Atlantic Coast Conference Operation Basketball

Wednesday October 28, 2015

Leonard Hamilton

Florida State Seminoles

Q. As a coach who loves defense and whose teams have held teams to low shooting percentages and turnovers and blocked shots, do you see the new 30-second rule as helping offense or defense?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, there's a lot of the rules changes that we've made that's created a lot of uncertainty in most coaches' eyes at this particular point. I think that it's obvious that whoever is making suggestions on all the rules are trying to merge us into more of the international play, the NBA play, even though we're still considered amateurs.

But I do believe that the jury is still out as to what effect it's going to have on the game. We're not going to change very much of what we've done in the past. We might try to pick up a little bit and try to make teams use a little more clock coming across half court, but we think our defense has always been fairly effective.

I think now we have more quality depth where we can sustain our energy for longer periods of time. That will make a big difference in how we played the last couple years. I think it still remains to be seen with the way we're calling the game. I'm not really sure the 30-second clock will have as much effect as the lack of hand checking, highly officiating in the post, some of the things that are included in the overall package that we're now initiating the change of how the game is being officiated will make as much of a difference as losing five seconds.

Q. Do you think this is the first step of many coming down the line when it comes to format changing for men's college basketball?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, I think what we've gotten into is so many changes all at one time without giving us an opportunity to experiment with them or even see them coming so we could get a general idea of what adjustments we should make in order to be successful.

You know, this is a new era, and we all are a little concerned right now. Sometimes we've always had maybe one rule change, but we have a lot of emphasis that we have changed this particular year, to the point where now you're putting the game really in the officials' hands a little bit more. It's a really big change in how we're guarding the ball out on the perimeter, how we're guarding in on the post, and just really, really interested to see what really effect it's going to have on shortening the game is what I understand that we're trying to do, and the freedom of movement that we are trying to emphasize now.

I'm not real sure that -- I'm not real sure what effect it's going to have, and I think we all need to just wait and see.

Q. We had your student-athletes in here earlier. Xavier Rathan-Mayes, you could see in his eyes, you could see it in his body language that he's really elevating, evolving as a student-athlete, as a player. Your evaluation on him going into his second year?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, I think we put him in a very difficult situation last year as a first-year player. We didn't have the availability of our leading scorer, Aaron Thomas, and so he really did have an opportunity to kind of grow as point guards normally have to grow with distributing the ball, creating for his teammates because he was called upon probably a lot more than we had planned to be our leading scorer.

Now we have a different team than what we had last year. We have some youngsters that are coming in that I think are very, very talented that gives him a little bit more of an opportunity to be a facilitator, distribute the ball, to show the other parts of his game. The challenge for us is to see how quickly we can mesh the veterans that we have returning. We have five seniors on our team along with we have five new players that are just joining our team, along with a couple of sophomores and a junior.

So I like the position that we're in. We have high-character kids that have tremendous work ethic. They're gym rats. They spend an awful lot of time honing their skills. This team has potential. How fast we are able to mesh and put it together remains to be seen. But I think I'm extremely encouraged that for the most part whenever we've had the quality of depth where we can sustain our effort for long periods of time, I think we've been fairly effective.

Looking back at last year and the last game we played against Virginia that we lost in the ACC Tournament, I don't believe we substituted a guard the entire second half, and those types of situations in the ACC is not very good. You need to be able to keep people fresh so you can sustain your effort in order to be effective.

Q. So if you've got 25 rule changes and if you've got a new personality of kids on the team, how hard is it for the coaching staff to take all that in within a relatively short amount of time through preseason to get ready for a November 13-14 start?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, what we've tried to do is not allow it to be a distraction at all. We haven't really talked -- we've developed a system and a style of play that we think will work. We haven't tried to bog them down a whole lot with the rules.

