March 18, 2010
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
THE MODERATOR. Representing Florida State, the ninth seed coming in with a record of 22 9, I have closest to me Solomon Alabi and Ryan Reid and Chris Singleton. Back to back appearances for Florida State in the NCAA tournament. These guys have been here before. We’ll go ahead and take questions for them. If you just let me know where the questions are we’ll get a microphone to you.
Q. Could all three of you address the importance for the program of winning here to take the next the logical next step for the program?
Ryan Reid: Well, right now our school is known for football and everything. Right now we’re trying to build this program and let everybody know we have a really talented team right now. And at the same time basketball is coming around. Although everybody talk about we’re a young team. But we’re kind of experienced and we still have a lot of work to do. But at the same time, the basketball program is coming up at Florida State.
Solomon Alabi: Just like he said, we’re trying to I mean, build up the basketball program at Florida State. We made it to the tournament. It’s a good achievement. We accomplished, went in and get a win in this tournament and prove to the nation that we have a pretty good program going on at Florida State.
Chris Singleton: I think last year before I came in I think we all knew Florida State was unknown for basketball. Collectively we all came together and we just made it a goal to get to the NCAA tournament and be a factor in the NCAA.
Q. Guys, last year five seed upset in the first round. What can you use from last year’s loss to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year? Even though you’re a ninth seed, what can you use and learn from last year and make it a success tomorrow for you?
Chris Singleton: I think last year we had control of the game throughout. It was just the last ten minutes we buckled under pressure. It was a big stage for us. We had never been there. This year we all know what to do. I think we’re going to play all 40 minutes of the game.
Q. Chris, obviously you guys are noted for defense with the stats of the field goal percentages. What are the key reasons you guys have developed into such a good defensive team? Because defense is hard and players don’t necessarily like to play it that much.
Chris Singleton: We all bought in on the defensive end. I think the Coach’s philosophy, we want the program to be known for our defense. We know our offense isn’t always going to be there, as people have seen. But I know that every time we step on the court, our defense is going to be there. It’s something we take pride in. Some people take pride in their offense and being able to run up and down the court. We take pride in our defense. We’ve got each other’s back.
Q. Could you anybody who wants to, talk about whether you feel you are close to being an elite program? Do you feel like you’re right there or do you think it’s going to take another season?
Ryan Reid: I think as for me, I think we’re there right now. But at the same time we still have a lot of work to be done. And right now we’re just trying to really focus and win a lot of games and come back to the tournament as much as we can. And also winning in the tournament and going deep inside of the tournament so everybody knows that we’re an elite program and we also believe in ourselves and we think we can do that.
Q. Just following up on the defense question, obviously you have to have skill, it’s the system, working hard are keys. How much is it also attitude and like you said, pride, how big is that? And a follow up to that is do you have any in the locker room is there any motivational signs or winks or anything that you guys do that say okay, we have to D it up?
Ryan Reid: We just basically let our defense take care of our offense, and our coach, he always preaches on defense. And at the same time we can’t let our defense or whatever we can’t come down on offense and think we’re just going to score every time. At the same time we have to play defense. Right now coaches preach on it a lot. We just take a lot of pride in it. And the guys take a lot of pride in it. And we’ve been real successful so far about it.
Q. Solomon, 74 blocked shots in a season, certainly that’s a game changing stat. Do you sense early in a game when you get a blocked shot that you can essentially spook the other team and change their offense because of the things you can do defensively against them?
Solomon Alabi: Sure. You know, like blocked shots is part of the defense. Just like they all talk about defense, that’s what really gets our team going. So I mean I feel if I block shots it’s really going to help our team and get us going. And it’s really going to I think the team we’re playing against is going to affect their offense.
Q. Would you guys talk about what you think the key against Gonzaga will be? You’ve seen enough of them I’m sure to have a pretty good feel.
Ryan Reid: For Gonzaga, it’s really they’re good inside and out. At the same time we have to control their penetration, guard penetration. As far as their transition, we have to get back. If somebody shoots the ball, the guard has to get back in the hole and slow down the bigs if us big men go and rebound. And the big guy, especially their four man, he also can shoot the three and also take you off the dribble. He’s pretty mobile. So right now we have to play them straight up and everybody has to talk on defense and just do our defensive principle.
