Oct. 20, 2000
“We seek a wholeness of heart, but we do not expect to reach the
promised land without going through some wilderness together.”
It was the theme of the Florida State women’s basketball European tour this summer and
it couldn’t be more fitting, because after three years together, Sue Semrau
and her Seminoles are more ready than ever to take it To the Next Level in
An extra week of practice, four games in Europe and 10 days of
travel, not only brought the Seminoles closer as a unit, but it made them
“The players are more driven and focused than I have seen them
before,” Semrau said. “We played great basketball in August and every
player made a commitment to doing what it takes to move to the next level.”
With 10 returning letterwinners, the experience is obvious, but
having the opportunity to practice and compete in the month of August adds
even more promise to a season filled with high expectations.
The Seminoles will have a wealth of leadership with four
seniors on the roster. Brooke Wyckoff, a third team All-ACC and ACC
All-Defensive Team selection last year, headlines the group. She spent her
third straight summer with USA Basketball and was a starter on the elite
Jones Cup Team, that won the Gold Medal in Taipei, Taiwan in July and
played the USA Olumpic team in September in Hawaii.
Veterans Vanessa Fuchs
and Lako Brown bring a great deal of knowledge, solid work ethic and
unselfishness to the team. Levys Torres adjusted well to the Division I
game last year after transferring from Chipola Junior College and after
competing internationally this summer for a Colombian club team at the Pan
American Games in German, Puerto Rico, she is ready to make the most of her
“The seniors are all leaders in different ways,” Semrau said.
“Brooke’s level of playing experience, not only as a starter at Florida
State, but with her USA Basketball experience, is extremely important to
our leadership. Vanessa is the hardest worker on our team. She fights for
everything, has an extremely positive outlook and has a strong desire to
take this program to the next level in any way that she can. Lako is such
an unselfish player. She leads by the mere fact that although she hasn’t
seen a whole lot of playing time, she is rewarded with the respect based on
who she is. Her character is to put others first and give encouragement.
She’s very much a team player. What Levys was able to do stepping in from
a junior college has been a huge lift. She is an exceptional rebounder and
is someone who is much more of a defensive presence in the middle because
of her size and mobility.”
FSU could have a variety of looks at the point guard position.
Junior April Traylor, a natural two guard, took over the starting position
at the point last year and ranked second in the ACC at 5.2 assists per
game. This season, with junior Lakesha Springle and newcomer Petra
Hofmann, Traylor will likely see more minutes at her true position.
Springle, who played in 28 games last year, has worked extremely hard this
summer and was arguably the most improved player during the team’s European
tour. Hofmann, who hails from Pecs, Hungary, has a lot of experience coming
in at the position, not only from her junior college, but on her Hungarian
“I really thought April developed nicely as a player at the point
guard position,” Semrau said, “but we’ll have a lot more versatility and
freedom with Petra and Kesha. They are similar players, while April
provides a different look. Both Petra and Kesha have the instinct to be
good distributors first and scorers second, whereas April becomes a scoring
threat at the point. We definitely have options and depth at this
The two-guard position is pretty wide open for the Seminoles.
Traylor, who was second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game, has
the most experience at the position. She will be challenged by Fuchs, who
has had an outstanding offseason and showed great offensive production in
four games in Europe. Sophomores Molly Beal and Shinikki Whiting will also
vie for substantial playing time. Beal played in 27 games and earned her
first career start in the ACC Tournament while Whiting, who may be the most
explosive of the group, had offseason knee surgery and will be ready for
action in late November.
“There will be a lot of fight at that position,” Semrau said. “All
of the players are talented enough to be impact players. Who will start, we
just don’t know, but if we want to run, then it is great to have people who
don’t have to play 35 minutes a game.”
Wyckoff, who averaged 10.8 points and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds
last year, will occupy the three spot, with Brown and Whiting adding depth.
Transfer Tasheika Morris will have to sit out this season, but will be a
valuable practice player who will challenge the players at this position.
“Brooke has become a great three player,” Semrau said. “She’s
improved her game as a pull-up and a long-range shooter. She’s always been
a nice penetrator, and a great rebounder and defender and now she’s become
a threat in so many different areas. Never before have I felt like Brooke
had the desire to be a scoring threat that she has now. Lako, who played
very well in Europe, challenges the other players and is ready to
contribute on the floor when called upon.”
Replacing All-ACC player Latavia Coleman will not be easy, but
Semrau has a host of talent ready to step up. Torres, who started 13 games
in 1999-2000, will be a dominant force inside. Tempo was an issue for
Torres, coming from a junior college, but once she adjusted, she showed
vast improvement. Katelyn Vujas played in all 29 games and averaged 19.3
minutes per game – the most of all newcomers last year. She averaged 7.2
points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Lauren Bradley started nine games before
a foot fracture sidelined her for four weeks. She averaged 6.6 points and
3.8 rebounds per game.
“With a year of experience under their belts, all three of these
players are very capable of starting,” Semrau said. “Levys is more
comfortable and confident this season and is ready to be an impact player.
Katelyn has worked really hard this summer and is becoming more of a power,
low-block player, but she also has the ability to step out and hit the
jumper. A healthy Lauren Bradley is an awesome finesse player who can do
so many things. She can play the high post and is a great passer. I think
we will be very mobile and versatile at that post spot.”
A contest with UNC-Asheville on Sunday, November 19th at the
Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center will get the ball rolling for the
Seminoles, who will play 18 games against teams that participated in
postseason action last year. FSU will have 13 regular-season home games,
including two contests in the 2000 Tallahassee Democrat Seminole Classic,
November 25-26, which features Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Chicago
The Seminoles will have an early date with the Gators this season
when FSU visits Florida in Gainesville on November 21st. The Tribe’s
schedule is also highlighted by a pre-Christmas road trip to New York where
the Seminoles will play St. Francis and Fordham. Other non-conference
opponents include Central Florida, UT-Chattanooga, Mercer, Coppin State and
“I think this year’s schedule presents some great challenges for
our program,” Semrau said. “Obviously, the ACC will once again be strong,
but I think we’ve scheduled some non-conference opponents that will prepare
us well for our conference season.
“New York is the seniors’ choice for our pre-Christmas trip and it
will be a great opportunity to experience a different part of the country.
There’s not a more perfect time to be in New York than Christmas time. We
play two teams with new coaches and I am sure will their programs will have
a lot of ethusiasm and freshness.”
The Seminoles will also be able to reap the benefits of the
European trip the team took in August. FSU embarked on a 10-day journey
through France and Switzerland where the Tribe went 4-0.
“Our European tour was a trip of a lifetime,” Semrau said. “Not
only did it allow us to compete, but we played against some solid teams.
The opportunity to spend 10 days together overseas was a real team-bonding
experience. As far as the educational aspect, that’s just immeasureable.
Not many people their age, or any age, get that opportunity.”