Oct. 14, 1999
Florida State basketball fans are looking forward to the 1999-2000
season under third-year head coach Steve Robinson. Robinson welcomes back
four starters and 10 lettermen from last year’s Seminole edition that
earned the label “hardest working team in Florida State history” from their
Despite Florida State’s 13-17 mark a year ago, Robinson continued
his rise as one of the nation’s top young coaches by keeping his young,
undermanned team competitive throughout the season against the nation’s
second most difficult schedule according to the Ratings Percentage Index.
Robinson’s reputation as a strategist and bench tactician were strengthen
last season when FSU opened its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule by
winning five of its first seven games and staying in the first division of
the league’s standings with three of the country’s top 10 teams – Duke,
Maryland and North Carolina. The second go around through the league was
tough but the Seminoles’ youngsters came away with vital crunch time
experience that will benefit the program for the upcoming season.
“We learned a lot about ourselves and our program last season,”
said Robinson. “We faced quite a bit of adversity on and off the court but
our players stuck together and fought through it. I really feel like we
are moving in the right direction.”
Leading the way for Florida State on the floor this season will be
6-8 senior small forward Ron Hale. Hale emerged as one of the Atlantic
Coast Conference’s most improved players and as a go-to man for the Tribe
last season. The Largo, Fla. native, who was FSU’s sixth man his first two
seasons, earned third team all-conference honors last year with an
outstanding campaign. He led the Seminoles in scoring at 16.0 points per
game and rebounding at a 5.6 clip, while ranking among the league’s best in
four categories (scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and
blocked shots). He should contend for All-America honors in his final
season in Tallahassee.
“Ron made a big leap in terms of performance last year,” Robinson
said. “I knew he had it in him and he showed that he can be a big-time
player last year. But he can’t rest on his laurels this season and I don’t
think that he will. He has all the skills you want in a player his size
and I expect him to have another great season.
“We will use him in many different roles this year. He will be a
marked man by our opponents but I know he can handle the attention.”
Joining Hale in the frontcourt and forming a potent one-two
frontline punch is senior Damous Anderson. Anderson transferred into
Florida State in December last season from Atlanta Metro College and proved
to be a quick learner. He appeared in 23 games after his arrival and
started the final 10 games of the year. The Greenville, S.C. native was
the Seminoles’ third leading scorer at 11.9 points per game and ranked
second on the team in rebounding at 5.1 per contest. He also finished
fifth nationally in field goal percentage, hitting 60.5 percent from the
floor. At 6-6, Anderson is a undersized to play the power forward spot and
is more suited to play on the wing, but creates match up problems out on
the floor with bigger players. He may also see more time at the small
forward this season.
“Damous did a tremendous job for us last year,” said Robinson. “It
is obvious that he has a lot of natural talent and basketball savy. Not
many people could have been thrown into our system midway through December
and done as much as he did without being a natural basketball player.
“I expect a lot more out of him this season because he has been
with us for a year now. He went through our offseason program and had the
opporutnity to practice with us for 10 days before the Australia trip. He
was probably our best player on the trip. Damous was very good last year
but we haven’t seen the best of Damous Anderson yet.”
In the backcourt, 5-11 junior point guard Delvon Arrington returns
as one of the ACC’s top point guards. Arrington started 29 of 30 games in
his first college season a year ago and was third in the league in assists
at 6.0 per game. He was also third in the conference in steals at 2.1 per
game while averaging 8.1 points per night.
“Delvon is another guy who did an excellent job for us last year,”
said Robinson. “I expect him to mature and grow a lot this season. He
gets our running game going and has to be one of the fastest guys in the
country with the ball in his hands. He also provides an on-the-ball
defensive presense out on the perimeter.”
Junior Adrian Crawford, who stands 6-5, was the Seminoles’ sixth
man last season while backing up at both the point and shooting guard
spots. Crawford may move into the starting five at the shooting guard spot
that was vacated by senior Terrell Baker, who averaged 14.5 points last
year. Crawford started four times a year ago and averaged 10.6 points in
28.5 minutes per game. He led Florida State with 64 three-pointers and hit
39.8 percent from long range.
“Adrian has shown he is capable of having big nights on offense,”
Robinson said. “All he needs to do is work on his consistency. He is also
nice to have because he is so versatile – a real combo guard. He also
provides great on the floor leadership. That comes from having a coach as
Justin Mott, a 6-10 senior, returns after starting 23 games at
center last year. He was recruited out of junior college to provide depth
in the post but was thrust into the starting lineup when Karim Shabazz
decided to leave the program five games into the season. Mott is not much
of an offensive threat ad averaged just 1.4 points a year ago but did claim
2.7 rebounds per contest and played solid post defense.
