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October 10, 2012
But when it's all over, this 2012-13 season may be defined by what's unknown. With six seniors gone from a 25-win team that brought home the school's first-ever ACC Championship, the Seminoles have an influx of new faces that will play an integral role this season.
The newbies will make their unofficial debut at "Seminole Madness" on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center.
"If we're going to have the type of success we think we're capable of, a lot of it will have to with how fast we're able to bring our inexperienced players along," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We're pleased with the skills they have and they potential they have as talents, but there's a learning curve there and sometimes it's a moving target. I'm excited about their attitude, their work ethic and their potential, but we may have to bring that together and see whether or not we can find ways to accelerate the progress. See if we can get these guys to the level they need to be at as early as possible."
The group of newcomers is eclectic. At the post positions, junior Kiel Turpin (7-feet, 240) is coming off of a redshirt season, time that allowed him to gain more than 20 pounds of muscle. He'll be joined by a trio of foreigners as fresh faces - 6-foot-9 junior college transfer and London native Robert Gilchrist, 7-foot-3 Slova Republic native Boris Bojanovsky and the biggest of the bunch, 7-foot-1, 290-pound Nigerian Michael Ojo.
It is not yet clear which players will redshirt and which will contribute immediately, but the new group as a whole has impressed Miller.
"I love them. They're talented - its hard to explain how talented they are," Miller said. "When they grasp all the details and grasp all the principles its going to be hard to stop us as a team.
"How fast they're picking it up is going to be pretty scary when we start playing because I think we're going to dominate a lot of teams this year."
But it hasn't come without plenty of acclimation. Through what little workout time has been allowed per NCAA rules leading up to Friday's official opener for practice, the new players have learned their way behind the returnees.
"Terrance (Shannon) and Mike Snaer, they've been pretty good about getting on everyone's case and seeing how we respond to that," Gilchrist said. "I think as a group we've done pretty well with that.
"It helps me a lot to help me understand that they've been here and I can't just come in here and run over them," Thomas said. "They let me know who the upperclassmen were."
The new players have also begun to take in Hamilton's schematic philosophy, and in somewhat of a reverse from his defense-first mindset, Hamilton said that he's opting to focus on some offensive principles first to get the players better acclimated with the ball in their hands.
"From a coaching standpoint, we like this team, we like these players, we like the new players we have in here," Hamilton said. "But once we start putting system stuff in and needing them being consistent with executing and making decisions, it's obvious we're a ways away from being a fine-tuned machine. The inexperience shows when you're trying to make decisions going full speed.
"That's the challenge we have is to be patient with these guys, hold them accountable, but keep trying to integrate new things into the system that we now feel will allow us to take advantage of the talents we have."
Florida State will open its regular season on Nov. 9 vs. South Alabama at 7 p.m. ET.
Fresh start for Shannon
After playing in just seven games last season due to a shoulder injury suffered against UConn, Terrance Shannon is ready for a fresh start in 2012-13.
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior didn't switch up anything drastic, just now sports short hair rather than dreads and wears No. 2 instead of No. 15.
"Fresh new start. Change everything, the mindset, the mentality," Shannon said. "I actually just wanted anything other than 15. I felt a new start was necessary. A new look, new attitude, same results."
As long as the results are the same, as far as head coach Leonard Hamilton is concerned Shannon can wear whatever number he wants.
"I can't tell you how much we missed Terrance last season," Hamilton said. "Terrance is just he ultimate competitor. He enjoys playing extremely hard with a lot of emotions, he's an emotional leader, he loves to do all the dirty work. Terrance is a handful for most people because he just gives tremendous effort and plays with such fire."
That energy and competitiveness is actually what cost Shannon the majority of last season. The Forsyth, Ga. native said he felt FSU was lacking injury against the Huskies so he went up strong for the ball and committed a hard foul, in the process he landed square on his shoulder.
Shannon knew instantly that the injury was serious. After successful shoulder surgery, Shannon rehabbed five times a week in order to be able to get back in the weight room and prepare for this season. He was fully cleared in May and opted to stay in Tallahassee for the summer so he could ensure he was in top form when the season tips off on Nov. 9 against South Alabama.
"I stayed here, went two-a-days, sometimes three-a-days the whole summer just to get back," Shannon said. "Just been working on skill-development, free-throws, lifting especially."
The hard work has already paid off according to Shannon's teammates. According them, the high-energy forward shows no signs of a lingering injury.
"He's a beast. If he gets anywhere near the rim you've either go to foul him or let him score," said Michael Snaer. "He's the same way as he was last year, he's going to play hard, be energetic, you can't keep him off the glass-it's going to take about three people to keep him off the glass-he's automatically going to be a plus for us."
Snaer leading by example
With a host of inexperienced players on the FSU roster, there is no doubt that this is senior guard Michael Snaer's team.
Last season Snaer played more minutes than any other Seminole and lead the team in scoring with an average of 14 points per game.
"His attitude has not changed since the day he arrived here as a freshman," Hamilton said of the Blue Ribbon preseason All-American. "He's extremely competitive, he loves the game of basketball, he practices just as hard when he's in the gym by himself working on his individual skills as he does when he's practicing five-on-five situations."
Snaer said he felt a sense of leadership last season, but being a leader has become magnified this season with so many newcomers on the roster.
"It's not that much different, the role is just slightly bigger because you've got to take more guys under your wing and just teach more guys just little things that some of the other guys just knew from experience," Snaer said. "The responsibilities have expanded but the role is still the same."
While Snaer is a vocal leader, Hamilton said that the younger players can learn more form the California native's work ethic than anything else.
"He spends hours working on his dribbling at full speed between cones and chairs," Hamilton said. "He's a guy who spends hours working on his free-throw shooting with the same focus and he works on all phases of his game with a tremendous amount of intensity."