The snow-beleaguered highway cleaners in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill might have been able to put Florida State coach Sue Semrau to use last Friday night. Following her Seminoles’ lifeless 73-43 loss at Duke, Semrau was so steamed you figured she could have melted some of the frozen roads in the Triangle just by looking at them.
Alas, even she wasn’t that mad. But she was perplexed by her team’s performance, and so were the FSU players.
“I didn’t get to sleep until about 3 a.m.,” FSU senior Jacinta Monroe said of her restlessness after the loss. “That’s not our team. That’s not how we play basketball. But we couldn’t sulk after it.”
However, the streets were a mess Saturday, so the Seminoles couldn’t work out their frustration by going to practice. They were staying in Chapel Hill because of their Monday game with North Carolina, but their bus couldn’t come get them. (As I mentioned in a previous post, they really don’t “do” snow/ice well in this state.) Maybe the Seminoles could have walked to practice, but this is FLORIDA State.
Monroe, who is from Fort Lauderdale, used some of the downtime to make snow angels … although she went out in sock feet (we’ll mention the FLORIDA thing again) and soon realized her toes were freezing.
One of the Seminoles definitely was not fascinated by the snow.
“I’m from Ohio,” shrugged sophomore Cierra Bravard of Sandusky. (I’m guessing she’s the one who would have walked to practice, even through a few miles of snow.)
Anyway, the main thing the Seminoles did Saturday was talk to each other. Player to player, coach to coach, player to coach. They cleared the air on what had happened Friday, and vowed to prepare for a better effort against the Tar Heels.
“We talked about what we saw as a coaching staff,” Semrau said, “but we wanted to hear them. So we broke them into small groups, and they communicated. I feel like they’re much more unified now.”
The trapping press that so confounded the Seminoles at Duke was not at all the same problem for them at UNC. Now, admittedly, the Blue Devils are a better defensive team than the Tar Heels. UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell lambasted her team’s defense, effort and heart in her postgame press conference. As mad as Semrau was after her loss to Duke, Hatchell seemed even more furious after her loss to Florida State.
But the fact is, the Seminoles just played a lot better Monday than they did Friday. Semrau said there wasn’t any big strategic change between games with their press-breaker, it was just a matter of them seeing the court better and not being hesitant and timid.
“We were stunned by our performance on Friday night,” Semrau said. “We just showed them what was open in the press that they didn’t see. Then we worked on that (Sunday) in practice.”
The Tar Heels fell behind big, made their rally, seemed like they really had grabbed the momentum … but the Seminoles just tenaciously held on. FSU’s 83-73 win put the Seminoles in second place in the ACC at 5-2, with UNC at 4-2. Duke leads the way at 6-0.
Hatchell said her team didn’t rebound worth squat and had lost its intimidation factor on defense. So she called a 6 a.m. practice for Tuesday, lest the players not fully grasp how royally ticked off she was. One of the problems with this Carolina team all season is that _ especially with Jessica Breland sitting out after her treatment for cancer this summer _ the Tar Heels just don’t seem to have much on-court leadership.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles know they grabbed an important road victory in a conference where there’s a logjam piling up just behind them.
“We talked about the fact that we were disappointed at Duke, but how we could still leave North Carolina in second place,” Semrau said. “Carolina was in our way. We established ourselves in beating a team that was higher in the rankings than we are. That was big, and to do it on the road is a great momentum-starter for us.”
Which just goes to show you how much you can change your own momentum. Having watched how poorly the Seminoles competed against Duke, I have to admit, I doubted they were going to beat the Tar Heels.
But they didn’t doubt themselves, and that’s what matters.