Sept. 15, 2000
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
When during your three-year career as a high school starter you
went 81-1 and won three state championships, you can see how a pair of
17-loss college seasons might grind on you.
Want to make things worse? Try watching your school’s football team
go 23-1 during those two years and play in two national championship games,
That’s why Florida State’s Delvon Arrington is about to go crazy
waiting for his senior season to get here.
“I can’t wait,” said the FSU point guard who prepped at Jersey City
(NJ) St. Anthony’s. “I can’t live without basketball and I just can’t
wait until the day we can get this going this year and play in front of
people and show them what we’ve got.
“Watching our football team just kills me inside. They win like
it’s nothing. I think about the days when we used to win like nothing and
it kills me to not be on a team like that.”
Which is why Arrington, the winner, is vowing to make Florida State a
somebody again in college hoops. He signed three years ago with the
Seminoles back when Pat Kennedy was coach and FSU was a regular NCAA team.
Since then, Kennedy left, Arrington sat out a season as a partial
qualifier and FSU has showed promise, but never fired on all cylinders
under Steve Robinson.
Arrington, however, has emerged as one of the most dependable point
guards in the nation, averaging 8.9 points and 6.7 assists a game last
year. He ranked fourth among returning juniors in assists. This year,
Arrington is one who expects more from the Seminoles. That includes making
some noise in a league consistently dominated by Duke, North Carolina and
“I think with our incoming freshmen and junior college players, I
think we can get up there and compete with those teams,” the 5-11,
170-pounder says. “Those teams are very good, don’t get me wrong, but I
think if we get out on the floor and play as hard as we can, then we can
surprise some people.”
“One of Delvon’s strengths this year is he is now experienced,”
says FSU coach Steve Robinson. “The experience he’s gained playing the past
two years is a huge advantage for us.”
Playing hard is never a problem for the Hillside, N.J. native. He
crafted his game playing dawn to dusk at the Central Park courts in
Hillside, where if you lose, you sit. Thus the gym rat made sure his team
“I was there every day until night,” said Arrington. “Every day
after school it would be 4:30 p.m. until night time. On the weekends I’d
get there early and work on my game, my dribbling, my shot. I was there
all the time.”
So all the time that when Arrington’s mother, Joan, was looking
for him, she used to dial up the phone at the park.
“She had the phone number there and would call to get me,” he said.
“Sometimes she had to call me about an appointment I forgot or something.
When I’m playing basketball, I tend to forget about everything else.”
Arrington’s signature strength is speed, he’s brilliant in the open
court and is able to get to the lane off the bounce on nearly anyone. He’s
can change the flow of a game with a single crossover.
“He has unbelievable speed with the basketball,” said Robinson.
“He’s also a tough, hard-nosed competitor. A fierce competitor. He played a
great high school program at St. Anthony’s under Coach (Bob) Hurley. You’ve
got to have toughness to play there and he has that also. He just has a
tremendous will to succeed.”
Arrington wants to get Florida State fans to forget about the past
two seasons. He sees the enthusiasm for the game over at Florida – another
football school – and wants to get that going in Tallahassee. Helping his
cause will be a host of newcomers, none more talented than shooting guard
Monte Cummings, who arrives from junior college national champions
Southeastern (IA) Community College.
Cummings is a brilliant slasher who averaged 16 points a game last
year at SCC. More important, like Arrington he brings toughness and
experience as a winner to the Seminoles. Although Florida State has won
some big ones – including upsets at Wake Forest and North Carolina a season
ago – the Seminoles have yet to establish themselves as night in, night out
warriors. Their backcourt this year (bolstered also by a healthy Adrian
Crawford) should change that.
“It’s huge for us,” said Robinson. “I think having two guys in
Arrington and Cummings is huge for this team and this program. We now have
two guys who can reach down inside and go get it for you. That can pick it
up off of the floor. And I’m talking about the mental part, the emotional
part of the game.
“Basketball is such a long season with so many ups and downs, you
need guys who can pull guys along. It is a huge plus for us. And last year
a big loss was not having Adrian Crawford healthy. He gimped around all
last season, he never played healthy and he is a very versatile player for
Those are the types of things Arrington loves to hear. He vows
he’ll be the leader for the Seminoles, he’ll do the pushing and pulling
Robinson is looking for. Since he will gain a year of eligibility back next
spring by graduating on time, he points to the next two seasons as a time
when FSU returns to prominence. But for the impatient one, there is no
season like this one to get started.
“I’m really hoping to go out there and surprise some people that
are saying we can’t do it,” said Arrington. “It’s time to do this. It’s
time to shock the world with our abilities. Good teams already know how to
win, they already know what to do. I don’t think we’ve shown that yet….
But we will.”
Florida State will continue to operate under the radar this fall,
overshadowed in preseason ACC hype by Duke, UNC and Maryland. In
Tallahassee, of course, the talk will be all football. Arrington
understands that. To the victors go the spoils.
“But our time is coming,” he said. “Just watch.”