March 19, 2009
By Scott Kotick, Seminoles.com
The feeling is contagious. Just walk around campus, take a stroll downtown, or head over to the Moore Athletic Center: Tallahassee is buzzing with palpable excitement for Florida State basketball.
The 2008-2009 Seminole basketball season has been one of the most exciting seasons in school history with multiple wins over nationally ranked teams and a renewed confidence in the air at the Basketball Training Center. For just the second time in school history, both men’s and women’s basketball teams were selected to simultaneous NCAA tournaments—1991 marked the only other season. 2009 has been a year of firsts for both basketball programs as they head into postseason play with high expectations.
In the midst of plopping down in front of the television to see our Seminoles begin the NCAA tournament this weekend, take the time to reminisce on just how special this season has been.
To say that 2009 has been “historical” for Florida State is a vast understatement. The players and coaches of both Seminole basketball teams will be admired for years to come, not only at Florida State, but throughout the country as well.
It is only fitting that just a few doors separate the offices of Leonard Hamilton and Sue Semrau, as both coaches were named ACC Coach of the Year for the 2009 season. This is the third ACC Coach of the Year honor that Semrau has received in her 12-year coaching career with the Seminoles and the first for Leonard Hamilton in his seven seasons in Tallahassee.
For the first time since the 1997-1998 season, the number 16 Seminole men’s basketball team locked up a bid to the NCAA Tournament as a number five seed. With a 25-9 overall record, the Seminoles made the ACC Tournament finals for the first time in school history after knocking off the number one North Carolina Tar Heels in a game that left most finger nails gnawed when the final buzzer sounded. The Seminoles finished the ACC season in fourth place—the highest finish for Florida State since 1993.
All-ACC first teamer Toney Douglas is enjoying an All-American caliber season and currently ranks second in the league in scoring per game (21.3 ppg) and first in total scoring (725 points). Douglas was named to the all-tournament first team after scoring 25, 27, and 28 points in consecutive tournament games.
As one of the best players to ever wear the garnet and gold, Douglas was also named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and made the all-ACC defensive team along with Solomon Alabi, a member of the all-ACC freshman team after coming back from a knee injury last season. Forward Chris Singleton also received honorable mention all-ACC freshman team honors after starting nearly the entire season for the Seminoles as a true freshman.
The Seminoles have received significant national attention as they were named ESPN’s college basketball team of the week twice this season and look to add a few more prestigious awards as March Madness approaches.
As a National Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Douglas has led his young Florida State squad to national prominence and the Seminoles are just getting started. With six freshmen on the roster, the team is poised for continued success as Alabi has developed into one of the premier centers in the league and currently leads the ACC in blocks per game (2.1). Known for his premier defensive coaching, Leonard Hamilton has made the Seminoles into the number one defense in the ACC—giving up a conference-low 65 points per game and allowing only 38.6% shooting from the field.
Stop and think about what the Seminoles have accomplished thus far. Those are some impressive numbers considering the depth of talent in the ACC and the offensive capability of teams like North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Duke. Now, Florida State is among those elite teams and the Tucker Center has become a feared place to play in the league.
And if that weren’t enough, Sue Semrau’s squad is enjoying their best season in school history and claimed a share of the regular season ACC title—the first honor in her 12-year coaching career in Tallahassee. The number 12 Seminoles received their highest NCAA tournament bid in school history as they were selected as a three seed to play in the Duluth, Ga. regional.
Just look at the determination of the players and coaching staff—there is something special happening with the Florida State women’s basketball team.
This season, the Seminoles have truly developed home-court advantage by defeating three top-10 teams at home when they knocked off number three Texas A&M, number three Duke, and number seven North Carolina here in Tallahassee. The game against the Tar Heels on February 13 saw the largest crowd in Seminole Women’s Basketball history with more than 6,300 people in attendance. But that number was raised with 6,400 people showing up to the Tucker Center to see Florida State take on Virginia on senior day. Yet it is their road resume that is most impressive. The Seminoles are undefeated on the road (10-0) in ACC play.
Jacinta Monroe showed why she is one of the premier players in the ACC after being named to the all-ACC defensive team and all-ACC second team. She also broke Brooke Wyckoff’s school record for most blocks in a career—as a junior with one more season left to play.
Seniors Mara Freshour and Tanae Davis-Cain both reached the 1,000 point club for their Seminole careers in Florida State’s quest for a fifth straight NCAA appearance. They were both named to the All-ACC third team and the 2009 ACC All-Tournament second team after scoring in double figures in both games against Boston College and Duke.
Yes, it has certainly been a magical season. But both coaching staffs and every player would say that a new season has started right now. While the past has certainly been monumental for both programs, it is time to refocus on the task at hand.
Boise and Duluth await with bated breath and eager anxiety.