What have you done for me lately?
With the Seminole football team not playing in the national championship
game for the first time in four years, the spotlight in Tallahassee is now
shining brightly on the struggling basketball squad. If Florida State is
unable to buck the trend and win more games than it loses, then head coach
Steve Robinson will be in grave danger of losing his job at the end of the
season. The team has started the season 4-5, with home losses coming against
Western Carolina and American. This is the latest in a downhill slope that
began when FSU hired Robinson to replace Pat Kennedy after the 1996-97
Robinson came from Tulsa and had a very strong first season leading the
Seminoles, as the team went 18-14 and advanced to the second round of the
NCAA Tournament. Things have gotten worse every year for Robinson and his
team. The Seminoles went 13-17 in 1998-99, then 12-17, and last year the
team finished a horrendous 9-21.
The fifth-year coach is 56-74 since coming to Tallahassee and his team
has not been ranked in the AP Top 25 since January 18, 1998. Also, FSU is
6-34 against Top 25 teams under Robinson, with only three wins against ranked
ACC squads. The numbers clearly do not lie, and if this Seminole team is not
able to advance to a postseason tournament, then Robinson may be cleaning out
his office come March.
Two intriguing possibilities to replace Robinson could
include: former Bulls and Iowa State coach Tim Floyd, who is likely to return
to the college ranks; and one of the greatest players in FSU history,
recently-fired Warriors head coach Dave Cowens.
A Perfect Ten: After its epic win against Kentucky in the Jimmy V Classic, Duke is now a perfect 10-0. The defending national champions have not lost in almost ten
months, winning 20 consecutive games following a February 27 loss to
Maryland. Obviously the team is extremely talented and well-coached by Mike
Krzyzewski, but there are some problems that the Blue Devils will have to
correct in order to repeat as champions.
The loss of current Grizzlies star Shane Battier has hurt the Blue Devils
on both ends of the court. When watching Duke play, it is evident that the
offense has very little movement amongst the players. Most possessions
include mostly one-on-one attempts by offensive leaders Jason Williams (the
latest ACC Player of the Week), Mike Dunleavy Jr., or Carlos Boozer. This is
something that could hurt the team down the stretch.
Also, Duke’s interior
defense is suspect. The team starts 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer at center, with
raw 6-foot-11 center Casey Sanders and 24-year-old 6-foot-10 forward Matt
Christensen also in the mix. If Boozer can learn to exert his 280 pounds and
become a force down low defensively against taller centers around the nation,
then this Duke squad may be even better when 2002 rolls around. If these two
issues are fixed, then Coach K’s squad may become the first team since
Indiana in 1975-76 to finish the season without losing a game.
Fingleton’s Crusade to Worcester: As speculated on Hoopville last week, Neil Fingleton has transferred from North Carolina to Holy Cross. The 7-foot-5 British center will have two and a half years of eligibility once he is able to start playing for the
Crusaders in January 2003. As a result of losing Fingleton, North Carolina
is looking for a center for next year’s team. If Carolina does not bring in
anyone in addition to the three elite prospects that the school has already
signed, then there will be no players on the 2002-03 squad taller than
The Power of the ACC: The ACC remains the top conference in the country, with three teams currently ranked in the top third of both polls. Undefeated Duke is ranked
first in both polls, undefeated Virginia is fourth in both polls, while
Maryland is sixth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and eighth in the AP Top
25. In addition, Wake Forest is ranked 25th in both polls. Also, ACC teams
are 62-24 vs. non-conference opponents.
The only conference that is nearly as good as the ACC is the SEC. In the
latest conference RPI rankings, the ACC is in second place with an overall
score of .5852, .0041 behind the SEC. This year, the conferences have split
the eight inter-conference games.