Florida State Seminoles (Last Year: 23-11, 11-5 in ACC)
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Bernard James (Sr)/Jon Kreft (Sr)/Kiel Turpin (Jr)
PF: Xavier Gibson (Sr)/Okaro White (So)/Terrence Shannon (Jr)/Antwan S
SG: Deividas Dulkys (Sr)/Terry Whisnant (Fr)
SG: Michael Snaer (Jr)/Ian Miller (So)
PG: Jeff Peterson (Sr)/Luke Loucks (Sr)
Gone: SF-Chris Singleton, PG-Derwin Kitchen, PG-Pierre Jordan (transfer-Georgia Tech)
Defense, size, and physicality; those have been the name of the game for the Seminoles the past few seasons and will once again be the case for the 2011-2012. Florida State is not at the level of North Carolina or Duke, but are certainly a class above the rest of the ACC.
Even though they lose one of the top defenders in the country in Chris Singleton, the Seminoles' frontcourt still features a lot of size and intimidators inside. 26-year old and former member of the Air Force Bernard James made an impact in his first season with Florida State due to his size and strength inside. James, seven-footer Jon Kreft, Xavier Gibson, and JUCO transfer Kiel Turpin give the Seminoles four players 6-10 or taller.
Gibson could be an X factor this season. He possesses the size, athleticism, and versatility to be a nightmare matchup for defenses, but has yet to pull it all together yet. Okaro White, Terrence Shannon, and freshman Antwan Space offer even more size and versatility up front. The 6-8 Space is an intriguing prospect due to his ability to shoot it from deep and handle the ball like a guard while also using his size to be effective with his back to the basket.
Playing for his third college team, Jeff Peterson will replace Derwin Kitchen at point guard. Peterson played at Arkansas last season but becomes immediately eligible, since he enrolled at Florida State as a grad student. Luke Loucks will back up Peterson and bring experience to the floor having been a key reserve for the Seminoles the past three seasons.
Michael Snaer and Deividas Dulkys will return to their starting spots on the wing. Both guys are high-volume shooters who don't necessarily connect at a high percentage though. Ian Miller will push both of those guys for minutes and might actually be the most talented of the three. Freshman Terry Whisnant is probably the odd man out of the rotation.
I would be surprised if Florida State was able to catch tbe Tar Heels or Blue Devils in the race for first place in the ACC. Additionally, I'd be surprised if any of the other nine conference teams finished with a better record than the Seminoles. Their size inside and experience in the backcourt will be key factors in their success. As we learned last year when Florida State suffered an overtime loss to VCU in the Sweet 16, if their defense is causing nightmares for their opponents, this team is capable of making a run come March.
Player to Watch: Michael Snaer, SG
Every team needs a perimeter player who can go one-on-one in late game and shot clock situations. Snaer will have replace Kitchen by stepping into that role up his game and become the go-to scorer on the wing. With Miller nipping on his heels for playing time, expect Snaer to have somewhat of a breakout season.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/14 vs. UCF
11/24 vs. UMass (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/25 vs. Harvard/Utah (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/24 vs. UConn/UNC-Asheville/UCF/Charleston (Battle 4 Atlantis)