TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There’s a small part of Sue Semrau that might like for the Florida State women’s basketball team to ease into the season and load up on a soft non-conference schedule before beginning ACC play.
The trouble with that approach, though, is that it will often leave a team unprepared for the rigors of the conference campaign. So challenges in November and December are a must.
And the Seminoles have a big challenge waiting on Monday night.
Florida State, 1-0 and ranked 12th in the country, is set to host No. 1 Connecticut at 6 p.m., Monday in the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Yes, the same UConn that has won four straight national titles. And is riding a 75-game winning streak.
And that, otherwise, has been the standard-bearer in women’s college basketball since the turn of the century.
If the Seminoles are looking for an early measuring stick, they won’t find one better than the Huskies.
“We want to be tested early so we can get our focus and keep our long-term goals in mind,” Semrau said. “Obviously when you have a four-time national champion coming in to your place, that’s a challenge.”
As each of UConn’s last 75 opponents can attest, playing the Huskies is a tall order.
But the Seminoles have a few reasons for optimism.
For starters, the Huskies are transitioning into a new era for the program, one that doesn’t include the “Big Three” of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.
That trio went 1-2-3, respectively, in the WNBA draft earlier this year.
The Huskies are also playing their first game of the regular season Monday, whereas FSU already has a game under its belt.
While UConn will never be short on talent, the Huskies will be breaking in some new players and new lineup combinations. Any first-game jitters or missteps could work in the Seminoles’ favor.
“They lost some really key cogs,” Semrau said. “And I’m sure that they feel like they’re a work in progress, too.”
FSU, however, must deal with at least one issue of its own: senior guard Leticia Romero, a two-time All-American and silver medalist at the 2016 Summer Olympics, is still nursing an injury and her status for Monday’s game is in doubt.
If Romero can’t play, senior Brittany Brown would shoulder a heavier workload.
“We’re trying to make that adjustment as well,” Semrau said.
Finally, the Seminoles are hoping to bank on one more advantage: their home court.
Monday’s game has been designated as “Pack the Tuck” night, and only general admission tickets remain.
It’s also “Team Night,” where youth basketball teams from the Tallahassee will be in attendance.
“You want a daunting crowd,” Semrau said. “And the opportunity for Tallahassee to come out and give us a ‘sixth man,’ if you will, is big, big deal to us.
“And I hope the fans will come out and support us as we take on the four-time, defending national champion.”