They might not play against anything like him this year.
The Florida State men’s basketball team, which is 5-1 and ranked No. 14 in the nation, is going to face a number of terrific players the rest of this season. That list will include multiple NBA Lottery picks. That’s just how life goes in the ACC.
But Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, the guard they’ll be facing Wednesday night (9 p.m., ESPN2), presents a unique challenge for the Seminoles, who are coming off a hard-fought 66-60 loss to Villanova in the championship game of the Advocare Invitational on Sunday.
“Yeah, it’s not going to be one guy (guarding Edwards),” FSU senior Terance Mann said. “We’re a great defensive team, so we’ll rotate guys in and out on him. We expect a high amount of shots from anywhere. He’ll shoot them from deep-NBA-range 3s, so we’ve got to just keep him in front, contest and hope to make him miss.”
Mann compared Edwards to former N.C. State star Cat Barber. He said the two players get down the floor with similar quickness and will pull up for 3-pointers from almost anywhere.
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said he thought the biggest difference between the two is just what kind of physical specimen Edwards is.
“I think he’s a combination of Cat Barber and (Dennis) Smith,” Hamilton said of the two former N.C. State guards. “When you speak of athleticism, there are good athletes, great athletes and then there’s that category they call ‘elite.’ And he is among the elite athletes. He’s above the great athletes. He’s an athletic phenom.”
And he can really play.
Edwards is currently averaging 25.3 points per game for the No. 18 Boilermakers (5-1). That’s the seventh-highest scoring average in the country. He’s shooting over 40 percent from the 3-point line and over 90 percent from the free-throw line.
He’ll be a challenge for sure.
The entire Purdue team will be. The Boilermakers won 30 games last year and advanced to the Sweet 16 before being upset by Texas Tech.
They lost four seniors off that team, but it’s not like the cupboard was left completely bare. The Boilermakers will be a terrific early season test for the Seminoles. Just like Florida was. Just like LSU was. Just like Villanova was.
“It’s an extremely challenging stretch because we have absolutely no room for error,” Hamilton said. “When you play against the level of caliber teams that we’ve played, they are challenging us. And I’m hoping it serves to motivate us and hopefully causes us to have the type of focus that’s necessary to compete in the ACC.”
Hamilton’s team is coming off its first loss of the season. The Seminoles lost a back-and-forth game with defending national champion Villanova on Sunday. They held the Wildcats to just three 3-pointers, but allowed them to shoot 20 of 29 from two-point range in a 66-60 loss.
Overall, Hamilton said he was pleased that his team was able to take away Villanova’s 3-point shooting, but “they still shot 50 percent from the floor.” And that’s not nearly good enough for a Florida State defense.
He was also displeased with his team’s offensive efficiency.
Both must get better as the Seminoles prepare to play their third ranked opponent in a row.
“It’s nowhere we haven’t been before,” Mann said of coming off a loss. “We’ve got a really experienced team. So we should be fine.”