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Florida State sports notebook: Post spring update edition

Just a few thoughts on Seminole sports. As always read at your own risk.

Charles Mays Media

The spring semester at Florida State University is officially over. With the end of the semester it is a good time to assess where a few of your favorite teams currently stand going into the summer break. Let’s take a look at these teams in alphabetical order.

Men’s Basketball

Glass half empty:

Florida State lost the most games in program history last year. It was the second straight year that the team has missed the NCAA Tournament. The team’s leading scorer (Matthew Cleveland) defected to a major rival.

Glass half full:

FSU did lose Cleveland but the other three players to enter the portal are replaceable. The Seminoles have secured a nice recruiting class in Taylor Bowen (High School), Josh Nickelberry, Primo Spears, and Jamir Watkins (all from the transfer portal). Perhaps most importantly the Seminoles managed to limit the number of players transferring out despite the major disappointment of last year’s season.

Additional thoughts:

The 2023-24 season reminds me a lot of the 2016-17 season. The Noles are again at a spot where they have missed the NCAA Tournament for a couple of years. However, like in 2016 the talent for a return tournament trip seems to be in place. Also like in 2016 a potential NBA draft pick has decided to stay for a second season. In 2016 it was Dwayne Bacon. This year it is Baba Miller. Finally, as in 2016 this seems like a make it or break it season. If FSU misses the tournament again this season there will probably be major changes made to the program.

The last two years have been derailed in large part due to injuries. If this team has better injury luck the pieces are in place for a return to the tournament and quite possibly to make serious noise when they get there.


Glass half empty:

The team still doesn’t have a backup goal keeper...and that’s all I got.

Glass half full:

This program had three players selected in the top nine of the NWSL draft and the roster is still loaded. The Seminoles will also welcome a top five recruiting class to Tallahassee. Florida State is primed to once again contend for another national championship.

Additional thoughts:

The three players who were selected in the NWSL draft were Emily Madril, Jenna Nighswonger and Clara Robbins. Madril was replaced last year by then-freshman Heather Gilchrist who did an admirable job at center-back. Nighswonger has been replaced via the transfer portal by Taylor Huff (Tennessee). Huff was a first team All SEC and third team All American last year as a sophomore for Tennessee. She also happens to be a natural no. 10 (playmaking midfielder) so she is about the best possible replacement for Nighswonger that FSU could have obtained. Robbins is the only player that hasn’t yet been directly replaced but the Noles have plenty of candidates for the position in Maria Alagoa, Emma Bissell, Kaitlyn Zipay and (perhaps) Ran Iwai.

The roster is stacked but there is one large source of uncertainty remaining. Defender Heather Payne was honored last year on Senior Day along with Robbins and Nighswonger. Usually when players are honored on Senior Day that means that they will be leaving the program. At the time it was believed that Payne would be leaving with Robbins and Nighswonger. However, it seems that Payne has decided to leave the door open to a possible return to Tallahassee. I have been told by multiple sources that Payne is on the fence about playing one more year. Apparently her decision will rest in large part on whether she receives an attractive enough offer from a European club to immediately turn pro. If she doesn’t receive that offer (or decides to play in the NWSL) she will likely return to FSU for one more year. Payne is set to play for Ireland this summer in the Women’s World Cup. Don’t expect a decision until after the World Cup.

UCLA as defending champions will start the season at #1 in the polls as the coaches always vote for the defending champs in the preseason poll. However, if Payne returns Florida State will enter the 2023 season with the best roster in the nation. Even if she doesn’t the Seminoles will be a top five team heading into next season.


Glass half empty:

Oklahoma has a 41 game win streak and Florida State only has a 13 game win streak.

Glass half full:

Aside from the aforementioned 13 game win streak the Noles have won 22 of their last 23 games and sit at third nationally in the polls. Florida State also recently captured another ACC title.

Additional thoughts:

FSU seems primed for another deep postseason run. The Noles sit at fourth in the RPI which means that they are in great shape for a top eight seed which would allow them to potentially host a Super Regional.

The Seminoles have relied on strong pitching (11th nationally in ERA) and potent offense (12th nationally in scoring) for their success this year. However, FSU is only 95th in fielding percentage. If Florida State can avoid major mistakes this roster has the talent, balance and experience to be in the mix for a second national title.

Florida State will play in the ACC Tournament tomorrow against either Syracuse or Virginia. The Seminoles badly want to capture another ACC Tournament crown but the big goal is obviously to make a return trip to Oklahoma City. Last year’s early exit still fuels this team and they are determined to not allow it to happen again.

Women’s Basketball

Glass half empty:

Florida State finished the season on a three game losing streak as injuries eventually took their toll short-circuiting a promising season.

Glass half full:

As mentioned FSU did have a successful season last year. Despite finishing the season on the injured list rising sophomore Ta’Niya Latson enjoyed a break through season earning just about every freshman player of the year award. In addition Makayla Timpson made impressive strides in her game announcing herself as one of the best bigs in the ACC. Finally, Sara Bejedi took her game to another level last year giving the Seminoles a legitimate core Big 3 going into next year.

Additional thoughts:

Florida State deserves a solid B+ so far this offseason. The only real negative that keeps me from giving an A is that the Seminoles weren’t able to use the transfer portal to address their two biggest roster weaknesses - three point shooting and frontcourt depth. To be fair, the Noles did get two useful players from the portal in Alexis Tucker and Amaya Bonner. However, FSU really could have used another post player or a 3&D wing and Tucker and Bonner (while talented) don’t really address those needs.

Nevertheless, the Seminoles have still had a productive offseason. Florida State is one of only five power five conference teams to not lose a single player to the transfer portal. Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame and South Carolina are the other teams. Therefore, with the addition of Tucker and Bonner and the four player recruiting class the Seminoles now sport a full 12 player roster. Having a full roster of useful players is huge.

ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the Noles at #15 in his way too early poll. That lofty ranking reflects how impressive FSU was last season before the injuries hit.

Latson and Timpson will be two of the top 10 players in the ACC next season. Ultimately they will determine how far FSU goes next year but they will have a considerable amount of support from the rest of the roster.

As always, the comments are yours.