Oct. 8, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Head coach Steve Robinson has been studying the blueprints for his Seminole basketball program for quite some time. He has designed and redesigned, checked and rechecked, and measured and re-measured in order to continue building his team. Not once has he cut corners and never has he utilized anything but the best materials in order to achieve the desired goal – a first-class basketball program at Florida State.
The foundation is in place and the construction of the Florida State men’s basketball program is moving ahead quicker than ever before. As the 2001-02 season begins, Robinson can look over his program with pride confident the structure he is building has the strength to tower over all others.
Robinson certainly has quality materials to work with as four starters and 12 letterwinners return to a unit that was one of the nation’s most improved at the end of last season. The Seminoles came together as a team during last season’s final month, wining three of its final six games against ACC competition including victories over national semi-finalist Maryland and NCAA Tournament participant Georgia Tech. In addition, Robinson’s team came within a nine points of defeating two other nationally ranked opponents.
Florida State’s strong nucleus of returners includes nine of the top 10 players statistically in terms scoring, rebounding, steals, assists and blocked shots from last season’s team. It also includes three players who have started at least 30 career games and nine players who have played in at least 25 games during their careers. The Seminoles’ commonly used 10-man rotation has played in a cumulative total of 451 games with 206 starts to their credit.
Led by seniors Delvon Arrington and Antwuan Dixon, who will serve as co-captains this season, junior Nigel Dixon and sophomore Michael Joiner, the Seminoles return a solid corps of tested players. Senior Monte Cummings, the ACC’s top sixth-man last season, junior Mike Mathews, the league’s top returning shot blocker, senior David Anderson is among the Seminoles’ all-time leaders in blocked shots, and sophomore utility-man Andrew Wilson will anchor this tested group of returning players. Junior Marcell Haywood and sophomore Ryan Lowery will add valuable experience as important back-up players. First-year players J.D. Bracy, a multi-talented player who can play both the point and shooting guard positions, and forward Adam Krieg are expected to make immediate contributions.
In addition, Florida State’s stellar recruiting class includes four players who are slated to play an important role in the success of this year’s team. Forwards Anthony Richardson and Adam Waleskowski, center Trevor Harvey and guard Adrian McPherson combine to form the Seminoles’ second consecutive top-20 ranked recruiting class. Richardson, Waleskowski and Harvey will earn significant minutes early while McPherson is scheduled to join the team following the completion of football season.
Combine Florida State’s tested returning players with its strong recruiting class with the loss of only one starter from last year’s team and you have a team ready to make some noise both in the Atlantic Coast Conference and nationally.
“Every member of our basketball team is excited about the start of the season,” said Robinson, who is entering his fifth season in Tallahassee. “We have experience and talented new players at almost every position that will create some fierce battles for playing time throughout the season. We will be able to combine our returning depth with our new talent to make us deep at every position. That’s exciting because there’s less of a drop-off in talent when we substitute to keep our players fresher throughout each game.”
Arrington, a 5-11 guard from Hillside, N.J., will be the Seminoles’ starting point guard for the fourth consecutive season. He has positioned himself as one of Florida State’s most prolific assist men in school history and has established himself as one of the Atlantic Coast Conferences’ most effective playmakers. Arrington is among the school’s all-time leaders in assists and steals and he has the chance to be the all-time leader in both categories at season’s end. He ranks third on Florida State’s all-time assist list with 506 and needs only 97 to become the all-time Seminole career leader. He also enters his final collegiate season as the ACC’s active career leader with 506 assists
Arrington proved himself to be a reliable scorer as he led the Seminoles in scoring (11.1 points per game), assists (4.8 assists per game) and steals (1.9 steals per game) last season. Arrington returns for his fourth season after earning his undergraduate degree in sports administration this summer. He became the first men’s basketball player in ACC history to enter school as a partial qualifier and earn his degree in four years, thus earning his fourth year of eligibility back.
“Delvon’s leadership is vital to our success,” said Robinson. “He has the chance to finish his career as one of the best point guards in school history. He has worked extremely hard during his career and his hard work shows in how much he has improved. I expect him to have his best season as a Seminole this year.”
Antwuan Dixon, a 6-5 guard/forward from Marietta, Ga., enjoyed his best season last year as a starter. He averaged a career-high 8.7 points and 5.8 rebounds in his first season as a starter. His 5.8 rebounds ranked second on the team and he was one of only three players to start all 30 games in 2001. He led the Seminoles in 3-point field goal shooting percentage.
Dixon enters the 2001-02 season having played in 62 consecutive games, the second longest streak on the team (behind Arrington’s three-year streak of 89 consecutive games played). He has played in each game for the Seminoles during the last two seasons and played in the final three games of the 1999 season. Dixon scored a career-high 23 points against Clemson in the ACC Tournament last season.
“No player I have coached has improved as much during his career as Antwuan Dixon,” said Robinson. “He has improved both athletically and in terms of his basketball skills. He has a tremendously strong will and his desire to be successful in every game is unmatched by many players I know.”
