TheOsceola – Corhen seeing more playing time than expected, learning on the fly as freshman

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Cameron Korhen chose Florida State partly because the coaching staff is willing to play freshmen. But he never dreamed that he would see so many minutes.

When his roommate, Jaylan Gainey, tore his ACL in preseason practice, Cohen spoke with assistant coach Stan Jones and immediately knew he would have a big role.

“Coach Jones called me into his office,” Korhane recalled. “‘There are so many minutes coming your way. … I know you’re fresh out of high school. You’re 18, but it’s time for you to grow up.’ ,

Cohen had to grow up fast. He is averaging 8.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 24 minutes per game, but he has also put up 16 points in each of his last two games. Cohen leads the team with 39 offensive rebounds, including five in Saturday’s win at Louisville — all of which resulted in putback baskets.

FSU (8-16, 5-7 ACC) has been decimated by injuries for the second consecutive season, including the loss of Gainey and versatile guard Cameron Fletcher as well as an NCAA-mandated 16-game suspension for Baba Miller . While everyone from the coaching staff to the fans could dream of what could happen with all three in the rotation from the start, the shorthanded Seminoles instead had to struggle and see how their new players develop.

“With young players, you don’t want to sit around and try to figure out what their position is,” Jones said. “I think one of the strengths of working with Coach (Leonard) Hamilton and our staff is that we’re very good at talking to the kids about their roles and their role development. How do we think this starting and how we it ends. When it came down to Jaylan getting out, you had to try to make sure his mind understood that he was only going to play a minimal role and get on his feet. Not going to dip K’s fingers in the pool.

It’s hard to project what freshmen players will be prepared for when they make the jump from high school to college athletics. Cohen had some advantages. His father, Richard, played basketball for Hugh Durham at Georgia from 1981–84. His mother, Kelly, played high school basketball and helped him with the mental side of athletics.

“There are different aspects to him being a coach,” Cohen said. “My mom, she’s the personal and emotional coach. And my dad, he’s a really cool guy. Doesn’t know how to do other stuff. He just knows basketball. It’s like a tag team.”

cohen heavy minute logging

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Cohen was a four-star forward who chose FSU over a large number of schools in September 2021. FSU was a good fit and Cohen felt he would play immediately.

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“I liked the style of play,” Cohen said. “They play very outstanding. Rotate the guys. A lot of the school freshmen don’t play as well. I knew coming here I would get a chance to get minutes and go from there.

Cohen played 20 minutes in the season opener, scoring 10 points in a loss to Stetson. But his minutes continued to increase, and by mid-December he had become a regular in the starting lineup.

“I thought I was getting six, 10 spot minutes a game,” Korhen said. “Which I was fine with. I was good at coming in slow and making my own way. I feel like I’ grateful for that opportunity. And that’s where my hard work comes in, because I know a lot of There are players who wish they could play, there are a lot of people who wish they got a chance, I just have to keep grinding, keep getting better.

Cohen has scored nine or more points in seven of his last eight games. He also 50 percent or better in all but FSU’s road win at Pittsburgh. Cohen is shooting 81 percent from the free-throw line and has often been one of FSU’s best rebounders.

Hamilton won’t play so many minutes as a freshman, let alone a veteran. His expectations can be overwhelming for players on both ends of the court. But FSU freshmen have taken off in recent years, from Malik Beasley (29.8 minutes in 2015–16) and Dwayne Bacon (28.8 minutes in 2015–16) to Scottie Barnes (24.8 minutes in 2020–21) and Matthew Cleveland (26.2 minutes) Logged heavy minutes. in 2021-22).

But one player to whom FSU coach Cohen is often compared, Mafiondu Kabenzel, was able to pick up a redshirt season. Cohen averages 24 minutes per game but has played 29 or more minutes in nine games this season, which is quite a load for a big man.

“Very few newcomers come into this league without making some adjustments,” Hamilton said. “And when you’re in a position like Cam’s, where he’s basically a guy playing 30 minutes a game, it’s not as easy for him to adjust to this level, as it probably would have been if you had enough depth.” Team. It’s not unusual for him not to be consistent but I think his effort has been good. The different schemes make him more of a challenge as he adjusts to playing at this level in the ACC are happening.

compared to Kabangel

Cohen's 3-point shot is a work in progress, though the heavy minutes have affected the accuracy of his shot.

