TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) More than a week into practice, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton has been pleased with his team’s development but acknowledges there is still a ways to go with four weeks until the season opener.
”They are picking things up which makes a coach feel good,” Hamilton said after Friday night’s ”Jam With Ham” open practice. ”We’re not a finished product but I like the attitude. On the offensive and defensive ends we’re not close to hitting the grades that we set but that is just par for the position we are in.”
The best thing Hamilton likes is the depth that he finally has with this roster. Last year four players were out due to injury and that would have make 5-on-5 scrimmages nearly impossible but that wasn’t the case Friday night.
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The much-heralded recruiting class also showed its potential. Malik Beasley advanced to the finals of the 3-point shooting contest before losing to senior Devon Bookert, while Dwayne Bacon won the slam dunk contest. Bacon was named to the watch list for the Jerry West Award, which goes to the top shooting guard in the country.
As Hamilton noted, one of the biggest things is being able to mesh the returning players from a team that finished 17-15 last season with the newcomers. There’s also trying to be able to absorb injuries during the season.
”They have a lot of different things that they bring to the table which should be a strength for us,” Bookert said. ”It makes it a bit easier because everything falls into place.”
Point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who led the team in scoring last season at 14.9 points per game, didn’t do much shooting during Friday’s scrimmage, but was helping to slow down the tempo and facilitate shots for his teammates.
Rathan-Mayes did a nice job of getting the ball to Terance Mann, who displayed nice range inside and outside.
”My role is to get guys to get their shots. My coaches have been big on that – slowing it down and playing with pace. It is about them showcasing their talent and hitting their shots,” Rathan-Mayes said.
Florida State opens the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.
Notes: F Michael Ojo had surgery Wednesday for a torn meniscus with no timetable for a return. … C Chris Koumadje, the tallest recruit in school history at 7-foot-4 did not practice due to a stress reaction in his foot. Robbie Berwick (concussion) and Brandon Allen (foot) are also nursing injuries.