Sunday, November 19, 2017
Sports

Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina Tar Heels seek to shake off slow starts

RECOMMENDED READING


Though Selection Sunday is nine weeks away, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton knows how important today's early season ACC showdown with North Carolina can be to his team's NCAA Tournament chances.

"If we're going to keep our postseason tournament opportunities alive, we're going to have to do something unusual and unexpected," he said — like what happened the last time the Tar Heels visited Tallahassee. FSU's 90-57 throttling of then-No. 3 UNC last January had students rushing the floor and coach Roy Williams pulling his players from the court in the closing seconds.

The Seminoles hope for another impressive win after another unnerving start.

An FSU team that began the preseason ranked in the Top 25 and returned four of its five leading scorers kicked off the season with a home loss to South Alabama. The Seminoles added two more resume-busting defeats, to Mercer and Auburn.

The impact of an 8-5 nonconference schedule: an RPI that began the week at 72 — below programs such as Santa Clara and Western Michigan — and a spot outside cbssports.com analyst Jerry Palm's latest tournament projections.

In Monday's ACC teleconference, Hamilton rejected the idea that FSU is among the nation's biggest disappointments.

Though the Seminoles have had solid production from all-conference candidate Michael Snaer (15.6 points a game) and Clearwater product Okaro White (13.3), they have been inconsistent. Hamilton cites youth — four freshmen average at least 11 minutes a game — and injuries, including a bone bruise No. 2 returning scorer Ian Miller is recovering from.

"Most teams that have five freshmen, seven first-year players, have been inconsistent," Hamilton said. "I don't think our team is much different than what others are going through."

Including UNC.

At times, the Tar Heels have played four freshmen, and they have no seniors among their top five scorers. Thursday's 68-59 home loss to Miami made UNC 0-2 in the ACC and pushed Williams' team out of cbssports.com's latest bracket.

"It is a long year," Williams said this week. "It is a marathon that you're facing. You can't panic, and we don't intend to panic."

Both teams have climbed from similar depths before.

The last time UNC lost its first two league games, it won the next 10 and cut down the nets in Detroit as 2009 national champion.

Last winter FSU overcame a 9-5 nonconference record to claim its first ACC championship — with a win over UNC in the tournament final — and advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

"They lost a couple games they shouldn't have lost early in the year," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of the Seminoles. "But they usually come on when it comes to the league schedule."

FSU has done that since the start of conference play, earning a 71-66 win at Clemson and rallying from 12 down Wednesday to snap a 13-game winning streak for Turgeon's Terrapins.

The Seminoles have never beaten UNC three times in a row, but Hamilton knows more early ACC wins must follow if his team hopes to make a school-record fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"I guess you might say our backs are against the wall a little bit," he said. "We're going to have to do something exceptional to keep the upward climb we've had the last couple years."

Another victory over UNC would be a good place to start.

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @MattHomeTeam.

Comments

New Winston accuser hires Kinsman attorney

The unnamed female Uber driver who has accused Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston of groping her in Arizona in 2016 has hired a familiar name to represent her: John Clune, who represented Zephyrhills' Erica Kinsman in her civil lawsuit against Winston."...
Updated: 1 hour ago
AP poll: State showdown of ranked teams will be in Orlando

AP poll: State showdown of ranked teams will be in Orlando

Inadvertently, the newest Associated Press football poll produced some Florida history Sunday.For the first time ever, UCF and USF both will be ranked — and the 'Noles and Gators both will be unranked — entering their respective season-en...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail

Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he should have left three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China in jail. Trump’s tweet Sunday comes after the father of player LiAngelo Ball minimized Trump’s involvement in winning the playe...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Live blog: Bucs at Dolphins

Live blog: Bucs at Dolphins

Follow our live coverage of the Bucs’ game against the Miami Dolphins this afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. You’ll find news, analysis, photos, video and more from Times reporters, columnists and photographers — all in real time. View...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Not much movement in my AP Top 25 ballot

Not much movement in my AP Top 25 ballot

Cupcake weekend in college football meant few shakeups in my AP Top 25 rankings.I thought about moving Wisconsin up from No. 5 after a quality, double-digit win over Michigan, but it wasn't enough for me. In my rankings, the Badgers have beaten one t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs rookie TE Antony Auclair active against Dolphins

Bucs rookie TE Antony Auclair active against Dolphins

The Bucs' inactives for today's game at Miami are largely as expected, though rookie TE Antony Auclair is getting the nod as the third tight end, rather than veteran Luke Stocker.Auclair, an undrafted rookie from Canada, played only one other time th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Former Winston teammate: I was in car, nothing inappropriate happened

Former Winston teammate: I was in car, nothing inappropriate happened

Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby has released a statement in defense of Jameis Winston, saying he was in the back seat with the Bucs quarterback  during the Uber ride in 2016 and "nothing inappropriate" happened.The NFL is investigating an allegat...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Chip Kelly: Florida Gators’ next coach ‘will be really lucky’

Chip Kelly: Florida Gators’ next coach ‘will be really lucky’

With rumors swirling in Gainesville that Chip Kelly might be the Gators' next coach, ESPN asked him about it Sunday morning."Is this your way of firing me?" Kelly responded.Kelly, the former Oregon coach, eventually answered seriously. He didn't deny...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sunday morning QB, playoff edition

Sunday morning QB, playoff edition

Player of the Week | Michael Penix Jr., Tampa Bay TechPenix, a Tennessee commit, has been good all season and it seems as if he’s getting even better in the playoffs. On Friday night against Palmetto in the Class 7A region semifinals, he was too ...
Published: 11/19/17
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Published: 11/18/17