IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Green, Bench Lead Youthful Florida State over Pitt

Ken Cross

January 23, 2023 at 11:55 pm.

Florida State has the youngest basketball team that the Seminoles have had under coach Leonard Hamilton. Saturday’s 71-64 win at improved Pitt showed the emergence of a team that has been stymied by the lack of players that Hamilton had brought into Tallahassee.

UCF transfer Darin Green, Jr., scored 24 points and paced Florida State, which overcame a 50-45 deficit with 12:34 to pick up its fifth ACC win.

“Darin Green gave us a tremendous lift and I thought we had periods where we really moved the offense,” explained Hamilton. “We had some periods though that showed we are inexperienced. I thought Darin created some shots on his own with the threes.”

Green made 7-of-12 field goals as he was 5-of-8 from three and 5-for-5 at the line in leading the Seminoles to their second consecutive road win after their 84-71 win at Notre Dame earlier in the week.

“This is a great win for us as it is two in a row on the road and it means that we are maturing and making progress. Hopefully, we can keep playing that way,” said Hamilton.

Green scored 22 points in the last 11:44 as he hit a pair of threes and a jumper as the Seminoles took a 53-52 lead with 10:04 to play.

As juniors, he and Caleb Mills, who both average double figures in scoring, have been keys with their experience, but Green’s clutch play allowed the Seminoles to post a solid win over one of the most improved teams in the country.

The ‘Noles had a solid defensive effort against Pitt as they held the Panthers to 32 percent from the field, 9-of-28 in the first half. They also scored 17 points off of 12 Panther turnovers.

“Pitt is a very challenging team because they run excellent offense and they have several guys who run excellent isolations. They can isolate you and take you off the dribble. I envy certain isolations that they used today where they could get in the lane and destroy our defense by finding guys on the perimeter,” Hamilton said.

 

Emerging Depth: In previous seasons, Hamilton has 10 or 11 players who contribute, but this year has been an exception. On Saturday, the Seminoles had a huge lift off the bench as Chandler Jackson, De’Ante Green and Baba Miller were each 2-of-2 from the floor.

“It allowed us to give our starters rest,” said Hamilton of the collective play of his role players. “I thought that was important for us to get positive contributions from our guys off the bench. It allowed us to not have to play 40, 39, 38 minutes because of our lack of experience.”

Hamilton had three players leave the program because of the transfer portal, while two Seminoles have ACL injuries.

“Five guys I intended to have that we don’t have,” said Hamilton. “We are a team that is evolving. We don’t have close to the reach of competition. Every game is a unique opportunity for them.”

Hamilton and his staff have had to continue to teach things in January that were put in with a team before a season starts.

“It’s taken some losses to get our attention, to see how hard you have to play at this level to be successful, how we have to execute, how we have to create for each other,” Hamilton commented. “We have always had mature juniors and seniors to set the example and this year, we don’t have any.”

 

Miller, Please: Saturday’s win was another outing in which Baba Miller played as he scored four points in 13 minutes. Miller is a Spanish player whose college career was nearly destroyed by the NCAA as they suspended him for the first 16 games of FSU’s season.

The 6-11, 204-pound center came to the United States in 2020 using $3,000 that was given to him in order to travel and get settled. The NCAA seemingly tried to destroy his career even though his family had paid the $3,000 back immediately once he had arrive in the country.

“He is a young man who really, really cares and he is not in the type of playing shape that he would be,” explained Hamilton. “He had shin splints when he came to us in May. He didn’t start practice until October and missed all those summer workouts.”

He was solid as he scored on a layup and hit a three-pointer in the first half to give Florida State a 30-21 lead.

“He missed 16 games when he came to us, so he is going through some trials right now,” explained Hamilton. “His best basketball is ahead of him and he is making tremendous progress.”