Nobody dreamed the Florida State Seminoles would get to 18 victories this quickly. In fact, most figured they wouldn't make it at all in their first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Winning 18 games was our goal," coach Pat Kennedy said. "It was like something you put in an envelope before the season and open out of your desk drawer when it's over."
"I thought we'd be struggling to get to 18 wins in the (ACC) tournament, like we did last year (in the Metro tournament)," forward Douglas Edwards said. "It's a tribute to everyone playing so much harder."
Now that they've reached their goal, they can set their sights even higher. With only three regular-season games remaining, then the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, the 16th-ranked Seminoles have an excellent chance of finishing second in the conference and improving their position for a good seed in the NCAA Tournament.
First, FSU (18-6, 10-4) must beat Clemson tonight. It is the Seminoles' last ACC road game of the season, and a victory over the Tigers would put them in position to overtake North Carolina for second place. UNC is 10-2 but plays at FSU next week and finish the season at Duke.
Between FSU's last two conference games is one against DePaul on Sunday in St. Petersburg at the Suncoast Dome. The game will be televised nationally by ABC and will offer an opportunity for more exposure.
Record-setter: Kennedy already has broken the record for road victories by a first-year coach in the ACC with six, passing Duke's Harold Bradley, who had five in 1954. Now Kennedy's going for another: With a victory over Clemson tonight or next week over North Carolina, Kennedy will pass Press Maravich's record of 10 victories by a rookie ACC coach. Maravich did it at North Carolina State during the 1965-66 season.
"Any of these great things that happen are just a tribute to our entire staff and our players," Kennedy said. "It will really help our program down the road. All these things are a bonus to us."
Rookie of the Week: Freshman Bob Sura had 25 points against N.C. State and 13 each in games against Virginia and Georgia Tech and was named the ACC's Rookie of the Week. For the season, Sura is averaging 13 points and 29 minutes per game.
Notes: The Seminoles have been in three one-point games this season _ and have won all three. Charlie Ward has had five or more assists in five of his past seven games. Rodney Dobard's shooting percentage from the field (65.2 percent) is better than his average from the free-throw line (57.8 percent). Five FSU players have scored 25 or more points in a game _ Sam Cassell, Edwards, Dobard, Chuck Graham and Sura.
_ BOB HARIG