Florida State players and fans jumped around in celebration as Michael Snaer's 3-point shot fell through the hoop as time expired.
Snaer ran to center court, where he was greeted by teammates in a scene that will be forever remembered in Florida State basketball history. FSU had just upended the No. 4-ranked team in the nation on a floor where Duke had defeated its previous 45 opponents.
However, the expression on coach Leonard Hamilton's face was not representative of those on the faces of Seminole players, or FSU fans everywhere. Rather, it was a face that exemplified poise and confidence as he walked to shake Coach K's hand -- a face that showed this was supposed to happen and he had not been surprised by the result.
Hamilton appeared unmoved in his postgame press conference, and it was due to the realization that there is much work that remains.
Still, Hamilton wanted his players to enjoy this victory and soak it up as much as possible. They had just won at Cameron Indoor Stadium, a feat that had not been accomplished by any other road team since February 2009 and had been achieved by only one other FSU team in school history.
Nonetheless, the ‘Noles are just a third of the way through their ACC schedule, and there are no gimmes in this league. Most of the remaining 11 ACC games may seem like a walk in the park compared to this past road test in Durham. But as FSU has proven, an upset can occur at any moment.
It would be natural for the Seminoles to be riding high at this particular time. In one week, Florida State has managed to defeat two top-five opponents and leaped back into the AP Top 25 (No. 23). In order to maintain a level head, FSU will follow the demeanor of its leader.
That leader being Hamilton.
"Once Coach came in and kind of calmed us all down, we realized this is another great win," senior guard Luke Loucks said Saturday. "But we've got to keep stacking them on top of each other and keep riding this momentum."
That momentum will only continue if the ‘Noles are able to defeat a Wake Forest team Wednesday that has struggled to find itself. The Demon Deacons are losers of three of their past four but are coming off an impressive defensive effort against Boston College. C.J. Harris and Travis McKie are the scoring leaders on this squad and can provide problems for the Seminoles defense.
However, Florida State appears to have found itself on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The Seminoles are playing their best ball of the season and aware of the threats that every ACC team may pose. FSU understands how quickly a season can turn, and it hopes this year continues in a positive direction.
"A few weeks ago, everybody had given us up for dead," said Hamilton. "That is part of the business that we're in. Now, we're talking about what a great week it was. I'm keeping it in perspective. I'm gonna enjoy this, then we're going to go right back and start preparing for Wake Forest."
Not getting too high or too low is imperative to success in sports. A win is great, but a loss isn't the end of the world either. Hamilton understands this, and that is precisely the reason why his facial expressions rarely change.
Matt Ritter is the basketball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a graduate student in Media Communication Studies at Florida State.
Hamilton's poise to keep FSU grounded
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