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ACC Preview # 8 - Florida State

NC State |

| Virginia
| Clemson
Georgia Tech |

FSU is like our Charlie Brown school. Every year we think they'll do
better than they do, and every year we get disappointed. This year, as we
say every year, may be different. But this year, Steve Robinson has some talent
for a change.

In a major break, Raleigh native Anthony Richardson is eligible,
after being on the edge of eligibility for what seemed like forever. By
the way, for some reason, we keep calling him Robertson. Let us know if we do it

With last year's very solid debut by Fayetteville's Michael Joiner, a
solid point guard in Delvon Arrington (trained by Bob Hurley Sr), a not
insignificant talent in J.D. Bracy, that's a much, much better core group than
Steve Robinson has had for years. Add to that Big Jelly, who supposedly is
in much better condition (and there is an athlete in there somewhere), Antwaun
Dixon, Monte Cummings, Mike Mathews and Adam Waleskowski, who is reputedly
underrated, and FSU has the best talent they've had since Pat Kennedy left town,
and while he had talent, he never did much with it, as DePaul found out last
year. We should also mention footballer Adrian McPherson, who is a
very good basketball player.

You're probably looking at guys like Mathews and
Dixon, both Dixons actually, and thinking 'those guys aren't so great.'
Well maybe that's true, maybe they're not. But the difference is that with
an upgrade in talent, guys will be able fill roles, and won't have to try to do
more than they can. And that's significant. Last year, Michael
Joiner played some power forward, Delvon Arrington had to be the go-to guy at
the end, and Nigel Dixon had to push himself. Joiner will only play power
forward in a pinch, Arrington can run the team, and if Dixon shows up as a slob
again, he can play five minutes and continue to be a novelty. It just
won't matter as much.

It goes down the line. While we would expect Joiner,
Arrington and Richardson will start, and Bracy may well, Monte Cummings might
not. But he's athletic and tough and he could come in and defend, say, Jawad
Williams or Dahntay Jones or Josh Howard. Or he could start. Unlike most
recent years at FSU, nothing is written in stone.

Last year they certainly had
their moments, with wins over Georgia Tech, sweeping Clemson, and the biggest
win, upsetting Maryland in College Park, came close to beating DePaul, and gave
UNC a game. But it wasn't nearly enough, since they finished 9-21 and 4-12
in the conference. They lost to Furman, South Florida, and Cleveland

Still, despite the struggles, there are some characteristics one can
see at FSU. They usually - last season is an exception - come into the
conference season and fade. The way we see it is that while they have less
talent, they have been drilled better than most teams, and can steal a few

They usually play pretty sound defense, too, and most importantly, they
play hard.

Robinson, who expressed great happiness with how hard his team
played at the end of the season, gets seven of his top eight players back, and
all of them had their moments. Mike Mathews did a number on Minnesota,
Delvon Arrington had a huge game against UNC, and Marcell Haywood and Ryan
Lowery give them significant depth and guys they can bring along. Add
Richardson, Bracy, Waleskowski and even a part-time McPherson,
build on last year's hard work, and suddenly, you have a much improved, perhaps
even dangerous team.

Florida State has gotten a bit impatient with Steve
Robinson, though they have stuck by him, which is admirable. Nonetheless, AD
Dave Hart has made it clear that he expects bids on a regular basis. The rest of
the conference goes fairly often, Clemson excluded, and in-state rival Florida
has become powerful too.

The pressure is there, and this is a crucial
year, but we think the 'Noles could be radically better this season. It could be
the type of improvement that doesn't show up in wins, but it will be there

They'll get a quick test, opening the season with Florida,
followed by Savannah State, Elon, Northwestern, Birmingham Southern, and
Western Carolina. They also play Cleveland State, American, Virginia Tech,
Campbell, and San Francisco. Florida will be tough, needless to say, and Bill
Carmody is at Northwestern, so who knows. There's an excellent chance they could
win 10 nonconference games, since the opponents mostly suck, so their fate will
rise and fall on conference wins and losses. The ACC will be particularly
difficult this year, so wins won't be easy. An NIT bid is certainly possible for
the Seminoles, but an NCAA bid at this point seems a stretch.