Unlike Maryland, Florida State not finding the right blend

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Seminoles struggling with first-year players

During a teleconference Monday, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton bristled when asked to respond to critics who have called the Seminoles one of the most disappointing teams in the country.

"Why should I?" Hamilton asked. "I think most teams that have five freshmen, seven first-year players, have been inconsistent. I don't think our team is a lot different than what some of the other people are going through."

When Florida State (9-5, 1-0) travels to Maryland (13-1, 1-0) on Wednesday night, however, the Seminoles will face a team that has had much success incorporating new players. With four freshmen and two transfers in their 10-man rotation, the Terrapins have won 13 straight games, one short of the program record set 81 years ago.

Up next
Florida State at Maryland
When » Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where » Comcast Center
TV » Ch. 20

"All six of the newcomers, it's a new system for them. They all came along at different speeds and different times," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "I'm just pleased right now. I feel like they can play at the highest level in the ACC, which is a good feeling."

Meanwhile, Hamilton is trying to figure out his confounding squad. The Seminoles returned four of their top five scorers and three of their top four rebounders from last year's team, which won the ACC championship. FSU opened this season ranked but has lost games to Mercer of the Atlantic Sun and South Alabama of the Sun Belt.

"I think we've been in somewhat of a learning mode," Hamilton said. "All seven of our first-year players have had their moments where they played pretty well. We have not been able to get everybody hitting on all cylinders at the same time."

Hamilton's holdovers have been off as well. Senior guard Michael Snaer is scoring a career-high 15.6 points per game but is shooting a career-low 39.2 percent and is second in the ACC in turnovers (3.2 pg). Junior guard Ian Miller has missed five games with a sore right foot and is averaging 6.2 points per game, down from 10.3 last season.

Still, there have been positive signs lately. Holiday victories over quality teams Charlotte and Tulsa and a win in Saturday's ACC opener at Clemson have Turgeon convinced that Maryland will have to bring its best stuff.

"You can see they're coming," Turgeon said. "You can watch film from early to now. They're really starting to get in a groove. Defensively is where they're really starting to get it. They're the best defensive team we will have played so far."

Even with a largely new cast, Maryland has been strong defensively from the opening game. The Terps rank third in the nation in field goal defense (35.2 percent) and rebounding margin (plus-12.7 pg).

As other teams search for the elusive keys to blending new players, Maryland has done it through unselfishness, according to Xavier transfer Dez Wells.

"We all had to give something up within our games for us to be one cohesive unit. That's what it takes to have a great team," Wells said. "Winning puts everyone in a better situation."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kevin Dunleavy

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner