Nov. 7, 2000
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Steve Robinson had an extra bounce to his step. An extra twinkle in his eye. His team had an extra surge of emotion on the floor. All that was missing was an extra zap of electricity from the stands, but that should come. It was an evening of promise and potential.
A first step.
Florida State’s annual hoop scrimmage last week at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center served its purpose. Initial glances were positive. The Seminoles are athletic. They play with emotion on both ends of the floor. There seems to be a mix of power and finesse. Finally, depth also appears to be a plus. Now, does all that translate into wins?
That remains a mystery, even to Robinson.
“I don’t have any idea of what’s going to happen down the road,” said Robinson, entering his fourth season with the Seminoles.
“I am going to coach as hard as I possibly can and they are going to play as hard as they can and we will come out and we are going to try to be fun. We are going to try to be exciting and entertaining and we are going to give effort and, somewhere along the line, we are going to try to win as many games as we can.”
The line starts here.
Robinson, 43-48 at FSU, sounds more excited, more upbeat and more positive about this team than any of his previous three with the Seminoles. He has put together a top recruiting class, which he hopes to combine with a handful of confident veterans. He has added three new assistants to go with seasoned Coleman Crawford. There’s no denying the program’s intense desire to succeed.
A careful look suggests Robinson could be on to something good. It’s obvious he cares immensely.
“There’s a lot of upbeat about what we are doing and what we are trying to do,” Robinson said. “I think everything we’ve done right now… I won’t say we’ve struck gold, but I think we are moving in the right direction.”
Good to hear.
FSU hoops has wobbled the past two years. Crowds have diminished. Both sides need to take responsibility. Robinson truly believes that dedication and effort will pay dividends in the future. He’s on the right path. Fans are a key part of that process, too. They help create atmosphere. In addition, FSU’s administration remains confident and committed.
Though more time still might be needed, the puzzle is taking shape. Robinson had plenty of reasons to be encouraged after watching his team’s initial scrimmage in front of 1,053.
Center Nigel Dixon lost body fat and discovered his shot. He led the Garnet squad to a 71-68 victory with 20 points in 23 minutes. Sophomore forward Mike Mathews, who sat out the 1999-00 season due to NCAA academic regulations, had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Gold.
Shooting guard Adrian Crawford also returned after missing 11 games last season to a chronic knee injury. Point guard Delvon Arrington finished with six points, six assists and three stitches after a nasty collision. Newcomers Monte Cummings, Michael Joiner and J.D. Bracy (who must sit out this season) combined for 38 points.
FSU no longer appears one-dimensional. The Gators visit in less than two weeks.
“I’ve said all along, I think we have good legs,” Robinson said. “Our team has good legs, pretty athletic. And with that, we have some guys who are more natural in their position. I think it’s an unselfish team that will play hard, have balance. I probably will coach better with a team like that than with a very one-dimensional group.”
Once again, FSU must work its way up after being picked to finish last in the ACC. The conference, which has shown signs of weakness the past few seasons, is expected to be better than ever. Twenty-five of 30 starters on the league’s top six teams return. Three teams — Duke, North Carolina and Maryland — are ranked among the top 10 in the preseason coaches poll.
The third-ranked Blue Devils lost ACC player of the year Chris Carrawell, but return their four other starters. The Tar Heels, a Final Four team last season that many felt still underachieved, return four starters and are No. 4 in the poll. The No. 7 Terrapins feature a veteran lineup and the possibility of an 11-player rotation. Wake Forest (18) and Virginia (25) also are ranked in the top 25.
“I don’t think there’s any question the league should be better this year,” N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said. “As a whole there will be more experience than last year, and it seems most of the top players are back.”
FSU, meanwhile, isn’t given much of a chance. In fact, some are suggesting the Seminoles could go winless along Tobacco Road. Clemson and Georgia Tech, minus coach Bobby Cremins, are also expected to struggle mightily.
Such chatter only inspires FSU. Sure, the Seminoles have more questions than answers at the moment. And, yes, year four of Robinson may not yield sweeping changes in terms of victories, especially since FSU lost 70 percent of its scoring and welcomes back just two players with 10 or more starts last season.
Keep the faith.
The Seminoles should be more athletic and deeper. Forced to play a half-court game last season, Robinson wants to push the tempo. Look for more running and pressing.
FSU’s schedule is also testy. UF visits. So does Minnesota. FSU is off to the Last Frontier for the Great Alaska Shootout. Thanks in large part to the ACC, the Seminoles could play as many as 15 regular-season games against teams that participated in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments last season.
This challenge isn’t for the meek. Robinson believes. Fans should, too. The hard work continues.
“I think you look at your team and what they are capable of doing,” Robinson said. “We have to polish it up, shine it up, make it better. We have to keep getting better.”
by Jim Henry