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Day 2 in Senegal started off with a visit from a member of the U.S. Embassy and one of Senegal's government leaders and was capped with the first of four exhibition games scheduled on the trip. In between, the Noles held a basketball clinic, had lunch at an authentic Dakar restaurant, Caesars, went shopping and bartering at a market located on the Western-most tip of Africa, and met NBA All-Star Luol Deng. In the game, Florida State held a 29-26 halftime lead over Senegal's National Team, but the veteran natives pulled away at the end for a 62-56 victory thanks to rebounding and some key three-pointers. The silver ling for the Seminoles, who had just seven players, was that the game was so close despite poor free throw shooting and a sub-par field goal percentage. The debut of freshman center Kai James was a success, too. She recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards despite coming off the bench. Kai was one of three Seminoles who shared their thoughts of Day 2 in Dakar with Seminoles.com.
The game was intense. There was a lot of hustling and tussling - and when I say they I mean it was physical. I had fun, though. I played alright. I can't get the ball unless they give it to me, so all of the credit goes to them. They found me when I was open and I was able to hit my shots. I'm definitely disappointed that we lost, but I'm expecting a win tomorrow. To lose your first game, it puts that fire into you to come back and beat them.
The experience as a whole these first two days has been incredible - just seeing this whole other culture and how they live from day-to-day. It's an eye opener to see people who struggle to eat every day, and then you think about us as Americans complaining about not being able to buy something that costs a ton of money that we don't really need.
I had a lot of fun at the orphanage we visited on Wednesday, too. I've always had a great connection with children. The babies at the orphanage really liked me. All of them at the orphanage really wanted us to pick them up. It was very heart warming.
We have seen goats, ostriches, cows, bulls - just walking down the street with nobody with them, just eating grass. We saw peacocks today, too!
The 2013 All-ACC guard and Canary Islands, Spain, native graduated in the spring, but was still able to come on the trip with the Seminoles. She enjoyed meeting a member of the U.S. embassy, Sarah Diouf, and Ndongo Ndiaye, Senegal's technical advisor to sports and youth. Leo also had fun at the market and is excited to be back with her old team and coaches.
It was really nice for them to come visit (from the embassy). I thought it was really cool how some of them had either been from the United States or had lived in the United States for an extended period of time, but still came back because they love this city and this country. A man like (Ndongo Ndiaye) is easy to admire. He has everything in life, but he comes back to his home city to give back and to give hope to lots of kids that they can make it.
We also went to the market today. It was nice, but it was different. It was interesting to see how many people sit there every day and display their artwork and their handcrafted pieces. It is a part of their own culture. Almost the whole team and staff bought something there. I got some bracelets. Some other people got some paintings and some mini-giraffes. Coach (Ron) Hughey got a huge wooden statue of a women carrying a baby. A lot of people have crafts like that here.
The weather wasn't too bad today it was just hot. The streets at the market were very narrow. All the sellers at the market were trying to get us to buy stuff every second.
It's a lot of fun to back with the team. It's different because there are new players. It's fun, though. It's great to feel welcome again. This was my family for four years.
Another player whose eligibility is up, but was still able to come on the trip, Toles shined during a basketball clinic the Seminoles had for Senegalese kids and teenagers at Marius Ndiaye Stadium (the same place the team would play their games). She also marveled at some of the animals roaming the streets in Dakar.
The clinic went really well. It was fun to get out there with those kids. It made it easy on us, because they were so eager to learn. The language barrier was kind of hard, but they tried their best to listen and the translators were great. It was cool. I was surprised by how actually skilled they were and how hard they worked.
I did the dribble station with Lauren (Coleman). I did the usual basic drills and I had to advance it for some groups. They picked it up real well. They worked hard and they listened.
There was a wide range of girls and guys at the clinic. There were some kids that were practically babies and then there were guys that looked 19 and were dunking. They all had positive attitudes. We got to see some of the best talent in Africa.
The gym was really hot. The participants seemed fine, but they are probably used to it. I was struggling. I had a blast, though.
We saw an ostrich just hanging out at a basketball court when were driving on our bus. People were standing next to it like it was their pet. We saw some wild packs of dogs and some turkeys. We saw a lot of goats, too. It was cool. It was a lot different from America.
Senegal has exceeded my expectations. It's a lot nicer than I pictured it being, but it is super hot.