Oct. 3, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State women's basketball team's first game isn't until Nov. 11, but the Seminoles are already busy preparing for the 2012-13 season.
FSU held it first official practice on Tuesday at the Basketball Training Center, unveiling a quick and versatile team that will look to utilize its athleticism en route to a return trip to the NCAA Tournament after missing the "Big Dance" in 2011-12.
"We're learning from the past," redshirt senior forward/guard Chasity Clayton said. "That's what has fired us up. You learn from your mistakes. It was disappointing not making it to NCAA's last season. Every year I had been here we had been to the NCAA Tournament, so I knew what it felt like and the hard work it took to get there. (Alexa Deluzio) and I, it's our last year. It's our last chance to put those blood, sweat and tears on the court and leave it all out there."
Clayton and Deluzio will share captaincy honors this year with fellow senior Morgan Toles, a point guard. Toles and junior college transfer Yashira "Cheetah" Delgado will be the floor generals in the new offensive attack with Clayton, Deluzio, senior Leonor Rodriguez, junior Olivia Bresnahan, sophomore Lauren Coleman, freshman Jakelle King-Gilchrist and even junior Natasha Howard - the ACC's leader in double-doubles last season - all capable of disrupting the passing lanes on defense and filling in on the wings on offense.
"We're excited about the athleticism and the length that we will have on the defensive end of the floor to disrupt," head coach Sue Semrau said. "I think that will translate into a very fast-paced style. We had a big loss in Cierra Bravard. At the same time, it gives us an opportunity to run more. It's an exciting style of play. Our fans will really enjoy watching our team this year."
Players like Clayton, who has started at power forward, small forward and shooting guard in her career, and Howard, an ACC All-Defensive selection who led the conference in rebounding in league games, but who can also dribble, drive and knock down the three-point shot, give Semrau flexibility with her lineups.
On Monday, Clayton, Howard and Deluzio were driving to the hole and knocking down open jump shots, while Toles and Delgado forced their way into the paint and found open teammates. Posts Chelsea Davis, Kristi Mokube and Ebony Wells worked on finishing on the block.
Every player practiced free throws and the Seminoles were paired against each other in offense-defense drills.
The practice kicked off with members of the Florida State athletic band, the Seminole Sound, surprising the team by marching onto the court and playing "Warchant" and "Seminole Uprising."
The players and coaches did "The Chop" and danced to the beat before practicing hard for nearly two hours. After missing last year's postseason, the Seminoles are hungry for more dancing come this March at the NCAA Tournament. "That hunger drives us," said Semrau, who is entering her 16th year at FSU and is a three-time ACC Coach of the Year. "The hungry lion hunts best. That's what we have to continue to do. We have to have that desire."
Season tickets are on sale now at $40 for adults and $20 for youth and seniors. Please visit Seminoles.com or call the Seminole Ticket Office at 1-888-FSUNOLE to purchase tickets.