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    Whipping Into The Sweet 16 In 91-92

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    The NCAA basketball tournament always seems to produce more than its fair share of stories and Florida State's involvement in The Big Dance on the men's side certainly fills that bill.  During this first week of the tournament, we thought it could be interesting to take a brief insider's look at FSU's appearances since 1987...


    Associate AD Rob Wilson shares his memories from the Florida State Seminoles NCAA Tournament runs.


    Florida State was loaded during the 1991-92 and 1993-94 seasons.  Just how good were the Seminoles as they entered the vaunted ACC?  So good that several of the long-time ACC media members still hold a grudge for the upstarts not paying a penitence.  And so good that one long-time ACC coach, when asked what he thought the best team in ACC history was, answered that there had only been one with four first round draft picks and that was FSU (Doug Edwards, Bob Sura, Sam Cassell and Charlie Ward).

               

    The Seminoles finished their first-ever ACC season at 11-5 and second in the conference.  The 'Noles beat NC State in the first round of the ACC before losing by four to North Carolina with an NCAA Tournament bid already sewn up.

               

    FSU's 20-9 regular season record was good enough to earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA West Regional.  The Seminoles were shipped to a star-studded first round site in Boise, Idaho that included LSU with a super-sized freshman Shaquille O'Neal and a vaunted Georgetown team. 

               

    The Seminoles defeated first-round opponent Montana 78-68 but it wasn't without drama.  Star guard and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward's dislocated his shoulder in the win and would miss the second round game.  Back in Tallahassee, FSU quarterback coach Mark Richt gathered his spilled popcorn in front of the TV as soon as he saw it was Ward's non-throwing shoulder.  I can tell you that Boise police were not impressed with the urgency I exuded in racing Ward to the team hotel after the game in the rental car.  Not impressed at all!

    So Kennedy and his staff had to come up with a game plan, in just one practice, to take on All-America center Alonzo Mourning and the Hoyas without their own playmaker at point guard.             

     

    The solution was brilliant. 

               

    Kennedy opened the game against the perennial NCAA powerhouse Georgetown with young guard Bob Sura covering the towering Mourning.  Kennedy put Sura in Mourning's face every time he came down the court and used reserve center Andre Reid's 7-0 frame to double team him when he did get the ball inside.  The strategy worked beautifully holding the star to just one point in the first half and 14 for the game.  The Seminoles beat the Hoyas by an identical 78-68 score and were headed to the Sweet 16.

               

    The NCAA had arranged a chartered flight, which was exceptionally rare for the Seminoles in those days, for FSU to make the off-the-beaten-path trip to Boise.  Spring break began for campus after the huge Georgetown win and with a game at altitude in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Sweet 16 next on the agenda, the FSU staff elected to redirect the charter straight to the southwest to prepare for the next game.

               

    The Seminoles would land in a rocking Albuquerque since New Mexico State had advanced to the same site and tickets were in high demand.  The atmosphere got even more intense once FSU's opponent, the Indiana Hoosiers - again, landed.  Head coach Bobby Knight brought a bull whip to his team's first practice and a playful exchange with his star player blew up all over the press and landed the match-up on everyone's front page.

               

    Charlie Ward had been cleared to play, but had very limited motion in his left shoulder and wore a strap that limited him even more.  He would not start the game and was not very effective over his 26 minutes of play.  Despite this, FSU and Indiana played a classic first half that ended with the Hoosier's clinging to a 40-38 lead.  IU came on strong in the second half and ended FSU's second most successful season ever with an 85-74 win.

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