FSU, Galloway off to 8-1 start

Fattening up on cupcakes, Seminoles and Baltimore senior now brace for league test

Acc Notebook

December 28, 2005|By PAUL MCMULLEN | PAUL MCMULLEN,SUN REPORTER

Florida State's 8-1 start, tarnished only by a foul-filled loss at No. 5 Florida, can be approached from two directions.

Outsiders will notice that the Seminoles have played the weakest schedule in the Atlantic Coast Conference, laden with cupcakes like Alcorn State, Texas Southern, Stetson and Campbell, and assume that another nondescript bunch in Tallahassee will finish below .500 in league play for the 13th straight season.

Insiders will claim that coach Leonard Hamilton finally has enough athletes to push the pace, that the conference is wide open past No. 1 Duke, and that Florida State has a chance to get to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998.

Todd Galloway, the Baltimorean who runs the point for the Seminoles, isn't making any predictions after experiencing just 14 conference wins in his first three college seasons, but knows that his team is more upbeat because it's playing more up-tempo.

"Last year, there were issues that kept us from being successful," Galloway said. "Everyone didn't know the plays, and some guys weren't in the best shape. Now, the older guys know more and the freshmen have learned quicker. I know where everyone is going to be, and that improved knowledge all around makes my job easier.

"We've got some quickness, and Coach Hamilton wants us to get up and down the floor. When we get into transition, that's definitely more to my liking."

Galloway, a 5-foot-11 senior, is averaging career highs of 8.7 points and 3.6 assists, and is third in the conference in steals. He was made a tri-captain in November, the first time in his four seasons as the Seminoles' coach that Hamilton felt anyone was worthy of that distinction. He plays no favorites with his lineup, as 11 players have averaged between 21.9 and 12.3 minutes.

Von Wafer, who has played just 13 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, was the top point-getter for Florida State last season, when it was the second-lowest scoring team in the ACC. Now only Maryland exceeds the Seminoles' scoring average of 83.9 points per game, and they lead the conference in scoring margin. After having the worst turnover margin in the conference last season, FSU is tops in that category.

Galloway, who needs just one elective course next semester to get his degree in the social sciences, took a circuitous route to get to Florida State. He started for St. Frances, transferred to City and spent a year at a prep school. A decent run in the ACC, NIT or, better yet, NCAA tournament will make him the Seminoles' all-time leader in games played.

Hamilton, who went to Tallahassee off a forgetful stint as the Washington Wizards coach, had his greatest success as a college coach at Miami, which went to the Sweet 16 in 2000. That team was also led by a Baltimorean, Johnny Hemsley.

Rocky trap

For all of the notice given the rebuilding job at North Carolina, Georgia Tech is nearly as young, as none of the players who figured prominently in the Yellow Jackets' run to the 2004 NCAA final remain in Atlanta. Paul Hewitt is getting good mileage out of his sophomore class, as Jeremis Smith leads the ACC in rebounding and is the team's No. 2 scorer after Anthony Morrow.

Georgia Tech had better be prepared to play at a slower pace tonight, when it visits Air Force. The Yellow Jackets allow more points than anyone else in the league, and Air Force has been among the national leaders in scoring defense since it went to the Princeton offense.

The ACC had a 13-0 record against Mountain West teams until Miami lost to Air Force last month.

Tap-ins

On Saturday, Boston College goes to Rhode Island, where Al Skinner coached for nine seasons before taking over the Eagles in 1997. . . . North Carolina also has a trap game coming: Davidson goes to Chapel Hill on Tuesday. The Wildcats have won or shared a divisional title in the Southern Conference each of the past four years. ... With unbeaten Clemson getting votes, seven of the league's 12 teams are mentioned in this week's Associated Press poll. The Tigers are the ACC's only unbeaten team besides Duke.

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

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