Florida State Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton has to be getting tired of wondering before each game which team is going to show up. Is he going to see the good Seminoles team that beat Clemson and blew out Maryland? Or is he going to see the bad Seminoles team that has now lost twice to the Virginia Cavaliers this college basketball season?
Florida State fell to 3-2 in the ACC and 12-5 overall with a 78-66 loss at Virginia Saturday, but the game wasn’t really that close. The Seminoles found themselves down 14-3 early and 45-27 by halftime. It was the kind of poor start that dooms teams in conference road games, and while Florida State did fight back within 12 late in the second half, the Seminoles were never a threat to come back and win the game. Okoro White and Aaron Thomas led FSU with 15 points each, but the Seminoles also had 18 turnovers and only forced nine.
Maybe the answer is that Florida State simply can’t beat Virginia. So far this ACC season, the Seminoles have wins over Clemson, Maryland, and Miami. But in two games against UVA (a rare early completion of the season series between the schools), Florida State was twice beaten by 12 points. More disconcerting for Florida State is that the two games were completely different in terms of pace. In Tallahassee, the Seminoles lost in a low-scoring, 62-50 contest. On Saturday, there was more offense to be had and Florida State still couldn’t find a way to win.
Hamilton has to find a way to get through to his team that their best effort is going to be required every night in league play no matter what the record is of the opponents. To be fair to him, Virginia is now 4-1 in the conference, and if it weren’t for a couple unlucky bounces in a loss at Duke last Monday night the Cavaliers might be unbeaten.
But the Seminoles don’t have much time to figure things out, either. Florida State’s next two games are home against Notre Dame and then at Duke. If form holds, you can probably expect the Seminoles to split those games, because while they don’t seem to be a team that’s going to drop three or four games in a row in the ACC, they also are not a team that’s going to play consistent enough basketball to challenge for a conference title.