Didn't see the game myself. Not yet anyway. I have it on tape. Probably should burn it, but I won't. Read a whole lot about it though. The highlights included an 18 to zippo run to start the game. A 31 to a not so lucky 7 at the 9:34 mark that saw the Maryland Terrapins crank it up to a 32-point lead at one point.
Maryland shot 53% from the floor while the Seminoles could only manage a 34% shooting touch. The 89-62 trouncing was obviously uglier than the face on that dog of that team that beat FSU in the Sugar Bowl.
Due to a concert tour I committed to with the venues being spaced about the state, I spent last Saturday around game time traveling about the highways and byways of south Florida. Specifically Ft. Lauderdale. Coincidently the last time I had to miss a game doing what I do best in the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida State was busy looking like a middle school JV team while in the process of being obliterated by North Carolina State on Senior Day in Tallahassee.
You may recall the non-effort. Seniors Ron Hale, Damous Anderson, Oliver Simmons, and Justin Mott combined for a collective scoring binge of 18 points. Our best shooter, Ron Hale, had 50 points! Minus that five preceding the zero. That one I did not watch upon my return to the homestead (not to be confused with that town down there in the Miami area).
Perhaps this is a clear signal that I should avoid Ft. Lauderdale on game days. Hey, if only someone would pay me to sit at home and do that, consider it done. Nah, it's too much fun up there on the stage.
But, this loss is a little different than that 70-51 loss on March 5, 2000. First, two of those four seniors could not wait to get out of Tallahassee. And it was a team that had two seasons of playing together and still played like rubbish against a struggling Wolfpack team. Saturday was game thirteen in a new regime utilizing five new starters and suffering without one of its best defenders.
Leonard Hamilton says it frequently. "We are who we are." That "who" has a ways to go. That's obvious. And interesting I didn't see much of the bemoaning on the message boards that usually followed games like this in the past. Well, maybe some.
That brings me to this. As I said, here I was on the road. The driver missed yet another turn thinking I-75 and I-95 actually connect in F. Lauderdale somewhere and there we were in Miami. Me, I didn't pay much attention as the sun is now coming in the right side of the car instead of the left.. I listened to the Miami/UConn basketball game.
If you didn't catch the details, Darius Rice nailed a three-pointer with two seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Hurricanes eventually lost by three to the third ranked Huskies, 83-80. Miami fell to a 7-6 record. That's still an above .500 7-6 record.
As just about every Seminole fan knows, Miami lost earlier in the season to FSU by quite a large margin, 72-55. And of course, Florida State is not to be confused with UConn. Yet.
So, as the driver realized that the skyline of Miami resembled nothing of the skyline of Ft. Lauderdale, I stayed tuned to the local sports talk show that came on after the game was over. Now we know about sports talk call-in shows. Everyone who has an opinion can readily express that opinion over the airwaves and make it sound like fact. But, I could not help but continue to listen to this show.
Talk about bemoaning. You would have thought that the Miami Hurricane program was on the verge of collapse. And the main target of that alleged collapse was Miami head coach Perry Clark. I'm not a fan of Perry. I wonder what he is attempting to do on the court sometimes. He's had some success though and Leonard pushed his friend to be his successor when Leonard went to discover just what's it like to coach in the NBA these days.
Callers one after another just trashed Clark. His recruiting was questioned. His ability to coach the team was questioned. The fall of the program in all aspects … yup, blamed on Perry. Listening to this for about an hour you would have thought the Hurricanes had a record 0 and 127 and had no prospects for winning any game in their next 127 contests. This coming off a three-point overtime loss to the number three team in the country. Such is sports talk radio.
But, there was one theme constantly popping up that caught my ear. It was either something along the lines of "if Hamilton was still here, this program would be still heading in the right direction versus the downward direction it is now headed" or (and my personal favorite) "Hamilton is going to have Florida State contending with Duke in a few years". "Hamilton is going to get good recruits up there." Things like that.
It was that way with just about every call and the host included. Hamilton it was said time and again is going to turn that Florida State team around and have them competing with the best of them. At least in the minds of those fans anyway that is how it is going to be for the Seminoles in a few years.
Will Hamilton do to the FSU program what others with far less passion for the Noles' think he will do? Who knows? Success for the FSU basketball team has been erratic with little pockets of national attention scattered over the decades. It's always been a tough job keeping that momentum going for any sustained length of time.
But then there is that demeanor of Hamilton. And there are those quotes. "We've been here before. We won't be here too long. We'll right this ship and we'll get it where it needs to be." Quotes like that.
It could be said that is just coach speak. All coaches say that. And pretty much that is true. Now stand in front of the man sometime and listen and watch him say things like that. First of all, you can't ever really say when something is going to turn around, but he isn't going to be saying things like that for very long. Second, the demeanor and conviction coupled with that stare when he says something like that is enough to you out of your Keds' canvas high tops.
The man isn't kidding around. He isn't paying lip service. And lookout to anyone that says he won't or can't get it done. That is not in the man's vocabulary. That is being painfully felt in Miami right now. They know what they had and they know what they lost when Leonard answered that telephone call from Michael Jordan.
Games like last Saturday happen. They are going to happen again I guarantee you. After a recruiting class or two, they aren't going to happen very often.