Leonard's Corner

The ball bounced just right for the eighth-ranked Florida Gators Friday night. UF beat Florida State 58-57 when Tim Pickett's last-second trey bounced off the back of the rim before a capacity crowd of 12,060 at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Here are coach Leonard Hamilton's comments following the game. "You always try to analyze the last few seconds of a game but in reality, there were a lot of bounces that went the other way that could have probably made the difference," he said.

Here are coach Leonard Hamilton's comments following the game.

"We got beat by a team that played just a little bit better than we did tonight. So you have to give Florida a lot of credit. They did a nice job defensively against us. There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding our offensive scheme. A lot of it was because our kids are just adjusting to what we are asking them to do and the adjustment we are trying to make on things they are just not accustomed to. When you play an outstanding team like Florida, and when you are not as cohesive as you would like to be, it's not a real good situation to be in. But I am proud of the fact that our guys, they never quit and they kept fighting back through the mistakes that we made. You have to give Florida credit for their defensive effort - I am sure they had a lot to do with it. You never like to lose a game, and God knows I don't ever want to accept a moral victory, but the unfortunate thing or the fortunate thing about college basketball, you don't have a whole lot of time to have a pity party. Because we have to move on and get ready for a game we play in a short number of hours (Sunday at home against Miami), so hopefully we can take something from this game, learn from it and be a better basketball team down the road."

Talk about your defensive intensity, to hold Florida to just 58 points.

"Florida has been known to score a lot of points. They are a very good offensive team and they put up a lot of baskets. Our guys did a tremendous effort tonight, and it's going to take that kind of effort to contain a team that scores points as rapidly as the Gators. I thought (Matt) Bonner did a tremendous job. He hit tough shots. He hit several shots late, and he was very well defended and he came up with big plays. I also thought they made timely baskets. Maybe we might have defended them, but when they had to have a basket, they knocked it in."

Talk about the last shot by Tim Pickett.

"We know Tim is very capable and he's going to be a very fine player for us as we move throughout the year. Under the circumstances, it was a contested shot, but it was about as good a shot as you are going to get and I probably would just assume have him taking that shot than somebody else taking a lay-up because he has been very consistent in practice. He hasn't shot as well in the game as he will later on in the season as he becomes a little more relaxed in our system. But he had a good look. Unfortunately, it came up a little short. You always try to analyze the last few seconds of a game but in reality, there were a lot of bounces that went the other way that could have probably made the difference. There were several opportunities for us to get defensive rebounds but the ball just seemed to bounce a little long and it was out of our reach there late. But that's what happens when you play against a good team. I just hope that before too long people put us in that category."

Did you see some growth from your team?<

"Well, our guys have grown with each opportunity. I think most people who have seen us play realize we started out a little shaky in the first exhibition game and we still aren't even close to reaching our potential because we are still learning each other. Still learning our system. I hope that's encouraging as we continue to move forward, we will continue to improve. Hopefully that will result in more victories."

What was the turning point tonight?

"I am not one... I am going to have to go back and watch the film. I think some coaches come in and they have that analytical mind where they can break a game down in slow motion. There were just so many things that happened during the course of the game. The one thing I can point to is we have to become a more cohesive team. We have to become more in sync with one another in our system. We made a lot of adjustments but we were not quite as cohesive, but the only way you are going to improve in those areas is to continue to keep working and improving. It takes time to improve in some of those areas. Probably the turning point was when I took the job and I realized I was going to play a tough schedule and we are not quite as ready to play as we will be in maybe a few more weeks (laughing)."

How do you get more offense out of some other guys beside Pickett?

"I am not real sure I totally agree with you. I think we are who we are and what we are. We have our strengths and we have our weaknesses. There are a lot of things I think you will see us in areas where you will see us improve on as the season goes on. For instance, Mike Joiner has been our leading scorer. I think you have to give Florida a little credit defensively. They did a nice job defending him. I am not real sure. ... Nate Johnson has been a pretty good consistent shooter, but he had some miscues. But that's going to happen. I am not real sure I am ready to point any fingers or say we will not improve offensively. You have to give Florida a little credit for doing a nice job in being prepared and taking some things away from us."

You had a sellout crowd. What do you think this does for the team?

"Obviously, I like to think the perception is out there that we are representative of people wanting to come in and watch us play. And I am persistent with this. Most important thing for us is to go out and play consistent night in and night out. We want to try to get a little better tomorrow morning in our practice session. We have to continue to keep getting better. We can't always control how many people are in the stands. What we can control is how we go out and represents ourselves. If we represent ourselves in the proper way, I am sure people will want to come and watch us play. But we need to continue to keep getting better so we can win. We just don't want be happy with a one-point loss. We have to accomplish something and I think this team is determined to do that."

You have a short turnaround against a team (Miami on Sunday) that you coached a few years ago. What our your thoughts?

"It's like playing in the NCAA Tournament. You don't have a whole lot of time to rest. This is a tremendous opportunity for our guys. We have to get some rest, we have to eat properly, we got to be focused, and we have to come in without a whole lot of preparation and be prepared. That's the name of the game."

Will this be special for you Sunday?

"I am not going to say it's special. The thing I like about it, it's a good team and we have another opportunity to move our program forward. I am not going to get caught up in all that other stuff. I respect the University of Miami. They have an outstanding coach. They have a good team. And it's an opportunity for us. If I have a chance to visit with some of those kids and the coaching staff, I will. But once the game goes up, I am sure they want to win as bad as we do. That's the kind of the way this thing goes. You don't allow yourself to get caught up in what has happened in the past. This is now. We are looking forward to this opportunity."


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