THE MODERATOR. Anything to add to that?
Solomon Alabi: Just like he said, we have to stick to our system. They’re a pretty good team. They’ve been to this tournament a few times over the past few years and stuff. I mean they’re pretty experienced. So we’re going to have our own game plan for them and stuff. We have to come out there and execute for 40 minutes.
THE MODERATOR. Any other questions for Florida State student athletes?
Q. One more for Chris. Somebody told me that you had an aunt up here in Syracuse who has a barber shop who is a big Florida State fan? Can you talk about that?
Chris Singleton: Yeah.
Q. Did she bring the whole group down here?
Chris Singleton: My dad’s side of the family. Half of my family lives in New York. She’s based in Syracuse. She has a shop, a barber shop in Syracuse. It’s my first time in New York. I’ve never been up here. I’m expecting a lot of people to come for me and for Florida State, our family members.
Q. Do you have any idea how many?
Chris Singleton: Not right now. I’m still getting word how many are coming.
THE MODERATOR. Ok, thanks, guys. Appreciate your time. Good luck tomorrow. Joined by Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton now. Florida State comes in as the ninth seed, 22 9. Making back to back NCAA appearances for the first time since ’92/’93. Coach go ahead and make an opening statement and we’ll take questions after that.
COACH HAMILTON: Take the bottle on the floor? Sorry about that. NCAA protocol.
THE MODERATOR. We both want to have these jobs again.
COACH HAMILTON: Let me turn this around. Take nice shot of this. Probably don’t know very much about our basketball team. We’ve been a team that’s been kind of a grind it out team this year. We’ve hung our hat on our defensive prowess. We’ve been fairly consistent with that all year. We are a team of one senior and one junior and sometimes we play like we are a young team. But overall, I like this team. I like our potential. I think that our best ball is still ahead of us. We’re developing and growing. But we’re very capable of playing very good basketball. And we when we are a little more efficient on the offensive end, we can be a very good basketball team. And hopefully as we move into this tournament this weekend that we will show some improvement over in some areas we worked very hard on over the last week or so.
THE MODERATOR. Thanks, Coach. We’ll go ahead and take questions.
Q. Leonard, my name is Ken Murray. I’m filling in for the Miami papers.
COACH HAMILTON: Did you say Miami?
Q. The Florida papers. I’m sorry. Several Florida papers. It’s a Tribune thing.
COACH HAMILTON: You really don’t know who you are working for?
Q. Right now, but I’m still getting the checks.
COACH HAMILTON: That’s the main thing.
Q. Could you talk about where your program is right now? How important would it be to the program to get a win here? You came last year, you lost as a fifth seed. How important is it to win here and where is the program right now?
COACH HAMILTON: I think every team that’s participating in the NCAA tournament that’s here, we all have aspirations of wanting to win a national title. That’s why you work so hard during the year, to do that. And I think you come here knowing that you have to be at your very, very best in order to make that happen. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the Zags. We know they’re a very good basketball team. They’ve developed a lot of tradition over the years. So we realize that this would be a very important step for our basketball team is to come into the NCAA tournament and not only just win but move deep into the tournament and put ourselves in a position that we’re playing at our very, very best and let’s just see what happens.
Q. You mentioned in your opening that not a lot of people know about your program. You’re playing against a team that 25, 30 years ago no one knew about their program. But now they’ve kind of got a cult following with their fans and people across the nation. Do you feel that you’re going up against I know it’s an eight, nine seed, but do you feel you’re going up against not only a team but a cult?
COACH HAMILTON: Well, I think in college basketball, the good and unique thing about basketball is that you have a right to earn your reputation. And you have to give credit where credit is due. These guys have earned the right to be considered one of the better basketball programs in the country. When you look at their non conference schedule, they play a non conference schedule that’s as tough as probably 85, 90% of the teams in the country. You look back at Michigan State and Duke and Cincinnati and Illinois.
I’m sure there are several other great teams that they played Wake Forest, that I probably missed on. But they’ve earned the right to be 14th in the country. And I almost feel honored that if they’re an eighth seed and we’re a ninth seed, people are considering us being kind of close to where they are. I know that that’s going to be a challenge. But that’s what excites you.
