So far this season, the Florida State women’s basketball team looks to be ahead of schedule.
The Seminoles began the season with minimal expectations after losing five starters off last year’s team and were picked to finish eighth in the ACC by the coaches before the season began.
They haven’t let that stop them so far as they finished non-conference play Saturday with a 12-1 record and have played their way into a No. 23 ranking this week.
This hardly has the Seminoles satisfied.
“We’re definitely happy with the progress that we’ve made. We’re on an upward stride, but better never ends,” sophomore Savannah Wilkinson said.
“We want more so we’re making sure we go hard every single day so we can achieve what we personally want to achieve.”
Asked about the team’s record after non-conference play, head coach Sue Semrau said, “What record? We’re 0-0. Going into ACC play, that has to serve as preparation, but it’s nothing to rest on.”
While FSU has passed nearly every test so far this season, the degree of difficulty is about to ramp up as conference play begins.
The ACC is set to be as challenging as ever with two top-five teams in No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Louisville, another top-10 team in No. 9 North Carolina State and No. 14 Syracuse.
It will be an extremely tough test for a talented, but still young FSU team.
“We’ve talked about it a lot. We’ve talked about it since the beginning,” Semrau said.
“They’re going to help each other and that’s really the main thing. It’s not about going in there by yourself. It’s about going in there as a unit and being the best we can be.”
For this year’s team, experience in ACC play is limited. Of the nine healthy players that see the floor for the Seminoles, only two in juniors Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk have taken on significant roles in ACC games before this season.
Even FSU’s leading scorer Kiah Gillespie — averaging 18.1 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game this season — has yet to play in an ACC game.
“The main thing that I noticed last year is you have to be switched on every second of the play because the ACC is so quick,” Wilkinson said.
“You just have to make sure you’re in the game, fully focused, every second of the play. I think that’s what we have to drill into our freshmen and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the Seminoles will begin ACC play away from home.
FSU’s conference slate begins Thursday at Virginia (6-7) and continues on the road Sunday at North Carolina (9-5).
“I think we have grown in so many areas and we’re excited about being tested and we’re going to be extremely tested with the ACC, especially starting on the road,” Semrau said.
“You have to have a little bit different mentality on the road, knowing your toughness level has to rise. I think it’s good. We’ll open anywhere.”
Added redshirt freshman Sayawni Lassiter, “I think it’ll be good for us just to know what we’re getting into off the bat and know what we’re getting into as far as ACC, knowing that the ACC is a tough conference.
“I think being on the road and getting tested early will be good for us down the road.”
No. 23 Florida State at Virginia
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virginia
TV/Radio: WatchESPN (Online)/106.1 FM