Atlantic Coast Conference Operation Basketball

Wednesday October 25, 2017

Leonard Hamilton

Florida State Seminoles

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Leonard Hamilton from Florida State.

Q. Just what you could say about the importance last season of divvying up minutes with the guys you had to build that experience that you could take into this year knowing that you had that freshman class that's going to need some tutelage and experience?
COACH HAMILTON: No doubt we had that in mind last year. We have seven guys returning who I believe played about 10 minutes or more. So I think we have enough experience returning.

The guys who came off the bench with -- they call themselves the Boom Squad -- they were instrumental in every game that we played. The challenge for us is to make sure that the new players that we've added to our team will be just as helpful and be able to contribute as much as the guys did last year.

I like this team. I feel like we have enough talent. The only challenge, the biggest challenge we have to overcome is the experience, the lack of experience.

But our guys are working very hard. Their attitudes are great. They're extremely competitive. And I feel that they have something to prove, that we can come back and have another great year like we did last year.

Q. It's been a while since last season. I can't remember exactly, was it an 11-man rotation or did you use 12? And what were the pluses and minuses of it? And do you have enough depth to do that again?
COACH HAMILTON: Most of the time we probably played 11 and 12 players in the first 10 minutes of just about every game.

We did have a full rotation. We got guys a lot of playing time, a lot of experience. Jonathan Isaac was sixth pick in the draft. He played 26 minutes. So the type of system that we utilize we feel like we have to have a very, a big rotation.

I expect the same thing to be happening this year. I expect to have similar quality of depth. We win games by committee. Our guys understand who we are and how we have to play in order to be competitive. And I feel very confident that we could surprise a lot of people this year.

Q. Your student-athletes this morning seemed very excited for the year. When you talk about "by committee," do you have leadership by committee, or does it all fall on the captains every year?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, there's no doubt that sometimes you have more leadership than others. But I do feel that Terance Mann is probably our most veteran player along with Phil Cofer, guys that have been around for a while. In order to be a great leaders you have to have great followers, and we have created a culture where our guys realize that we have to play a certain way with a certain attitude, a certain unselfish spirit in order for us to be successful.

And I feel very confident from a talent standpoint I feel we've replaced the talent, maybe not quite as much as we've got a couple kids playing in the NBA now, but we have improved in some of our skills -- free throw shooting, 3-point shooting. I think we're committed to being a better defensive team.

I think we'll be overall -- we can improve on the tempo. Even though we averaged 82 points a game last year, I think we can improve on that.

Our guys are excited. They believe in themselves. They believe in the system that we're utilizing. I think we're in a nice mental place right now.

Q. Anyone who watched you play last year understands you've got tremendous defensive ability and skill level in every respect. You did lose a lot of scoring. Who is going to put the ball in the basket for this team this year?
COACH HAMILTON: Last year I think we averaged about 23 free throw attempts a game. We were 13th in percentage. I think we are much improved free-throw shooting team.

I didn't think we shot the ball very well from the perimeter last year, at least from the 3-point line. Our percentage was below average. We're a much better perimeter shooting team.

I thought defensively we lacked a little bit. We were not quite where we needed to be. And we've committed ourselves all spring, all summer and into the fall of making sure that we're getting back to that junkyard dog defense that we've been accustomed, known for.

I feel we have all the ingredients in place. I love the attitude and energy and effort our kids are giving now. We feel very confident that we're going to give a full account of ourselves once the season starts.

Q. You mentioned that you may surprise some people this season. Who will surprise people or who on your team will come out and surprise people?
COACH HAMILTON: Once again, I think we'll look different than most teams. We win games by committee. I think we're a better overall shooting team. I think our execution will be improved because now we've had this team on a tour this summer.

I thought we made some progress in those areas. Thank goodness we had our freshmen with us. We have some veterans that are returning that made up the quality of the depth of our team last year that now will be our lead guys and I think they've set the table -- setting the example for the new players that we do have coming in to have a clear understanding of how we need to play.

Right now, like I said earlier, the biggest challenge we have is just the overall experience. But I think we've narrowed that gap with the summer play, the trip that we went on, the 10 extra practices, the three or four extra games we had a chance to play on our tour.

So hopefully we've made enough progress that once we get into the ACC season that we'll be ready to perform.

Q. What can you say about the back court with M.J. Walker, what you think he can be to this team, I know you've seen him through the summer and he's got to have an opportunity out there but just what you've taken away?
COACH HAMILTON: No doubt that M.J. is a very talented youngster. We try not to ever put that level of pressure on incoming freshmen. I do feel the full sum of all after our parts, we have guys that will take the pressure off of him and I think our system gives those guys an opportunity to play off the ball and play to each other.

There's no doubt that he's going to be a major contributor, similar to what Beasley and Baker and Jonathan Isaac was able to do.

But I think the committee approach works better for us, to win games by committee has been the style of ball we've played with the last number of years. And I think that's the kind of system that works best for us.

Q. One team wins the NIT. One team will win the NCAA. So everybody else pretty much will finish the season with a loss. Do you stir on that final game of a season as you go into the offseason?
COACH HAMILTON: We were not a very good perimeter shooting team. And as we got toward the end of the year, people started backing off us because we were very athletic, took the ball to the basket very well.

And we had one of those nights where even though we were not a tremendous shooting team, we didn't shoot the ball well from the perimeter, a team that normally hits very average shooting percentage, shot extremely well. So those things happen when you get into the NCAA Tournament. We've learned from that and we're preparing to not allow that to happen to us again.

Q. Charlotte, your old stomping grounds. Have a chance to reconnect with family or friends while you're here?
COACH HAMILTON: Absolutely not. This is kind of a business trip. I got back in and we get in and get to bed and get up in the morning and start dealing with the ACC Operation Day.

But, no, I have a lot of fond memories grew up in this area. Grew up an ACC fan. I remember watching Bones McKinney and all the other guys from many years ago, Zack Boobas, I watched about every game they played.

Always glued to the TV. I consider it an honor and privilege to have an opportunity to being the head coach of a team that participates in the ACC.

It means an awful lot to me and our staff. We're excited about it. But coming back in this area for this particular event is all business. Hopefully I'll get a chance to get back and get over to Gastonia and hang out with a couple of old buddies and talk a little bit about Gastonia trends, I guess you might say.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #188 at 2017-10-25 18:28:00 GMT

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