This was not the start to the season that Florida State's veterans expected. After winning the ACC Championship last season, the Seminoles have stumbled out to a 4-3 start, including home losses to both Mercer and South Alabama.
Things won't get any easer for the 'Noles as they host No. 5 Florida (6-0) on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
If things are going to turn around FSU knows it will have to be in large part because the veteran quartet of Ian Miller, Michael Snaer, Okaro White and Terrance Shannon have elevated their game up while a very young roster attempts to regain it's bearings.
"Obviously anytime you have new players there a learning curves," head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "But we also need our veterans to lead by example and step up and give us the type of performances and leadership that's necessary for us to win games while our newcomers are coming around."
FSU has dropped its last two games, 77-68 to then-No. 21 Minnesota, and 61-56 to Mercer. In each loss FSU shot below 38 percent as a team, and the veteran quartet combined to shoot just 33.3 percent.
Miller, who is dealing with a bone bruise, took blame for lack of scoring but said he and the other veteran players have to find ways to be productive even if the shots aren't falling.
"The veteran's production as a group has to step up, because we have to set the tone for the young guys to feed off of," the junior guard said. "As long as we keep playing like the way we're playing, then they're going to keep playing the way they're playing and the season will turn out to be crap. It'd be a crappy season. We've talked and we met with Coach (Hamilton) and we know what we have to do as a group to get this thing turned around, but it's not going to turn around if we don't turn it around."
White said he agreed that until he and the other veterans begin producing, it will be difficult to get the true freshman to buy into their leadership. He and the other veterans will be tasked with trying to increase their production, while also helping the younger players keep their focus in their biggest test thus far in the season.
"Our four main-core guys that have been here, have experience, we've got to get these guys together and make them understand how big this game is for the state of Florida," the 6-foot-8 junior from Clearwater said. "We haven't been doing that, we took that upon ourselves to say we haven't been giving out the leadership so we've got to find a way to bow up and play (Wednesday)."
White, Miller, Shannon (a redshirt junior) and Snaer (the lone senior) met with Hamilton after the Mercer loss. The group discussed what they needed to do better moving forward and what the coaching staff expects of them.
Hamilton said the meeting was very straightforward and the team has had good practices this week leading up to its matchup with Florida.
"This is one of those periods that we're going through where we're trying to learn more and more about each other and I think we find ourselves now with a little better of understanding with our guys and we're going to try to make the adjustments that's necessary with this team," Hamilton said. "Then try to utilize some of our strengths, try to avoid some of the errors where we're not quite as strong and just try to continue to keep improving.
"This game that we're playing against Florida is a unique opportunity for us this early in the season to play against a team's that's playing that well, which is going to give us a much better idea of what it's going to be like in the ACC race."
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