Although former Seminoles Al Thornton and Sam Cassell have garnered positive mainstream press and acclaim this season, it has not been a good year for Seminole basketball. Combined with the fact that the Noles are all but mathematically eliminated from an NCAA tournament appearance, former and current Seminoles not named Thornton or Cassell are finding themselves in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
After the early withdrawal of Alexander Johnson following the 2005-2006 season, Head Coach Leonard Hamilton replaced Johnson with then-freshman Ryan Reid. This year, Reid and Johnson have been in the news not for their quality play, but for their involvement in physical altercations.
Reid's year has been tumultuous at best. In his 21 games, he has more plays that end in injury (3) than he has games with more than 10 points (2). Reid has been the personification of an on-court thug whose style is best fit for the hockey rink. This season he has allegedly punched Duke's Greg Paulus, nearly knocked out Wake Forest's Chas McFarland, tripped up North Carolina guard Ty Lawson, and did everything short of mugging Lawson's teammate, Tyler Hansbrough, in FSU's most recent loss to UNC.
Meanwhile, in the NBA, Johnson, who I thought had potential, has done little for the Miami Heat this season. Granted, young players not named Dwyane Wade usually do not prosper in Pat Riley's systems, but Johnson took a step backwards in his NBA career this season. His disappointing season culminated with a violent takedown of Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani on March 5th.
Although I am not directly blaming the actions of Reid and Johnson on FSU Head Coach Leonard Hamilton, the overly physical play of two of the most recent big men to wear a Seminole uniform could be seen as a pattern. Whether or not the actions of Johnson and Reid were more coincidence than basketball upbringing lay in the future of the newest Seminole big man, freshman Julian Vaughn. If Vaughn ends up being only a physical brute lacking any redeeming basketball skill, then feel free to point the finger at Leonard Hamilton and his coaching staff. If they are still around.