“Justin is really a hard worker,” said Robinson. “He wasn’t
expecting to play big minutes last season but he kind of got thrown into
the fire. He certainly improved last year and he can help us if continues
to do the things he can do and not try to do more than he is capable of.”
Senior forward Oliver Simmons started the first 20 games of the
season last year at power forward. The 6-8 Nashville, Tenn. native lost
his starting job to Damous Anderson down the stretch but is back to provide
depth along the front line. He averaged 5.9 points and 4.0 rebounds last
“Oliver has some talent, he just needs to stay confident,” said
Robinson. “I thought he got off to a good start last year but somewhere
along the line he lost his confidence. He is a smart player and will fill
a role for us if he just keeps on fighting.”
A pair of sophomores who saw limited action last season should see
bigger roles in 1999-2000. Emanuel Mathis, a 6-3 shooting guard from
Atlanta, is the Tribe’s best pure shooter and will get a chance to come of
the bench for more minutes this year. He had 11 points in an early season
game against Georgia Southern last year and hit 44.4 percent from
three-point range on the season.
Marietta, Ga. native Antwuan Dixon, a 6-5 forward, started to get
more comfortable with the college game down the stretch last season and had
some big moments late in the year. He keyed FSU’s ACC Tournament overtime
win over Clemson with five points and five rebounds, all in the extra
session. He has great athletic ability and needs only to work on his
shooting to become a solid college performer.
“Emanuel and Antwuan are going to have the opportuntiy to help this
team,” said Robinson. “We need them to step up. Emanuel can really shoot
the ball and Antwuan is as athletic as anybody we have on the team. I
think they are both getting more comfortable on the floor and will just
play this year instead of reacting to what is going on.”
Matt Chlebek, a former walk-on, has earned a scholarship for the
1999-2000 season. A 6-0 junior, Chlebek played extensively on Florida
State’s NCAA Tournament team in 1997-98. His minutes decreased last season
as he appeared in 17 games. His role could increase in 1999-00 as he
competes again for the backup point guard job.
“Matt has been able to gain a lot of experience is his first two
seasons,” Robinson said. “He has played in the NCAA Tournament, the ACC
Tournament, the Preseason NIT Championship game. He can give us some
energy when he comes into the game and will play both guards spots this
Chris Hull, a 6-3 junior walk-on, who made team prior to last
season, also returns. He will also serve as a backcourt backup.
Robinson put together a four-man recruiting class – center David
Anderson, center Nigel Dixon, post man Mike Matthews, and forward Rodney
Tucker – in his second year in Tallahassee and each recruit could have the
opportunity for minutes right away.
Anderson and Dixon will try to bolster the Seminoles post play up
front. Anderson is a seven-footer who played his freshman year (1996-97)
at Brigham Young before going on a two-year Mormon mission and deciding to
transfer. Dixon stands 6-10 and prepped at Edgewater High School in
“With David, it is just a matter of how long it takes him to get
back into basketball-playing shape,” said Robinson. “He didn’t play while
he was on his mission. He gives us some size and maturity but we have to
be patient with him.
“With Nigel it is a matter of conditioning. He can provide a huge
presense in the lane and has good hands and feet. We just need to help him
with his conditioning.”
Tucker was an all-state performer at Stone Mountain (Ga.) High
School. The 6-8 freshman should provide the FSU frontline with some
“We don’t have anyone like Rodney,” said Robinson. “He has lively
legs and is an excellent athlete. He is very aggressive and will get an
opportunity to get some minutes.”
Mathews is the first Tallahassee product to sign with Robinson.
The 6-10 post player prepped at Florida High on the FSU campus then spent
last year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Mathews is a partial
NCAA qualifier and will not be eligible for the 1999-2000 campaign but he
will be able to practice with the Seminoles.
Florida State’s returning players spent two weeks in August on a
foreign tour of Australia, playing seven games.
“The Australian trip was a great opporunity for our team both on
and off the basketball court,” Robinson said. “We got a head start on some
things by being able to play and practice together and it gave our young
guys a chance to play in some different situations. We got to see how they
The 1999-2000 schedule should once again be one of the country’s
toughest. Along with the always tough ACC slate, the Seminoles will travel
to Auburn, Florida, Northwestern and South Florida in non-conference games.
FSU will also host Seton Hall, Temple and Vanderbilt and play Massachusetts
in the Orange Bowl Classic.
“We have a very tough schedule,” said Robinson. “The ACC is always
going to be the toughest conference in the country and we added a very
difficult non-conference schedule to that. I want to challenge our team to
play hard all the time. There was a fine line to where we finished last
year and getting to the postseason. We want to cross that line this year.”