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Semrau looks to develop depth as FSU begins practice

The Florida State women’s basketball team opened practice on Tuesday afternoon with the Marching Chiefs playing for the team as is ceremonial on day 1 for the program. Sue Semrau’s dad was a band director and she has made the tradition one to connect the Marching Chiefs with the players.

FSU went 10-9 last season and returns the core of the roster, including by Morgan Jones, Bianca Jackson, Kourtney Weber, Valencia Myers, Sammie Puisis, Sara Bejedi, Tiana England and River Baldwin. The Osceola will have more on FSU women’s basketball in October leading up to the season opener against North Florida on Nov. 9. 

Semrau posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning that her mom remains cancer-free. Here are some highlights of Semrau’s conversation with the media:

On returning to the job and appreciating assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff filling in as interim: “Brooke did such a fantastic job, preparing them when they were younger, and now it’s just different in the sense of they know what they’re supposed to do. … I’m really speechless when I think about what she did. I don’t know that I could have done that and maintained sanity. And she did it in her first head coaching stint. So to have her stay was such a gift to me and I want to make sure that as I re-enter the atmosphere if you will that she still has that same level of authority with the responsibility that she has. And so in a lot of ways I kind of think of us as co-head coaches this year.”

On the wealth of experience, especially seniors, can the preseason be used to develop depth: “I really hope to have it. I believe that they all are very hungry and eager to be on the floor and so they’re going to have to play different roles in order to do that and I’m going to have to be able to adjust the coaching style to use all of that depth and all of the individual talents they have. So I’m glad we have a full preseason under our belt so that we could establish some fundamentals and now we got to take a look at what we can do offensively and defensively that can utilize all their talents.”

On what forward Erin Howard brings to the program after sitting out last season due to injury: “I think she’ll be huge, just the ability that she has to shoot the ball, to defend, she’s got a great basketball IQ, she’s got experience at this level. We didn’t have that last year. Sammie was having to play the 4 spot (power forward) and that’s not her normal spot, her body’s not built for that. So I think it’s also is great for Sammie to be able to move back to that more traditional wing spot.”

On senior star Morgan Jones: “I came back and I just kept saying to her, ‘Where’s Morgan Jones? I don’t recognize you.’ She is so much more skilled. In that I mean handling the ball off the dribble, being able to come off ball screens, being able to make the right reads, being able to pass the ball. Defensively, she’s always been long, athletic and done a lot of stuff for us, but she knows where to be, how to get there, great basketball IQ now. Honestly, she’s I think the Most Improved Player. Her and Valencia, I think, are the two most improved players from a year ago.”

On the freshman class: “They’ve got the best attitudes I think I could ever expect in freshmen, they want to learn very badly. Their feet are in mud sometimes, because they’re thinking so much. They get frustrated because they don’t know enough. But you would never see the frustration on the court. And I love that.” Semrau noted that O’Mariah Gordon has had offseason surgery on her heel bone.

On her emotions about being back on the court with the full team: “I’m a little nervous for today. I’ve been out on the court with them. But I’ve stepped back and I just have this anxiety of wanting to be so much better than I ever was. And I’ve got to step back and realize that’s not what this group needs. You know, this group has had great coaches this last year, and now I just need to come in and come in alongside and try to see if I can help.”