Aug. 3, 2007
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Isaiah Swann is an All-ACC candidate as one of the nation’s top shooters and most athletically gifted players who returns for his third consecutive season as a member of the Seminoles’ starting line-up as the 2008 season approaches. He finished tied for sixth in the ACC in total 3-point field goals made (68) and seventh in the ACC in 3-point field goals made (1.94) per game as a junior. Swann made an NIT and near-school-record nine 3-point field goals against Mississippi State in the quarterfinal round of the 2007 MasterCard NIT — his performance from beyond the arc allowed him to score a career-high 31 points. He averaged a career-high 10.3 points per game as a junior and allows the Seminoles to return a trio of double-figure scorers for the 2007-08 season. He enters his senior season with 118 career 3-point field goals made and shooting .372 from the 3-point line for his career. Swann’s 118 career 3-point field goals rank eighth in school history with James Collins holding the school record at 255. He is only the 14th player in school history to make 100 or more 3-point field goals in a career and is looking to become only the fifth player in school history to make 150 or more long-range shots during his career. Swann sat down with seminoles.com for an exclusive interview in early August.
How have you worked to improve your game over the summer?
“Over the summer I have been working hard on pulling up on my jump shot and being more successful with my mid-range jumper. I feel that I can hit my 3-point shot – and defenders are geared to try and stop that shot. But I don’t think defenders are worried about me going by them. So this year I have to put more pressure on a defender and make him think a little bit so they can respect my game.”
What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
“My expectations for this season for our team are for us to win the ACC championship and make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. Anything else, I feel, would not be giving our the team the respect we are going to earn.”
Can we be expecting another No. 1 Play of the Day on ESPN’s SportsCenter from you?
“We definitely can expect Florida State to be on a couple of the No. 1 plays on SportsCenter. We had a couple two years ago and a couple last season. We have playmakers, so we will do our best to please the crowd as well as win.”
What is going to be the hardest obstacle the team will have to overcome?
“The hardest obstacle to overcome is us being a team at all times. I think if you’re not a team at all times, you fold somewhere at critical parts of the game. I think that the biggest thing for us is playing together at all times and trusting each other. We have four freshmen that should have a critical impact at the beginning of the season and set the tone for us, so hopefully we’ll be ready. We need everybody, and it has to be a team effort. We’ve got to play as a team.”
Who was your basketball idol growing up as a young player?
“I looked up to Allen Iverson, Isaiah Thomas to Michael Jordan. I love the way they play. Especially A.I. – I feel that my game can be similar to his.”
What do you consider the team’s strong points entering the 2007-08 season?
“Our strong point, I would have to say, is our experience at the guard position. We have three senior guards — four including Toney (Douglas) because he’s a junior but he’s been playing four years, so I consider him a senior in my book. We have four senior guards who have all been through the fire; through all the struggles and we have come out on top more than not. I think our group of guards together form a core group of leaders and you need that. I think that with our experience and all that we have been through we can help the freshmen and the sophomores become better players. We can help the freshmen and the sophomores during critical points of the game — we’ve got to get it done, and I think that will be our strong point.”
What has been the most important lesson you have learned under Leonard Hamilton?
“The most important lesson I’ve learned playing under Coach Hamilton for four years is how to apply life to basketball and vice versa. If you’re not working hard on the court and putting in extra time, then you are going to struggle in game situations. It’s the same with many off the court situations with school or a at a job. If you have a job you have to go to, and you’re not putting in the work you need to put in or going the extra mile than it will be tough to be successful. You have to be accountable for yourself and that’s just part of growing up and maturing. Coach Hamilton has helped me grow up and I think that if I were in a different program I wouldn’t be as mature as I am now. Coach Hamilton, Coach Jones and all of our coaches have taught us life lessons – they have taught us about growing up and becoming a man.”
Going into your final season what has been your favorite part of being an FSU basketball player?
“My favorite part of being a Florida State basketball player is the time we spend with each other. People say that players on some teams don’t like to be around each other all the time but I think it’s good for us — we’re around each other pretty much 12 hours of the day, if not more. We all love each other; it’s nothing but love on the team for everybody. We have bonded so well and we get along so well – we enjoy being with each other. That bond translates to us getting along with each other on the court. When it’s time to get on the court, we know what we have to get done and what kind of goals we set for ourselves. In order to achieve them we have to band together as one. That’s pretty much the best part, just being with my teammates.”
Are your personal goals different coming into your senior season?
“I have set some very high goals for myself during my career. I want to be a First Team All-ACC, and I want to be on one of the All-American teams — First Team, Second Team, even Third Team – it doesn’t matter to me. The more success each of our players earns the more successful we will be as a team. The most important thing is that I want to be considered a winner. I want us to make the tournament. I’m going to do everything in my power, whether it’s shoot, pass, get a rebound here or there, steal, take some charges — whatever I have to do to win, I’m going to do. I think that’s the biggest thing right there, I just want to win.”
What was the summer like for Isaiah Swann?
“The summer for me is not over yet, but it’s been pretty hectic. I had three classes the first summer school session and I just got finished up with two classes for the second summer session. I’ve been working hard and working toward earning my degree. I have also been in the gym every day since we got finished with the season. It’s been non-stop work for me. Now that the semester is over, I’m going to Philadelphia to go work out up there for two weeks. When I get back to Tallahassee, I’ll be ready to go and we’ll be ready to get the new year started.”
You made nine three-pointers in a game last year, can we expect a ten three-pointer game to tie the record or possibly even 11 to break the record?
“I don’t know — I guess I was just feeling it that game and things just happened for me. I don’t know if I’ll break the record or get ten threes in a game, but I think it’s a possibility, I don’t see why not. It depends on whether or not I get in my zone, if you get in the zone, the sky’s the limit. I heard a couple of great players like LeBron, who say the rim seems so big when you’re in the zone, and that’s just a great feeling. When you are in the zone, tuned in to what you have to do and focused the rim seems like its fifty feet wide. It feels like every shot is going to go in — there’s no other feeling like it. I’ll try my best to break a record but I want to win more than break and set records.”
Who would win in a one-on-one game, Isaiah Swann, Ralph Mims, or Jason Rich and why?
“That’s a tough question to answer. I would have say me, I can’t give them the upper hand. With me, if I get the ball in triple-threat, I can make things happen. I’ll either go by you, shoot a three or pump fake and if you bite I’m going to the bucket and going to dunk. It would be a tough game between all three of us. All three of us are pretty evenly matched. All three of us have certain things that another one doesn’t have or has a little bit more or less. So, it’s tough to say, but I think I could pull it off.”