A Florida State event would not be one without Gene Deckerhoff as Master of Ceremonies and Gene was his usual energetic and upbeat personality that always adds a certain excitement to the game or the occasion. Also adding their opening remarks about the past season were Dave Hart and Hamilton. Hamilton was especially pleased with how well his team improved as the season progressed. Having only really begun to evaluate the players last fall was a testament to how hard his team worked in adapting to the new coaching staff's demands.
Shown during dinner was a season highlight video that featured many clips from some great wins (and a few close losses) such as Miami, Iowa, Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and of course Duke. The food was really an afterthought as fans could re-live the many steals by Tim Pickett. Or his 360-degree spin move in the Duke victory (the team still does not know how he did it). Todd Galloway's up and under move in the tournament game versus Wake Forest, or Adam Waleskowski's slam-dunk to seal the win over Duke received nods of approval by the viewers.
A video featuring the highlights of seniors was also shown. There was the rolling into the lane half hook shots of Mike Mathews, many of Trevor Harvey's season high 19 points against Maryland, Marcel Haywood's breakaway baskets versus Virginia, and several steals by Nate Moran. All were well appreciated by the audience.
At the end of the evening each senior was given the opportunity to say one final thing to Seminole fans. Moran said how much he has enjoyed the camaraderie with his teammates and will remember that always. Harvey expressed his appreciation at becoming a member of the Seminole family. Haywood said how much he appreciated the support of the fans and how special that was to him. Mathews closed his comments by saying how he is looking forward to earning his degree this August to regain his fifth year of eligibility and how he is looking forward to playing for Coach Hamilton one more year.
Keynote speaker was local Tallahassee area Reverend Dr. Richard Ledord II. Sounding every bit the fiery preacher, the Louisiana State graduate has become an ardent follower of Florida State. His observations of Hamilton, his staff, and the program were how he can see the determination of this staff. And how the building blocks being put into place by a staff that not only aspires to win an ACC title, but a national championship as well.
Following the awarding of letters to the entire team Hamilton made several special presentations. Relating a story while he was a t Miami, Hamilton told the audience how his Miami team was up by thirty points in a game against Villanova. During the timeout late in the game, he saw no reason to participate in the huddle at that time and instead sat back and enjoyed the cheerleaders and dance squad something he never did because obviously he was in the huddle. Telling assistant Stan Jones after the timeout he didn't know that they had such a good squad of dancers and cheerleaders he said he would not let their contributions go unnoticed. So, FSU's cheerleaders, dance squads well as the student assistants in the office and the equipment managers received special gifts for their contributions to the team.
But, there was one very special presentation that received a rousing standing ovation. For 32 years Gene Granger has been the head equipment manager at Florida State. Five head coaches, one NCAA final, eight NCAA appearances that included Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight appearances and a NIT final also included Granger as the one constant throughout. This past season was his last as he will be retiring from the position. In a brief speech he reflected on his coming to the Seminoles saying when he really had no idea of where his life was going to turn, he just sort of turned to Florida State. And he just sort of stayed. And we're glad he did.
Community Service Awards. Were presented to Michael Joiner and Waleskowski. Hamilton commented that with everything else required of these two individuals they still found time to be active in volunteer activities in the Tallahassee area.
ACC Awards were then presented. Todd Galloway received his Rookie of the Week award for his 12 and 13 points he scored against Virginia and Duke respectively on January 29 and February 2. Pickett received his Player of the Week award and attempted to leave the stage, Deckerhoff stopped him to present him with his ACC All Defensive team honors. Pickett attempted one more exit but had to remain for one more award. His 2nd team All ACC award was the first for any Seminole player since James Collins was named to the 2nd team in 1997.
Then came the presentation of the individual awards to team members. The academic awards were presented first. Orenn Fells received the First Year Academic Achievement Award. The Most Improved Student Athlete Academic Award went to Harvey. Harvey, who not only had to deal with playing for five different head coaches in four years, improved his GPA from 2.5 last year to a 3.5 average this academic year. Haywood, a student majoring in Information Systems, was awarded the Outstanding Student-Athlete Academic Award.
In the category of playing awards, Harvey garnered the Field Goal Percentage Award. His 59% were among the top five in the ACC.
Galloway received three awards. As Deckerhoff pointed out frequently, Galloway, just a freshman, led the team in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage with 39%. He also received the Otto Petty Assists Award leading the team with 3.3 assists per game. Lastly he earned the Sixth Man Award with Hamilton commenting on the special temperament a player needs to handle that role.
Pickett was the big award winner. Leading the team in three statistical categories, something that no one on any other ACC team did this season, he garnered the Free Throw Percentage Award for his 86.5% average. His 5.7 rebounds per game earned him the Dave Cowens Chairman of the Boards Award. The last achievement was the Charlie Ward Outstanding Offensive Player Award in recognition of his 2.8 steals per game, one of the top averages in the nation this past season. He also received the Bob Sura Outstanding Offensive Player Award.
Also receiving awards were Anthony Richardson and Nate Johnson. Richardson was recognized for the countless late nights he was seen working on his game in the practice facility thus earning him the Most Improved Player Award. Hamilton awarded Johnson the Unsung Hero Award. A lot of people like to look at the statistics a player has. But, Hamilton commented on the things that don't show up in boxscores. Things like leadership and knowing the right words to say to teammates at the right time are what earned Johnson the honor.
All in all it was a very enjoyable evening filled with a lot of optimism by the fans, the staff, and the players. Things are looking up. Slowly one piece at a time as Dr, Ledford mentioned.
On the team, the players are currently conducting workouts. Two days a week they meet with the coaches for a grueling go all out sixty-minute session. Three days the team gets together for pick up games.