Hoop it Up

Looking fit, lean and relaxed, FSU junior forward Michael Joiner sat down with TheTerritory to chat about the upcoming basketball season under first-year coach Leonard Hamilton. Individual workouts have started for the Seminoles and Joiner, who returns as the team's most experienced player and leader in seven career categories, has embraced the new era with a new look. He has shed more than 10 pounds and cut off his trademark braids. "It's a rebirth. I just feel great about things," he said.

With a new coach in charge in Leonard Hamilton, does it feel like a rebirth of the basketball program here at FSU?

"That's the feeling I really believe is circulating throughout the whole basketball facility and people working there. It's a new thing (feeling). I call it a renaissance period. I joke around and call it a renaissance period, but everything feels new. It's more demanding but it's what we need. The returning guys, we haven't been through this as much. The intense workouts. The new guys coming in there, their heads are spinning but they are doing what's expected. Everybody is pulling their weight. It's fun. At the end of the day, we feel like we've been through hell, but it's like, 'Whew, wow, it's happening now.' "

Michael Joiner
Michael Joiner is excited about the future of Seminole basketball.
The past two years have been extremely difficult for this program, as well as yourself. What do you take from those two seasons?

"You build on the positives. Like today, Adam Waleskowski and I are down there doing the post group stuff but we are also doing guard stuff. We can take that a long way because we are guys who can play inside and outside. Bring all that together - we are doing our part and they are doing their part. It's fun to see the creation we got. It's unbelievable."

What have been your impressions of coach Hamilton?

"First impression, a hard-nosed guy. Hard worker. First meeting him, it seemed like he was mean. He showed no expression whatsoever. Now that I am getting to know him, I still feel the same way but I know a different side of him. He cares for you. He wants you to do your best out on the court. You know the boundary between coach and player. He tells you straight up - this is what I want and this is what I expect from you. With him looking at me this year, I guess he wants me to be a leader. He's always telling me to watch my actions because other guys are looking at me."

What do you think your role will be on this team?

"Probably 3-4 (player). When you look at the sheet (lineup), you will probably see Joiner is probably playing a four (strong forward). But they tell me I will be all over the floor. Kind of like a (Mike) Dunleavy type of style, he was all over the floor. That suits my style. They also told me coming into this offense, don't be a player set on a position. You are a player who can play all over the court. You can shoot. You can handle the ball, this and that. They are polishing my skills in every aspect. I am versatile player. I thank coach (Steve) Robinson for letting play down low, even though I had my objections at first. But I have that experience to play down low and I know how to play outside. I am learning the college way of playing outside now."

Coach Hamilton has said he wants athletic players on the court.

"Yes. When you see Waleskowski and I, we match each other equally. He's left-handed, I am right-handed. He's versatile. He can shoot the three. We both can do that. And Trevor Harvey is a real athletic guy. Running the floor. And Mike Mathews is a real athletic guy. Our guards, all those guys are athletic. Like Anthony Richardson and our new guys, Tim Pickett and a Nate Johnson. They are all athletic."

Last year you came in with far more bulk. You appear to have slimmed down.

"Last year I really focused on lifting because coach Robinson told me I needed to lift weights and get bigger. It took me a while to get used to it, because going up 40 pounds and trying to run with that it took me a while to get used to that. I played at 240. I am trying to get down to 215. I will probably get down to 225. Coach (Hamilton) said I will be a threat if I can get down to 215 and as strong as I am. I condition every morning at 6 a.m. Running at 6 a.m. on the treadmill. Our new strength coach takes us through a lot of cardio work. It's really helping me. I always try to play pickup also. I try to keep myself running. I am down around 230. I came in as a freshman around 200 or 205."

Plus, you cut your hair.

"It's a new thing (laughing). It's a new period. It's a rebirth. I just feel great about things. I feel real positive right now, real optimistic about the season. Nothing about the (hair) braids, but I want all my attention on basketball and my grades. All that extra stuff. I can always go my hair back."

You also seem much more relaxed this season. Happier.

"People say that to me all the time. You look positive. You look different. You walk around with a different glow. Coming out of high school, I never lost that many games. I can count many nights my roommate and I lost sleep over the losses. We had no answers. I thank God he answered my prayers that we have a new system in, a new style. It's good. I am ready for the season to start."

Talk about coach Hamilton's defensive style.

"I think the thing the people are going to see this year is that it's more of a team effort. That's how basketball is supposed to be. It's not just one man's fault if somebody's scores. It's everybody's fault. For instance, the guy guard the ball on the wing has to be able to have his hands up so the man in the post can get around and front the man. It's a team effort. That's why I really like it. Coach really emphasizes teamwork."

Talk about the new basketball facility.

"I love it. Twenty-four hour access if you want. It's our own gym. Nothing against the Moore Center, it was really for the football players. If it rained, the would go into the gym. This is our gym - the men's and women's teams. It's a basketball-oriented place. A nice lounge area. Florida State just showed us they have confidence in the program. I think that's what we really needed, to see the school really cared. I really appreciate it. I like it."

You sound like you want to do your part to help this program get pointed back in the right direction.

"Even if we don't win a national championship while I am here, as long as it's a stepping stone for players who follow me. I will be happy to come back and hear how Florida State won a national championship and to know I was part of that tradition, the Leonard Hamilton era. That would be a great feeling."


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