October 16, 1999 - by
Talented, Versatile Seminoles Look For Breakthrough Season

Oct. 16, 1999



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Excellence Together. It’s the task the Florida State women’s
basketball team has put on themselves and one another.

“This is our challenge,” Florida State Head Coach Sue Semrau
said. “It really doesn’t matter if an individual is excellent unless we
can be excellent and come together as a team.”

There will be several important keys to the success of the
upcoming season for the Florida State Seminoles. And as with the theme
of the season, individually each factor is important, but together they
are crucial to the excellence that the team hopes to achieve.

“I feel like we have made positive steps,” Semrau said. “I
really believe we have made a foundation and now it’s time to turn the
corner and make our move. We’re ready to jump out of the starting
blocks.”

The return of lone senior Latavia “Tay” Coleman. Coleman was
averaging an ACC-leading 20.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game through
the first 10 games of last season before suffering a torn ACL to her
right knee in practice on December 26th. She had scored in double
figures in all 10 games, including a 30-point performance vs. Louisiana
Tech and a 38-point outing vs. North Carolina. Her return to the court
is even more exciting with the supporting cast Coleman will have to workknowledge she gained having to sit out last year will be really valuable
not only to Tay but also to the growth and development of our young
team.”

The continuing emergence of junior Brooke Wyckoff. A third team
with this season.

“In addition to having Tay’s court presence, the knowledge that
she gained on the sidelines last year is going to make a big impact when
she does step on the court again,” Semrau said. “So many times she
referred to all she was learning and able to see as more of a coaching
perspective than she could ever see on the court. So I think the


All-ACC selection in 1998-99, Wyckoff, who averaged 13.7 points and 7.9
rebounds per game as a sophomore, spent her second straight summer with
USA Basketball. She was a member of the 1999 USA Basketball World
University Games team that earned the Silver Medal at the Games that
were played in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. She averaged 7.0 points and a
team-leading 7.0 rebounds in starting all seven games. A two-year
starter, Wyckoff’s leadership and experience will help ground the young
squad.

“Last year we called Brooke a sophomore and a half because of
the experience that she had,” Semrau said. “This summer she was not
only a part of a team that went overseas but she was a starter on that
team and was the leading rebounder. She has always been a talented
athlete, but I think now she has refined her game and her skills so that
she is much more effective in the mental aspect of her game.”

The impact of the newcomers. Florida State lost five
letterwinners, including two starters, from last year’s squad, but
Semrau and her staff had a huge recruiting year. FSU welcomes a group
that was ranked among the Top 10 recruiting classes in the nation by
several publications. This group should have an immediate impact on the
program.

“The expectations for the incoming freshmen are going to be very
high, not only from the fans’ standpoint but from the standpoint of the
players themselves,” Semrau said. “I don’t think that anyone’s
expectations are going to be higher than their own expectations of
themselves and I think it is a good kind of pressure to have when you
are stepping into one of the top conferences in the country. These
players all bring a great deal of talent, but also a winning tradition
from their high schools and AAU programs and that will be really
valuable to the overall aspect of our program.”

The consistency of the coaching staff. With Semrau’s arrival to
Florida State in the summer of 1997, the Seminole women’s basketball
program had had three different head coaches in three years. The
1999-2000 season will be Semrau’s third at the helm and her second
recruiting class will enter the picture. FSU should start to reap the
benefits of this consistency this season.

“I think when you are talking about a successful team and a
successful program you are talking about two different things and we are
looking to develop both,” Semrau said. “Consistency is one of the
foundational elements that we really believe we need to have for these
things to happen. We have the hardest working staff I believe anywhere.
They are committed to Florida State women’s basketball and have
developed a wonderful family atmosphere for our players, fans and the
community. I can’t say enough about the value they have in the
program.”

The squad will have three returning starters in Coleman, Wyckoff
and sophomore April Traylor, a 1998-99 ACC All-Freshman Team honoree who
ranked third on the team at 12.7 points per game. Traylor scored in
double figures in 17 games as a rookie, including a career-high against
Florida.

The Tribe returns good experience at nearly every position but
point guard. Gone is four-year starter Jen Robinson, but sophomore
Lakesha Springle returns. Springle played behind veterans Robinson and
Val Linley, but still saw action in all 27 games, including three
starts. Freshman Shinikki Whiting could also see some action at the
point. Her more natural position may be the wing, but she is a
highly-touted player who simply needs to be on the floor and the coaches
feel she is a natural leader. Whiting, who was pegged the USA Today
All-American Player of the Year for the state of Florida, also garnered
1999 Miss Florida Basketball honors and holds 15 career records at
Clearwater High School.

“The position that is most wide open for us is our point guard,
having lost Jen Robinson,” Semrau said. “We really feel as if we have a
great deal of talent at that position, but not a whole lot of
experience.”

Florida State will have a great deal of versatility on the
perimeter. Wyckoff headlines the group with her size and agility. She
can score, rebound and block. Traylor is an explosive scorer and great
penetrator. Sophomore Angela Sutton will also be valuable on the wing.
Sutton played in 21 games with eight starts and only missed action
because of a mid-foot sprain she suffered in late December. The
presence Sutton brings to the floor defensively will also be important.
Junior reserve Vanessa Fuchs is a solid outside shooter who brings depth
to the position and her experience has allowed her to develop other
aspects of her game. Fuchs played in 22 games last year. Freshman
Molly Beal will also be a threat from the outside. A 1999 USA Today
honorable-mention All-American, she averaged 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds
and 5.0 assists as a senior at Pembroke High School. Junior reserve
Lako Brown will likely be moved to the perimeter as well, which better
suits her 5-10 frame. She is a tremendous rebounder who has great
jumping ability.

“We have the potential to have many different weapons on this
team,” Semrau said. “It’s going to be so much more competitive in
practice which will make us a better team.”

The Seminoles’ post game will be just as versatile with the
strength of Coleman and the finesse of 6-3 sophomore Lea Bennett and 6-3
freshmen Lauren Bradley and Katelyn Vujas. Bennett, who played in 13
games last season, worked very hard in the offseason and is in good
form. Both 1999 USA Today honorable-mention All-Americans, Bradley was
the Florida 6A Player of the Year while Vujas was listed among the Blue
Star Top 25 Transfer Levys Torres, who is one of the best rebounders
to come out of the junior college ranks, averaged 20.0 points and 15.0
rebounds in her career at Chipola Junior College. At 6-4, she is the
tallest of the post players.

“Every one of these players will add much needed size,” Semrau
said. “Each one of these players is very active and mobile with the
ability to drive the ball.”

The 1999-2000 schedule will offer all kinds of challenges for
the Seminoles. In addition to the always strenuous Atlantic Coast
Conference slate, FSU will also host SEC-powers Auburn and Florida.
Xavier of the Atlantic 10 Conference will participate in the 1999
Tallahassee Democrat Seminole Classic. In all, the Seminoles could face
nine teams that participated in last year’s NCAA Tournament. FSU will
also play at Mercer in Macon, Ga., the home of senior Latavia Coleman,
while the FIU Tournament will bring Vanessa Fuchs close to her Pompano
Beach, Fla., home.

“We really want to keep our strength of schedule,” Semrau said.
“With the ACC schedule tough already, we feel like it’s important to
play some other top caliber schools in order to prepare for ACC
competition.


“We are also excited about taking some players home like Latavia
and Vanessa. Our pre-Christmas trip to Chicago will give the team a
chance to look at different culture and climates.”

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