Preview: A closer look at FSU women’s hoops in 2020-21

A prolonged offseason got a little longer with the cancellation of Florida State’s opener against Florida A&M. But the FSU women’s basketball team quickly turned its attention to Sunday’s opener against Florida — before that was postponed and now quickly rescheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m.

FSU will have a very different look in 2020-21 with productive seniors Kiah Gillespie, Nausia Woolfolk and Nicki Ekhomu moving on to pro basketball. The Seminoles have a returning core with experience as well as an influx of transfers.

“Just looking forward to seeing them go out there and just get after it,” interim head coach Brooke Wyckoff said. “They’re hungry. They’ve been hungry since this summer. They’ve been hungry since they got back on campus in the fall. … I really want to us to have a strong showing defensively. that’s going to be huge in this game. Florida has some really good attackers, experienced, good guards on the perimeter. Our defense has to be our rock. And rebounding.”

FSU will also be showing three- and four-guard lineups to accentuate the strength of the roster. The Seminoles will likely start South Carolina transfer Bianca Jackson at the point guard spot as well as a mix of returning guards like Morgan Jones and Sammie Puisis.

“We definitely will be going smaller a lot,” Wyckoff said. “It’s a great weapon for us because we do have so many versatile, bigger guards that can play and defend a mid-size post player. And a lot of other teams go small. It’s kind of the way basketball is going as it is. It’s nice to be able to have that versatility defensively and offensively.”

Here’s a closer look at the Seminoles:

Interim head coach: Brooke Wyckoff (0-0 career, FSU assistant since 2011-12 season)

Season opener: Tuesday vs. Florida at 6 p.m. at Donald L. Tucker Center, live stream on ACC Network Extra.

Returning leaders: Morgan Jones (5.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Valencia Myers (5.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg), River Baldwin (5.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Sammie Puisis (5.5 ppg, 39 percent 3-point range, 2.3 rpg), Kourtney Weber (4.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg).

Projected starting lineup: Jones, Weber, Puisis, Myers and Bianca Jackson.

Injury update: Tiana England and Erin Howard have not been medically cleared, although it’s possible they won’t miss that many games. Amaya Brown will miss the season as she continues her rehabilitation after knee surgery.

Bench: Baldwin, London Clarkson, Izabela Nicoletti, Sayawni Lassiter and Savannah Wilkinson are among those who could off the bench.

Strengths: FSU is loaded with guards — eight on the 12-woman roster (not counting Brown, who is injured). Wyckoff will likely go with a three-guard lineup that will help accentuate the diverse talents. England started 93 games for St. John’s and is more than just a distributor, bringing a 9.9-point average to FSU. Jackson could be a productive scorer if her history is an indicator (she scored 20 vs. UConn in Feb. 2018 and scored in double figures in the 2018 NCAA Tournament). Jones should be the glue that keeps the team going. While not having the experience of playing together, this would be a lineup with a wealth of experience and most of the starters would have three or more college seasons under their belt.

Weaknesses: There will be early growing pains for a team that loses Kiah Gillespie, Nausia Woolfolk and Nicki Ekhomu, which accounted for nearly 45 points per game combined. It will take time for chemistry to build between the group of returning players as well as the transfers. FSU’s frontcourt is limited to just Baldwin (a center) and three forwards (Howard, Myers and Savannah Wilkinson). Injuries in the frontcourt could be a concern as will opponents who may opt to go big against FSU.