Duke in the way of dream
By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published February 29, 2004
TALLAHASSEE - For Florida State forward Michael Joiner, tonight's game is like the perfect storm.
It's his home finale. The same goes for fellow senior starters Tim Pickett and Nate Johnson. It's against No. 5-ranked Duke. Oh, yeah, it's also for a shot at all but securing the Seminoles' first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998.
Rain gear is optional.
"It hasn't dawned on me that this will be my last home game," Joiner said. "But with who we're playing and the stakes. We're so close to playing in the postseason for the first time in my college career and secure that dream."
Conventional wisdom suggests that the Seminoles (18-10), despite dynamic wins against North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Maryland, need one more win to get off the "bubble."
They close at No. 18 Georgia Tech and have lost 23 consecutive league road games and almost assuredly will see a ranked team to open the ACC tournament. So, as strange as it may sound, this could be the best shot.
Not only did they push the Blue Devils to the limit in Durham on Jan. 29 - senior point guard Chris Duhon hit a 3-pointer with 36.4 seconds to push the lead to 54-49 - but the Seminoles have beaten the Blue Devils in each of the last two meetings in Tallahassee, 77-76 on Jan. 6, 2002, and 75-70 on Feb. 2, 2003.
"I think we have a winning record in Tallahassee," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said when asked about the back-to-back losses here, both coming on a Sunday night. (He's right. Duke is 8-4 here.) "The fact that Florida State is good is the main reason anybody would lose there."
FSU is 15-1 at home this season, matching a school record for wins set in 1974-75.
"With our home victories, teams expect us to give them a hard time now," Joiner said.
FSU's winning ways have added more fans. This game sold out Friday, the first time in program history all tickets were gone before game day.
"Our guys psychologically feel very confident at home," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Anybody who's been through the development of a program, you need to start building a tradition at home and that's what appears to be happening now."
But he added that noise and effort won't be enough. His team must be near perfect in the face of a sure storm.
"You've got to expect Duke to come in and give more effort than they've ever given (against FSU) because they've lost two in a row and I'm sure they're sick and tired of people pointing out the fact that they've lost in Tallahassee the last couple of years," he said. "Even though they won't say it, that doesn't sit well with a team with that kind of rich tradition so we know we're going to get their best shot."
TONIGHT: FSU VS. NO. 5 DUKE
WHEN/WHERE: 8; Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.
TV/RADIO: Sunshine; WQYK-AM 1010. RECORDS: Duke 23-3, 11-2 ACC; Florida State 18-10, 6-8.
COACHES: Duke - Mike Krzyzewski (613-178, 24th season; 686-237 overall); Florida State - Leonard Hamilton (32-25, second season; 232-235).
KEY PLAYERS: Duke - J.J. Redick, G, 6-4 So. (16.8 ppg, 78 of 175 3-pters); Shelden Williams, F, 6-9 So. (12.3 pp, 8.0 rpg, 3.2 bpg); Chris Duhon, PG, 6-1 Sr. (9.9 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.9 rpg). Florida State - Tim Pickett, G, 6-4 Sr. (16.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 spg); Alexander Johnson, C, 6-10 Fr. (9.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg).
NOTES: With a win, FSU would beat a fifth ranked team, its most since it defeated seven in 1992-93. Of course, that team also won 25 games and reached the Elite Eight. Pickett, Nate Johnson, Michael Joiner and seldom-used reserves Mike Mathews, Emanuel Gordon and Orenn Fells will be honored before the game as part of Senior Day. Mathews has earned his undergraduate degree and the others are set to finish this semester. Duke leads the series 22-4.
[Last modified February 29, 2004, 01:15:11]
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