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Familiar foe awaits Seminoles

The FSU women, a No.6 seed, will open against Richmond, which knocked the Seminoles out of the WNIT last year.

By ZACHARY SPAIN
Published March 14, 2005


TALLAHASSEE - Florida State may be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, but it will face a familiar team in its opener.

The Seminoles are the No.6 seed in the Kansas City region. They will play 11th-seeded Richmond (23-7), an at-large selection from the Atlantic 10, Sunday at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.

Last year, FSU's season ended with an 84-77 loss at Richmond in the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

"It was kind of a surprise because I thought we were going to be matched up with somebody we didn't know," junior point guard Holly Johnson said. "It's definitely going to be a revenge game. Last year left a bitter taste in our mouth."

The Spiders returned four starters this season, including forward Kate Flavin and guard Saona Chapman, who each scored 26 in that win and are averaging double figures this season. FSU coach Sue Semrau said Richmond will be a good defensive matchup for her team, which starts five guards. Flavin is Richmond's lone inside presence. "I don't think they have a lot of big post play, which has been the thing that's been the biggest problem for us this season," Semrau said.

In anticipation of the selection, the Seminoles assembled in FSU's University Club and waited for nearly an hour as six ACC schools were slotted before them. The room erupted in cheers as Florida State's name appeared in the final bracket unveiled. It was FSU's fifth NCAA berth and its highest seed since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams.

"It is very fair," Semrau said. "It's exactly what I thought. I think we all were prepared to have a six, worst-case scenario seven, best-case scenario five. I think we were all prepared for what we were going to see."

Should FSU win, it could face another familiar team, No.3-seed Connecticut, on the Huskies' home floor. UConn won in Tallahassee two seasons ago and 81-53 last year in Hartford, Conn., but players were cautious in looking ahead. "We can't go in there worrying about playing Connecticut at Connecticut," guard Roneeka Hodges said.

Otherwise, the destination was welcome. "It's just a tremendous atmosphere and one that all of women's basketball strives for," Semrau said. "It will be a great environment for our players to play in."