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Inside look: Seminoles boast best squad in coach Leonard Hamilton’s 17-year tenure

UPDATED: Wed., March 27, 2019, 8:55 p.m.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The debate over Gonzaga coach Mark Few’s best team – 2017 vs. 2019 – remains undecided, with the current squad still assembling its full body of work.

The same topic doesn’t spark much deliberation among Florida State faithful. The general consensus is the current crew is the best in coach Leonard Hamilton’s 17 seasons.

The Seminoles established program records with 29 wins and 13 Atlantic Coast Conference victories.

“This is probably the best team he’s ever had,” said Wayne McGahee III, Seminoles beat writer for the Tallahassee Democrat. “The 2011-12 team that won the ACC title didn’t have the talent level of this team. That team was built on defense. This team can score at will and play defense.”

More on the Seminoles in our Q&A with McGahee:

The Spokesman-Review: What makes Florida State different from the 2018 team that beat Gonzaga in the Sweet 16?

McGahee: Florida State had a shot-blocking presence last year with (7-foot-1) Ike Obiagu, but he transferred out (to Seton Hall). Mfiondu Kabengele has emerged as the best player on the roster and has started to emerge as a true superstar.

This team is much better defensively, more coordinated and more experienced, and that experience level is helping as well. Getting experience in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, they feel like they belong this year. I don’t think that was the case a year ago when they were trying to make a name for themselves.

S-R: What is Florida State’s weakness?

McGahee: Three-pointers (the team shoots 33.7 percent) and they turn ball over a lot, but they’ve been better off late taking care of the ball during this run of 16 wins in 18 games. Looking at the numbers, they’re the only team in the West Regional that has more turnovers than assists.

Florida State has many capable shooters: (PJ) Savoy, (Terance) Mann, M.J. Walker, Devin Vassell. If Walker hits his first, he might hit six in a row.

S-R: Who is the X-factor?

McGahee: It has to be Mann. He’s the senior leader and he’ll set the record (today) for most games in Florida State history (with 140). He’s the unquestioned leader and right now he’s playing at a high level.

He’s the one guy that’s been so consistent throughout the season. He can get in the lane, excellent defender. If he’s shooting well – frankly he’s improved on that, somewhere around 40 percent (41.1) – Florida State is going to do well.

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