Nov. 11, 2002
Florida State head coach Sue Semrau has likened her program to a snowstorm. Yes, a snowstorm in Florida.
“When you’ve lived in the Midwest like I have, you learn that when you get stuck in a snowstorm, sometimes you have to roll back a little before you can go full speed ahead,” Semrau said.
Perhaps there’s no clearer way to describe the FSU women’s basketball program over the past season. But when you look at the big picture and what the program has accomplished in the past five years under the guidance of Semrau, which includes FSU’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 10 years, a little bump in the road, while disappointing, is nothing to panic about. With eight experienced returnees and four highly touted newcomers, the Seminoles have numerous offensive weapons and size in the middle, making them solid at both ends of the court.
“We learned a lot of things from last year’s season,” Semrau said. “We learned a lot from our strong start, but we learned more from the adversity we faced during the ACC season. Because of that, our players are coming back with a mentality of ‘we’re not going to make the same mistake again.’ We’re going to be a more solid unit whereas last year, we tended to error on the side of being individuals. This team knows that there’s no way that kind of effort will win championships.
At the point guard position…
With the graduation of Lakesha Springle, the point guard spot is wide open. Sophomore LaQuinta Neely, who returns after playing in 26 games last year and averaging 11.3 minutes per game, and newcomers Holly Johnson, from Phoenix, Ariz., and Francine Houston, from Bradenton, Fla., will challenge for the starting position.
Neely is a tremendous athlete who garnered the team’s best defensive player award last year. Her slender build and long arms make her valuable in the backcourt. She can play both the one and two-guard positions which is evident by her 10 point, 10 rebound performance in the win over Wake Forest last season.
Johnson is probably the purest floor general that FSU has had since Semrau’s arrival. A 2002 Parade third team All-American and Gatorade’s Arizona Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Johnson is a versatile athlete who led her basketball and volleyball teams to state championship titles last season.
Houston’s style of play will give FSU a different look than Neely and Johnson’s. She’s an effective penetrator and a good passer who possesses great speed. A four-year starter at Bradenton Southeast, Houston led her team to four district titles and three consecutive appearances in the regional finals.
At the wing position…
The wing spot is where FSU may have the most depth of any position with two returnees and two newcomers. Junior Tasheika Morris, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder averaging 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, headlines the group. Sophomore Linnea Liljestrand also returns. She played in 27 games as a rookie and began to come into her own late in the season averaging 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in the last five games.
A familiar face in Angela Sutton and a new face in Ganiyat Adeduntan round out the wing position. Sutton, who played for FSU from 1998-2000, returns to the court this season. She averaged 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds as a starter her sophomore season and will have two years of eligibility. Adeduntan, who hails from Athens, Ga., was Gatorade’s Georgia Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She scored 1,971 points in her four-year career and is a solid all-around athlete.
At the post position…
The team’s most experience lies in its post play. With four returnees and one newcomer at the position, FSU will have options in the middle. Senior Katelyn Vujas has been a mainstay in the Seminole line up throughout her career. She averaged 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds last season. Trinetta Moore, another senior, made significant contributions in her first season at FSU and played in all 28 games. Her presence in the middle provides a defensive force for the Seminoles. Junior Lauren Bradley provides more of an offensive threat. Despite seeing limited minutes due to leg problems, Bradley saw action in 27 games and averaged 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Also returning is sophomore Genesis Choice, who provides the whole package. An ACC All-Freshman Team honorable mention selection in 2001-02, Choice averaged 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds over the last five games of the season and started the final three. The only newcomer to the group is freshman Hannah Linquist, a four-year letterwinner at Owen High School in Black Mountain, N.C. She brings added size and depth to the position and once she adjusts to the tempo of the college game, she will be a great player for FSU.
On the schedule…
The Seminoles will open the season at home when they host Alabama State and 2002 NCAA Tournament participants Georgia State and Florida International in the Seminole Classic. In all, FSU will play 12 games against teams who advanced to last year’s NCAA Tournament, highlighted by a visit from defending national champion Connecticut.
The Seminoles are looking forward to a new season, and losing six games by four points or less last year left a bitter taste in the their mouths — something they’re anxious to change.
“Even with the struggles, the ball games were close and we had too many losses by single digits,” Semrau said. “Our success this season is going to be about preparation, fueled by a bitter taste that has been in these players mouths since last season. We haven’t had a team that has been as committed, individually, or as a unit, as this team. They’re very committed to one another and they’ve learned a lot from last year’s adversity. All of them take great pride in being Seminoles, not only because FSU is a great university, but because they want Florida State women’s basketball to become a nationally-prominent program. We’ve touched it and now we want to make a statement.”