Nov. 10, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – The start of the 2011-12 season for the No. 13/14-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team will be no walk in the park.
The Seminoles burst out of the gates with three games in three days at the WBI Tip-Off Classic from Friday through Sunday at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. FSU kicks off the season against USF at 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday and follows with 2 p.m. ET contests against Minnesota on Saturday and Arkansas on Sunday.
It’s a rare season-opening schedule that not only features back-to-back-to-back games, but also a trio of opponents from BCS conferences. And while this posts an early challenge for the Seminoles, 15th-year head coach Sue Semrau is glad to get an early gage for where her team is at.
|Friday, November 11th – 4:30 P.M. EST|
|Ocean Center | Daytona Beach, FL|
|Tickets – Available | Seating Chart|
|TV: None | Radio: 100.7 WFLA – Listen Live|
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“I don’t think there is a tournament like this going on in the country,” Semrau said. “We have a Big East team, a Big Ten team and an SEC team over back-to-back-to-back days. The only thing it reminds me of is the postseason conference tournament. That’s what we are looking at – how will we get ready physically and how will be ready mentally for what’s to come?
“We will see a lot of what we are made of. As much as it is about skill and athleticism, it’s about toughness. It will put us in a difficult spot early on. We’ll have to learn very quickly.”
Led by preseason All-America and All-ACC First Team selection Cierra Bravard, a senior post, the Seminoles return three starters and nine letterwinners from last season’s 24-8 team that advanced to FSU’s seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament.
Bravard led the Noles in scoring (15.0 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg), field goal percentage (54.5 percent) and blocks (27) a year ago. She is expected to be one of the premier centers in the country and will likely be joined in the starting lineup by redshirt juniors Chasity Clayton (6.9 ppg in 2010-11) and Alexa Deluzio (12.0 ppg) and sophomores Natasha Howard (10.6 ppg) and Tay’ler Mingo.
Clayton led the Noles to a 98-46 exhibition win over Florida Southern on Nov. 5 by scoring a game-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting at the Donald L. Tucker Center, while Deluzio led the ACC in three-point shooting (49.0 percent) in conference play last season.
Howard was one of the nation’s top freshmen a year ago and the Noles are expecting great improvement from the versatile 6-3 combo forward.
Mingo inherits the point guard reigns from two-time All-ACC honoree Courtney Ward, FSU’s all-time leader in assists and three-pointers.
In addition to Ward, the Noles also must replace graduated guard Christian Hunnicutt, who captured the 2011 ACC Defensive Player of the Year award.
Replacing the pair is just one of the many challenges the Noles are ready to face this season. First up is the WBI Tip-Off Classic this weekend.
For more information on the Florida State women’s basketball team, follow the Seminoles on twitter at: @FSU_WBasketball.