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For FSU, success without fanfare

Coach Leonard Hamilton, directing an upset of Notre Dame, says he has not used FSU’s underdog status as motivation. But guard Derwin Kitchen describes “a chip on our shoulder.’’

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Coach Leonard Hamilton, directing an upset of Notre Dame, says he has not used FSU’s underdog status as motivation. But guard Derwin Kitchen describes “a chip on our shoulder.’’

Tonight

No. 10 FSU vs. No. 11 VCU, 9:57, Southwest Region semifinal, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas TV: TBS Radio: 1040-AM, 1010-AM

Tonight's other region semifinals

East: No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Marquette, 7:15, Ch. 10, 1010-AM

S'west: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 12 Richmond, 7:27, TBS

East: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Kentucky, 9:45, Ch. 10, 1010-AM

Thursday

S'east: No. 2 Florida 83, No. 3 BYU 74, OT

West: No. 3 Connecticut 74, No. 2 San Diego State 67

S'east: No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Butler, late

West: No. 1 Duke vs. No. 5 Arizona, late

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Outside one locker room stood a half-dozen camera operators all standing in a line, holding their equipment and waiting to retrieve the latest sound bite or video clip.

Around a corner and down the hallway in the Alamodome, another locker room. No crowd outside. Just a lonely police officer standing guard.

The first scene surrounded the Virginia Commonwealth locker room Thursday afternoon. And the second: Florida State's.

If the Seminoles (23-10) feel overlooked in the Carolina-centric ACC, they might not feel all that much more appreciated here, where tonight (9:57, TBS) they play VCU (26-11) in a Southwest Region semifinal.

VCU and Richmond have become the darlings of the Southwest Region — if not the NCAA Tournament. Kansas, the region's other team, is a title favorite with a national following.

And then there's Florida State, seeded 10th in the Southwest and making its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1993.

The Seminoles are too much a brand, perhaps, to be considered a Cinderella. And yet they're often overlooked for what they've done in recent years — three consecutive third-place ACC finishes — to be taken too seriously.

"We're kind of like the beautiful girl and the guy that wants to date us is looking for all our warts before he decides he wants to go out with us," FSU assistant coach Stan Jones said. "We have had a very good three-year run here, and Coach (Leonard) Hamilton is very, very humble.

"He's not a guy that's out there trying to get every microphone in his mouth and get on every TV show that he can."

Hamilton has patiently developed a consistent winner, yet the journey required patience — from university administrators and fans, from players. From Hamilton and his staff.

Even so, now that the Seminoles are here, they still feel a need to prove themselves.

"We know that a lot of people think that VCU can beat us," sophomore guard Michael Snaer said. "Well that's okay. People can keep doubting us all they want. We made it this far without anybody believing. They can say we're the 16th-best team in the Sweet 16. That's fine. We'll be the eighth-best team in the Elite Eight and then the fourth-best team in the Final Four."

Hamilton this week dismissed the notion that he might have used his team's underdog status as a motivator. But senior guard Derwin Kitchen said "we definitely had a chip on our shoulder" when the tournament began.

In the first game, against Texas A&M, the Seminoles defense excelled against a grinding, slow-it-down offense. Against Notre Dame, the defense shined against one of the best shooting teams in the country.

FSU now plays another offense that's completely unlike one it has faced in the tournament. VCU likes to force a quick pace that contrasts to that of the Seminoles, whose offense at times has been undone by turnovers and poor shooting.

It wasn't long ago, just two years, that the Seminoles had finally broken through and snapped an 11-year NCAA Tournament drought. And now this.

"It's something that not a lot of people appreciate," said guard Luke Loucks, a former Clearwater High standout. "But we know what we've done since we've been here."

For FSU, success without fanfare 03/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 7:14pm]
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