October 23, 2000 - by

Men’s Hoops Look To Take The Next Step In 2001

Oct. 23, 2000


When Steve Robinson, the fourth-year head coach at Florida State,
looks at his program, a smile rapidly spreads across his face.

He has established a solid foundation for the Seminole program, one
that has improved by leaps and bounds during his first three seasons.

His
system has been put in place, one that has yielded nothing but success
throughout his 17-year coaching career. He has instilled a winning
attitude in his players, one that he hopes will bring success during not
only the upcoming season, but for many years to come. He sees players
committed to improving every facet of their games each time they step onto
the court.

In short, he likes what he sees.

Two starters return from a Florida State squad which won nearly
half of its ACC games and its first round conference tournament game for
the second year in a row. In addition, Florida State was one of only four
teams in the ACC to post a .500 or better record in games played on Tobacco
Road (at Duke, at North Carolina, at NC State and at Wake Forest) and were
one of only three teams in the conference to win at both North Carolina
(Jan. 22, 76-71) and at Wake Forest (Jan. 4, 66-64)

Seniors Delvon Arrington, one of the pre-eminent point guards in
the nation, and Adrian Crawford, one of the top ball-handling shooting
guards in the ACC, return as starters for Robinson’s team. Arrington has
started 58 games in the last two years while Crawford is fully healed from
off-season knee surgery which limited him to 15 games as a junior.

Florida State’s nucleus of athletic players includes four
letterwinners who have all played at least one full season against the
nation’s top competition. Led by Arrington, Crawford and junior guard
Antwuan Dixon, the Seminoles’ nucleus has worked hard to return to the
national prominence it has. A talented reserve corps includes sophomore
forward Rodney Tucker, who played in all 29 games last season, junior
center David Anderson, who ranked among the ACC leaders in blocked shots,
sophomore forward Nigel Dixon, who is among the most improved players in
the league and first-year player Mike Matthews will add valuable experience
as backups for the resurgent Seminoles.

In addition, Florida State’s recruiting class, which ranked 13th in
the nation, includes four outstanding players who will play prominent roles
for the Seminoles this season. The class includes three freshman —
Michael Joiner, Ryan Lowery, Andrew Wilson — and a junior college
transfer, Monte Cummings.

Florida State’s returning players and its highly regarded
recruiting class, combined with the loss of All-ACC third-team selection
Ron Hale, a forward, and guard Damous Anderson, gives this team a fresh new
look. The Seminoles will rely on their six returning veterans and class of
five newcomers to field one of the deepest and most balanced teams in
recent memory.

“Coaching this group will be a great deal of fun,” said Robinson.
“Our veterans are solid basketball players and have played a lot of minutes
during their careers. All of the newcomers have talent, and how those two
pieces fit together, will be the key.

“We have depth (barring any major injuries), we have youth (with a
great deal of talent) and we have a number of good players (who have played
a lot of minutes),” said Robinson. If we can teach all of the players what
it takes and if we can learn from each other, we can improve tremendously
as a team and have a good season.”

Arrington, a 5-11 guard from Jersey City, N.J., is the Seminoles’
undisputed leaders, a tri-captain and one of the top ball-handling guards
in the nation. He ranked third in the conference in assists and tenth in
steals as he enjoyed his best season as a junior. Arrington enters the
2000-01 season ranked second in the nation in assists among all returning
Division I players. He averaged 8.9 points and 6.3 assists for the
Seminoles last season.

Arrington is one of only three players to hold multiple top ten
single-season school assist numbers and enters his third season ranked
third in school history with a 6.3 assists per game average over the course
of his first 59 games. In addition, he is one of only two players in the
ACC to finish ranked in the top three in the league assists category in
each of the last two seasons.

Said Robinson: “Delvon will have to accept a more expanded role on
our team to help us be successful. He will be asked to do more this
season. He may be one of the fastest players in the nation with the ball
in his hands. He is solid player on both the offensive and defensive ends
of the floor.”

Crawford, a 6-5 guard from Akron, Ohio, was Florida State’s fifth
leading scorer as a junior despite playing only 15 games because of a knee
injury last season. Despite the injury, he averaged 18.9 minutes per game
and started five contests. Prior to his injury, Crawford was considered to
be one of the top two-guards in the ACC because of his ability to use his
6-5 frame and long arms to his advantage on both the offensive and
defensive side of the court.

