Oct. 15, 2003
You gotta rise. That’s what the Florida State Seminoles intend to do this season and with virtually the entire team returning from last season’s 17-13 squad and a Top 5 recruiting class coming in, there is reason to believe they can. FSU returns four starters and 10 letterwinners with a great deal of experience and it all starts with a talented and committed senior class. Fifth-year seniors Tasheika Allen and Lauren Bradley and sixth-year seniors Angela Sutton and Trinetta Moore have all been through a lot in their time at Florida State and the leadership they will provide will be immeasurable.
“The experiences of each of these players has been critical in developing their leadership quality,” head coach Sue Semrau said. “Because of the different obstacles that each one of the four seniors has had to overcome, each feels like this is a second chance. Their experiences have given them the knowledge of what it takes to be a winner. Not only are they preparing themselves, but they are also taking responsibility for the rest of the team like no other senior class. We have had good leadership in the past, but this looks to be the best we have ever had. I don’t know if one particular player will step out and be that leader but as a group they can be special.”
Each one of this year’s seniors brings a different quality to the team. When combined, it creates a pattern for success.
“Lauren Bradley is intelligent, fun-loving and compassionate,” Semrau explained.
“Tasheika Allen is intense, driven and goal-orientated. Angela Sutton is fearless and energetic on the court, but carefree off of the court. Trinetta Moore is nurturing yet has a fierceness about her. Each one of these players believed that at this point in their careers, they would be finished playing college ball. Going into this season isn’t about finishing a degree, it’s about striving for more. In fact, Lauren Bradley and Trinetta Moore already have their degrees. These four want to play and they want to win.”
According to Semrau, when looking at this year’s team, you have to start from the inside and work your way out because the team’s experience begins with the inside game. The squad is loaded in the middle. Moore and Bradley have the years of experience under their belts and the numbers to support them. Moore ranked third on the team in scoring at 7.2 points per game and second at 5.3 rebounds per game last season. She led the team in rebounding seven times and scored in double digits in eight contests. Bradley, who has battled injuries throughout her FSU career, played in 29 of 30 games in 2002-03, marking the most games she’s been able to participate in a single season at Florida State. She scored in double figures in five games, led the team in free throw percentage and finished the season strong, averaging 10.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two WNIT games.
“Our posts may just be the most talented group I’ve coached,” Semrau said. “Lauren coming back at 100 percent will really be a treat. I think she is out to prove that she is the post player she has always wanted to be. She is the type of post player you can build a program around. Her ability to step out and play with finesse as well as a physical style is a compliment to Trinetta who is more of a power player. Trinetta really came into her own last season and became a force to be reckoned with underneath the basket.”
Providing depth and versatility to the post position is junior Genesis Choice, sophomore Hannah Linquist and freshmen Nikki Anthony and Ronalda Pierce. Choice, who averaged 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, scored in double figures six times and led the team in rebounding in six games. She provided a spark off of the bench and saw action in 28 contests. Linquist, who played in 18 games as a rookie behind veterans Katelyn Vujas, Moore and Bradley, continued to improve with each and every outing. She recorded season-highs of seven points vs. Alabama State and six rebounds in the Maryland game. Anthony, who also plays volleyball for Florida State, is a power player who knows how to use her size to her advantage. Pierce has a slim frame but has a dominating presence and the talent to back it up.
“Genesis has the ability to be a dominating player because of her versatility,” Semrau said. “Hannah and Nikki are more power players while Ronalda possesses all of the tools she needs to be very successful but will need to gain strength and experience. Combining the talents of all six of these players and we have good depth, versatility and experience.”
Moving out to the wing, Florida State returns five players with significant experience and welcomes two newcomers. Allen, formerly Tasheika Morris who married Ben Allen in August, once again headlines the group. A second team All ACC selection last season, Allen was the team’s scoring leader, averaging 15.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. She led the team in scoring 17 times and tallied double figures in 26 games.
“Not only does she have experience, but Tasheika has developed into a very good perimeter player who has added more weapons to her arsenal this season,” Semrau said.
Joining Allen at the wing position is Sutton, juniors LaQuinta Neely and Linnea Liljestrand, sophomore Ganiyat Adeduntan, freshman Alicia Gladden and redshirt senior Roneeka Hodges. Sutton, who rejoined the Florida State program last season after a two-year absence, didn’t miss a beat playing in 28 games, including 18 starts. Sutton thrives on the defensive end and led the squad in steals while averaging 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. She also provided some offensive production, scoring in every game she played in, including seven or more points five times. Neely was perhaps the surprise of last season. After playing sparingly in her rookie season, she started 24 games in 2002-03, occupied both the wing and point positions and averaged 6.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Neely scored in double figures in seven games and recorded six games of seven or more rebounds.
“Both Angela and Quint contributed in so many ways last season,” Semrau said. “Angela has such a strong defensive presence and she has worked very hard this offseason to further developing her offensive skills. In starting a number of games for us last year, Quint is becoming more comfortable in the role of go-to player. She is very talented and works extremely hard on both ends of the court.”
