March 17, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. –
With the NCAA Tournament Final Four in Tampa, this year’s national tournament was a little bit more important to the Florida State women’s basketball team. On Monday (March 17) the bubble did not burst for the Seminoles, but rather the road to Tampa has begun as they received one of the 34 at-large bids into the 2008 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
For the fourth year in a row, the Seminoles had their named called on Selection Monday as they will take on sixth-seeded Ohio State during the first round of the 2008 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The two teams will meet on Saturday (March 22) in Des Moines, Iowa, as part of the New Orleans regional.
“Obviously we were ecstatic when our named flashed up on the screen,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “We thought we had a 50-50 chance and I could give you a lot of reasons why we should be in and I could give you a lot why we shouldn’t.”
Florida State has never played Ohio State and is 5-6 against the Big Ten, 3-0 under Semrau, after beating Indiana earlier in the year. FSU has never played a Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament, but did lose to Penn State in 1990, 83-73, before the Nittany Lions joined the conference.
“I have a lot of respect for the Big Ten Conference having coached in it for a number of years at Wisconsin,” Semrau noted. “Ohio State is going to be a tough match-up. They are very well coached and a very strong team. They have a great player in the middle as well as good ones out on the perimeter.”
Last season the Seminoles advanced to the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance after beating Stanford in the second round. This is Florida State’s eighth tournament appearance overall and the fifth under Semrau. FSU has an all-time record of 6-7 in the NCAA Tournament, 5-4 during Semrau’s tenure including three-straight first-round victories.
Florida State comes into the tournament with an 18-13 record after advancing to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Of the 13 losses, eight came to ranked teams – seven of the eight came away from Tallahassee – with three more to NCAA Tournament teams. The Seminoles finished tied for fifth in the ACC with a 7-7 record.
Playing in the third-toughest conference in the country, Florida State’s tournament resume was bolstered by a strength of schedule that ranked 37th in the nation. The Seminoles were rated 59th in the latest RPI as compiled by collegerpi.com.
“The whole year there have been unexpected thing that have come up and this was one of them,” Semrau added. “We’ve had a lot of adversity this season and I’m really proud of our team for sticking with it and getting this opportunity.”
To say that the Seminoles overcame adversity would be an understatement. Leading scorer and All-ACC selection Tanae Davis-Cain (Dawson, Ga.) was suspended for nine games in the middle of the season for violation of team standards. Sophomore Alysha Harvin (Dania, Fla.), who averaged 8.5 points per game, was suspended for the first nine games of the season.
The biggest blow to the Seminoles came when starting center Britany Miller (Tallapoosa, Ga.) was declared academically ineligible for the spring semester. Miller, who missed four games at the start of the year with an ankle injury, was the top returning scorer and rebounder from last season.
Without Miller, Florida State used a balanced attack that featured five players averaging 8.5 ppg. or more and four players pulling in 4.0 rebounds per game. The Seminoles were the only team in ACC this year to have every player start at least one game this season.
Topped by Davis-Cain’s 14.8 ppg., Florida State had three players average double figure this year. Junior guard Mara Freshour (Nashville, Ind.) set an FSU single-season record with 59 three-pointers on her way to scoring 12.5 ppg. Sophomore forward Jacinta Monroe (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) moved up to number two on the FSU career and single-season blocks list while scoring 10.2 ppg.