Cohen’s 3-point is a work in progress, though the heavy minutes have affected the accuracy of his shot. (Mike Olivella)

Cohen is often compared to Kabenzel, a Stretch 4 (forward) who developed his all-around game, was the ACC Sixth Man of the Year and was selected as a first-round pick in 2019. The win in Louisville and the resulting 10 points, Cohen sees them as second-chance opportunities, but also aspects of Kabenzel’s game that he’s seen on film.

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Cohen said, “Coach Jones always compares me to Mafiondu Kabenzel.” “And that’s exactly what he did. A lot of it was aggressive rebounding and getting off block outs. I watch a lot of videos on him to figure out how to get easy points like that. Those free points. Are.

Jones and the staff pushed Cohen for years to see Kabenzel’s film.

“We’ve encouraged that since we were recruiting him,” Jones said. “If not the top, he’s in the top two or three guys in terms of the amount of film they watch on their own without being asked by the coaches. I can see him, if he doesn’t change his approach to the game, really.” Makes huge leaps from year to year as it goes through his career.

The challenges for Cohen to end his game are clear. He’s just 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) from 3-point range, though he does have a good-looking jump shot. Part of the issue, Cohen and Koch acknowledge, are heavy minutes.

“I’ not shooting the ball like I usually do in the past,” Korhane said. “I’m scoring in other ways. The feet aspect of it. Switching 1 to 5, I could guard the ball for 20 seconds, then my feet went dead, then I had to go shoot the ball. I am trying to work on my conditioning as well as shooting in practice.

Switching 1 to 5 has been an adjustment for Cohen, who is being asked to do things a veteran has done in previous seasons. While forwards like Malik Osborne excelled at defending everyone from a point guard to a center, Cohen had to learn as a freshman for extended periods of time.

“It was definitely an adjustment, but I think I’ve made a pretty good adjustment because, for a big guy, I have fast feet,” Korhane said. “So it wasn’t the quickness aspect. It was just the mental part of it that put me off. I feel like I’ adjusting pretty well.”

Gennie is Cohen’s roommate and has also helped with aspects of his game and how to get the freshman in better position to block shots.

“He’s an older, mature dude,” Cohen said. “He’s a great blocker. I ask him for tips on that because I’ trying to improve my defense, my shot blocking. He helps me a lot.”

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Optimism for the end of FSU

Hamilton said a few weeks ago that the Seminoles have been consistently inconsistent. This is in large part the result of injuries as well as a competitive middle of the ACC, where FSU is one of five teams with between six and eight league wins. This includes blue bloods like Duke and North Carolina as well as Syracuse. The Orange are 14-10, 7-6 heading into the ACC Wednesday game at FSU (7 p.m. ET on ACC Network).

FSU has often struggled, especially on the road, in earning back-to-back wins over Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. The Seminoles have also had a flat start in games, most notably three consecutive losses to Miami, Clemson and NC State. A late lead in Louisville also nearly slipped to nothing on Saturday.

“I think we can take a lot out of that thinking that we are better than what we were,” Korhane said. “Because we came back and then Miami came and beat us. We have to be level-headed.

Cohen is optimistic about how FSU may end up. With seven regular-season games left, he would like to see the Seminoles avoid playing five games in five days to secure one of the top nine spots in the ACC tournament. Anything can happen from there, Cohen thinks.

“I think if we get four games in four days we can win the ACC tournament and bid for March Madness,” Cohen said. “We just want to finish strong. … I feel like we’ve shown that we can compete with any team in the ACC, even any team in the country. I believe that We can do that.”

That’s a bold statement considering what the Seminoles have done this season. But if there are reasons to be encouraged about where the program is headed, perhaps not this March but in 2023-24, it’s because of freshmen like Cohen, who are earning playing time sooner than expected. more than ever – and as they continue to learn.

Jones said, “He has raised his game.” “I think everyone can see that he’s added some versatility in a consistent scoring spot. He’s pushing his limits, which we always thought he had the potential to do. And he’s doing it emotionally and with maturity.” Growing up with attitude. He’s still 18.”