Coaches Corner: No. 8 Florida State

Inside Carolina attended ACC Operation Basketball last weekend. In the second of a nine-part feature which will roll out a new team every day, <i>IC</i>'s Tommy Ashley has transcribed the comments of Florida State head coach Steve Robinson. The Seminoles were picked No. 8 in the conference by the media.

On Nigel Dixon and him getting up and down the floor better and losing weight.

"I think Nigel has lost weight. He is getting up and down the floor better. I think that his stamina is certainly a lot better as far as an ability to maintain that. How quickly can he recover to get back out there is one of those big things. Nigel had a great summer. It's not even close compared to the first two summers that he spent in Tallahassee. I thought he worked fairly hard then but he showed some signs of maturity. I've always said for Nigel Dixon to lose weight is going to be something other than me to help him do that because I can't control when we goes back to his room and what he eats or when or whatever. But, it would be something that when Nigel makes his decision that it is an important enough for him (to do); good things would happen for him. I think he did that over the course of the summer."

What does he weigh now?

"Nigel's about 335 maybe last time we weighed him. When you think about it, since he's gotten to campus, he's probably lost close to a 100 pounds. That's a huge amount."

Talk about the importance of having Anthony Richardson to be able to play this season.

"Well, I think Anthony certainly gives us a boost. It certainly doesn't hurt us to have positive things happen and Anthony was one that we spent a lot of time with through the recruiting process and after it was over. Constantly reminding people that we wouldn't know a decision, or the decision wasn't going to be made until the end of the summer. It happened that way and I think that it showed that our efforts and putting forth the effort in the young man and believing in that young man that we felt like he would have a chance to get himself in position to be eligible to play. We were rewarded for that and he was rewarded for that. He worked hard. It wasn't easy and he put forth effort to do that. Now, I think when you start talking a young man having a chance to contribute and play on our team, I think he'll have some opportunities to do that based upon what we have been able to see in practice."

What do you expect from him (Richardson)?

"What do I expect from him? I expect him to be kind of typical freshman. I think he'll make some good plays. I think he'll make some plays and you go "gosh". But I think the young man has the talent. I think he's very athletic. I think that he works hard and I think we are certainly going to give him some opportunities on the floor. I think he possesses some things that with time, he'll be better."

Talk about holding the team together through the tough times. How do you see the team dealing with that?

"We played better down the stretch and it's certainly evidenced by when you look at our last four or five games of the season. I thought we were playing better basketball. We were right there in some of those games. We weren't able to get over the hump in some of them. I just want the guys to believe. You have got to work and you have got to keep working and I tell them, "Guys, we've got to come in and do the best job we can every day". Now, my hope is we'll take that and try to build on it coming into the start of this season. I like what I have seen in practice. We have been very competitive. The guys have worked hard There is more balance in our competition. Sometimes, the experienced guys may win out because of the experience, but I think sometimes the younger guys close the gap a little bit because of ability. I think that is the fun part for this basketball team. I look at it and I see a number of different options, a number of different ways that we could go and hopefully a number of different ways we could play."

How you think you will judge progress? Is it wins? Is it being more competitive in certain games? Any idea how you might look at improvement over last beyond wins and losses?

"I think continuing to be more competitive. Showing that we have a better understanding of the game and how to play the game and what we should be doing as a team. I have always felt that our guys were going to play hard and should play hard. They will play hard and they want to play hard. You hope that now you combine that with guys that have a better understanding this season than last year. Last season, I felt we just didn't have an understanding. We were a young basketball team. A lot of young players in key parts and I didn't feel like we always grasped what we should be doing at the right time. I think it was pretty evident, the schedule was pretty tough at the beginning and we didn't get off to a start where guys were making the plays that they needed to. Sometimes that stuff kind of snowballs on you. But, we just didn't let it keep rolling; we stopped it at times and kind of got back into a groove. It just so happened that it came more later than it did early. But we played better basketball and had a better semblance of how we should be playing, how we should be executing and things we should be doing."

Do you see them grasping some of the little things now at the outset that before, they just didn't understand?

"I do. I look at it like, just from take it from an individual player prospect. You've got a Michael Joiner that's playing as a freshman a lot of minutes. And, he had to play a lot of minutes. He's out there on the floor, whether he was doing the right or probably doing the wrong thing, he was out there on the court. You take Mike Matthews who's coming in a playing. Well, Mike Matthews hasn't played in year. He had to sit out a year so he's trying figure it out. Down the stretch, Mike Matthews was playing better. Michael Joiner was playing better. I use those two guys as an example because it was their first two years playing basketball. Monte Cummings comes in and he plays and he scores over 11 points a game for us and it's his first year at Florida State. Here's another guy that is a first year player that kind of at time, picked and chose how to play. He was a better player in the ACC competition than he was in the first part of the season.

"Well, in that non-conference schedule, some of the damage was already done. So now, we are fighting through trying to recover from that and get back to ‘hey, we are playing better basketball like we know we are capable of playing'. And now, we just try to see if we can figure out a way to get us playing at a level that we were playing at toward the end of the season. But, let's be realistic, teams at the end of the season and teams at the beginning of the season; there's a difference. You hope that you can grow and we have got to grow fast. Try to grow as quick as we can and get to that point as quickly as we possibly can."

Talk a little bit about Delvon (Arrington). He came into FSU as a partial. He worked and kind of debunked the myth and now he's a senior with his fifth year…

"The only thing you didn't say in that whole thing was that he was a college graduate. That was my whole point. Every time Delvon steps on TV and he plays the game of basketball, what's the first thing they are going to say? Well, last year, they called him Partial Qualifier Delvon Arrington…. (Wait, I didn't finish- Laughter)…. I'm sorry, but I had to cut you off to get my point across (laughter). But here's the thing. Delvon Arrington is now a fifth year player and Delvon Arrington is now a college graduate.

"You know, if I'm a mother somewhere and that's my son, that's what I want. That's what I want for my son, to say that that young man had a chance to graduate despite all those people that once said, "Why's Florida State taking all those partial qualifiers?" or "Why's the ACC letting those partial qualifiers in?" He's (Arrington) exactly the reason why. Here's a young man that graduates in FOUR years and I can look around the table and say how many of you guys graduated in four years? Some of us may not have gotten it and still played college basketball.

"Well, he did those things. That's why I say that's what it's all about. There's a reason celebrate because here's a guy that has graduated in four years and now you have got to call him, when you talk about or write about him, you put in there college graduate Delvon Arrington. I think that's a reason for him to celebrate, his mom to celebrate. They should be happy because there are not a lot of guys that are playing college basketball today that can still graduate. Now, we are not talking about coming back for a fifth year and graduating, we are talking about graduating in FOUR and still have a chance to play."

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