The Leonard Hamilton era at Florida State has been good, at least for the most part. After inheriting a struggling program, Hamilton has taken the Seminoles to nine NCAA Tournaments in the last 14 seasons (they would have easily made the field in 2020). Included in that run is three Sweet Sixteen appearances and an Elite Eight run. He has put 21 players in the NBA since he took over in 2002. All in all, he has turned the team around and made Florida State into a respectable program. With that being said, this season has started about as poorly as possible for Hamilton and the Seminoles.
If you had asked fans how they thought the team would look through their first three games, I would venture to say that about 99 percent of the responses would have been either 3-0 or 2-1. If you asked those same people what they would say if you told them they would be 0-3 with their closest game being a seven point loss, they likely would have tried to get you admitted to the local mental hospital. Yet, here they stand, 0-3 with their closest game being a seven point loss. It has been arguably the worst start for any major conference team in the country.
Their season opener was against in-state neighbor Stetson. The Hatters jumped on them early, opening up an 18 point lead at the seven minute mark of the first half. The Seminoles were able to give within a handful of points multiple times and got as close as three with just under five minutes left. However, Stetson would score points on every one of their final seven possessions. FSU couldn’t match them offensively and would fall 83-74. I gave them the same benefit of the doubt that I gave TCU after their opening night scare. However, they quickly showed me that they weren’t deserving of that benefit.
Game two featured another all Florida matchup, this time it was the Knights of UCF. This one wasn’t as close as the first game, but it was also against a better opponent. Nevertheless, it was a game that FSU should have at least been in. They weren’t. After UCF took the lead at the 12 minute mark of the first half, they never looked back. The lead was within double digits for two just minutes in the second half, as the Knights pulled away and knocked FSU down to 0-2 on the season. Certainly, they would figure it out in game three against Troy, right? Wrong.
This one was the most competitive of the three, however. The Seminoles only trailed by double digits for a single minute of play. It was a back and forth battle the entire way and was a four point game with two minutes to play. In the end, though, the Trojans were able to score on five of their final six possessions to put FSU and hand them their third straight loss.
The numbers go a long way in telling the story for the Seminoles. They are 228th in field goal percentage, 310th in free throw percentage, 330th in rebounding, and outside the top 240 in both blocks and steals. Just about the only thing they are doing well is shooting from behind the arc, where they are 54th in three point percentage. However, they are 311th in three point attempts, so they aren’t even using what they do well to their advantage.
Coach Hamilton will need to quickly turn this team around if he wants to continue the success he has had recently. Their next opportunity to do so will be Friday night, as their battle for Florida continues against the Gators.