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By BRIAN LANDMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001
Florida State women's basketball coach Sue Semrau would like to think the moments before Thursday's showdown against visiting Clemson won't be unusual.
She knows better.
In their home finale, the Seminoles will pause for a few minutes to hand out flowers and plaques to seniors Brooke Wyckoff, Levys Torres, Vanessa Fuchs and Lako Brown.
"Honestly, I'm not going to let myself think about it because there is so much emotion," Semrau said. "I'm saving that for April 8 and our end-of-the-year banquet. What these four have meant to us and to our program I don't think I could encapsulate in an emotional state. They've meant the world -- to me, to our program, to our team."
Wyckoff, who has emerged as FSU's undisputed leader, averages 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Torres, a center and a full-time starter, averages 11.1 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Fuchs and Brown, who along with Wyckoff were part of Semrau's first recruiting class, have been key reserves for a team enjoying unprecedented success in the ACC and bidding to strengthen its NCAA Tournament credentials.
FSU (17-8), which hasn't reached the NCAAs since 1991, has won five straight league games -- a first -- and is second in the ACC (9-5) -- another first. FSU also is on the cusp of the Associated Press poll for the first time since '91.
"Brooke came here not knowing when her hard work would come to fruition, and there's been a lot of firsts here for Florida State basketball in the last month," Semrau said. "That's something that she will always be able to look back on. Levys, Lako and Vanessa, what they've given to the program has spoken volumes for what they've put into it."
Semrau isn't worried that the players' emotions might get the best of them.
"In the past I have been, but we're all pretty focused on the goals we've set," she said. "It will be a good way to honor them in the opening ceremony, but then you go back to it. We've got a basketball game to play; we've got a great team to beat that's coming into Tallahassee."
BUILDING ON A LOSS: Despite a 69-66 last-second loss to Virginia on Saturday, men's basketball coach Steve Robinson said he saw positive signs he hopes will carry over.
"I think we'll learn from that situation," he said. "We've got to learn from that situation."
Soon. The Seminoles head to No. 2 North Carolina on Thursday.
"I think the guys see the positives," he said. "They have grasped hold of what we're trying to do. They've seen the improvement that they've made as players. They've seen the improvement we've made as a basketball team. That's the part that now excites those young men about playing and trying to play hard. We see some growth."
ARMED AND DANGEROUS: Say no more than pitching to explain the softball team's 11-1 start. Entering Tuesday's doubleheader against Mercer, junior righty Leslie Malerich, senior righty Jennifer White-Stokes and freshman lefty Jessica Van Der Linden had allowed a combined nine earned runs in 83 innings for a 0.76 ERA.
"All three of them are throwing really, really well right now," coach JoAnne Graf said. "We're winning some tight ballgames right now, and that's pitching and defense because our hitting is still up and down."
- Contact Seminoles beat writer Brian Landman at (813) 226-3347 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.