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ACC Women's Preview #2 - Florida State

2000 Roundup:
12-17, 4-12 ACC

Head Coach:
Sue Semrau

Who's Leaving:

Coleman, Latavia/ F, 5-10 (16.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 55 steals. Second in ACC in
scoring, 2nd team All-ACC.)

Who's Coming Back: (* indicates a likely starter)

*Torres, Levys/ C, 6-4, Sr. (3.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
*Vujas, Katelyn/ C, 6-3, So. (7.2 ppg, 4 rpg)
*Wyckoff, Brooke/ F, 6-1, Sr. (10.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 34 blocks; 3rd team All-ACC)
*Sutton, Angela/ G, 5-8, Jr. (6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 68 steals)
*Traylor, April/ G, 5-10, Jr. (12.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, 67 steals)
Bradley, Lauren/ C, 6-3, So. (6.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 23 blocks)
Whiting, Shinikki/ G, 5-9, So. (3.9 ppg)
Beal, Molly/ G, 5-11, So. (3.8 ppg, led team wih 32% shooting from three)
Springle, Lakesha/ G, 5-3, Jr. (2.6 ppg, 1.4 apg)
Fuchs, Vanessa/ G-F, 5-10, Sr. (1.5 ppg, 5.6 mpg)
Brown, Lako/ G-F, 5-11, Sr. (3.3 mpg)

Who's New:

Hofman, Petra/ G, 5-8, JuCo transfer

Strengths: Size, depth, shotblocking

Defense, shooting, quickness

Scouting Report: Florida State is another team that has struggled since
they joined the ACC in the early 90's. It does seem that after several
coaching crises and untimely injuries, the 'noles are ready to be a viable
threat in conference play. While they are still quite young, having a strong
leader in Wyckoff and a group of talented sophomore post players will make
the 'noles a troublesome team to play. But FSU's many questions prevent
me from giving them a higher preseason ranking. Foremost among them is
dealing with the loss of super slasher Latavia Coleman, one of the top
scorers in the league. FSU will also miss her work on the offensive boards.
It should also be noted that she was the only 'nole to shoot over 50% for
the season. More troubling was FSU's sieve-like defense. They ranked last
in the league in scoring defense (69.1 ppg) as well as last in FG% defense
(43%). Another problem was their inability to keep it together on the
road. The 'noles got blown out by league powers on the road and couldn't even
beat Maryland or awful Wake Forest. At home, they still lost to the best
teams in the country, but kept it a lot tighter. NC State only won by 4,
Duke by 5, Virginia by 3 and Auburn by 3. This reflects both a young team
and a young coach, and it will be interesting to see if the experienced
gained from these games will make any difference.

FSU also has one other fundamental problem: three point shooting. They
ranked only ahead of Wake last year, with just Beal as a consistent threat.
Graduating Coleman also means losing their only player who could consistently
create her own shot, especially on penetration. Despite all of these
problems, FSU has a lot of potential. It all starts with do-it-all forward
Brooke Wyckoff, who has long been one of my favorite players in the ACC.
She's a tough forward with perimeter skills who will just as quickly block
a shot as shoot a three. This solid rebounder also led her team in assists
three times. Brooke has gained a lot of important experience by playing on
the Jones Cup team and scrimmaging against the US National team. Her offense
matured as the season went on, and I expect her to put up huge scoring numbers
for FSU.

The rest of the frontcourt should be a huge plus for the team. Bradley,
Vujas and Torres will fight for starting positions. Bradley may be the most
talented of the three but was held back by a foot injury last year. Torres
is the biggest and oldest player but will be pushed by Bradley all season
long. Vujas is the quickest of the three and may slide over to PF. She's
a solid shooter as well. There's a lot of potential here for a group that
staked FSU to the league lead in blocked shots last year. I'm not sure any of
them are capable of being explosive scorers, but if FSU learns to be patient in
a half-court set, they could be rewarded.

FSU's most intriguing player is Shinikki Whiting, a highly-regarded prep
prospect who suffered from some injury problems last year. She is easily
the quickest player on the team, with a devastating first step and the potential
to be a great defensive player. She'll challenge Sutton for a starting
role and will certainly play huge minutes, since she'll be stepping in for
Coleman in a number of ways.

The backcourt has a lot of depth, if not much eye-popping talent. The
best of the bunch is Traylor, who played out of position at PG but did quite
well. While her sub 1:1 assist:turnover ratio made FSU work harder than they
would have liked, she led the team in minutes and assists and fought like
a tiger on the court. Teamed up with the gritty Sutton, they combined for
over 4 steals a game. Despite the fact that neither one shot the ball very
well, they still managed to average a combined 20 ppg. Traylor's biggest
problem (other than awful marksmanship--25% from three and 59% from the FT
line) was her propensity for fouling. She fouled out three times and hurt
her team by getting into early foul trouble too often. The arrival of
JuCo Hofman, an experienced player with a stint on the Hungarian Junior
National Team, will help out Traylor considerably. With the benefit of
getting more screens instead of having to pull up on her own, I expect her
FG% to rise. Springle will also continue to get playing time. She's a
no-frills, hard-nosed point who passes first and shoots second who often had
to fill in for a foul-plagued Traylor.

It's tough to get a true read on FSU at this point. They completed
a basketball tour of France and Switzerland recently, going 4-0 against
competition that was not exactly the best of the best. Still, what those
summer trips do is create stronger team chemistry and allow younger players
to develop. Most teams tend to get a boost the season following such tours,
so watch for that to be an early factor for FSU. In addition, Wyckoff's
travels have to be a big boost for her confidence. I expect her to be
ready to take over the team, particularly in the clutch. FSU has three
solid post players who are ready to parlay a year spent learning into something
more substantial.

I think FSU's start will be crucial to the season as a whole. If they
can beat arch-rival Florida and win their own tournament, they might be
undefeated when they meet NC State on December 30th. This game will be
in Tallahassee, and could be the most important game of their season. An
upset here might be the catalys for a winning ACC season. But early season
losses to inferior opponents, especially on the road, could doom them to
another year of ACC mediocrity. More than anything, FSU has to learn how
to win on the road in the ACC.

While Wyckoff is fantastic and I've talked about their frontcourt
repeatedly, I think in the end the backcourt will not be quick enough to
handle the other teams in the league. In particular, Clemson, Duke, Georgia
Tech and Virginia will seek to exploit their guards both on offense and
defense. FSU's problems with shooting the ball may also come back to haunt
them. If the guards can work on this, and Hofman's presence means Traylor
stays out of foul trouble, then FSU could be a very solid team. But
they'll only go as far as their guards can take them.

Schedule Analysis: The Noles have one of the weaker schedules in the ACC.
While they will play reasonably tough Florida in their annual tilt and could
face either Michigan State or Virginia Tech in their own tournament, most
of their foes are of the creampuff variety. Teams like UNC-Asheville,
Central Florida, UT-Chattanooga, Mercer, St. Francis, Fordham and Coppin
State occupy most of December's slate. FSU does have one difficult non-con
game in February, when they travel to A-10 champs Xavier. Six of their
non-conference games are on the road, a wise move considering FSU's awful
road record in 2000.

Predicted finish: