March 2, 2012
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Senior Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A lot has changed since the last time it played Clemson and lot will change after the No. 22 Florida State men's basketball team hosts the Tigers at noon Sunday to cap off its 2011-12 regular season.
After losing by 20 points to Clemson (16-13, 8-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) to start the league schedule in January, FSU (20-9, 11-4) rattled off a school-record seven consecutive ACC wins, mixed in another three-game winning spurt later in the season while also mixing in three separate thrilling buzzer-beater triumphs.
When Sunday's game comes to fruition, FSU's lineup will change and be very different the next time the Seminoles play at the Donald L. Tucker Center as six seniors will participate in the final home game of their careers.
The program will celebrate the accomplishments of Luke Loucks, Deividas Dulkys, Xavier Gibson, Jon Kreft, Jeff Peterson and Bernard James while the 'Noles look to tie the school record for most ACC wins in a season with 12.
Already a lock for the No. 3-seed in next week's ACC Tournament and a consequent first-round bye, Florida State's game against Clemson will be its last before a 9 p.m. second-round contest in Atlanta, Ga. Friday.
"We lost to [Clemson]; we know what they are capable of," Dulkys said. "They are a very good team. Right now they're 8-7 in the conference and gonna look to beat us to get a chance. We are going to be focused, we are going to be energized. We are going to be ready."
Dulkys' mentality of readiness echoes the rest of a senior class that has seen some of the best times in FSU men's basketball history.
Of the six final-year players, Dulkys, Loucks and GIbson played all four years in a Florida State uniform while the other three took different paths to Tallahassee. Loucks has even played in every game of his career over the course of a four-year span that has seen the Seminoles win 90 games -- the most of any senior class in school history.
It's a win total that the 'Noles are focused on building upon.
"I am really proud to have been on this team the past four years," Loucks said. "I feel like we have done a lot of special things. I still feel like our best basketball is ahead of us. As emotional as this game will be for us six seniors having all our families there cheering us on, we still this isn't the end of the road. [It's] kind of the start of our next season, which is the postseason."