FSU Basketball: Young bigs improving offensively

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Michael Ojo is coming off of a career-high for Florida State. (AP Photo)

A pair of sophomore centers providing an offensive lift for Seminoles

Though neither sophomore center Michael Ojo nor Boris Bojanovsky have put up huge numbers to this point in the 2013-14 season, the two have come on strong of late. In Florida State’s 67-66 loss at rival Florida on Friday, each went for a career-high as the two combined for 24 points.

Earlier in the season against Michigan, the two also put forward solid efforts and it looks as though the Seminoles will be able to get some offense from the center position, a place where it was largely absent a season ago.

With Kiel Turpin injured to begin the season, Ojo and Bojanovsky have been the beneficiaries of more minutes and of late, the two have begun to take advantage.

After a very slow start, Bojanovsky has scored in double figures in two of his last three games averaging better than eight points-per-game over that stretch while shooting an outstanding 11-for-14 from the field. At 7-foot-3, Bojanovsky — a native of the Slovak Republic — is the tallest player to ever play at Florida State and despite his height, has excellent shooting touch.

Bojanovsky provided a big offensive lift in Friday’s loss at Florida going for a career-high 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting from the field. Bojanovsky is proving to be very efficient offensively as he shot 55 percent from the floor as a freshman a year ago and is shooting 67 percent early on this season. But with a slender frame, Bojanovsky is not a typical back-to-the-basket big man and gets most of his touches off penetration from FSU guards. With that said, finding touches for the 7-3 sophomore won’t be easy, but something that the Seminoles should make a concerted effort to do.

Ojo, a 7-foot-1 Nigerian native, is also coming off of a career-high scoring effort finishing with 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting from the floor in Friday’s one-point loss to Florida. When Ojo arrived on campus last season, he was about as raw offensively as a player could be, but like Bojanovsky, Ojo has come on of late.

After averaging less than a point per-game last season, Ojo is scoring better than four points-per-game this year, but better than six over his last three games. Unlike Bojanovsky, Ojo doesn’t have a great shooting touch, but he is beginning to blossom into that post presence that Florida State has lacked since the graduations of Bernard James, Jon Kreft and Xavier Gibson.

Ojo not only had a career-night against Florida, but he was Florida State’s primary option offensively down the stretch of regulation and in overtime of the Seminoles’ 82-80 loss to Michigan in Puerto Rico nearly two weeks ago. Ojo has learned to finish near the basket and is looking comfortable using post moves that he clearly did not have a season ago.

Despite being 7-foot-1, Ojo shot a mere 29 percent from the floor a season ago and that number has more than doubled early on as Ojo is making 65 percent of his field goal attempts. Ojo has appeared comfortable going to either shoulder and an improved post game could be just what Florida State needs to make a run in the ACC.

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While minutes will certainly be cut for Bojanovsky and Ojo when Kiel Turpin returns, the two are proving capable of providing much-needed offense from the five-spot. Just sophomores, both Bojanovsky and Ojo are parts of a very young roster than has only five total juniors and seniors and both young big men still have plenty of room for improvement. The two have really come on of late and FSU looks to have a very bright future at the center position.

At 5-2, Florida State will look for its first victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in six years on Tuesday night as the Seminoles travel to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers. Minnesota defeated Florida State in Tallahassee a season ago, 77-68.

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