tampabay.com

'Noles try to keep focus on court against Duke

TONIGHT: Florida State women's basketball vs. Duke. 7 p.m., Sun Sports

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published January 25, 2007


Florida State's women's basketball team can do wonders for its NCAA Tournament chances tonight as No. 1 and undefeated Duke comes to town 7, Sun Sports.

But though fans and the media might enjoy talking about improving the RPI and garnering a signature win, things that naturally would come by beating the Blue Devils (20-0, 5-0 ACC), FSU coach Sue Semrau said neither she nor her players can afford to go there.

"If we get caught up in all of that, we're thinking about the wrong things," she said.

Instead, the Seminoles (15-4, 4-0) need to spend their prep time focused on how to handle the inside presence of 6-foot-7 center Alison Bales, the 3-point shooting of guard Abby Waner (she hit 6 of 9 against Tennessee on Monday) and the dazzling end-to-end play of guard Lindsey Harding.

FSU, however, isn't likely to be intimidated. The 'Noles upset then-No. 2 Duke 80-74 in the last meeting in Tallahassee on Feb. 4, 2004.

TOUGH DECISION: When Kevin Steele accepted new Alabama coach Nick Saban's offer to be his defensive coordinator a few weeks ago, he had barely enough time to pack what he needed and hit the recruiting trails. What he didn't have a chance to do was tell folks how difficult it was to make that decision.

"Being with Coach (Bobby) Bowden and Coach (Mickey) Andrews every day, working for those two guys, that's special," Steele said. "Coach Bowden is a special, special guy. And Coach Andrews, I don't know how anybody could be a better defensive coordinator."

Steele had numerous opportunities to leave FSU during his four seasons and didn't, including one from Saban to join him with the Miami Dolphins. So, what made this chance different?

His parents live about 20 miles from the Alabama campus and, because he hadn't seen them very often since he got into coaching more than 20 years ago, that was critical. Also, his youngest child, Caroline, is now a high school senior and he said he didn't want her to have to change schools in midstream. (His wife, Linda, and Caroline will stay in Tallahassee until the end of the school year.)

FSU and its fans will see Steele again soon. The Tide meets FSU in Jacksonville on Sept. 29.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347. Check his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/seminoles/

Point taken

One reason Toney Douglas transferred from Auburn to FSU after his stellar freshman year was to have more of an opportunity to play and improve as a point guard, the position he knew he would have to play at the next level. Coach Leonard Hamilton said Douglas' recent stats point out that he has "developed an understanding of the value of a guy who gets his teammates the ball."

Games Assists Turnovers
1-15 35 39
16-20 21 11