Crawford, who has played a team-leading 79 career games entering
the 2000-01 season, will serve as a team tri-captain. He is fully healed
from off-season knee surgery and ready to re-take his position in the
starting lineup. He, like Arrington, is slated to finish his bachelor’s
degree requirements in May of 2001.

“Adrian is a great offensive talent with super range,” said
Robinson. “His court savvy and leadership abilities are his strong points
and he possesses a tremendous drive and a hunger to be successful on the
basketball court. Adrian will be a vital part of the success of our team
this season.”

The third of the Seminoles’ tri-captains is junior guard Antwuan
Dixon, who started nine games as a sophomore. Dixon will need to make
significant contributions for the Seminoles to advance to postseason play
for the second time in the last three seasons. (Robinson guided Florida
State to the second round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament with a victory over
Texas Christian and a norrow, overtime loss to Valparaiso in the second
round of the tournament.)

Dixon, from Marietta, Ga., enjoyed a good sophomore season and has
displayed all-conference capabilities during his first two seasons in
Tallahassee. He has played in 50 career games and has been a member of the
Seminole rotation since his arrival. He is one of two returning players on
this year’s team who started at least nine games last season and averaged
more than 18 minutes per game. He averaged 4.7 points per game as a
sophomore.

Dixon was at his best during the final weeks of the season as he
helped the Seminoles battle their way up the conference standings. He
averaged nearly double figure scoring and almost 23 minutes per game in the
last seven games of the season. He scored his career high of 16 points
against Vanderbilt and Virginia — two teams which advanced to posteason
play during the 2000 season. During the season, Dixon scored in double
figures a career-high six times.

“Antwuan has developed into a very reliable player and that
development should continue,” said Robinson. “He is a versatile wing
player who possesses a tough, warrior-like mentality. I am looking for
Antwuan to have a superb season.”

Florida State’s solid nucleus of players includes center David
Anderson, forward Nigel Dixon and forward Rodney Tucker. All three players
under Robinson last season, improved tremendously as players and are
looking forward to continuing their maturation process.

Anderson, the tallest Seminole at 7-0, developed into a reliable
defensive force in the middle as he became used to the speed and strength
of Florida State’s competition throughout the season. Last season was
Anderson’s first as a Seminole after serving a two-year mission and
transferring from Brigham Young. He ranked sixth in the ACC in blocked
shots with a 1.5 per game average.

A Lamar, Colo., native, Anderson’s career-high 43 blocked shots
ranked as the 12th-highest single-season total in school history and is
tied for second among all sophomores in school history. Anderson’s
team-leading 43 blocked shots helped the Seminoles record 120 blocks, the
tenth highest team total in school history last year.

David Anderson should add some real ability and be a defensive
force for us during the upcoming season,” said Robinson. “He can block
shots, rebound and clog the middle. He must develop more consistency in
his play and be ready to battle every day and all season long.”

Nigel Dixon, a 6-10 forward from Orlando, Fla., may hold one of the
keys to the Seminole’s success this season. Dixon played in 28 games last
season and needs to continue making improvements in every area of his game
in order to become a more effective player. His playing time has increased
during his first two years at Florida State and that degree of improvement
must continue this season.

Dixon, who grabbed 60 rebounds in less than 180 minutes of play,
averaged a career-high 1.8 points and 6.4 minutes per game as a freshman.
He has worked on his conditioning and hopes to realize a dramatic increase
in his playing time this season.

“Nigel has made so many improvements in so many areas since the end
of his sophomore season and that needs to continue,” said Robinson. “He
causes problems for opponents because he can score and rebound and he has
great hands for a big man. He should make the next step in his development
as a sophomore and has the ability to enjoy an outstanding season. He has
worked extremely hard to improve his conditioning and that will help him be
more competitive this season.”

Tucker, a 6-7 forward from Stone Mountain, Ga., enters his second
season on the team after displaying strong promise as a freshman. He will
add depth at the forward position and has the ability to challenge for a
starting position among the Seminole’s starting five. Tucker averaged just
over 10 minutes a game as a freshman, and with continued improvement,
should add to that average as a sophomore.

Tucker averaged nearly 13 minutes of playing time during the final
six games of his freshman season and scored a career-high nine points
against Duke in late February. He is one of four returning players who saw
action in all 29 Seminole games last season.

“Rodney had the luxury of playing behind, and learning from, a
fifth-year senior (Oliver Simmons) last season,” said Robinson. “He
learned so much as a freshman and will be counted on to do more as a
sophomore. Rodney is a strong rebounder who can score and is a tireless
worker. His improved play will be a key to our success this season.”