Joiner, a member of the 2001 All-ACC Rookie Team, enjoyed a fabulous inaugural collegiate season. The sophomore from Fayetteville, N.C. was an honorable mention freshman All-America selection after averaging 9.3 points and a team leading 6.0 rebounds last season. He established a school record for rebounds in an ACC game with 17 against Wake Forest on Jan. 10, 2001. In grabbing his career-high 17 rebounds, he was credited with 12 on the defensive end – also a Seminole record for an ACC game. Joiner was the only freshman in the ACC to start each of his team’s games last season and averaged 30.0 minutes player per game.
Only the second Florida State player to be named to the All-ACC Rookie team, Joiner finished second among all conference freshmen in rebounding and first in steals. He was named the ACC Rookie of the Week twice.
“Michael needs to continue to improve and build on the successes that he worked so hard to earn last season,” said Robinson. “He has taken some very big steps in developing his skills and is learning what he needs to do to become an elite player on this level.”
Perhaps no player in college basketball has transformed himself or his game more than junior Nigel Dixon, the Seminoles’ starting center. Since the end of last season, Dixon has lost nearly 80 pounds, cut his body fat composition dramatically and increased his stamina. He is a changed person, both personally and athletically as the season tips-off.
Nigel Dixon established career-high statistics in nearly every category during his sophomore season and finished 10th in the ACC in offensive rebounds with a career-high 2.31 per game average. He averaged a career-high 6.7 points and 5.0 rebounds as he started 21 of Florida State’s 30 games including 12 of the final 13 games of the season.
“Nigel has dedicated himself to improving his physical stature,” said Robinson. “He must now match his improvement in that department with his skill development.”
Monte Cummings and Mike Mathews, a pair of second-year players, will challenge for playing time among the starting unit. Both will need to make significant contributions if the Seminoles are to make it to the post-season for the first time since 1998. Both players contributed mightily last season in both starting and reserve roles and consistent production from both of them is vital this season.
Cummings is a 6-4 senior guard from nearby Quincy, Fla., who displayed his talents throughout his first season with the Seminoles. He averaged 10.7 points per game and was only of only three non-starters in the ACC to average in double figures. He played in 30 games and made his first career Division I start in Florida State’s game against Furman and averaged 16.0 points in two games against national champion Duke.
He had perhaps the most significant impact of any newcomer on any of the nine ACC teams during the 2001 season as he led the Seminoles in scoring five times and scored in double figures 15 times. For Cummings, 11 of his double figure scoring efforts came against ACC competition.
“Monte needs to step in and be ready to compete at a high level from the first day of practice for us to continually improve as a team,” said Robinson. “He is a very talented player who needs to produce consistently throughout the season.”
Mathews, a native of Blountstown, Fla., averaged 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 28 games during his first season at Florida State. He scored his career-high of 16 points against Ohio State in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout and grabbed his career-high of nine rebounds against Rhode Island in the same tournament.
Mathews is a junior who is playing his second season for the Seminoles. He is one of the top athletic big men in the ACC who gives the Seminoles a shot-blocking presence in the paint. Mathews ranked fifth in the ACC in blocked shots per game (1.6) and ranked sixth overall in total blocked shots last season and is the top returning shot blocker in the ACC for the 2001-02 season. His 44 blocked shots ranked as the second highest total by Florida State sophomore.
“Mike has the tools he needs to be a good basketball player and needs to learn how to use those tools to take his game to another level,” said Robinson. “He must continue to develop as a player and be more consistent this season. I love his potential.”
David Anderson, a 7-0 center from Lamar, Colo., gives the Seminoles another wide body in the paint and is a talented shot-blocker. He enters the season ranked 12th on Florida State’s all-time blocked shot list and is a tested veteran, having played in 59 consecutive games. Anderson blocked at least one shot in 11 games last season and recorded a career-high six blocked shots against Duke as a junior.
Anderson must return to the form he displayed during his sophomore season when he averaged 3.4 rebounds and 10 minutes more played per game than last season.
“David must regain his presence in the middle,” said Robinson. “When he does that, he will help us improve as a team. He could give us added spark and depth throughout the season.”
Andrew Wilson, begins his second year on the team and will add depth at the forward and guard positions. He could be called upon to play both in virtually every game this season. Wilson averaged 4.3 points per game while appearing all 30 games for the Seminoles last season. He became the first freshman in school history to lead Florida State in free throw shooting percentage with a .808 mark.
Wilson averaged more points (4.6-4.0), more rebounds (2.1-1.4) and more minutes per game (13.5-12.4) in 16 ACC games as compared to 14 games against non-conference opponents and scored in double figures four times to rank second among all Seminole freshmen.
“Andrew is my blood and guts guy who gives everything he has to everything he does,” said Robinson. “He is one of our most versatile players who can play just about any position on the court. I expect him to be productive this season than he was during his freshman season.”
