TALLAHASSEE -- Last year, the Florida State women’s basketball team took a step back. For the first time in eight seasons, the Seminoles missed the NCAA tournament. For the first time in a decade, the team had a losing record.
FSU was knocked from last year’s ACC tournament in the first round by NC State.
“I think it refocuses things for everybody,” said head coach Sue Semrau. “You hope to maintain a certain level, but every year, every team is vulnerable to some type of injury that puts you in a tough position or some situation. For us it was our point guard situation that we had to try to find other ways.
“We ended up losing 10 games that we were either tied or ahead in the last four minutes. So you think about that, if you have the pieces, if you have that true point guard, it’s a different season all along.”
This year things are different. The Seminoles boast six seniors and are able to run a system that’s more geared toward their skill-sets. That comes from the emergence of two new point guards and the graduation of last year’s star, forward Cierra Bravard (now with the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars).
“I think we were strapped in that way and with the absence of a point guard,” Semrau said. “We thought that we had a point guard in place and that was not the situation, it did not work out. Having to move Deluzio to the one spot and having Cierra as one of your biggest assets; that dictated the way we had to play.”
Bravard’s presence under the hoop limited what Florida State could do on offense last year.
“The object obviously is to score, and in transition you get easy baskets,” said senior guard Alexa Deluzio. “Last year, we couldn’t really run transition because we had Cierra, and not taking anything away from her because she helped us in many ways, but this year we have posts who can run the floor like guards.”
In addition to being able to get into their transition offense and put more athletic bodies on the court, Florida State will also be able to move Deluzio back to her natural two-guard position and insert a true point guard on offense.
“Morgan Toles is already making a huge impact, she only got to play four games last year ... sitting out the first part waiting for her eligibility with the NCAA and then getting injured in her first game,” Semrau said. “So she will be an immediate impact for us. And also another junior college point guard, Yashira Delgado, she should be another immediate impact for us, so you throw in two point guards to a pretty good mix already and we’ll be a different team.”
With their players in their natural positions, Florida State will look to its six senior leaders and junior Natasha Howard (12.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg) to try and get the program back on its winning track.
“Nobody wants to have that taste left in their mouth from last season,” Deluzio said. “The chemistry since I’ve been on the team is the best it’s been the four years I’ve been here, there’s just a lot of leadership.”
“They’ve just poured it on, and that’s exciting for me as a coach,” Semrau said. “I think that there always is that tendency to fear the ‘What if?’ What if we went all out and got the same results as last year? And this team has set out to conquer that and say ‘Huh-uh, we’re going for it, we’re going all out.’ It’s been fun.”