Monday, April 23, 2018
Sports

FSU plays Minnesota in NIT semifinal

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State has never won a national postseason tournament. The Seminoles have played in nine consecutive tournaments, including four straight NCAA appearances and five in the NIT — each has ended in a loss.

Playing in this year's NIT was a letdown for a team with NCAA tournament aspirations. The Seminoles (22-13) ended up as the top seed in the NIT and are in the semifinals for the first time since 1997. They face No. 1 seed Minnesota (23-13) tonight.

"You don't ever want to say 'backs against the wall,' but we got in a situation where we wanted to finish the season strong, wanted to have the opportunity to participate in a postseason tournament regardless," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We're playing with more sense of urgency, we're focused.

"We have a lot of room for improvement, but I think we can all visually see that the body language is different, the effort, intensity, their communication on the court is different."

FSU has been known for its defense under Hamilton, but opponents averaged nearly 75 points each game during a 3-7 ACC slump in January and February. Neither Hamilton nor the players can pinpoint exactly what changed. A sophomore-dominated roster matured and Aaron Thomas evolved into the most consistent scorer. The effort and aggressiveness seemed to increase and the 71.1 points per game are the most since 2007-08.

The Seminoles have won seven of their last nine, allowing just under 70 points per game.

"There is no room for error," said forward Okaro White, a former Clearwater High standout. "We're just trying to make the most of this opportunity."

White grew up in New York before leaving for Clearwater. His memories of Madison Square Garden are limited.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I went there as a real young kid. But since I've grown up I haven't been there," he said. "I'm just as pumped up as everyone else who never played there before. It's one of the great experiences of your life as a basketball player to play there.

"And to be playing for a championship, that's huge. I've talked to all my teammates. Coming to New York, period, is huge."

The Seminoles lost to the Gophers 71-61 in early December. Minnesota finished seventh in the Big Ten.

"We're a totally different team from how we were back then," guard Ian Miller said. "We're in it, so might as well win it."

Comments
Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

Lightning has answer for Devils and David Puddy

You knew those who work the scoreboard for the Lightning games at Amalie Arena would have an answer Saturday during Game 5 to the Devils using David Puddy during Game 4 at the Prudential Center. Puddy meets Homer Simpson. Actually, Puddy met Terry ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets.The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Monda...
Updated: 3 hours ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Jimmy Butler leads Timberwolves against team he loved

Jimmy Butler leads Timberwolves against team he loved

MINNEAPOLIS — All-Star forward Jimmy Butler comes across as the proudest former resident in the history of tiny Tomball, Texas. What he doesn't advertise in his Twitter biography, but also doesn't dispute, is that he grew up dreaming of becomin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rick Stroudís takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroudís takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Mondayís sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosIndyCar: Grand Prix of AlabamanoonNBCSNBaseballAutosIndyCar: Grand Prix of AlabamanoonNBCSNTwins at Yankees7 p.m.ESPNMarlins at Dodgers10 p.m.FSFCollege softballTennessee at Alabama7 p.m.SECLouisville at Florida State7 p.m.ESPNUNBA playoffs...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Raysí Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Raysí Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Updated: 11 hours ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Published: 04/22/18