Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State women's basketball team celebrated on Tuesday for a couple of reasons. It was the official start of practice and Morgan Toles was celebrating her 22nd birthday.
You can only assume Toles made the same wish every player wishes for this season: a return to the NCAA tournament. The Lady 'Noles missed March Madness last season for the first time since 2004.
But not only did they miss the tournament, they had to watch four other teams play in it on their home court at the Civic Center.
"It makes us sick and it's that hunger that drives us and I think the hungry lion hunts best.," Head Coach Sue Semrau said.
Nine players return for the Lady 'Noles and they add freshman guard Jakelle King-Gilchrist and junior college guard Yashira Delgado.
"Right now we're just trying to get familiar with a new offense and we completely changed the way we play defense," said Alexa Deluzio, a senior guard.
"We have got to be a more up-tempo team. We have got to be more aggressive on the defensive end of the floor," Semrau said.
FSU loses size with the 6'4" forward Cierra Bravard graduating.
"Chelsea's [Davis] stepping in and filling those shoes, as well," said Chasity Clayton, a senior forward. "On my part, I just definitely have to lead the team."
It's a responsibility all the seniors are embracing.
"When we got here it was a winning culture, Elite Eight, Sweet Sixteens," Deluzio said. "And so I think for us to bring that culture back."