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March 17, 2009

Seminoles' Douglas reaches new heights

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

Florida State has only one player averaging at least 10 points per game, but that didn't stop the Seminoles from reaching the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game for the first time in history.

Toney Douglas' ability to lead the Seminoles to new heights has helped him take over as the No. 1 point guard in the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Douglas has averaged 21.3 points per game one-tenth of a point behind ACC scoring leader Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina while also playing well enough on the other end of the floor to be named the ACC's defensive player of the year. No other player on Florida State's roster is averaging more than 8.5 points per game.

"He's my favorite non-Duke player in the country," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I love that guy. I talk about him to a lot of our guys. They're probably mad at me. He's as good as there is in college."

Douglas has carried Florida State to its first NCAA tournament bid since 1998 by scoring at least 17 points in 22 consecutive games. He averaged 26.7 points in the ACC tournament.

"I think Toney is the poster child for hard work and dedication and the old adage that basketball players are made in the summer," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said after Douglas' 27-point performance in an ACC semifinal upset of top-ranked North Carolina. "When you take as many shots as he did during the summer in the gym by yourself, you have a certain level of confidence that when you get an open look, you feel like it is going in. Many times, I had come into the office early in the morning and Toney would have already gotten 500 shots up, then come back in the afternoon and [gotten] 400 more shots up.

"He has supreme confidence, and we have supreme confidence in him that if we get him into the position, then something good is going to happen. That's why we have so much confidence in him, because he has so much confidence in himself."

Douglas moved ahead of North Carolina's Ty Lawson, who sat out the ACC tournament with an injured big right toe. Lawson edged Douglas in the ACC player of the year voting last week.

Florida State's run in the ACC tournament ended Sunday with a 79-69 loss to Duke in the championship game. The Blue Devils' Gerald Henderson scored 27 points against the Seminoles to regain his status as the nation's No. 1 small forward.

Henderson moved ahead of Pittsburgh's Sam Young, who scored 15 points in a Big East quarterfinal loss to West Virginia. Henderson averaged 24.3 points in Duke's three victories over Florida State this season.

"They do try to get on me and make me drive," Henderson said after the ACC championship game. "At the same [time], we ended up using a lot of ball screens with [Florida State center Solomon] Alabi to try to make him guard off of it also. Today, specifically, I was able to get my jump shot off of that, and shots were falling."

The power rankings also featured a change atop the rankings at shooting guard.

LSU's Marcus Thornton replaced Jodie Meeks as the No. 1 shooting guard after outperforming the Kentucky star Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Thornton shot 8-for-17 and scored 21 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists, two turnovers and two steals in LSU's 67-58 victory over Kentucky. Meeks shot 3-for-9 and collected eight points, three rebounds, three assists and five turnovers.

The conference tournaments also had an impact on the coach rankings.

Memphis captured its fourth consecutive Conference USA tournament title to help John Calipari take the No. 1 spot from Kansas' Bill Self, whose team lost to Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Calipari's team won its three Conference USA tournament games by an average margin of 20 points. Memphis owns an NCAA-leading 25-game winning streak.

At least a few people were able to maintain their positions atop the power rankings.

Tyreke Evans compiled 18 points, five rebounds, six assists and three blocks in Memphis' 64-39 Conference USA championship game victory over Tulsa to remain the nation's No. 1 freshman. Oklahoma's Blake Griffin stayed atop the power forward rankings, while Hansbrough continued to lead the way at center.

This represents the last regular-season edition of the power rankings before we take a break for the NCAA tournament. The final edition of the power rankings will be released after the Final Four.

The power rankings of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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