After a mediocre eighth-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season by his Florida State team, coach Leonard Hamilton will be looking to get his Seminoles back on track.
That journey begins Monday when Florida State hosts in-state foe Stetson University to tip off the new campaign in Tallahassee, Fla.
Last season, FSU logged six straight wins in January and were 6-2 in the ACC, but the injury bug crept in and affected nine players to limit production. After losing eight of nine contests at one point, the team was bounced 96-57 by Syracuse in the conference tournament.
“It was a tremendous learning experience for these guys because we had so much adversity,” Hamilton said of the 17-14 season. “We never knew who we’d have from game to game.”
The Seminoles will be without a pair of expected key contributors — 6-foot-10 Jaylan Gainey and freshman Baba Miller. Gainey suffered a season-ending knee injury, while Miller — a native of Spain — was suspended half of the season due to an NCAA infraction. Miller will be able to debut on Jan. 11 at Wake Forest.
Transfer Darin Green Jr., who averaged 13.3 points and shot 38.5 percent from deep at UCF last year, should provide some extra offense for Florida State.
Stetson coach Donnie Jones’ team is coming off an 11-19 season and 5-11 in the Atlantic Sun, but the Hatters welcomed four new players in May who should make an impact.
Jalen Blackmon (Grand Canyon University), Alec Oglesby (UNC Wilmington), Sam Peek (Wesleyan University) and Luke Brown (Ball State) are the new arrivals, though Brown previously played for Stetson.
“I am excited to welcome these four young men to Stetson,” said Jones. “They all bring experience and skill sets that fit our style of play and culture.”
Stetson won its exhibition opener 78-70 at home against Tampa last Tuesday. Blackmon led with 18 points on 4-for-8 shooting from long range and 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
–Field Level Media