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Exhibition will give Noles early view of team’s identity

The Florida State women’s basketball team will hit the court for its first and only exhibition game on Wednesday night, the first look for the coaches at a group of new players. FSU will play host to West Florida at 7 p.m. in a preseason game that will be free for fans to attend.

“The reason that we’ve always liked having an exhibition is just so the first time they ever step out onto the court isn’t going to be something that counts,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “And we want to establish an identity, we want to start to establish who we are. And if you can turn on the lights and have fans in the stands, I think it really does help in a lot of ways.”

Semrau already was able to get an early glimpse at the Seminoles when they played a closed scrimmage against Georgia over the weekend.

“That was a really good test for us,” Semrau said. “And I think it’ll be really nice for our players to not only have had that experience but now get an experience to play in uniform in the Tucker Center. Obviously with three new kids, their first opportunity to do so. And, again, I think everybody’s really anxious to get the season started.”

The Seminoles begin the 2021-22 season on Nov. 9 when they host UNF at 7 p.m. FSU’s first four games in non-conference play are all at home and include Milwaukee (Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.), Jacksonville (Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.) and Grambling State (Nov. 21 at 2 p.m.).

FSU returns nine players from last season as well as Amaya Brown and Erin Howard, both of whom took a medical redshirt in 2020-21. Bianca Jackson (14.1 points), Morgan Jones (12.8 points), Kourtney Weber (11.8 points), Valencia Myers (8.2 points) and Sammie Puisis (6.9 points) lead the Seminoles, who were projected to finish fifth in the ACC in the league’s preseason poll. 

The Seminoles also should have a deeper bench with Sara Bejedi, Tiana England, River Baldwin, Howard and Brown. FSU also brings in O’Mariah Gordon, who was considered the top high school guard in Florida in 2020-21, as well as Mariana Valenzuela and Makayla Timpson.

“There’s a lot of really good pieces, I think we’ve really tried to get some different combinations together,” Semrau said. “We’ve had a lot of kids banged up for really weird reasons. And so they’ve been in and out of practice. We had one player (Howard) that couldn’t scrimmage because she had stepped on an anthill the day before and her foot swole up like crazy. And so she won’t even play in the exhibition game. It’s just stuff like that here and there, bumps and bruises.”

One familiar face FSU will see on Wednesday night is Gabby Brown, a grad student at West Florida who is the sister of FSU guard Brittany Brown (2013-17).

“We talked to Gabby’s parents about this and they were thrilled. Gabby and Brittany’s whole family has been a big part of our Seminole Family,” Semrau added. “I think having her get to play where Brittany played and getting to play at Florida State is really exciting for her. I’m thrilled. She plays just like Brittany — she plays hard all the time, and the fans will enjoy that as well.”