Marcell Haywood developed into a fine reserve point guard as last season progressed. He is in his third season with the team after transferring from Queens College in Charlotte, N.C. He played in nine games as a sophomore including Florida State’s ACC Tournament game against Clemson in the Georgia Dome.
“Marcell will battle all season long for playing time at the back-up point guard position,” said Robinson. “We need him to be in great physical shape and to have the desire to compete at the highest level throughout the season.”
Ryan Lowery is another player who will compete for playing time at the point guard position. He played in 27 games and averaged 7.7 minutes player per game during his first season at Florida State while earning a career-high four assists came twice – against No. 11 Florida and in a victory over Rhode Island.
“Ryan will battle for playing time at the back-up point guard position as he continues to gain confidence in his skills,” said Robinson. ” He played well last season and needs to sustain a higher level of play to earn more minutes and help our basketball team. He is capable of playing at this level.
Sophomore J.D. Bracy is a second-year player who needs to work himself back into game shape after sitting out last season. He averaged 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.6 steals in leading his team to the state playoffs as a senior. Bracy can handle the ball in traffic and distribute in a half-court setting. He also has a nice stroke and can score points in bunches. He can score from beyond the arc, and with his size, can be productive in the lane.
“J.D. is a warrior, a fierce competitor, and may be our most competitive player,” said Robinson. “He will fit into our lineup very nicely and is capable of delivering strong performances for us every night he steps onto the court.”
Adam Krieg, another first-year player for the Seminoles, is also expected to contend for playing time. He is a transfer student-athlete from the University of North Florida.
Florida State’s four-member recruiting class has been ranked among the nation’s best and fills four different needs for the team. The group is headlined by four outstanding players: Anthony Richardson, Adam Waleskowski, Trevor Harvey and Adrian McPherson.
Forward Anthony Richardson, a McDonald’s All-American from Raleigh, N.C., averaged 18.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in leading Leesville Road High School to the state championship tournament finals. He was rated as the No. 1 prospect in the state of North Carolina by recruiting guru Bob Gibbons and tabbed as the nation’s 16th best prospect by Brick Oettinger. Richardson was an All-America Third-Team selection by Parade Magazine and is the first McDonald’s All-American to play at Florida State since 1995.
“Anthony is a very athletic, talented player who has the ability to become an outstanding player at Florida State during his career,” said Robinson. “He is a scorer who needs to adjust to the college game and become physically stronger. I see no limits on his game as he matures.”
Adam Waleskowski, a 6-8 native of Kettering, Ohio, was an all-state selection as a senior forward at Archbishop Kettering High School. He was named to the Associated Press Division II All-Ohio First-Team as he led Kettering to the state championship title and a No. 4 state ranking. Waleskowski was a McDonald’s All-America finalist and a member of the U.S. All-Star team in the prestigious Capital Classic All-Star game. It is hoped that he quickly assimilates himself to the college game and becomes an inside force for the Seminoles.
“Adam is a winner and that spirit will translate very well onto our team this season,” said Robinson. “He has to adjust to the college game, play hard at all times and learn the game of college basketball. How well he does those things will dictate how successful he can be this season.”
Trevor Harvey, a top-five junior college center last season, has the ability to run the floor, block shots and finish strong near the basket. His presence in the post adds quickness and athleticism to an already-strong frontcourt. Harvey is comfortable playing with his back to the basket in the blocks and has a nice shooting touch for his size.
“Trevor’s best basketball is ahead of him because he is still learning the game,” said Robinson. “I love his athleticism and what he brings to our team as a presence in the middle and a shot blocker.”
Adrian McPherson, Mr. Basketball in the state of Florida in 2001, is scheduled to join the basketball team upon the conclusion of football season. As the top player in the state of Florida, he was among the nations top 100 recruits. He averaged a near triple-double-double of 35.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and nine assists as a senior member of the basketball team.
“Adrian is a good athlete who is a capable scorer with a winning attitude,” said Robinson. “We need players with all three of those attributes to help us get where we want too be as a successful basketball program.”
Florida State’s improved talent and depth certainly allow the Seminoles to be more flexible in every position on the court. It also makes a starting five to close to call at the beginning of practice.
“Overall we are going to be an improved basketball team,” said Robinson. “The league is going to be just as competitive as it always is and probably a little bit more balanced. We showed that we can compete with just about every team in the conference by the end of last season, and we have improved ourselves heading into the new season. I am looking forward to this season like none other since I have been a head coach.”
In addition to the always-tough ACC schedule, Florida State will play a competitive non-conference schedule. The annual home-and-home series against national champion Duke, a grudge-match against Florida in Gainesville, Northwestern in the third annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge and seven non-conference home games highlight the Seminoles’ schedule.
“We are going to play another highly competitive schedule and we have to understand how tough every game is going to be for us,” said Robinson. “As a team, we have to play hard each night and have to set the bar at a very high level. Hopefully, our early games will prepare us for the ACC schedule.”