TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Florida State’s exhibition opener provided a glimpse of what lies ahead for the Seminoles – both in the upcoming season and beyond.
It also showed coach Leonard Hamilton a few things he’d like for his team to tighten up between now and the Seminoles’ season opener on November 6.
So, in that sense, it was a near-perfect evening for FSU, which got 19 points and five assists from senior Trent Forrest in a 95-66 victory over Barry University at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Forrest, the central figure for an FSU team that lost its top two scorers from a year ago, was one of six Seminoles to finish in double-figures. Anthony Polite added 18 – including 16 in the second half – while RaiQuan Gray (10 points) and newcomers Patrick Williams (12, nine rebounds), Nathanael Jack (10), Dominik Olejniczak (10 points, seven rebounds) and Malik Osborne (seven points, seven boards) all enjoyed productive outings.
“I was pleased with some of the things I saw,” Hamilton said, “but we have a ways to go, no doubt about that. We’ve just got to keep working. By no means are we anywhere close to being ready to play against the toughest schedule that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
That will begin in two weeks, when the Seminoles start their campaign at Pittsburgh.
Between now and then, though, Hamilton can find some satisfaction in the things that his team did well – and the things that they improved upon – against Barry.
Playing without injured guards M.J. Walker and Devin Vassell, both of whom are expected to be in the starting lineup when they return, the Seminoles started a little slowly and trailed, 7-6, after seven minutes.
They eventually surged past their outmanned opponent and took a 37-21 lead into the break, but they also committed 17 first-half turnovers and shot 4-of-15 from 3-point range.
Hamilton admitted that FSU turned the ball over “too much, obviously,” but also noted that the Seminoles will likely grow through that as their newcomers adjust to the team’s uptempo offense.
Having Walker, Vassell and junior college transfer RayQuan Evans in street clothes didn’t help, either.
“We have some really good players sitting over there in blue jeans,” Hamilton said with a smile.
Hamilton didn’t seem too concerned over the injuries. He said that Vassell probably could’ve played against Barry, and that Walker, while not as close to a return, is recovering fine from a preseason hip flexor injury.
In their absence, the Seminoles got a good look at some fresh faces. Williams, a highly-touted forward prospect, introduced himself in a big way by throwing down five heavy dunks, at least one of which left the backboard shaking as he made his way back down the floor.
Olejniczak, a transfer from Ole Miss, did exactly as expected, too – he shot 5-of-5 from the floor, all from close range, and grabbed five boards.
And Jack, a shooting specialist, connected on 3-of-10 3-point shots while also earning seven rebounds.
All told, 12 Seminoles played on Monday night, with nine logging 15:54 or more and five playing upward of 20 minutes.
“It’s good to get the other guys some major minutes to kind of see where they are,” Hamilton said.
And, as things settled down, the Seminoles steadily pulled away. They outscored Barry 58-45 in the second half, had only five additional turnovers and increased their overall shooting percentage to 51.4.
“It was big-time for us,” Forrest said. “Just to get the early nerves out, the jitters, and just so (the newcomers) can kind of experience something that we haven’t really been doing lately.
“So I felt like it was big for us to get out here, play against somebody else and kind of get a feel for how it’s going to be in a real game.”