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Rare Road Victory Small Step Forward

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

 

January 31, 2005 TALLAHASSEE — The streak is finally over, salvaging a dubious record — albeit one the ACC does not list officially — that has stood since 1958. Florida State's recent 70-64 victory at N.C. State snapped a 26-game league road losing streak, dating to the Seminoles' 2001 regular-season finale at Clemson. That it came against the Wolfpack, a team that had hung 12 consecutive losses on FSU, made it even more special.

"They've been such a nightmare for us," fifth-year junior guard Andrew Wilson said. "I think they single-handedly kept us out of the NCAA Tournament last year, because they beat us three times."

Florida State's struggles against N.C. State had been mind-boggling, given their relative success against more powerful ACC teams. Since last beating the Wolfpack, the Seminoles had recorded two wins each against North Carolina, Maryland and Duke. Of course, those all came on FSU's home floor.

Senior forward Adam Waleskowski sealed the NCSU victory with eight seconds to play with a pair of free throws, then walked off the floor arm-in-arm with classmate Anthony Richardson and Wilson. Neither Waleskowski nor Richardson, who made his first start in more than a month in front of his hometown Raleigh crowd, had won an ACC road game. Wilson, in fact, is the only player on the FSU roster who was around when the Seminoles knocked off the Tigers 75-63 on March 3, 2001.

The win over the Wolfpack couldn't have come at a better time for FSU, which opened the week by upsetting No. 3 Wake Forest in overtime, only to endure a 32-point drubbing against No. 4 Duke three days later. With the ACC record for consecutive league road losses — unofficially held by Clemson (1954-58) at 30 — fast approaching, the watch was on. Unless the Seminoles could somehow find a way to win at either N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Virginia or Wake Forest, they would have gone into the Feb. 27 game at Clemson on a 30-game slide.

"It was huge from the standpoint of getting that monkey off our back," Wilson said. "We never doubted we had the talent to do it. We just thought it was all mental, and now we finally broke through."

FSU had flirted with ACC road success over the past two seasons under coach Leonard Hamilton, although 18 of those 26 straight setbacks came on his watch. Five of the Seminoles' road losses have come by three points or less during Hamilton's tenure, including a 90-88 overtime defeat at Maryland and a 64-63 setback at Miami this season.

A year ago, the Seminoles fell 90-87 in overtime at Wake Forest and 63-60 at Georgia Tech. North Carolina pulled out a 61-60 win at home two years ago.

Galloway Showing Some Flashes

Few gave junior point guard Todd Galloway much of a chance at retaining his starting job this deep into the season. With heralded freshman Isaiah Swann on board, most expected that Galloway would have his hands full.

Despite some up-and-down moments, the Baltimore native has managed to start 20 consecutive games and finally may have sealed a permanent spot with his recent effort against N.C. State.

Determined to spread the Wolfpack defense in search of one-on-one scoring opportunities, the Seminoles were extremely efficient, in large part because of Galloway's poise and decision-making. In a season-high 34 minutes, he handed out five assists without turning the basketball over, although his scoring was limited to four free throws.

Throughout his FSU career, the 5-10 Galloway has been the team's change-of-pace guard, in large part because he's been ineffective directing the Seminoles in a half-court game. To wit: After scoring a career-high 21 points — seven in overtime — grabbing eight rebounds and contributing four assists (two turnovers) in FSU's 91-83 win over No. 3 Wake Forest, he vanished in the Seminoles' half-court battle against No. 4 Duke.

Galloway played 18 minutes and managed just four points and two assists, as the FSU offense bogged down against the Blue Devils. Hamilton turned to Swann, who contributed a team-high 13 points in 21 minutes.

McHale: Bowden's Worst-Kept Secret

Marshall offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Mark McHale will be introduced as Florida State's new line coach as soon as the Feb. 2 national signing day passes.

The only thing lacking is a formal announcement, which FSU coach Bobby Bowden chose to withhold out of deference to Thundering Herd coach Bob Pruett, an old friend. Bowden was comfortable with allowing McHale to complete his recruiting obligations for the Herd before coming on board in Tallahassee.

Bowden's reasoning for the delay — which he shared only internally — left some FSU administrators shaking their heads in wonderment. Why would he elect to close out the recruiting period with only eight coaches instead of the NCAA allotment of nine?

Perhaps the coach had enough silent commitments to feel confident that his short-handed FSU staff could get the job done. That was plausible, considering that the Seminoles pursued only three offensive linemen in the weeks before signing day. Athletic department insiders insisted that it was merely Bowden's way of doing business, staying true to his word.

Regardless, if the Seminoles come up short on signing day, the fans' outrage will be amplified. Remember, this is a group that hoped for a complete overhaul of the team's offensive staff, even going so far as to e-mail FSU president T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Dave Hart in an attempt to oust offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden.

Though a confidante of the head coach, Wetherell (who was a wide receiver at FSU when Bowden was an assistant at that position in the mid-1960s) publicly has stayed above the fray. However, two sources confirmed that the president was hoping Bowden would make at least a couple of staff changes.

Wetherell went as far as to express his concerns regarding the Seminoles' lack of minority assistant coaches to the hometown (Tallahassee Democrat) newspaper. The forced resignation of African-American line coach Jimmy Heggins in early January left defensive line coach Odell Haggins as the only minority on staff. McHale is white.

In all likelihood, FSU will be the only ACC football team with such an imbalance in 2005. N.C. State had only one African-American coach in 2004, but entering February the Wolfpack still had two coaching vacancies to fill for the upcoming season.

The truth is, FSU first offered the offensive line coach job to former Dallas Cowboys line coach George Warhop, who is black, only to be rebuffed. Contrary to reports that Tennessee Titans assistant George Henshaw was the top choice, that distinction belonged to Warhop all along. Warhop ended up with the San Francisco 49ers.

As it stands, at least internally, no one at FSU is upset about the hiring process. That includes associate athletic director Bob Minnix, the former president of the Black Coaches Association.

Meanwhile, though McHale still was working for the Herd, he did contact FSU line recruits Simon Codrington, Quentin Brown and Matt Hardrick by telephone in the waning stages of the recruiting period. As for McHale's role once he sets foot on campus — that was expected to be Feb. 1 (the eve of national signing day) — Bowden's silence left some questions unanswered.

Though McHale likely will play an integral role in game-planning the offense, FSU fans shouldn't expect him to replace Jeff Bowden in the press box. While McHale held the role of offensive coordinator at Marshall, quarterbacks coach Larry Kueck actually called the plays from the press box on game days. McHale was on the sidelines.