Coming off a season in which they went 23-10 and returned to the NCAA tournament, Florida State’s women’s basketball team enters the 2013-14 with a slightly different look.
Four of the team’s five starters are gone -- and gone with them are 46.9 ppg and 17.3 rebounds. In their place is the nation’s 7th ranked recruiting class, which is loaded with potential but light on experience.
“It will all depend on how quickly our youth picks it up,” said head coach Sue Semrau. “But ‘Tasha obviously has been well schooled in the ACC and she’s been doing a tremendous job.”
Natasha Howard, the team’s senior captain, has a very good shot to be an All-American come the end of the season. The 6-3 forward averaged 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds last year and was named Blue Ribbon First Team All-ACC.
This season Howard finds herself in a new position though, as the unquestioned leader of her team.
“Her style is more to demonstrate and to do the right thing than it is to do a lot of talking,” said Semrau. “So it doesn’t really come naturally to her to lead through communication and she has to this year.”
Added Howard: “It’s been very hard, lonely, stressful [at times] but that’s how it is if you want to be the leader and the captain of the team.”
In addition to Howard, senior Yashira “Cheetah” Delgado -- a junior college transfer that averaged 4.7 points and a team-leading 4.5 assists per game off the bench last season -- should help shoulder the leadership duties.
If they can get Florida State’s talented group of newcomers to follow their lead, FSU has the potential to go places this season. Lead by 6-5 freshman center Kai James, there are three girls over 6’2 and Morgan Jones -- who averaged 13.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.3 assists at Wisconsin in 2011-12 -- is eligible after sitting out last year.
“I’ve seen a lot of potential, a lot of hard work, a lot of energy coming from this class, “ said Howard. “They’re going to help us on the floor.”
The rest of the ACC seems skeptical though, at ACC Media day the ‘Noles were picked to finish 5th by the panel and 6th by the coaches.
“We take that as motivation -- a chip on our shoulders -- when our teammates are like ’Tash, we’re number five in the ACC,’ I’m like that’s always going to happen, no matter what, when that comes out just don’t worry about it,” said Howard. “Just play our game and just prove the people wrong.”
Added Semrau: “We don’t really care what anybody else says, we want to go out and get better every day and take it one game at a time.”
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