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Leonard Hamilton has moved FSU forward a lot over the last few years, but took a bit of a step backward last year. How does your fan base feel about last year's results?
After four straight tourney appearances, last year was a very disappointing season (capped off by an even more disappointing commitment of Andrew Wiggins to Kansas). The season went south almost immediately when junior Ian Miller went down with a foot injury and couldn't practice for the rest of the season. Then another junior - Terrance Shannon - got hurt. Considering FSU had 7 new players, the Miller and Shannon injuries really kicked the season off the rails.
This did give the new guys plenty of minutes though, so we're hoping that the extra experience pays off this season.
What's the biggest piece you've lost since last season?
Mr. Clutch, Michael Snaer. Replacing him is going to be a big deal, but a now healthy Ian Miller and an extremely talented sophomore in Aaron Thomas should be able to get it done. The other two losses were both transfers - Terry Whisnant was a SG who got passed up by younger guys, and PF Terrance Shannon graduated and transferred to VCU which is a better fit as he's still very raw and relies on his athleticism. Those two losses will mainly just affect depth, as both players were capable or some real head scratchers.
Who is the player who needs to step up the most this year?
Senior SF/PF Okaro White. For three years he's been a highlight waiting to happen, but he's never been consistent. FSU needs him to stop committing silly fouls, and to provide a calming presence when things don't go their way. His ability to outquick bigs down low has always been his strong point, but he's won two 3-point contests in a row at Midnight Madness, and he needs to transfer that shot to game conditions. If he can consistently knock down the 3, and consistently stay on the floor, then he'll probably end up at least 2nd Team All ACC.
Who is the player UVa fans ought to look out for the most?
Sophomore PG Devon Bookert. He wasn't supposed to take over so early last year, but with Ian Miller going down he was thrust into the position. Now, he's the unquestioned point guard for this team. He also led the nation in 3-point% but was just a handful of attempts short of qualifying. And he did all of this on a bum knee which he damaged in a preseason accident and didn't have surgery on until the season was over. Now he's at full speed.
What's your outlook for the season? What's a success, what's a failure, and what's something you can live with?
If FSU makes the NCAA tournament, that would be considered a success. If they make the dance, then it will likely mean that the seniors had a good year and that the young kids finally learned the defense. A failure would be falling into the bottom five in the conference. Since the ACC expanded eight years ago, no one besides Duke and UNC have won more conference games than FSU. Sinking into the bottom third, even for a year, would be a failure. I could live with a conference record around 8-10, and another trip to the NIT.