December 21, 2012

Hamilton hopes for FSU to find itself against Charlotte

Though it has put together two straight wins to answer a dreadful post-Thanksgiving stretch, the Seminole basketball team hardly is pounding its chest as a readymade ACC contender. A shakier-than-expected win over Louisiana-Monroe Monday night brought about subdued reactions from the head coach all the way down the line.

Coach Leonard Hamilton said Monday's victory served as yet another example of good practices not translating into solid in-game efforts. He described the Seminoles' progress as "encouraging" in the team training facility, but yet another postgame chat was tempered with frustration.

"I thought, once again, we had a rash of turnovers that showed our inexperience in a lot of different ways," Hamilton said.

The challenge to succeed with an inexperienced roster is going nowhere. Although Florida State is planning to start senior Michael Snaer, who sat Monday for disciplinary reasons, its rotation will inevitably include a slew of raw talent even in conference play.

The problem is, according to all parties involved, comfort and confidence cannot be manufactured with extra practice. Sometimes game experience is the only way to break that mental barrier.

Sophomore Terry Whisnant shared that his own hurdles over his first year came from all directions.

"Getting used to everything… the coaches, the game," he said. "Just getting in a rhythm, getting your confidence up and once you get your confidence going, it's pretty natural from there."

How long will it take for Florida State's youth to get its confidence going? Junior forward Okaro White said the process will be harder than in past seasons because, unlike his freshman year, the veterans are now outnumbered by underclassmen.

"You have so many that when one of them breaks down, it seems like the group breaks down," White said.

The Seminoles are also looking for an unquestioned leader both in the locker room and on the court. Snaer's exploits from 2011-12 are well documented, but the senior is hitting on just 37.6-percent of his field goals and is coming off a team-imposed benching. White said he's working on becoming more of a vocal leader, however he admits that style is out of his natural character.

Coach Hamilton offered that a more legitimate challenge on the court could serve as a necessary spark. That's what he's hoping for anyway, as Florida State faces an 11-1 Charlotte 49er team Saturday afternoon (2 p.m., CBS Sports Network) in a "neutral site" game inside the city of Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena.

"They've gotten off to a great start and that's going to be a challenge for us," Hamilton said. "But I think we need those types of situations to challenge us, to put ourselves in ACC-type atmospheres with teams that are playing well… because that's what we're going to be facing once we get into the ACC."

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