TALLAHASSEE — There was a time not too long ago when an NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday would be a tense, dreadful day for Florida State players and coaches. Those were stressful, and disappointing, times when FSU was hoping for instead of expecting a bid.
But for the second straight year, the Seminoles on Sunday casually watched the selection show on CBS and waited for their name to appear. They gathered at coach Leonard Hamilton's house. And they didn't have to wait long.
FSU's name showed up at 6:16 p.m. The Seminoles, seeded No. 9 in the West Region, play No. 8 seed Gonzaga at 7 p.m. Friday in Buffalo, N.Y. The winner of that game likely will play top-seeded Syracuse.
Last March, when FSU broke a 10-year NCAA drought, some players were so overcome with emotion they cried when they saw the Seminoles' name appear as a No. 5 seed. There was emotion this time, too, senior forward Ryan Reid said. But it was more reserved. FSU had been here before.
"We're laying a solid foundation," Hamilton said. "And hopefully we can now start building the other parts of the house. I think we have laid the groundwork for a pretty good foundation."
What Hamilton liked best about his players' reaction was how focused they seemed. There was a brief celebratory scene, then it was over. Hamilton described it as a "let's-get-it-done type of attitude."
The Seminoles are eager to play again after a disappointing defeat to North Carolina State last week in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. The Seminoles led throughout the first half but couldn't capitalize on another strong defensive performance, then went cold offensively during the second half.
Hamilton had a simple remedy for his team's offensive woes: make shots. His team made just 38.5 percent of its field goals against the Wolfpack and just 3 of 18 3-pointers.
"It was tough losing to them because we wanted to get back at them," forward Chris Singleton said of the setback to N.C. State, which also defeated the Seminoles in January.
Now FSU moves forward against a team that, like the Seminoles, is attempting to prove that its most recent performance was an aberration.
Gonzaga (26-6) finished atop the West Coast Conference with a 12-2 league record. But the Bulldogs played one of their worst games in an 81-62 defeat against St. Mary's in the conference's tournament championship game.
FSU's preparation began immediately. And it began with Hamilton hoping his team can bounce back from disappointment as it has all season.
"We've played well after we have bumped our heads, so to speak," Hamilton said.