January 8, 2019 - by
FSU Men Preparing For ‘Wounded Tiger’ In Miami

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – In seasons past, Phil Cofer would beat himself up after a loss, maybe spending sleepless nights wondering what he or his Florida State teammates could have done differently.

But now as a fifth-year senior, who is accustomed to both the rigors of the Atlantic Coast Conference and a deep NCAA tournament runs, Cofer’s perspective following setbacks has changed.

“I used to get down, like, ‘Why did we lose that game?’” Cofer said. “But now it’s just me trying to learn from my mistakes and be better down the road.”

It’s a mindset that Cofer hopes to share with his teammates as they prepare to bounce back from a disappointing, 65-52 loss at No. 4 Virginia last week and host Miami on Wednesday at the Donald L. Tucker Center (9 p.m., RSN).

“We know what we can do and we know what we’re capable of,” sophomore MJ Walker said. “So you learn from it and get ready for the next one.”

In No. 13 FSU’s case, the next one will come against a Miami team with a record that might not be properly aligned with its capabilities.

The Hurricanes are a pedestrian 8-6 overall and are off to an 0-2 start in conference play after losses against North Carolina State and at Louisville.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, though, believes that record is misleading.

Miami led NC State by 10 midway through the second half and jumped out to a 15-point advantage in the first half at Louisville.

“If you look at both of those games and stop with three quarters of the game (complete), you’d have gone to bed and said Miami won,” Hamilton said. “They don’t look like a team that’s not very good.”

They do, however, look like a team that’s a little short on depth, which might help to explain those squandered leads.

Miami has just seven scholarship on its roster, and six Hurricanes are averaging at least 24 minutes per game.

Meanwhile, Florida State, known for its depth, has only three players at that mark – Terance Mann (30.1), Trent Forrest (29.1) and MJ Walker (26.5).

What the Hurricanes lack in depth, though, they might make up for in talent – at least at a few spots.

Sophomore Chris Lykes ranks eighth in the ACC with 17.5 points per game, and, at 5-foot-7 and 157 pounds, he might be one of the fastest players the Seminoles have had to guard this season.

“He’s quick as lightning, man,” Walker said.

Throw in sharpshooting guard Dejan Vasiljevic – a 44.1-percent 3-point shooter who made six 3s against FSU last year – and it’s easy to see how the Hurricanes can cause problems.

Which is why the Seminoles are focused on Miami’s abilities and not the Hurricanes’ record.

And, for that matter, not yet focused on a looming matchup with No. 1 Duke on Saturday.

“We know we’re getting a wounded tiger,” Hamilton said.

“They’re a great team, still,” Cofer added. “We don’t look at anybody’s record in the ACC. Because every team is going to be a dog fight.”


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