Fresh off a disappointing loss and with another game looming in two days, all the Florida State men’s basketball team wanted to do was go home.
Mother Nature had other plans.
Snow in the Boston area kept the No. 23 Seminoles (13-5, 1-4 in ACC) in town while past their intended departure time.
After a game that ended just after 2 p.m. Sunday, the Seminoles’ flight back to Tallahassee was supposed to take off at 3:30 p.m. per FlightAware.com
A lengthy delay pushed FSU’s takeoff back over six hours and saw them finally take off at 9:59 p.m., nearly six and a half hours later.
FSU was originally supposed to be back in Tallahassee just after 6 p.m. but didn’t land until 12:38 a.m. Monday morning.
“That’s happened to us on several occasions over the last two or three years,” FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton told the Tallahassee Democrat.
This is something that you just have to live with that’s part of playing on the road.”
Normally this would only be a mild inconvenience after a disappointing day. However, the Seminoles have the unenviable task of playing against Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Clemson (11-6, 1-3 in ACC).
That means FSU will again be action less than 43 hours after landing back in Tallahassee.
“It’s going to test us because guys are not in their regular schedules, waking up at odd times and their meals and their work prep, but a lot of guys now have gotten to the gym just to get their rhythm back,” redshirt sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele told the Tallahassee Democrat.
“I feel like this turnaround should be a big deal for us coming into tomorrow.”
This is the second consecutive week FSU has faced a two-day turnaround while the Tigers will be playing for the first time in nearly a week after they were off over the weekend.
The turnaround is ill-timed for the Seminoles from a health standpoint.
Senior forward Phil Cofer missed the Boston College game with a different foot injury than the one that sidelined him earlier this season. Terance Mann and Trent Forrest are both still dealing with lingering injuries they’ve been able to play through.
Hamilton said Cofer’s injury is day-to-day.
This will continue to test the Seminoles’ depth and force other players to step up.
“With our team, we’re supposed to be deep. When guys go down, next man up mentality,” Kabengele said.
“Because of the guys that are hurt, some roles are different for other people and it’s new, but I feel like the guys on this team will adjust properly. Once everybody comes back to full strength, I believe we’ll catch a rhythm again.”
No one has risen to this challenge during conference play more than Kabengele.
Through five ACC games, he leads the team with 14.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s done that while averaging 20 minutes per game, beating out four other Seminoles that are averaging more than 25 minutes per game.
“We need a full complement of all of our team, all our guys stepping up. We can’t win with us riding Fi’s back,” Hamilton said.
“Everybody has to step up and contribute as a team. That’s what we’re looking for in this next game.”
After a week which saw the Seminoles lose at Pittsburgh and Boston College, they fell 12 spots from No. 11 to No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. They fell from No. 11 to unranked in the AP Poll. Both polls were released Monday.
Tuesday’s game between the Seminoles and Tigers is extremely important for both programs.
Both entered the season with expectations — Clemson and FSU were picked to finish sixth and seventh in the ACC, respectively — and have gotten off to disappointing starts to conference play.
FSU is in a five-way tie for last in the ACC standings while Clemson is only a half-game better at 1-3 in the ACC.
The Tigers’ ACC losses to date haven’t been as bad, but they don’t have the top-end wins or non-conference record the Seminoles have amassed.
While FSU’s 1-4 start in conference play wasn’t what anyone surrounding the program envisioned, Hamilton pointed out how last year’s team started ACC play (1-3) and where it ended up when talking to the Democrat Monday.
“We kind of were at this point last year. I think we recovered,” Hamilton said.
“We’ve just had a lot of moving parts this year with all the things we’ve been having to deal with. I’m just trying to avoid using them as excuses. It’s just kind of part of our journey.”
No. 23 Florida State vs. Clemson
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tucker Civic Center
TV/Radio: ESPNU (Comcast Channel 396)/103.1 FM