TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Leonard Hamilton isn’t much concerned with the final score of Florida State’s preseason exhibition on Thursday night.
The Seminoles should hold heavy advantages over visiting Valdosta State in just about every area, which means the outcome likely won’t be in doubt for long.
Hamilton, however, still has a check list of things he’d like to see in his team’s final tune-up.
“We’re going to be looking for exceptional defensive effort, great ball movement, unselfish play,” Hamilton said. “We think that’s the way we have to play in order for us to be successful.”
Those are things that won’t be immediately apparent in the box score.
The Seminoles crushed Southeastern, 119-58, in their first exhibition a week ago. Unsurprisingly, they had overwhelming statistical supremacy across the board.
And since that’s unlikely to happen at any point during the regular season, especially not once FSU enters ACC play, Hamilton is more concerned with judging his team’s focus, intensity and technique – the types of things that are not dependent on competition.
“Sometimes it’s difficult, especially when you’re playing against a smaller, less talented team, to get the challenge that you would like,” Hamilton said. “So you’re really basically playing against yourself, and your ability to be fundamentally sound, regardless of who your opponent is.”
Still, Hamilton and sophomore guard Terance Mann both said they like the team’s progress through fall camp.
Mann said that the Seminoles are much further ahead than they were this time a year ago, and that FSU’s crop of highly-regarded newcomers is proving to be full of quick learners.
As for Hamilton, he believes that the Seminoles still have a lot of room to grow, especially on defense.
That said, he’s pleased with his team’s collective defensive effort, which, in November, is still a big part of the equation.
“It’s obvious that we need to get back to playing that ‘Junkyard Dog’ defense that we have become known for,” Hamilton said. “That’s an area that we have kind of, I’ve thought, taken a step back the last couple of years. We’re trying to get that culture back, recreate that culture. …
“Effort’s a good start.”
Hamilton hopes that, over time, that effort will begin to translate into the type of defensive prowess that made the Seminoles one of the nation’s stingiest defending teams from about 2008 to 2012.
That means mirroring the ball, contesting shots, and developing the type of vision that allows a player to keep track of the ball while not losing his man.
“Technical things that just take repetition over and over and over in practice,” Hamilton said.
The Seminoles still have one more week of practice before opening the regular season at home on Nov. 12 against Charleston Southern.
Annual ‘Aubry Boyd Game’ set for Thursday night
FSU’s second exhibition will also serve as the program’s annual benefit for Aubry Boyd, a former Seminole basketball player who was left a paraplegic after fracturing the fourth vertebra in his neck during a pick-up football game in 1995.
A $5 donation will be accepted for admission to the game. Parking is free. All proceeds go to the Aubry Boyd Foundation.