Liljestrand, who played in 27 games and averaged 3.3 points per outing last season, has the ability to be a playmaker which was evident by her outstanding performance in the Seminoles’ win at Clemson. She scored a game-high 19 points off of the bench, including 17 straight, 15 of which were unanswered, helping the Seminoles earn the program’s first ever win over the Tigers. Adeduntan, an All ACC All Freshman team honorable mention honoree, averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 28 games of action. A two-time ACC Rookie of the Week selection, Adeduntan scored in double figures in five games and led the team in scoring four times. Learning the ropes at the position and adding depth is Gladden. A three-time team MVP at Orange Park High School, Gladden was ranked No. 31 in the All Star Girls Report. She finished her career with 1,550 points, 570 rebounds, 415 steals and 420 assists. Hodges, who earned a Silver Medal playing for the United States Pan American team over the summer, will be able to practice this season but won’t be eligible to play until 2004-05.
“Linnea can flat out shoot the ball and provides a spark offensively for us,” Semrau said. “Ganiyat, who has been working as hard as anyone in the off-season, may be our most skilled wing player. Although a freshman, Alicia has the ability to come in and make a name for her self very quickly. Although she won’t be able to play this year, Roneeka will provide additional leadership to this position with her vast experience.
“We are going to be much improved because of the players we have at the wing position this season,” Semrau said. “Offensively, we will have so many weapons. The combinations on the floor will depend on our ability to defend.”
Linking it all together will be the point guard position, where Florida State will have two very capable players ready to go. Sophomore Holly Johnson returns with a year of experience under her belt. Alongside Johnson will be Shante Williams, the nation’s No. 1 rated high school point guard last season.
Johnson played in all 30 games last season and started 15 of them. She averaged 4.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game and earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors after scoring a career-high 15 points and adding five rebounds and three assists in the win at Akron. Williams is perhaps the most heralded player to sign with Florida State. A first team Parade and McDonald’s All-American, Williams was a four-time state champion at Ribault Senior High School in Jacksonville.
“We have a great deal of talent at the point guard position,” Semrau said. “The difference will be how well they see the floor, the kind of leadership they provide and the chemistry they bring. The different combinations we will be able to put on the floor with Holly and Shante are going to be fun. They are both great passers who have the ability to set people up so well and both great floor leaders. Holly may be a better deep shooter and Shante a better finisher.”
The luxury of two capable point guards will also give Florida State the opportunity to bring in both point guards in the same game, which will make it difficult for other teams to defend.
“Having options at point guard will put pressure on opposing defenses,” Semrau said. “Holly and Shante will both see action and our opponents will have to defend two completely different styles. When we put both of them on the floor at the same time, we’ll have this incredible floor vision and two players who want to set up their teammates. There will be a lot of different options.”
With their No. 3-ranked recruiting class now on campus and ready to contribute, Semrau and her staff are excited about what this means for the program not only this season but in the future.
“As the players in this class develop, they could make a very big impact on this program in the future,” Semrau said. “All of them come in highly recruited and very talented. Because they come into a program with so many experienced players, they will have the opportunity to develop and adjust to the tempo and physicality of the college game. We haven’t had that luxury in the past. Each of them brings something different. Shante and Alicia’s connection playing summer ball together so many years will be an advantage. Nikki has a great work ethic and is so determined to be a great basketball player in addition to being a great volleyball player. She will probably work harder than any of our players to develop her own individual game. Ronalda is just a great talent and will be such a tremendous compliment to these players.”
The 2003-04 schedule is a strong one. The Seminoles will have the opportunity to play 13 games against teams who advanced to last year’s NCAA Tournament, including a trip to two-time defending national champion Connecticut on November 25th. This season’s slate is highlighted by games against teams from the SEC, Big East and West Coast conferences, three in-state opponents as well as a nationally televised ESPN2 match-up with ACC-foe Virginia.
“I’m excited about our strong schedule,” Semrau said. “We open the season at home, but then immediately travel to the defending national champions which will be an exciting opportunity for our program. We host two NCAA Tournament teams in our tournament and then have the chance to face two others when we head out to Malibu, California right before Christmas. Add the Peachtree Classic in Atlanta where we will play LSU in the ACC/SEC Challenge and we feel like our preseason schedule is very strong in preparation for what I see will be a very tough ACC schedule.”
The schedule includes 14 regular-season home dates, including the seventh annual Seminole Classic, which features NCAA Tournament teams Harvard and Liberty as well as Wisconsin-Milwaukee. FSU’s trip out west to Pepperdine’s Malibu Beach Classic will showcase the Seminoles vs. TCU, followed by either Fairleigh Dickinson or host Pepperdine. TCU has been to three straight NCAA Tournaments while Pepperdine has been to three NCAA Tournaments in the past four seasons, including the last two consecutive years. LSU was the 2003 SEC Tournament champion and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The always-competitive ACC had five teams advance to postseason play last year.
The trip out west will be especially special for Moore, who now makes her home in Atlanta but grew up in California.
“The seniors asked for a trip out west this year,” Semrau said. “We chose California which gives us an opportunity to take Trinetta home and to travel and see a different part of the country.”