Time is now for woman to make pitch

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writers
Published January 24, 2008

Senior guard Shante Williams insists that it's never too late for Florida State to put together a resume to earn another trip to the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

"Especially with our league," she said. "We have some of the best competition in the country."

The Seminoles 13-6, 3-1 lack that signature win but still have road games against No.3 North Carolina, No.4 Maryland and No. 23 Georgia Tech and a pair against Virginia, which is receiving votes in the AP poll. Their home date with Virginia is Saturday.

"They know how tough it's going to be," coach Sue Semrau said. "But in a way, that's a good thing; they'll go at it with a sense of urgency. It's not a ticket that's guaranteed."

But the Seminoles have some added confidence these days. The team is as strong in numbers as it has been in a season plagued by suspensions to three key players (Alysha Harvin, Tanae Davis-Cain and Angel Gray), all of whom are now back, and the loss of another standout to academic ineligibility (Britany Miller). FSU also enters today's game against Miami riding a two-game winning streak.

"Those two wins were huge," Williams said of last week's games against Wake Forest and Clemson. "And knowing we have our players back now gives us a little more momentum going into the rest of our games in conference."

OLD FACES RETURN: Bill Shults, a former swim coach and later an assistant compliance director, was announced Wednesday as the replacement for Mark Meleney as the director of academic support as the school remakes that office in wake of an academic misconduct scandal involving dozens of student-athletes, interim athletic director Bill Proctor said.

Shults had been at Florida International for about a year and at UConn for nearly a decade before, where he worked in compliance but also closely with academic support.

Former linebacker Lamont Green also returns as an academic adviser for the football program. He had been teaching an exceptional student class. Mary Wright, a learning specialist in FIU's student-athlete academic center, was also named as a new addition to work with the tutors.

GAME SET: As expected, the Seminoles will play Colorado in Jacksonville on Sept.27, which likely will be their fourth game after home games against Division I-AA opponents Western Carolina and Chattanooga, not necessarily in that order, and an ACC opponent. For information about the Colorado game, send an e-mail to gba@gatorbowl.com

ALL-STAR EXPOSURE: Defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, hampered by injuries most of last season, and deep snapper Garrison Sanborn (Jesuit High) will have a chance to show their pro potential during practices this week in Mobile, Ala., and the Senior Bowl on Saturday. Both are on the South team. The game is at 3 p.m. on the NFL Network.

Sanborn and offensive linemen Jacky Claude and Shannon Boatman are also set to play in the second annual Texas vs. the Nation game Feb.2 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

REDSHIRT PLANNED: Basketball coach Leonard Hamilton said the school probably will apply for a medical redshirt for heralded freshman center Solomon Alabi, who had surgery on his right leg last month.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347.