In Tallahassee, coach Pat Kennedy is enduring a greenhouse effect of sorts. Each year the heat goes up a few degrees on his program. This fall, 5,000 people came to the Leon County Civic Center for the opening practice, as opposed to 2,500 last year and 500 in 1986. But after back-to-back 19-11 seasons, the Seminoles should be able to beat the heat, as well as most of the competition in the resurgent Metro Conference. Florida State sustained five defeats last season by three points or fewer, and it fell to Iowa by only four in the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles lost only 4.8 points and 2.9 rebounds to graduation. "Right now the challenge is there for us to prove we can take that next big step," Kennedy says.
George McCloud, a 6'6" senior guard, will point the way. He has shed his reputation for spotty shooting; he made 45.3% of his shots from three-point range and averaged 18.2 points a game last season. He has also shed 15 pounds since 1986. "He's got outstanding discipline on the court," says Kennedy, "and in the food line." Most of the time, McCloud will be feeding center Tat Hunter and forward Tony Dawson, the Seminoles' dominant inside player, who averaged 17.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. One new arrival will be no stranger to great expectations: Irving Thomas, Joe B. Hall's final recruit at Kentucky. Kennedy told Thomas, "You can't prove everything to everybody in the world in one day." No, but you can prove a lot in a season.