Well, after stunning the Blue Devils at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center, the Seminoles still finished last in the Atlantic Coast Conference and coach Steve Robinson was fired. Enter Leonard Hamilton, who has the Seminoles believing they can win consistently and make a difference in the ACC.
Monday's thrilling 75-70 victory over the fifth-ranked Blue Devils before a boisterous crowd of 10,008 just might be that signature victory – as long as FSU builds on that effort. Off today, the Seminoles return to practice Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's road game at North Carolina. The contest marks the second lap around the league for FSU (11-8, 2-6), which moved out of the ACC's basement in front of Clemson with the win.
"This is two different teams," said Richardson, who scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor against Duke.
"This is a whole lot different because this team is a lot more hungry. We've been waiting for the wins. We've been working hard. We've been losing close ones – we are not getting blown out like last year. We are going to build on this. We are going to practice Tuesday and work hard. We aren't going to have any let ups. We have North Carolina, so we have to work even harder."
As the buzzer sounded Monday, hundreds of students rushed the court, mobbed players, screamed with glee and even tried to cut down nets. They had plenty to cheer about and plenty of heroes to hug. No one showed more confidence in the waning moments than freshman point guard Todd Galloway, who scored eight of his 13 points in the final six minutes. He also delivered the game's biggest defensive stop, forcing junior point guard Chris Duhon into a turnover with six seconds remaining with FSU protecting a 73-70 lead.
"Coach told us before the game that we had to back them up by driving at them, making them respect that threat of going to the hole," Galloway said. "Dribble-penetrate, that made them back up off us a little bit."
FSU never trailed after taking a lead six minutes into the first half. Equally amazing, it was the Seminoles showing the poise in the pressure-filled final minutes. The Seminoles won the game in the final three minutes. Leading just 62-61 with 3:24 left, the Seminoles never allowed Duke to gain advantage on ensuing possessions.
"It was a great victory, just something that's going to be a beginning for us," said guard Tim Pickett, who led FSU with 15 points. "We started slowly this year in the ACC. We are just trying to have a fresh start, because we started so slow, trying to redeem ourselves. We all came together. Everyone gave what they had, and it all added up to one puzzle. And the puzzle added up to a victory, and I love it.
"I just can't even. ... I feel like I am in a dream world right now. I always dreamed about playing against Duke and now we just beat them. It's only the beginning for us because we are an uprising program. I am just loving it now."
Last year, Duke forward Mike Dunleavy pointed out the Seminoles' victory over the Blue Devils would ring hallow if they didn't build on it. Well, FSU never could recapture that momentum. The ‘Noles promise this year can be different.
"Duke is a real good team and you always want to be ahead of them because they know how to build on leads," Richardson said.
"We wanted to have the lead the whole time and them chasing us and, with the home crowd, it was a real good sixth man and we took advantage of it. I rate them as ACC wins, which is very important. The win last year was a lot bigger because we didn't expect it all. They were No. 1 and they had, I think, four All-Americans, all of whom are in the NBA. That was a bigger win. But this is different."
"Everbody felt good warming up (before game)," Pickett said. "I feel like this is just the beginning right now." Added Richardson: "We are trying to get back to where we were at the beginning of the year, and I think our defense showed that tonight. It go back up to where it was."