Anytime you’re a competitor, you like to be put in those situations where you are playing a team that’s nationally ranked, that’s gotten a lot of recognition. They have earned that status, and you have an opportunity to go play against them. I told our players I can’t think of a better bracket to be in than to play against I guess you have to call them a perennial power now. And if we’re successful against them, you get a chance to play against the local team that’s the number one seed. I think the stars are lined up for us. All we have to do is go out and play and be successful. I like this opportunity and I give them a lot of credit. They’ve earned the right to have the following that they have. They are really committed. They definitely have earned it.
Q. Leonard, can you talk about the qualities that make Chris Singleton such a good defensive player? How has that developed? It’s easy for guys to play offense. A lot of guys don’t want to play defense. What has made him that kind of player?
COACH HAMILTON: I think that’s an excellent observation. It says a lot about his character, his tough conditions, his ability to understand that the to evaluate his abilities and see how he can best take advantage of his God given talents. He played center in high school. Was basically the back to the basket; step out and shoot a standing jumper. He’s basically come from he’s gone from being an interior player in high school to a perimeter player in college, which is even more of an adjustment. He never played in a high school game where he took 15 shots in a game. That’s unusual for a guy who is a McDonald’s All American. But I think what he’s done, he’s adapted, realizing the transition on the offensive end is probably one that he’s still in the process of making. But the thing that he’s capable of doing is using his left, his anticipation, his size, his strength and athleticism to impact the game.
I think he does a very good job of taking away vision because of his long arms. I think he is a good athlete, he has good anticipation and he has a strong athletic body. And I think that he has innate quickness. He has a sense of how to anticipate where the ball is going, that gave him the ability the opportunity to lead the ACC in steals this year. That has never been done by a guy 6’9″.
I think a guy 6’9″, playing the perimeter that leads the league in steals and in the top five of blocked shots is says a lot about the direction that he’s allowed his ability to take him. I think he’s only scratched the surface of his game. He’s still adjusting to the perimeter. I think you’re going to see him just continue to keep going up and getting better and better as he moves through his career.
Q. What do you think your guys learned from last year? And does it carry over? Does it apply?
COACH HAMILTON: I think if it’s anything, when I look back at last year, they are going to have a better understanding that you have to play 40 minutes. You can’t if you have a lull in any at any point, anything is capable of happening. I also think that we’ve talked about the fact that I’m not real sure you can give a lot of credence to seeds and how you’re placed in the NCAA tournament. A lot of people vote. You don’t really get a chance to see a whole lot of teams. You go in with information on paper. But it’s really a very difficult process to properly seed these teams. You saw what happened today. I mean and I think you have guys who have been on the committee all year, they’ve been thinking about it, they’ve been reading, they’ve been watching some games on TV. Now you still have those seeds that are supposed to be not as good as the higher seeds and they still have the upsets. There have been near upsets in even some of the other games. So this tells you that this process is very, very difficult. And that’s why I think I’m always champion in increasing the field for that simple reason. This happens every single year.
You have a lot of people playing very good basketball. And I think we need to include a lot of people. When you take that into consideration, there are a lot of good teams that are still not participating in this tournament. Not to get off the subject, but I’m just saying that this is very difficult process. That’s why I think our guys understand that it shouldn’t matter if the 16th seed or the second seed, whoever you are playing will be a good basketball team if you want to advance, you can’t take any of those possessions off. Last year we went up at halftime and came out the first five or six minutes, we weren’t totally as sharp as we were and we got our hats handed to us in an overtime game.
Q. Is there any part of Gonzaga’s game that keeps you up at night, that you guys have been studying or anything you look at and say, “okay, there’s one thing we need to focus on”?
COACH HAMILTON: Good basketball team. They are a typical ACC opponent for us. They’re loaded with talent. They have quality, depth; seven foot, 6’11”, 6’8″. They got two 6’5″ guards that are as good as any guards we faced all year. We are faced with these type of opponents on a regular basis. They are a good basketball team. You have to put them in that same category. And so we have tremendous amount of respect. But I’m not sure I’ll stay up at night worrying about anybody. But I do have a healthy respect for them. Because I think they’re really, really good basketball team. Very well coached and loaded with talent.
