ACC Preview: Florida State

FSU's new coach, Leonard Hamilton, talks to <i>Inside Carolina</i> about the coming season -- his first in Tallahassee.

Can Florida State win big?

I think it's doable and we want it to be sooner than later. Whatever success comes will as a result of those things happening. Whether there are championships or what have you, I think that's pressure that you don't want to put on your team right now. The pressure I want to put on them is making sure every possession of every practice they work at, every possession of defense, every possession of offense, they be better at the end of the day then they were at the beginning.

On the youth across the country and in the ACC

Everybody tells me that but I have never been one to concern myself about other folks. Well, until we get ready to play. Right now, the worst thing I could do is sit around and watch a whole lot of film of what's going on in our league. I know we need to block out, I know we need to defend. I know we need to contest shots to win. I know how we need to move the ball and make good decisions. That won't have any bearing with what's going on at these other schools. I just try to tune everything else out. I try to survive through each day. To be honest with you, I just really looked at my schedule about two weeks. I looked at it and goodness gracious! I didn't know it'd be this tough. (laughter) I said to myself, what in the heck?! But I just tune it out and don't worry about it.

For folks not as familiar with Leonard Hamilton, what do you bring and what can we expect from Florida State?

I think you can expect a team that is going to play extremely hard and be very focused. We are going to play unselfish. Sound fundamentally. Team will come to play every night.

Have you seen that in your team thus far?

Not quite (laughing). But we are moving in that direction. We don't have a choice. Those that will play? They'll play that way. Those that don't, won't play.

How would you like to play?

In a perfect case scenario, I'd probably play nine and possibly ten kids, in a perfect world. That's what I would probably do. Sometimes you may can go with eight but it's hard to play the way I like to play without nine. It really is.

You have two walk-ons right?

I got five walk-ons (laughing). Whether they play or not remains to be seen. Ten scholarships and five walk-ons.

One of the coaches here when asked to describe you, the first thing he said was that you have a good sense of humor.

You didn't know that did you (laughing).

Do you and when does it come out?

You'd have to ask them because I am just myself. I don't know if you can categorize me as a guy with a good sense of humor or whatever. I just try to be consistent. I don't allow some things to get me all bent out of shape like maybe some people [do]. Then maybe there are some things that wear thin on me. Most of the times it's something that has to do with my job. I have the ability to, when I am working, work.

How much more reserve is your persona in front of reporters when you are on TV at Florida State?

I think I have a tendency to wear my feelings and thoughts on my face. My expressions, my mannerisms and my body language. I can't hide how I feel. I'm just who I am. I'm just a basketball coach. I am going to have some days when I am going to be uptight and I am going to have some days when I might not be like that.

Talk about coaching basketball and when you took the year off and now come back.

Well, it's almost like nothing had changed. It was obvious that this is what I do. I am just a ball coach.

What did you enjoy most about that year? Spending time with your family?

It was the first time I had an opportunity to do anything like a normal person. You know have a conversation with my neighbors, just be able to stand out in front of the house and have a conversation. I never had time to do that because I was always leaving early or coming home late. Then when I was getting home I had to hurry up and get something to eat so I could come home and make recruiting calls. I was always going at that pace.

How do you square the fact that you wear your feelings on your face and being in college basketball to when you were in the pros?

I never change. I am who I am when I am. I don't have to change. I am a coach. It's not that big a deal. It's not that big a difference. With my players during the game, I am not as demonstrative as maybe I was when I was younger. Youngsters in many cases are the reflection of the personality of the coach and I try to maintain an even keel and not allow my emotions to get the best of me. In dealing with youngsters, I want them to be at their best all the time regardless of who we are playing and what the circumstances are. I try to reflect that type of demeanor in my communications with them especially during the games. If we are going to have the type of year we want to have, this team is going to require a lot of attention. We have very little room for error. I like this team. I like their attitudes and the fact that not many people think we are supposed to be very good is even more exciting.

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