TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – While the regular season is only seven days away, the Florida State Women’s Basketball team will have a pre-season tune-up on Sunday, Nov. 9, when it hosts NAIA school Faulkner for a 2 p.m. tip-off at the renovated Donald L. Tucker Center.
The Seminoles will have their first public showing in the heavily upgraded facility that underwent a near $17 million transformation in the offseason. The inside of the Donald L. Tucker Center now gives off the feel of a professional venue, with high-definition jumbotrons, LED panels, ribbon boards and more decorating the interior.
Admission to Sunday’s exhibition is free. Fans in attendance will be treated to someone familiar on the opposite bench in Seminole legend Courtney Ward – one of the top FSU point guards (2007-11) ever who is now an assistant at Faulkner, which is based in her hometown of Montgomery, Ala. Ward is FSU’s all-time 3-point field goals (208) and assists (602) leader who was twice named to the All-ACC Team and led the Noles to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2009-10.
“This exhibition is very important to us,” 18th-year FSU Head Coach Sue Semrau said. “It’s an opportunity to see how much of our hard work in the pre-season has paid off. Our team is thrilled to be playing against someone else in a different-colored uniform. It’s also special to have a tremendous former player of ours in Courtney Ward come back to Tallahassee. We are looking forward to competing against her and her team.”
Florida State and Faulkner will be playing in an exhibition for the second straight season. Last year on Nov. 3, 2013, FSU earned a 96-58 win over the Eagles, as sophomore forward Ivey Slaughter recorded a double-double with 12 points and 18 rebounds. Morgan Jones, Brittany Brown, Lauren Coleman and Kai James each added 11 in the exhibition win.
The Seminoles were picked to finish fifth in the ACC by both the league’s coaches and the Blue Ribbon Panel, despite the departures of the program’s single-season assists leader in guard Cheetah Delgado and one of its greatest all-around players in forward Natasha Howard. However, FSU brings a very athletic squad that has the ability to play at a fast pace and wreak havoc on the opposition.
FSU expects to have fresh legs this season with a 14-player roster, although sophomore guard Leticia Romero will have to sit out the season due to NCAA transfer rules while redshirt freshman forward Gabby Bevillard retired due to multiple knee injuries but will remain on the roster this year.
Selected to both the Coaches and Blue Ribbon Panel ACC Newcomer Watch List is freshman forward Shakayla Thomas, a Sylacauga, Ala., native who is the fourth FSU McDonald’s All-American to sign directly out of high school. She is one of many reasons why hopes are high for the Seminoles this season, as she joins a very talented newcomer group.
Giving FSU added depth this season will be four other newcomers in freshman guard Chania Ray, junior center Adut Bulgak and freshman center Ama Degbeon. All three student-athletes continue to adjust to Division I level of play and appear ready to boost Florida State in their first seasons.
Following Sunday’s exhibition, the Noles will open their season at home against UAB on Friday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. The season-opening event offers many promotions, including $2 Tip-off where all tickets are just $2 and a “Drive for 3K” campaign with the United Way. Fans can also pick up the team’s new schedule posters and get them signed after the game by all their favorite student-athletes.