Florida State University

Expectations are higher this year for FSU women’s basketball

The Florida State women’s basketball team has been there done that.

The Seminoles have made the NCAA tournament in 10 of the last 11 years, including an Elite 8 appearance in last year’s tournament.

So what’s changed this season?

Not a whole lot. The Noles return four starters and looked primed for another deep run in March.

“Last year we were relatively young as a team in the sense of ACC play,” said coach Sue Semrau, the 2015 Associated Press Coach of the Year. “One of the things that we needed was experience in the system. That was something that we definitely needed, and now four of our starters are a year older.”

Senior center Adut Bulgak and sophomore guard Leticia Romero are two of those returning starters. Both were transfers a season ago, and are coming off impressive first years in which they each garnered All-American honors and became the unquestioned team leaders.

Bulgak led FSU in points with 12.3 per game and rebounds with 9.5 per game. This past year, she led the Canadian National Development Team to a silver medal at the World University Games.

“Our motivation is to be better than we were last year,” Bulgak said. “We practice hard everyday. Working on team chemistry and buying in for the full practice will pay off once the season starts.”

Romero also took a long road to get to Tallahassee. The 5-8 guard from Spain started her career at Kansas State before transferring to FSU after her freshman year. Romero was declared eligible midway through the season and averaged 11 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

Those additions helped the Seminoles go undefeated at home (16-0), but the All-Americans had plenty of help. FSU could generate offense from a variety of options. Five players averaged double figures in scoring, including an 10 per game from Shakayla Thomas.

Thomas, now a sophomore, came to FSU as a highly touted recruit from Alabama, and lived up to the hype. She was named ACC Sixth Player of the Year as a freshman, and the Noles have yet to see her full potential.

The 80-74 loss to South Carolina in the Elite 8 left a bad taste in the mouth of the Seminoles. They looked in control for much of the game, but just couldn’t hold on. It would have been the women’s first trip to the Final Four.

“It’s a game of inches and possessions,” Semrau said. “When you lead the game for 27 minutes and South Carolina led for three, and you lose the basketball game, the reasons are so slight. Now as we prepare for this season, our habits have to be that much better. We can’t afford to have a bad day, especially if we want to have the same kind of year plus even more.”

The expectations are high, but this group has experience to couple with a bevy of talent. If the Seminoles are going to repeat the success they had last season, motivation won’t be an issue.

“I don’t think anyone has higher expectations than we do of ourselves,” Semrau said. “We don’t care about the expectations of anyone besides the 12 players that are on the floor with the four coaches. We just stay focused on what we need to do to get better everyday, and we’ll reach our goals.”

ROSTER

G Rachel Antoniadou, Fr., 5-9;

G Emiah Bingley, Sr., 5-7;

G Brittany Brown, Jr., 5-8;

C Adut Bulgak, Sr., 6-4;

F Maria Conde, Fr., 6-1;

C Ama Degbeon, So., 6-2;

C Kai James, Jr., 6-5;

G Leticia Romero, Jr., 5-8;

F Ivey Slaughter, Jr., 6-1;

F Shakayla Thomas, So., 5-11;

G Imani Wright, So., 5-9;

SCHEDULE

Nov 16 @ Florida 5:30pm

Nov 19 vs Tulane 7:00pm

Nov 22 vs UAB 5:00pm

Nov 24 vs UNF 11:00am

Nov 27 LIU-Brooklyn (LIU Turkey Classic) 2:00pm

Nov 28 Sam Houston State (LIU Turkey Classic) 2:00pm

Dec 3 vs Rutgers (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) 7:00pm

Dec 6 vs Temple 2:00pm

Dec 11 @ Connecticut 6:00pm

Dec 15 vs Mercer 6:30pm

Dec 19 vs Murray State 2:00pm

Dec 21 @ Arizona State 5:00pm

Dec 28 vs Jacksonville 7:00pm

Jan 1 @ Louisville 4:00pm

Jan 7 vs Boston College 7:00pm

Jan 10 vs Georgia Tech 4:00pm

Jan 14 @ Clemson 7:00pm

Jan 17 @ Pitt 2:00pm

Jan 21 vs Virginia 7:00pm

Jan 24 @ Miami 1:00pm

Jan 28 @ Wake Forest 7:00pm

Jan 31 vs Virginia Tech 2:00pm

Feb 7 vs Clemson 2:00pm

Feb 11 @ Duke 7:00pm

Feb 14 vs North Carolina 2:00pm

Feb 18 @ Syracuse 7:00pm

Feb 22 vs Notre Dame 7:00pm

Feb 25 @ NC State 7:30pm

Feb 28 vs Miami 3:00pm

Mar 2-6 ACC Tournament

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