tampabay.com

Balanced Seminoles spoil coach's trip home

FSU has little trouble with Southeastern Louisiana in Jim Yarbrough's return.

By D.C. REEVES
Published December 11, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - It was not the homecoming Southeastern Louisiana coach Jim Yarbrough had in mind.

The Florida State graduate, born in Tampa and raised in St. Petersburg (Northeast High), brought his team to the Donald L. Tucker Center on Sunday, and the Lions were dismissed rather swiftly, down 25 by halftime and then losing 88-62.

The Seminoles got just 20 points combined from leading scorers Al Thornton, who was averaging 16.4, and Toney Douglas, who was averaging 15.4. Instead, all nine players in the Seminoles' rotation scored at least five.

"Florida State was excellent and balanced on offense and extremely tough on defense," said Yarbrough, a 1987 FSU graduate. "They picked us apart. I love their athleticism and their relentless style of play right now."

While the Seminoles' guard play thrived behind Jason Rich's game-high 16 points and fellow junior Isaiah Swann's 12, they got production from young post players as freshman Ryan Reid and sophomore Uche Echefu teamed for 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Even sophomore forward Casaan Breeden, who nursed an ankle sprain through the summer and into fall practice, added 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting. He was averaging just 9.4 minutes.

"It's important that we get guys' confidence up while we are in our preconference schedule," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "(Casaan) is just now rounding into shape and playing with that spirit and enthusiasm."

Up 20-13 with about 12 minutes to go, the Seminoles (8-2) started a 23-4 run that produced a 26-point lead. The Lions (5-4) were never closer than 19 again.

"Right from the beginning, they flew right up at us, and we really weren't slowing them down," Yarbrough said. "I don't know that we appreciated just how quickly they could get down the floor."

Sunday marked the fourth consecutive game the Seminoles jumped out quickly. In the first 20 minutes against Florida, Stetson, Georgia State and Southeastern Louisiana, the Seminoles have outscored their competition 192-108.

"Once again, I thought we got off to a good start," Hamilton said. "I think our guys played with a tremendous amount of energy in the first five or 10 minutes or so, and we created some offense from our defense."