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January 25, 2007With Sean Marshall's buzzer-beating 3-pointer Tuesday evening, it became apparent that the Florida State men's basketball team would face an uphill climb in the remainder of the ACC season if it intends to reach its goal of the NCAA Tournament this season.
It also became apparent that things have come full circle in the five years that Leonard Hamilton has been at Florida State when it comes to how his team performs on the court.
During the early part of the Leonard Hamilton Era at Florida State, the Seminoles were known as a sound defensive team that was often offensively inept. This past season that couldn't be further from the truth. The offense has not been an issue, averaging 76 points per game, but in FSU's six losses, the team has allowed an average of 82 points per game.
That inability to slow down their opponent has been a major reason for their 2-4 start in ACC play.
Florida State (14-6, 2-4 ACC) returns to action when it plays host to Wake Forest (9-10, 1-6 ACC) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
"We have not been nearly the type of defensive team that our staff has been known for in the past," Hamilton said. "At this stage in the season, what we have to do is really make it a priority. Whatever it is, we need to become as good at defending those areas as possible if we are going to be successful in some of these games."
While some of the issues can be attributed to the Seminoles' lack of a dominating inside presence, Hamilton is not going to allow that to be an excuse.
"I do think there are some areas we can control," Hamilton said. "It starts with the effort and we can control that. If we are giving the best defensive effort we can and even if we are not as sound in some of our techniques we do feel that we would be a better defensive team than what we have been."
"It is not like we have not given effort," Hamilton continued. "Good effort at this point is not good enough. We have to give great effort every possession."
The need for that "great effort" has begun to sink into some of his players as they turn their focus to the final ten regular season games of the season where the Seminoles have to make a run to keep their postseason aspirations alive.
"Defensively we are not bringing that intensity that we should," senior guard Jerel Allen said. "That is something that we need to change. Everybody has the ability to get out there and play hard. We have athletic guys on the team so defensively if we set our mind to it we can accomplish it."
Junior guard Jason Rich said that the veteran group of players that take up a majority of the Seminoles' minutes understand the defensive philosophies taught by Hamilton and his staff. Now it is just a matter of realizing how executing the defensive philosophies set out by the staff will benefit them.
"I think as a team we all understand and know our defensive philosophy," Rich said. "I think we don't fully understand the importance of it and how it is going to pay dividends."
Rich's sentiments were echoed by starting point guard Toney Douglas. The sophomore said that the change of approach is easy for the offensively gifted team. It is a matter of needing to bring the same approach to their play on both ends of the court.
"Every possession is important," Douglas said. "We have to realize that is true both offensively and defensively."
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