Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
Thursday, 9 p.m., R/JP
"Carolina is probably one of the few teams in America that on any given night can have a number of guys that can hurt you on the offensive end. They can have a leading scorer from four or five different spots and they're very athletic, long and play very hard. They're as close to being a complete team as you're going to get." - Leonard Hamilton
"[My players] have a great deal of respect for those [FSU] guys because they beat us last year. I am not concerned about my team not being ready to play against Florida State - I think my team will be ready to play, will be focused and will understand it's a difficult assignment as all ACC games are." -- Roy Williams
First Meeting Vs. UNC: North Carolina took an early lead in the Super Bowl Sunday matchup in Tallahassee, but after four straight FSU three-pointers early in the second half, the Tar Heels were only up 49-48. A Rashad McCants dunk halted the rally and Carolina would outscore FSU 32-12 the rest of the way for an 81-60 final. The Seminoles haven't won since.
Season To Date: Florida State's season has a bookend feel to it. The first month of the season included nightmarish losses to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Florida International. The second month of the season FSU had stunning upsets of Florida and Wake Forest and was a respectable 3-4 in the ACC -- with three of those losses by a combined five points. Since then has pretty much been a disaster, with eight-straight losses squashing any hopes of a postseason at-large berth. There have been some nailbiters against good teams, mainly the two close finishes against Georgia Tech, but overall it's hard to find optimism in the last month of results. "I've been coaching since 1971 and this team has been more puzzling to me than any other team I've been associated with," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said.
Wafer MIA: Von Wafer, an explosive offensive player who put up 30 points in the upset over Wake Forest and remains the team's leading scorer, was held out of the starting lineup and most of the first half in last week's loss to Miami and then played only three second-half minutes Sunday at Clemson. The reason? Coach Hamilton isn't offering any specifics. In those two contests, Wafer averaged only 6.5 points (4-14 FG, 1-9 3pt) in 18 minutes per game. The projected starting lineup for Thursday's game at UNC provided by FSU Sports Info does not include Wafer.
Sophomore Slump: After earning all-ACC Freshman honors last season, there were high hopes this season for Alexander Johnson. After all, he's big, strong and agile -- averaged 9.5 points and 4.2 boards in his first campaign -- and had an impressive 15 points (7-11 FG) and three blocks in last season's upset of North Carolina. But he hasn't taken the expected next step in 2004-05 and has been a non-factor of late, averaging a mere 4.0 points during the eight-game skid (including a woeful 1-for-11 performance at UMass). The fault for FSU's post struggles doesn't solely rely on Johnson's shoulders, though, as heralded JuCo recruit Diego Romero hasn't lived up to expectations either (4.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg).
Projected Starters: 4 Todd Galloway (5-11, 178, G, Jr.) - 5.9 ppg, 3.0 apg 21 Jason Rich (6-3, 185, G, Fr.) – 5.2 ppg 20 Andrew Wilson (6-6, 206, F, Jr.) – 3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg 51 Adam Waleskowski (6-8, 240, F, Sr.) – 8.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg 32 Alexander Johnson (6-10, 250, C, So.) - 7.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg Key Reserves: 22 Von Wafer (6-5, 210, G, So.) – 13.8 ppg, 41% 3pt 12 Al Thornton (6-7, 208, F, So.) – 8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg 3 Isaiah Swann (6-1, 197, G, Fr.) – 5.2 ppg, 2.0 apg 54 Anthony Richardson (6-7, 205, F, Sr.) – 5.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg 25 Diego Romero (6-10, 240, C, Jr.) – 4.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg 10 Ralph Mims (6-2, 200, G, Fr.) – 2.7 ppg
Wafer ... Johnson
Thornton ... Richardson
Waleskowski ... Galloway