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October 31, 2011
With its top two scorers gone from a season ago, the Florida State basketball team will spend the next several weeks constructing a new identity.
If Monday's exhibition opener was any indication, the Seminoles' foundation could be shifting to the frontcourt.
Getting a bevy of production from center Bernard James and the rest of the post rotation, the Seminoles cruised to an 80-51 win over an undersized Indiana University (Pa.) bunch on Monday night.
"We just wanted to get the guys' feet wet and get them on the court," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. He had 10 players log double digit minutes while no player had more than 22 minutes. "I saw a lot of things I liked."
James and power forward Xavier Gibson paced the Seminoles with 13 points apeiece while reserve big men Jon Kreft and Terrance Shannon chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively. They overwhelmed an undersized IUP front line that had no player taller than 6-foot-8.
"It's good to kind of get a taste of being back on the court and doing our thing," James said. James did his thing, stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 10 rebounds, three blocks and three steals to go along with his 13 points.
"Our team has been stressing to get the ball into the post a lot more, a lot more paint touches just so it opens up more shooting for the guards," he said. "I'm pretty sure that since (Hamilton) has been at Florida State, he's been preaching inside-out. But it's just been kind of a struggle to get that philosophy up and going. We've worked really hard on focusing on that and making that our style of play."
While James started quickly, Gibson, Kreft and Shannon all came on strong in the second half. Shannon scored all 10 of his points after the break, Gibson netted nine of his 13 while Kreft scored nine of his 11 points in the final 20 minutes.
Hamilton said they had a goal of getting at least 22 post touches entering Monday's game.
"We are big and strong and our four leading scorers were our interior guys," Hamilton said. "We went into the game with that as one of our goals and I think we accomplished it."
Hamilton also got a look at some of his new talent in a game situation. Senior Jeff Peterson, who transferred in from Arkansas this offseason, shared time with Luke Loucks at point guard, logging 19 minutes, the most of any newcomer.
"It was fun. The game is different than practice," said Peterson, who scored seven points on 2-of-3 shooting with three assists against one turnover. "I think it was a solid start. I think there's a lot more things I can get better on, starting on the defensive end, just trying to be in the right position at the right time."
The Seminoles shot 27-of-52 from the floor but struggled to knock down open three-point shots, going just 4-of-17 from behind the arc. The Seminoles also had 19 turnovers against 16 assists.
Hamilton cited those two categories as correctable issues entering FSU's final exhibition next week when it takes on Georgia Southwestern.
But there were some positives on Monday, many coming from his big guys.
"I think this team has a chance to be better than we were last year but I think we have a ways to go," Hamilton said. "I like what I saw in terms of the potential of this team, and I think it will be good for us to go back and evaluate this film and see where we are, learn from it and hopefully we'll be more prepared as we move into our next exhibition game."