We've had two real-live scrimmages with officials officiating the game, and I must say it didn't speed the game up. It kind of slowed it up a little bit. They shot an awful lot of free throws. There was a lot of touch-me-not tough calls, setting screens. We've gotten a call on just about every screen that we've set. So I think our guys are adjusting. We just don't want it to be something in their head where they think that it's a detriment for them during the game. We are going to start emphasizing a little bit more as we move closer to the start of play.

I am encouraged, though, and we always try to emphasize not putting our hands on people and fouling. Our defensive play in the post has been somewhat different. We like to front the post where a lot of guys like to play behind and push you out. So I'm hoping that our style of play will be less affected by the changing of the rules.

Q. Commissioner described the ACC play this morning as brutally competitive. He also said he'd like to see more conference games. Your thought about more conference games in this brutally competitive league?
COACH HAMILTON: There was a time when I was very much opposed to playing too many conference games because there seemed to have always been emphasis on who you play out of conference, but I must say now, the way things are going, I'm in favor. I believe I'm in favor of more conference games only because you've got to play tough games. And now with the quality of the opponents that we are facing in our league, I think it can't do anything but help because we're not playing anyone in our league that's not a competitive game or a recognized game.

I think there should be more emphasis placed on the fact that we do now, without a shadow of a doubt, have the No. 1 basketball conference ever assembled in the history of college basketball. Every night out you have a competitive game. If you look at the closeness of all the games that are being played, you will see that most of the games are decided within two or three possessions. And I mean, sometimes you have more closely contested games in the ACC than anywhere else in the country.

But for whatever reason, I don't feel as a coach that that's been marketed and promoted or that it's emphasized enough how competitive it is in our league, and it doesn't seem to matter if you're playing against a team that's at the top of the standings or down toward the bottom of the standings. The games are always very, very competitive. You go back and look at the scores. Which means that the league is a lot closer to the -- the teams are a lot closer to each other maybe than sometimes the records might indicate.

Q. Which one of your freshman do you think people are going to be talking about the most and the soonest?
COACH HAMILTON: To be very honest with you, and I know most coaches would probably say this, but I really like all of our freshmen. I think they will all make major contributions. One guy, we have a 7' player that's dealing with a stress reaction right now that's a very good athlete and a shot blocker. When we're going to have him available, I don't know. But the three freshmen that we brought in, along with one junior college player, Benji Bell, the junior college player, Terance Mann, 6'7", from Boston; Malik Beasley from Atlanta; Bacon, Dwyane Bacon, McDonald's All-American kid, those guys have shown that they're more than capable of being ready to play at a high level in the ACC. I'm encouraged by that much more than any freshman class than I've brought in. These guys seem to be prepared mentally, emotionally as well as physically.

Q. Thinking about your roster and not being that familiar with it over the last 10, 15 years, do you bring JuCo kids in often?
COACH HAMILTON: Very seldom. Benji was the most valuable player in the national championship game where his team at Northwestern State won the national title last year and he was MVP in the tournament. So he's kind of a guy who hasn't gotten a lot of recognition, but he's a very seasoned veteran point guard with a nice strong, physical body, has good skills, good poise. And I think he gives us an opportunity to keep guys fresh, to push the ball a little bit more, be a little more aggressive offensively and keep the tip the way we should with this team we have. He's going to play a major role with his maturity, as well.

But I think for a guy like Devin Booker, who's probably our best perimeter shooter, he's been starting for almost three years, and he's a tremendous shooter, we can free him up a little bit more now and use him at the point guard some and then off guard some and take advantage of his skills a lot more than we have in the past.

Q. How do you feel about Charlotte as a venue hosting the championship?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, Charlotte has always been a sports town. I think people here are very friendly to the ACC. I think that the newspapers reflect that, the talk shows. Being from this area and going here, obviously, I'm very familiar with the coverage that we get, and I think that the people in Charlotte do an outstanding job of hosting the ACC Tournament, mainly because I think they're so excited about it. And this is truly a hotbed of interest of college basketball. And I think all of us enjoy coming here because you just get a feel that you're appreciated, respected, and people are excited about supporting the ACC Tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #174 at 2015-10-28 18:30:00 GMT

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