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Veteran-fueled ‘Noles open preseason camp

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Three seniors who are potential All-ACC players. Three more who were McDonald’s All-Americans in the last two recruiting classes.

The Florida State women’s basketball team has an ideal blend of veterans with experience and newcomers with potential. There are talented guards and post players. Add in that the Seminoles didn’t have a senior last year, so the entire roster is back. 

It’s no secret why the preseason rankings have projected FSU at No. 11 in the nation and among the ACC’s top teams.

“It’s an expectation that we do have every year,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “But it really doesn’t matter whether we’re ranked in the top 15 or top three in the ACC or picked to win. It’s only what we do between the lines that matters.”

FSU opened preseason practice on Tuesday and has more than a month before the exhibition game on Oct. 27 against Florida Southern, a warm up for the first non-conference game on Nov. 5 against Charleston Southern.

The Seminoles have put together seven straight 20-win seasons and have been one of the ACC’s top programs in the last five years, winning 62 of 80 games in league play. FSU is one of just four ACC schools – Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse – that have won 10 or more ACC games in each of the last five years.

Depth has been a concern in past years and could have been better if guard Izabela Nicoletti (knee) had not been lost for the majority of this season (and perhaps all of it) with an offseason injury. Say Say Lassiter (knee) also was lost in the last few weeks to injury.

Semrau thinks that Amaya Brown, who suffered a knee injury last January, could be back to practice in November.

“You feel a bit snake bit,” Semrau said. “I think a lot of people are researching, ‘Why is this happening more and more to younger players?’ And I would like to know the answer. We’ve obviously implemented some new techniques to try to help them earlier. But it’s always happened with our freshmen. I don’t know how much more we can do about it, but we will continue to try to find the solutions.”

But FSU is loaded with talent, from 5-foot-9 senior guards Nicki Ekhomu (15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists) and Nausia Woolfolk (13.7 points) to senior forward Kiah Gillespie (team-leading 16.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in 2018-19).

Valencia Myers, a 6-3 forward and McDonald’s All-American who showed a glimpse of her talent as a freshman last season, could take on an expanded role. FSU also brought in two McDonald’s All-Americans in 6-1 guard/forward Sammie Puisis and 6-5 center River Baldwin.

“They came so prepared,” Semrau said. “I really have to compliment their coaches because they’re smart. They work at a great tempo. We’ve thrown a lot at them, and they’ve been able to adjust very quickly.”

The Seminoles return a quality supporting cast, which includes Morgan Jones, Savannah Wilkinson and Kourtney Weber. It’s a roster that even without some of the injured guards should still be very entertaining and among the best in the ACC.

Noteworthy: Semrau is doubtful that forward Iho Lopez returns this season due to complications from a scooter accident a year ago.

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