Aug. 1, 2005
While it’s hard to believe that the Florida State football team will be back on the practice field in just over a week, it’s even harder to imagine that the Seminole women’s basketball team will be hitting the court as early as Saturday! On August 17th, the women’s basketball team will depart for a 10-day European Tour. The nine returning players from last year’s 24-8 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round will reconvene Friday night for a team meeting and then begin practice for the tour Saturday, August 6th. The six incoming freshmen will not be allowed to practice or travel with the team this summer.
Details of the upcoming trip will be released at a later date but here’s a glimpse of what’s in store for the Seminoles in 2005-06:
A consistent contender. That’s what Sue Semrau and the Florida State Seminoles are striving to be with their women’s basketball program.
“Consistency,” Semrau said. “We need to be a consistent force in the ACC and consistently go to the NCAA Tournament. Then we can move into title contention. I really think our improvement on the defensive end of the floor was the biggest step that we took last year in developing that consistency.”
Prior to Semrau’s arrival in 1997-98, the Seminoles had never finished higher than fifth place in the ACC and had placed last in three of the four previous seasons. The 2004-05 season was FSU’s third top four league finish in the last five years. So it appears that the consistency that Semrau and her staff desires is well on its way, but in 2005-06, they will have their work cut out for them with the addition of six freshmen to the squad.
“Our biggest challenge is going to be maintaining the same kind of chemistry with six newcomers on the team,” Semrau said.
With that challenge, however, comes depth and size. Last season’s 24-8 squad did not start a player over 6’1″ and played the majority of the games with a five-guard rotation. With the addition of freshmen Brittany Miller (6’4″) and Cayla Moore (6’2″), Florida State will now have five players on its roster who stand 6’2″ or taller.
“Last season, we lacked a low-post presence,” Semrau said. “We are working toward changing that this season.”
Helping to ease the newcomers’ transition from high school basketball to Division I college basketball will be nine talented returnees who not only have valuable playing time under their belts, but possess the maturity and work ethic that will be vital in creating chemistry.
“With six new freshmen, we will have a very different energy level,” Semrau said. “The tragedy of losing Ronalda Pierce was one that brought us very close together. It was very sobering and created a type of energy that enabled us to really cling to one another. I think that type of energy will still be there but will be spiked by the youth and excitement that this freshmen class brings.”
Adeduntan, a 2004-05 honorable mention All-ACC selection, played a number of positions for the Seminoles due to the team’s lack of size. Her versatility resulted in great things for FSU. Adeduntan, who was named the team’s most improved player, led the team with 7.6 rebounds per game which ranked fourth in the ACC. She was third on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game and scored in double figures 17 times, including five games of 20 or more points. The Athens, Ga., native also grabbed double digit rebounds in 10 games and led the squad in scoring eight times.
Perhaps the player with the most experience is Johnson, who was the floor general for the Seminoles in 2004-05. The Phoenix, Ariz., native has played in all 92 games since her arrival at Florida State. Nicknamed “Clutch” for the many times she hit the “big shot” last season, Johnson tied for first on the team in assists per game at 4.0. She shot a team-high 83.7 percent from the free throw line which ranked second in the ACC and set a new FSU single season record. Johnson had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in 20 games and FSU went 17-3 in those games. Fourth on the team in scoring at 8.5 points per game, Johnson scored in double figures in 13 games, including a career-high 16 points in the triple OT win over Virginia Tech. One of the most valuable players on the floor, she played 40+ minutes in six ACC games, including a career-high 52 minutes vs. Virginia Tech.
Neely made a successful return to the court last season after suffering a torn ACL in 2003-04. Considered the “glue” on the team by Semrau, Neely provides a stability to the line up and contributes in a way that is not always reflected on the stat sheet. Neely, who tied for first on the team with Johnson at 4.0 assists per game, scored in double figures in two games against nationally-ranked opponents.
Rounding out the senior class is Linquist who played in nearly as many games last season (30) as she did in her first two seasons combined (32). She scored a career-high 10 points in the FAMU win and gave the guard-heavy Seminole line up a different look when she was on the floor. Coaches were pleased with Linquist’s improvement last season and expect even greater things for her senior season.
Semrau has Adeduntan, Johnson and Neely penciled into the starting line up and expects junior Alicia Gladden to once again assume her starting position. Gladden was simply a different player in 2004-05. A member of the five-person ACC All-Defensive team, Gladden set a new FSU single season record with 101 steals and led the ACC with a 3.2 steals per game average. Also an All-ACC honorable mention selection, Gladden ranked second on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game and scored in double figures 23 times while leading the team in shooting at 52 percent from the field. She was also second on the team in rebounds per game at 6.6 and grabbed a career-high 18 boards in the FAMU win. Having started every game after coming off of the bench in the season-opener, Gladden was the only player on the team to earn all-tournament team honors in all three in-season tournaments.
Four sophomores will join the six freshmen in vying for the last starting position. Point guard Shante Williams returns to the floor after missing 2004-05 due to a medical redshirt. A starter for much of her freshman season, Williams averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, both second on the team, and a team-high 5.1 assists per game. She was named honorable mention All-ACC and to the five-member ACC All-Freshman team.
Of the three freshmen who saw playing time last season, forward Christie Lautsch probably made the most consistent contribution. Seeing action in 28 games, Lautsch scored in 19 games, including a career-high 16 points in the Eastern Kentucky win. She showed vast improvement as the season progressed and snagged a career-high seven rebounds in the NCAA Tournament win over Richmond.
Center Nikki Anthony muscled her way into the line up and saw action in 30 games, including one start in her redshirt season. She saw double digit minutes in 13 games, including a career-high 24 minutes in the Miami win in which she scored 15 points and had nine rebounds. Anthony, who played two seasons on the FSU volleyball team, will now be playing only basketball for the Seminoles and the coaching staff is excited about having Anthony all of preseason for the first time.
Guard Tiffiny Buckelew had the opportunity to acclimate herself to the college game behind a slew of veteran guards last season. She played in 11 games, including the NCAA Tournament win over Richmond.
“We have a lot of key players and many different people who could step up,” Semrau said. “We began to demand dedication and a solid work ethic from them in different ways throughout the course of last season and that led into the excitement and commitment to their development in the offseason. This is all a part of Phase Two of our program.”
A very exciting part of the offseason is a foreign tour. In mid-August, the returning players will embark on a 10-day tour of Italy, which will not only allow them more game experience, but also an advantage in practice time as the Seminoles will reconvene early in the month to practice prior to their travels.
“We have the opportunity to travel to Italy in August, so bringing the returning players back early and putting them on the court again will help us to take what we were able to do last year a step further well before the season,” Semrau said. “We believe this will be important to our overall growth as a program.”