Q. Leonard, you won 22 games, you won 10 games in the ACC. There’s not many people in this room, a lot of talk in the town has been about Gonzaga. The ACC tournament, the Final Four, people said was a sign of the struggles the league had this year. Do you guys you guys who are in the tournament for the ACC think you are trying to play for the league and show it’s not what the pundits have said it’s been all year?
COACH HAMILTON: I think what has happened over the years, we have had such great basketball in the ACC. Most people think they’ve dominated for a long period of time. But you have had a lot of perennial powers, basically Duke and Carolina, that’s always been consistent at the top. I think we’ve added three additional teams and the gap is narrowing just like it is all over the United States in every league. I think there’s lot of close proximity from the top teams in our league to the bottom teams in our league.
Last year Carolina just kind of blew through the NCAA tournament. But when you go back and look at the games they played in the ACC, they won a lot of close games throughout the whole year. They had a lot of hard fought games. They might have had some games that maybe on paper they won by 12, 15 points, then the last four or five minutes of the game, they were 3 4, 5 points going down the stretch. No one said that the league was a great, great league because they because the best the team that walked through the NCAA tournament by a large margins, you know, had a lot of close victories against very good basketball teams in the ACC.
I think sometimes beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. You can use stats and things and come to your own conclusion. I don’t think there’s anything I have to try to prove. I think the league speaks for itself. I think the whole climate of basketball is changing all over the country. I think you have a lot of great, good basketball teams that don’t get the exposure and the acclaim and recognition.
Once again, I’m a champion for adding more teams because I think that’s the nature of what’s going on in our league. And I think it’s obvious that’s what’s happening in the ACC. No longer will you be able to just pick a favorite and say the team is going to win a game. Every night in the ACC we’re going to war in the conference play.
Q. You talked about grinding out wins this year. Is it safe to and you’re the top rated defensive team with opposition field goal percentage. Is it safe to have to say that you win games with your defense and you could lose games with your defense as well? And how important is that defense going to be tomorrow?
COACH HAMILTON: It’s interesting. We took a tour to Spain this summer. We averaged 106 points per game. And as we practiced those ten days prior to going to Spain, we didn’t run a defensive drill. We did all offense. Because we feel that we wanted to be that running team that averaged 80 or 90 points a game. Once we got into the practice session, we found out that our skills still had not developed to the point where we could be quite as efficient on the offensive end as we like to. But we’re very capable. I think when we go to practice, it’s amazing to me how consistently and how well we shoot the ball from the perimeter in all our shooting drills and a lot of our scrimmages, how well we shoot the ball, how well we shoot the ball from the free throw line.
I think that sometimes when you have those freshmen dominated type teams against the competition we’re playing against, you have a period of development in growing up. I think we’re going through that. And I think we’re very fortunate to find ways to win games in spite of the stage that we’re at. So I’m not overly concerned about how we have to win games. I just want to make sure we go out and just kind of play as well as we can each and every game. And then we’ll see what happens from there, offensively and defensively.
Q. What went into when you made the change about ten games ago, move Snaer to two guard and how has he played? What has he given you?
COACH HAMILTON: What happened we were playing Michael and Deividas Dulkys were both playing 22 minutes a game. Deividas is a sophomore, Michael is a freshman. Michael went through periods most freshmen go through. They are developing, they are learning, they are making a few mistakes.
They still are playing hard. Michael developed into one of our better defenders while he’s going through the early stages of making the adjustment to college.
Deividas had been shooting 40% from the three point line. He was shooting the ball extremely well. But for whatever reason, I thought Deividas was starting to put a lot of pressure on himself and he was getting great looks and he went through a period where he’s 1 of 16 from the three point line. We thought we would take a little pressure off of him and switch the roles. And Michael is playing better now that he was inserted into the lineup. Deividas started shooting the ball much better when he had a little less pressure. They both were playing about the same amount of minutes. So it was kind of a wash in terms of who started, because they both Deividas might be playing more minutes than he was playing when he started. I’m not real sure it made that much difference from that standpoint. I thought it helped the overall team.
THE MODERATOR. Coach, best of luck.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports