ORLANDO | No one would wish for a knee injury but in retrospect, it’s the only way Florida State center Michael Ojo was going to play in an NCAA tournament.

 

Ojo missed all 34 games last season in what would have been his senior year with the Seminoles. He received a medical red shirt and this year has averaged 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, starting 32 times.


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Ojo said he realizes what a blessing in disguise the injury was, because had he not been hurt, his only post-season experience would have been FSU’s two games in the 2016 NIT.

“The injury was fortunate, in a way, because it got me to this year,” he said. “And this is the best year I’ve ever had. We’ve been working hard every day to make sure this program gets back [to the NCAA]and means a lot for myself and a lot for the coaching staff.”

The Seminoles will play Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday at 9:20 p.m.

Gators dangerous after meetings

Watch out for Florida in the aftermath of a team meeting.

Earlier this season, following a two-game losing streak to Vanderbilt and South Carolina, the Gators had a players-only meeting that cleared the air about issues related to accountability and not only accepting the blame for mistakes but correcting them.

Florida then went on a nine-game winning streak, with seven of the games coming by double-digit margins and three in a row by 32 or more points.

Following three losses in their last four games, the Gators met again as a team this week (apart from normal team meetings), with one difference: the coaching staff was in on it. But players said it was still helpful as they prepared to face East Tennessee State on Thursday at 3:10 p.m.

“We put everything on the table like we did when we lost two games in a row,” said sophomore forward Devin Robinson. “We knew we had to get to the root of what was going on and figure out that if we’re going to keep playing like this, we’re going to end our season short.”

Senior Canyon Barry said some of the issues included following game plans and remembering scouting reports. And since the meeting?

“We’ve had a couple of great practices,” he said. “We’re getting our edge back.”

Bucs have SEC flavor

Florida coach Mike White said coaching against East Tennessee is a bit like going against an SEC team.

For example, coach Steve Forbes and assistants Jason Shay and Brooks Savage coached under Bruce Pearl at Tennessee before Pearl was fired in 2011. The ETSU staff also has NCAA tournament experience, unlike White, whose only tournaments to this point where the two he played in at Ole Miss.

“They’ve got an SEC staff,” White said. “All those guys worked for coach Pearl at Tennessee and they’ve got elite players. This is going to be like an elite game for us.”

Dad embarrasses the son

ETSU coach Steve Forbes had memories of watching Florida center John Egbunu play high school basketball at Fort Walton Beach, when Forbes was the coach at Northwest Florida.

But Forbes had an aside to that memory and proved parents are very good at embarrassing their children in public.

“I saw [Egbunu] play in high school … he dunked on my son [Chris Forbes, an ETSU manager],” Forbes said.

He then gestured to the back of the interview room.

“My son is back there,” Forbes said, pointing him out.