With just a few days before Oregon State meets up with Florida State in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, we reached out to Seminoles’ women’s basketball expert Prince Akeem Joffer from TomahawkNation.com, who was kind enough to take some time to answer some lingering questions we had about Oregon State’s upcoming opponent.
First of all, for an outsider who may just be warming up their women’s basketball interest for the Sweet Sixteen, could you give us a quick summary of the Florida State women’s basketball team this season?
Florida State is coached by Sue Semrau. Semrau is in her 20th year as head coach at FSU. She was the consensus national coach of the year in 2015 and is a four time ACC coach of the year. She is also the winningest coach in FSU history. FSU plays mostly man to man defense and they like to create turnovers which keys their transition game.
FSU is led by Leticia Romero and Shakayla Thomas. Romero is arguably the best shooter in the nation. She is currently shooting .498 from the field, .519 from three, and .893 from the line. Romero is the only returning college player (men or women) who is an Olympic medalist in basketball. She won a silver medal for Spain in the Rio Olympics. Romero is a heady player with tons of experience (college and international). She is sometimes unselfish to a fault. She tends to only shoot when wide open and the offense would probably benefit if she was a bit more aggressive in looking for her own shots.
Thomas is one of the best athletes in college basketball. She was named ACC player of the year by the coaches. At only 5’11 she can dunk a basketball. When she is hitting her midrange jumper she is virtually unguardable. She is also an excellent rebounder (as is most of the team).
If there’s three players on the Florida State roster who’s quality of play decide the outcome of this game for the Seminoles, who are they?
I mentioned two in the answer above. A third would be point guard Brittany Brown. Before this year she was the starting shooting guard. This year she and Romero basically switched positions. Brown is excellent defensively. Because Romero and Thomas draw so much attention she sometimes gets open shots. If she is hitting them this team is extremely difficult to handle. Imani Wright would be another player to watch. She shoots the most threes on the team and hits at about 40%. If she is on she provides another dimension to the offense.
Earlier this season, Florida State played UCONN to one of the tightest games that the Huskies have endured during their now-famous 109-game winning streak, falling 78-76 to UCONN after missing a shot at the buzzer. In that game, the Seminoles played without guard Leticia Romero, who was nursing a thigh strain. With Romero now playing at full-strength again, are the expectations of this Florida State team to reach a potential re-match with UCONN in the National Championship game?
I don’t know that expectation is the right word. This team is really burning to get to the Final Four. They came up just short two years ago losing to South Carolina in the Elite 8 in a game that they controlled most of the way and probably should have won. This year they feel that they have the same quality team so to miss the Final Four this year would be a disappointment.
Regarding UCONN, FSU would probably tell you that the game was a missed opportunity. The Noles led by four at halftime and basically stood toe to toe with them the entire game (without Romero). They certainly wouldn’t mind seeing UCONN in Dallas but they would probably just be happy to be there with a chance at a title. Whoever the opponent is probably wouldn’t matter as much.
The Seminoles lost three of their last five games to end the regular season and were knocked off by Miami (FL) in their first game of the ACC Tournament. However, in their first two NCAA Tournament games, Florida State has beaten their opponents by 21 and 22 points respectively. Is it safe to say that Florida State has officially broken the pseudo-slump that they struggled through leading up to the big dance?
This is the $64,000 question. It looks like the Seminoles may have gotten their mojo back but two games are too small a sample size to be sure.
If the FSU team that we saw in January shows up they have a great chance to win. If the team that sputtered to 2-4 in their last 6 games before Tournament shows up then they will probably lose. It must be said that they lost to some pretty good teams in that slump; Texas (in double OT), at Notre Dame and Miami all of whom were top 4 seeds in the Tournament. The other loss was on the road to Virginia when Thomas went down with a shoulder injury. Having said that, there is no question that they did not play their best in that stretch.
If there is one thing that separates OSU and FSU it is that the Beavers have been more consistent over the course of the year than the Seminoles. FSU’s peak is probably higher than OSU’s peak but OSU’s floor is probably higher than FSU’s floor.
Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck is one of women’s basketball quickest rising stars, who has a knack for devising some tough and disruptive game-plans for opponents. If you were an opposing head coach about to play Florida State, what would be your game-plan on how to beat the Seminoles?
You must take care of the ball. Turnovers will kill you against FSU especially if they are of the live ball variety. Rebounding is key as FSU is very good on the glass. OSU is as well so that battle will be interesting to watch.
Semrau has shortened her rotation lately so if you can pound the ball inside and get Ivey Slaughter in foul trouble that would help.
A slower tempo would be best for Oregon State. If the game is a track meet the Beavers have very little chance to match FSU’s athleticism.
Finally, stay connected to Romero. As I alluded to earlier, she is reluctant to take contested shots but if you leave her open she is absolutely deadly.
Finally, could you make a prediction for how you think Saturday’s contest between Florida State and Oregon State will go?
I really think that this game is about a toss-up. If FSU shoots as well as they did against Missouri I think that they will likely win as I don’t think that Oregon State can match that fire power.
However, if the Noles get off to a slow start or have one of their terrible offensive droughts (like what killed them against Texas) they will have a serious problem with OSU’s excellent defense.
Sagarin currently has FSU as a four point favorite. That feels about right. I’ll say FSU gets the 66-62 win.