Firstly.

I’m not a sportswriter, or even a basketball know-it-all. My knowledge of the sport is limited to what I’ve seen photographing men’s and women’s hoops over the last year.

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XRM looks up during a tussle for the ball during tonight’s game vs BC

FSU now sits at 22 and 6, as of tonight’s win over Boston College. Let’s go over these losses.

  1. Was to Temple, early in the season in November. Let’s disregard this road loss for the sake of argument, as for all intents and purposes appeared to be a fluke—a loss by only 3 points (89-86)
  2. Was to UNC, at North Carolina, right amidst the six-game gauntlet (gantlet?), that FSU finished 5-1. 96 to 83 certainly is a TINY margin, but to a perennial powerhouse like UNC, on the road, facing unfavorable refs, and as a TIRED team, it’s respectable.
  3. Then there was the loss to Georgia Tech. It was basically a spanking. 78 to 56?? I mean, what the hell??!? Tech was unranked at the time, but this was the game that started people questioning the mettle of the FSU ballers. BUT, Tech turned right around after defeating us, and bashed on the Fighting Irish, who, at the time were #1 in the ACC..interesting…
  4. Equally or more frustrating was the team flying up to New York and bonking in the game versus Syracuse. At 82-72, it could have been a fluke, or they could have been tired—who knows? But from my perspective (and I think many others) it was a game that we should not have lost.
  5. After a eeking out a 3 point win almost a month earlier in front of a large home crowd, FSU lost by 8 to Notre Dame in Indiana. 8 points REALLY isn’t that many…but after the botched ‘Cuse game, fans (and I) were expecting a comeback game
  6. Here’s the true turd—the biggest stinker of the losses thus far. A 14 point (80-66) loss to unranked Pitt?? I didn’t watch the game, but was told it looked like FSU was barely playing…
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Bacon drives down court in tonight’s defeat of BC

So I’m confused. As are many others. How could we lose SO BADLY to two UNRANKED teams? If we say that the Temple game was a sheer fluke, and that we just didn’t have our feet under us early in the season, that would make them 23-5.

The loss to UNC while not “acceptable” was understandable.

The loss to GT was really bad. Like bleck. No no no. Syracuse was frustrating, but not as bad as Tech. For the sake of argument, let’s say we won it, (we should have), which would make the team 24-4.

ND, again, while not “acceptable,” was understandable, after we squeaked by in our home win against them earlier in the season, one could only expect them to play with a vengeance.

Then the game against Pitt. Again. REALLY?

If FSU had actually PLAYED (and won) against those two teams, (and we exclude the Temple and ‘Cuse losses), they could be sitting real pretty at 26-2. That’s good for THIRD on the current AP ranking, behind Villanova (26-2).

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A Golden Girl’s hair flings around during a timeout performance
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Bacon grimaces on the paint after a hard foul

Some people have blamed poor coaching. I disagree. The coaching has clearly paid off: the team is level with or defeating numerous quality, ranked opponents. But what should be “gimme” wins versus unranked teams makes us falter.

With my limited basketball knowledge (but fairly extensive general sports knowledge) I’m blaming attitude and tempo.

As Seminole fans have seen countless times over the past several years with FSU Football, a powerful, skilled, well-ranked team can underestimate the desire of a smaller, slower, maybe less-skilled underdog team can have when it comes to making a statement and making their name heard. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the FSU players are cocky or arrogant. Just that sometimes good teams, players, or athletes disregard and forget the inner passion and desire to be known that is innately found in all elite athletes.

Secondly, I blame tempo. From what I’ve seen, the most impressive games FSU has played, versus the strongest, most highly-anticipated ranked opponents, have been quick, up-tempo. Not FAST play, because FSU has a relaxed style, but certainly not boring and slow. The games that I watched or followed on Twitter that we lost (UNC, Tech, ND, Pitt) it seemed to me that the team was moving sloooowwwwwlllllyyyyyyy. Like they were playing underwater.

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Bacon grins at a comment from former Nole and current NBA player Malik Beasley, who was sitting on FSU’s second-half baseline

26 and 2…That would be pretty damn revolutionary for FSU Basketball. Even 24-4 (good for 6th or 7th on the current AP poll) would be AMAZING. Not to say that 26-6 is bad, but sitting at 19th, on the edge of slipping out of the top-20, FSU has something to lose, and a lot to gain by finishing the normal season without any further losses, and playing into the semifinals (at least) in the ACC championship.

Another win over Clemson, HOPEFULLY a win over Duke at home (although a tie or a loss by less than 10 points wouldn’t necessarily be BAD), and another win over in-state rival are crucial. If we lose to Clemson or Miami, that’s going to put attitudes in an unfavorable low spot before the ACC championship.

 

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Coach Ham, coaching
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Cofer is fouled on the way to the basket, tonight vs BC
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Cofer and Bacon high-five after Cofer made his first free-throw after being fouled in the previous image

My predictions end with the ACC Tourney. I don’t know enough about the selection process, or the NCAA Tournament to pass ay judgement there. After watching what I perceived to be a skilled but rather lackluster team last season, and putting together facts, tidbits, and opinions from others, I do believe that this 2016-17 team is a STRONG force to be reckoned with, we (they?) just need to keep their wits about them on the road: they can’t drop their guard or let their tempo sag.

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Isaac smashes the rim tonight!

On a totally different note, I knew that I was going to be late for the game tonight (I was coaching!), and I’ve been enjoying experimenting and playing around with camera gear, so I thought I’d try a personal challenge tonight.

I decided that I would forgo my camera’s 10 frame-per-second burst mode, and shoot everything in single shot, and not only that, I would limit myself to no more than 100 frames for the game.

I shot 96, and kept 16. Which isn’t bad for me!

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Bacon initiates a forward pass
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CJ Walker’s ball handling skills are not immediately apparent in this drive down court, but DAMN MAN! He’s got some sKiLlS!
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Brandon Allen got in the grove, and I think may have seen more play time this game than any other at home so far!

And although it was pointed out by another photographer sitting next to me that if I have the tools, why don’t I use them? I feel like working on my timing with single shot during a game that really wasn’t that big was more beneficial than detrimental. I missed maybe only 2-3 cool shots because I wasn’t in burst, and honestly, those shots were more just because I held down the button waiting for a burst that wasn’t there, rather than being unable to capture the photo. Had I clicked my finger a little faster I could have gotten probably 1-2 of those three.

The other photos I missed were because I second-guessed whether or not I should take it, because it would fill up my 100 photos. But! Oh well.

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CJ Walker’s emotion during and post-play is wonderful, and watching him drive to the net for layup after layup, or a selfless back-pass makes him one of my favorites on the team
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Sideline goofing around
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Near the end of the game, still driving!
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Beasley and Hamilton share a quick laugh on court post-game after FSU’s 104-72 smashing of the Boston College Eagles tonight

After all that, I’ve only got one more hoops game for you this season probably (unless I make my way out to another women’s game), so thank you for joining me on this proverbial ride, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my somewhat-uneducated ramblings on a sport I’m only mildly familiar with.

Also, forgive me any typos or grammatical errors. Thanks ahead of time!    😉

Best, and again, thanks for your time!
Colin

 

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