards on us,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “So it’s not like there’s anything different. … We’ve got to find a way to hold our own on the boards. That’s been something that’s been a problem for us all year long.”
They’ve certainly seen what happens if they don’t.
The Seminoles are 12-6 on the season, but 10-2 when they win the rebounding battle.
“We can’t come out and have a bad rebounding night,” freshman guard Dwayne Bacon said. “Everybody’s got to chip in. I feel like if we rebound and play defense, we’re fine.”
And while a significant part of the problem is due to injuries – the team is without 7-foot-1 Michael Ojo (knee) and 6-foot-8 Phil Cofer (foot) – the Seminoles also believe they could do more to help themselves.
Freshman Malik Beasley shook his head when remembering Wednesday’s game at Louisville.
Midway through the first half, with the Seminoles still within striking distance, Beasley thought he was in position to grab a rebound off of a Louisville miss. Instead, Cardinals guard Donovan Mitchell crashed to the basket, grabbed the ball and threw down a thunderous dunk that brought the KFC Yum! Center to its feet.
The play ended up on the Sportscenter Top 10 and sparked Louisville to an 84-65 victory.
“They made that run because of me,” Beasley said. “I didn’t box out. … I told (the team), ‘That was all my fault fellas. It won’t happen again.’
“I’ve got to make sure I box out more.”
Beasley said that boxing out is not a matter of technique, and that the Seminoles work on it plenty in practice.
Instead, it’s a matter of determination.
There have been times when the Seminoles thought they were giving maximum effort during the game, only to see otherwise when they review the film.
“It’s like we’re there by the rim but we don’t box out or we don’t jump up for the rebound,” Bacon said. “We’re just standing under the rim waiting for it to drop into our hands, and we can’t do that.
“We’ve got to actually go for the ball and make an effort to get it. We’ve got to make an effort for the rebound.”
Pitt will provide the Seminoles ample opportunity to change their ways. The Panthers grab more than 40 boards per game despite having just one player among the league’s top-25 rebounders.
Complicating matters is that the Panthers should be desperate for a victory after back-to-back blowout losses to Louisville and North Carolina State.
Bacon said the Seminoles are preparing for a physical affair.
“We can’t come in the game being soft,” he said. “I feel like in the first five minutes, they’re just going to come in and try to punk us.
“So if we come out and be physical and play like we did against Virginia and NC State we should really get a win.”
Rathan-Mayes’ status uncertain
Hamilton said he had yet to make up his mind on sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes’ status for Saturday’s game.
Rathan-Mayes, FSU’s starting point guard and third-leading scorer, was benched against Louisville due to a coach’s decision.