NEW YORK – Leonard Hamilton and his staff hardly had time to rest, much less celebrate.
Only a few hours after Florida State beat Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament quarterfinal, the Seminoles learned they would face Notre Dame in a semifinal match Friday at approximately 9:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center.
That makes for a quick round of preparation for a difficult opponent, but the Seminoles are at least plenty familiar with the Fighting Irish. This will be the third meeting between the two this year, with each having won on their home court.
Friday’s winner will face North Carolina or Duke in Saturday’s ACC tournament championship game.
“We’re going to do what we always do,” Hamilton said after Thursday’s game. “We’ll have a meal, debrief after the game and then start preparing for (Friday’s) game.”
When they do, they’ll see a Notre Dame team that looked especially impressive in its quarterfinal win over Virginia.
Led by 21 points and 10 rebounds from All-ACC forward Bonzie Colson, the Irish led for 39 minutes and cruised to a 71-58 victory.
Slowing down Colson is a top priority for FSU, and the Seminoles have seen firsthand what he can do. The junior scored 33 points when Notre Dame beat FSU in South Bend, Ind., last month.
FSU assistant Charlton Young compared the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Colson to Mark Aguirre and Adrian Dantley of the late-1980s Detroit Pistons – players who had an uncommon blend of skill and size.
“He’s a throwback,” Young said. “Just a really, really physical, skilled player. And you don’t see that combination of guys anymore.”
Based on their visit to South Bend, the Seminoles have a good idea of what to expect on Friday.
In that game, the Irish used a four-guard lineup to neutralize FSU’s size and create favorable matchups for Colson.
Colson responded by erupting for a career high, and in turn opened windows for guards Steve Vasturia and Matt Farrell, each of whom chipped in 15 points.
“He’s a matchup nightmare for the entire league,” Young said. “And they have five people on the court that can dribble past and shoot at all times, which presents problems. Because (for) a team like us that wants to pressure and get up in you, you have to find a way to defend them without fouling them.”
Young is right: Notre Dame’s 80.5 free-throw percentage is the best in the country.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, will look to replicate their performance in Tallahassee, when they beat the Irish 83-80. FSU converted 18 Notre Dame turnovers into 19 points and enjoyed a 39-18 scoring advantage from its bench.
That helped FSU survive a torrid shooting night from the Irish, who made 15 3-pointers.
“We had, of course, two great games with them,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “Down there, they guarded the heck out of us, and it was probably our worst night of the season handling the basketball. …
“It’s a great matchup. (The Seminoles) come at you in waves, physically and athletically. We’re going to have to block out. But we know them pretty good because we played them twice.”