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Cummings starts to settle into starring role

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2001


For much of the season, Florida State junior guard Monte Cummings was uncomfortable and uncertain.

Cummings, an All-American last season at Southeastern (Iowa) Community College who led the team to a junior college national championship, was struggling with his role as a men's basketball reserve.

"I played like I was kind of nervous, and I was waiting to see who was going to do what on the team," he said.

Coach Steve Robinson provided a reassuring answer.

"He just told me I needed to relax and play my game," Cummings said. "He said sometimes I have to step up and take charge. He's given me the chance to do that, the opportunity for more playing time, and everything's been working out okay except for the win column."

Although the Seminoles continue to struggle entering tonight's game against Clemson, Cummings has been coming of age. In the past six games, he has averaged 16.0 points on 58.6 percent shooting from the floor and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line to go with 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

"Watching tape preparing for the game (Saturday), we knew he was going to be a problem for us to guard," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "He's great off the dribble and an excellent offensive rebounder."

Cummings also is showing a deft touch on his medium-range jumper. He hit two against Tech and finished 6-of-6 from the floor in the 77-68 loss. He is sure the best is yet to come.

"I have a lot of confidence, and my team has a lot of confidence in me," he said. "I'm just going to get out there work hard and do what's best for the team."

A HOMECOMING: The women's basketball game at No. 15 Xavier on Thursday offers more than a tough non-conference opponent. It's a personal challenge for star senior Brooke Wyckoff, who is from nearby West Chester, Ohio, and seriously considered attending the Cincinnati school.

"It's pretty big just in terms of this being my one and only chance in four years to go home and play in front of friends and family who have never seen me play college basketball," she said.

She will have an audience, too.

Her high school split into Lakota East and Lakota West, and the girls teams were supposed to play that night. They moved the game to Monday so folks (including Wyckoff's sister Jaime, who plays for East and is heading to Xavier next year) could see Wyckoff.

"We felt like it was something we had to do," said Lakota East coach Cindy Feltman, Wyckoff's coach and, coincidentally, an Xavier graduate. "Brooke's one of the most tremendous athletes to come out of our school, male or female. I originally ordered 60 tickets, and they were gone the first day. We'll probably have well over 100 tickets."

OPENING DAY: The softball team, which enjoyed its best post-season run since 1993 last season and is No. 17 in the preseason USA Today/NFCA poll, opens Saturday with a doubleheader at Georgia Southern.

The baseball team, ranked No. 7 by Baseball America and No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball, begins its quest for another World Series berth Saturday against visiting Western Kentucky.

- Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. He can be reached at (813) 226-3347 or by e-mail at landman@sptimes.com.

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