Dec. 7, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The 2001-02 Florida State Men’s Basketball team is the most experienced team in head coach Steve Robinson’s five years at the helm of the Seminoles. As a team, the Seminoles have high aspirations for season, and they will look for their big men to play an integral role in their success.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has been the home to a number of dominant centers who could shoot the “rock” down low and block shot after shot: Tim Duncan, Christian Laettner, Ralph Sampson, and Elton Campbell. This season, Mike Mathews hopes to join this illustrious list.
Mathews enters his junior year at Florida State from nearby Blountstown, Fla. The middle child of five kids, he grew up in a very religious family. His mother works as a missionary and his father is the pastor of their church. Mathews was very active in the church and played drums with the choir every Sunday. To this day he never misses an opportunity to sneak away from pre-game warm-ups to play with the Chiefly Brass prior to many home games.
Having lived so close to Tallahassee and having attended school at nearby Florida High, Mathews closely followed Florida State basketball while growing up. He knew this would be the perfect place for him to play. Not to mention the fact that he would receive enormous support from both family and friends. It also helped that Florida State played in the most prestigious basketball conferences in the nation.
During this past off-season, Mathews was determined to gain the weight he needed to hold his own down low against some of the conferences finest post players. He knew he needed the size to compete and to be successful this year for the Seminoles.
“Last year I found it tough going against centers who were bigger and stronger than I was,” said Mathews. “So this year I took part in a special diet and weight training program and put on 10 to 15 pounds. I feel this will help me in getting better position in the post and staying out of foul trouble.”
Mathews enters his second season at Florida State as one of the prominent shot blockers in the ACC. As a sophomore, Mathews ranked sixth overall in the conference in total blocks with 44. He averaged 1.6 blocks per game last season and tallied a game high five blocks three times against Minnesota, Furman, and ACC foe Virginia. His 44 blocks in a single season tied him for 11th on the FSU all-time season shot block list with Doug Edwards in the 1992-93 season. Mathews sees his ability to shot block as one of his strongest attributes and he enjoys the fact that his teammates rely on him to block shots down the stretch, late in the game.
“I want my teammates to have confidence in me to block the key shot to win the game for us,” said Mathews.
Not only is Mathews a threat as a shot blocker, but he will also be looked upon to provide dominance in the paint both offensively and defensively. The Seminoles will look for experience to play an essential role in the success of this year’s team. Along with David Anderson and former roommate Nigel Dixon, Mathews feels this three-man rotation down low will look to provide whatever is necessary to win.
“Each one of us is better, smarter, and more athletic than we were a year ago,” said Mathews. “You can definitely look for our experience to pull out a victory from those close games we lost a year ago.”
Before coming to Florida State, Mathews spent 9 months at Fork Union Military Academy looking to improve on his basketball skills. From 6 a.m. wake up calls, to the constant road trips up and down the east coast in a 13 passenger van, it took awhile for him to adapt to this new style of living. After achieving success on the court and in the classroom, Mathews felt it was time for a change and headed for FSU.
One of the most sociable people you might ever meet, you will never Mathews without a smile on his face. Mathews enjoys talking to other people and getting to know every person he comes into contact with both on and off the court.
“I can get along with anybody,” said Mathews. “I love to talk a lot. I like sitting down with people and getting to know who they are.”
Mathews hopes that the 2001-02 season will be his most exciting yet as Seminole. Most importantly he hopes that the fans and students will continue to come out and support the men’s basketball team this season. Mathews feels that the young legs of this year’s team, combined with the increase in talent and athleticism, will provide for more excitement and more of an up-tempo style of play.
“We are going to do things a lot of people would not have expected,” said Mathews. “Putting together the athleticism, experience, and talent of this year’s team, we are going to be a force to reckon with. We are lifting weights and practicing hard everyday. The sky’s the limit to what can happen this season.”
By Jason Leturmy
Sports Information Assistant