Leonard Hamilton Q&A

Florida State men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton spoke with the media following his squad's thrilling 80-79 victory over Georgia Tech Thursday night. The following is a transcript of the conversation that took place.

Opening statement: "I thought our players stayed focused after about the first eight or nine minutes. (They) really put themselves in a frame of mind where they understood we had to grind it out. This was not going to be one of those easy victories (or) an easy game, period. We just didn't seem to get in a rhythm. I thought that Georgia Tech did a very good job of keeping us off rhythm by being patient on offense and then they started knocking down 3's. It's always interesting when we have our coaches meetings and I've said every time that it seems it's against so many teams that have to have their best night against us. They were in situations where they did not want to lose their eighth game in a row and we had played a couple of other teams that seemed to have their backs against the wall. We've been getting everyone's best shot.

"I thought that in the first half we didn't come out with the same fire and focus that you have to have to play against people at this level. But, I thought that when we had to have stops, when we had to get the rebounds and when we had to get the baskets, I thought that our players stepped up. There was a period of time on the bench there when I thought that our players really came together as a team. Even though Al (Thornton) probably didn't have one of his better games and fouled out they really pulled themselves together and pushed each other and seemed to exhibit a lot of determination. I hope this was a sign of us growing up because we were down by a large margin with nine minutes to go and our players stayed focused and positive during that whole stretch and put ourselves in position where we had a chance to win the game. I am hoping this was a learning experience and a growing experience for us because we certainly needed this victory tonight."

Q: Can you just talk about the defensive play at the end of the game?

A: Jason's play at the end of game was big but when I look back at the game and see the forced turnovers ? Ralph's play at half court, Zeke's (Isaiah Swann) deflection, the big steal he got at half court, Todd (Galloway) came in and pressured the ball very well. We had not done a particular good job on their perimeter shooters but we contested shots there down the stretch. They had outrebounded us but we went and got those rebounds when we had to. It was a game where I thought that we weren't quite as sharp in certain areas but when we had to have the stops and make big plays, I thought everybody stepped up."

Q: Can you talk about the 3-point shot that Andrew Wilson made at the end of the game?

A: "This was a very big game for us and I think our players realize that we have three seniors on this team that this is their last time around. We want something positive to happen for them during their stay at Florida State. For him, having an opportunity to hit that shot - hopefully when we look back at the end of the season ? we realize how important that shot was. He has been asked to do a lot of things. The thing we have to do as a team is get him more looks. He's an unselfish player and we have to find a way to get him more involved and create more opportunities for him. We have a guy shooting 56 percent from 3-point range and we are not giving him enough opportunities. As a staff and as a team, we have to be a little more conscious of that because whenever he gets good looks, he's pretty much going to knock them down."

Q: As a defensive guy, does it mean that much more to you that you were able to stand strong on defense and win the game in the closing minute that way?

A: "We have not been consistent with our field-goal percentage defense this year for whatever reason. We are teaching the same system, the same philosophy. It just seems that teams in our league have got really good shooters and they are spacing the floor and there are doing a very good job of executing. We are going to have to get a little better with our defensive effort. But, the thing I am most proud of was when we had to have the stops, I thought our guys stepped up and made the plays. That shows that we are capable and we just have to be persistent with them."

Q: When you look at the stat sheet and see you still won despite being dominated in almost every category, what does it tell you as a coach?

A: "When you look at what's going on in the ACC this year, I think that probably would be a comment used on the majority of the games being played. There is not rhyme or reason. This is a rock 'em sock 'em year. I think that it's going to be very difficult to use any statistics to justify what's going on. That's just the nature. In my opinion, that should be real exciting for basketball fans ? not very good for a coach. You go into every game not realizing what's going to happen. We've just to make sure that we are fundamentally sound and we don't do anything to hurt ourselves. We have to be prepared mentally as a team to understand that every night you play; you've got to come with your 'A' game. Georgia Tech came with their 'A' game tonight."


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