Sophomore forward Mike Matthews and sophomore guard Marcell Haywood
are second-year players in the program who will add to the overall team
depth.

Matthews, a Blountstown, Fla., native, must work himself back into
game shape after sitting out the 2000 season. He averaged 11.2 points and
8.4 rebounds during his post-graduate season at Fork Union Military Academy
in 1999. Matthews possesses outstanding athletic ability and is an
outstanding shot blocker. As a senior in high school he averaged 5.8
blocked shots per game.

“Mike has a long and lean body frame and runs the floor very, very
well,” said Robinson. “He has strong offensive abilities, is a strong
rebounder and will help us a great deal this season. His ability to
develop a sense of consistency in his game will be a key to his success
this season.”

Haywood, a walk-on point guard, sat out the 200 season, yet
practiced with the team every day. His teammates feed off of his work
ethic during each practice session.

Florida State’s five man recruiting class of Michael Joiner, Ryan
Lowery, Andrew Wilson, Monte Cummings and J.D. Bracey has been judged by
recruiting experts as one of the best, and most well rounded, incoming
groups in the nation.

“Our freshmen will be tested and will have to learn our system
quickly,” said Robinson. “It is my hope that they all emerge into major
contributors on this team.”

Joiner, a 6-7 wing from Fayetteville, N.C., will compete for the
starting job at small forward with Antwuan Dixon. He is an excellent
all-around player and has a good range on his jumper, he can also put the
ball on the floor and create his shot. He enjoyed an outstanding high
school career and averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per
game as a senior which earned him All-State first-team honors. Joiner was
considered one of the top 25 players nationally by Bob Gibbons as a prep
senior.

“Michael Joiner is a complete player who is a hard worker and
should fit into our system very well,” said Robinson. “He gets involved
with the flow of the game both offensively and defensively and has uncanny
court savvy. He will be a tremendous addition to our team as a freshman.”

Ryan Lowery, a 5-11 native of Gastonia, N.C., is a solid shooter
and tremendous defender who spent a post-graduate year at Fork Union
Military Academy before coming to Florida State. He will serve as the
back-up to Delvon Arrington at the point guard position, a position where
he averaged 11.0 points and eight assists last season.

“Ryan is a strong, mature player who will be countred on from day
one,” said Robinson. “He is very mature and has the ability to get the
ball to the right people in positions where they can score. Ryan will
learn from Delvon Arrington much like Rodney Tucker learned from Oliver
Simmons last season successfully.”

Wilson is a 6-6 native of Kennesaw, Ga., who will not only improve
the team’s depth but help make the Seminoles a much better outside shooting
team. He is a very well rounded player who shoots the 3-point shot well.

“We expect Andrew to add to our team in a number of ways,” Robinson
said. “He is a well rounded player, who, for a first-year player has a
complete game.

“Andrew possesses a reletless work ethic and teanacious legacy of
love for Florida State University,” said Robinson.

Cummings, at 6-4 and a junior from Quincy, Fla., is the lone junior
college transfer on the Seminole roster. He will challenge Adrian Crawford
for playing time at the two-guard. He led Southeastern (Iowa) Community
College to the NJCAA national championship last season while averaging a
team-leading 16.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

“Monte Cummings is a veteran who has been through the wars,” said
Robinson. “He is a rock solid player who can make plays. We are looking
for his immediate contributions at both ends of the floor.”

Bracy averaged 27.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a high
school senior last year. He earned All-State first-team honors in leading
Kissimmee to the state playoffs. Bracy is a partial NCAA qualifier and
will not be eligible for the 2000-2001 season, however he will practice
with the Seminoles this season.

“This team must have a number of players emerge into go-to guys for
us to be successful,” said Robinson. “We have to be able to rely on
Delvon, Adrian and Antwuan each and every night. The remaining cast of
players have gotten their feet wet and a lot will be asked of them. Every
player on the team will be asked to give us more than they have ever given
us before.”

Florida State will once again play one of the top rated and
toughest schedules in the nation. Florida at the Tallahassee-Leon County
Civic Center, Minnesota in the second annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Ohio
State in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout highlight the
schedule. The Seminoles could play as many as 15 regular season games
against teams that participated in either the NCAA or NIT postseason
tournaments last season.

“We are very excited about the upcoming schedule,” said head coach
Steve Robinson. “It gets us off to a fast and furious start and allows us
to play a number of national caliber teams. Our team continues to work
hard to be at the point where we can play a top national schedule year in
and year out.”

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