The Florida State men's basketball team doesn't officially start its season until the end of next week, but tonight's exhibition against Lincoln Memorial will have all the makings of the real thing.
Leonard Hamilton's squad will open its season tonight in an exhibition against Lincoln Memorial.
It'll be the first time they pull on their game jerseys this year – for seven newcomers, it will be the first time ever – and the first time they play an opponent wearing a different jersey.
It just won't count in the record book.
“It's a real game to me,” junior guard Ian Miller said. “They're trying to beat us and if we were to lose, we would drop in the top 25, so we have to go out and protect home court.”
But even with seven Seminoles making their Tucker Center debuts tonight, Florida State shouldn't have much trouble with Lincoln Memorial, a private school in Northeast Tennessee with a total enrollment of approximately 3,500.
Last year's Seminoles won their two exhibitions by an average of 37 points.
“Being a longtime coach, exhibition games, to me, are another practice,” FSU assistant Stan Jones said. “Other than you're trying to get your guys to understand the game-day routine. We're going to have specific minutes to play for certain guys, specific combinations we're going to look at, schemes we're going to see where we are with so we can evaluate into the next day of practice.”
Tonight's contest carries perhaps a little more intrigue thanks to five freshman and two junior college transfers who'll get their first taste of live action in coach Leonard Hamilton's scheme.
Among that group are heralded guards Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon and towering forwards Boris Bojanovsky (7-3, 240) and Michael Ojo (7-1, 290).
“I might be more excited than they are,” Miller said.
“The main thing,” Jones said, “is to get the new guys used to playing in front with the popcorn popping and the hot lights on and learning how to prepare.”
Hamilton just sees tonight's contest as another opportunity to tighten up the things that need to be improved before the Seminoles host South Alabama in their season-opener on Nov. 9 (7 p.m., ESPN3).
“We want to see how close we can come to executing the things we've asked them to do defensively that have not happened for them,” Hamilton said. “Simple things – how you close out, consistently contesting shots. And then sometimes you turn on the lights and have people in the stands, you have what you call game slippage. And we have a lot of that.”