December 1, 2000 - by
Osceola News Question And Answer With Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Robinson

Dec. 1, 2000

FSU basketball coach Steve Robinson chatted with the Osceola’s Jim Henry last week. The Seminoles, who opened their season on Nov. 17 against Florida, have played five games so far this season.

Since you’ve had a couple days to reflect on your game against Florida, what are your thoughts?

I was happy with our effort. I thought the effort part of the game was good. Again, you take a couple of stretches in the game where we have a chance to narrow the margin a little bit, we just didn’t quite make some of those plays. A couple of balls rolled off the rim, we missed a couple of free throws, which would have helped us narrow the gap. But we didn’t get that part done. And then when we needed to come up with some stops defensively at crucial times, we just didn’t quite get there. But I thought the effort was great.

I liked what I saw for an opening game. Again, I think our team is very unselfish and I thought we did a good job of moving the ball around and getting the ball in the hands of guys… and I thought, for the most part, we really did complete a lot of plays. We didn’t fold up or wilt under the pressure. I think you will find that team (Florida) will be one of the best pressing teams in the country. I thought we did a pretty nice job of handling the pressure. But I guess the difference in the game was points off turnovers. If you look at the stat sheet and the final outcome, that was the difference in the game.

You also shuffled in a lot of different combinations. Is that something we will continue to see?

Well, like I’ve said, I think we have the guys who have the potential to play and that gives us a little more depth. And I think with depth you can get some guys in the game and keep people fresh. And I think that was the thing that we were able to do and not just totally exhaust people. I think that our depth will be one of those things that will contribute and certainly be a plus for us.

Was your defensive performance better than you had seen when comparing it to the Garnet & Gold Game and your one preseason exhibition?

Our defense has to continue to get better. I think the way Florida plays it’s not an easy team to defend. That team also, let’s not forget, was picked to be in the top 15 in the country. They are probably a pretty talented group. I thought our defense wasn’t bad, but I think it can get better. It has to get better.

I think the pieces are there and everybody has to learn. When you are playing young guys, everybody has to learn to get to the right spots. We sometimes don’t get to the right spots or we don’t remember. Then, all of a sudden, people take advantage. One guy doesn’t get to the right spot, then it’s like, boom, Teddy Dupay knocks down a three-point shot. Because you just didn’t get to the right spot. You had a guy in the right area or the right coverage, then all of a sudden maybe that shot doesn’t go because it’s more of a pressured shot instead of having his feet set.

How will this trip to Alaska benefit your team and how does it help shape your season for what lies ahead?

I firmly believe that part of our job and my job as a coach is to try to provide those guys with an opportunity to experience some things that are different. Different, above and beyond, of just playing a basketball game. We’ve been able to go to Hawaii, we’ve been able to go to Australia. And now we’re going to Alaska. I think the kids who want to join your program like to have those kinds of opportunities. They get the chance to see the world. Nigel Dixon, going to Alaska, that’s good. It’s good for Nigel. How many opportunities would a kid ever have to do something like that? I always talk about how basketball is such a teacher for life. The exposure to so many different things. This is another educational tool, as well as a great athletic tool for our program.

It’s the beginning of the year. We are trying to see where we are at. We are trying to develop an identity. For our team, it’s still a very good stage for us to hopefully go out and play well and be getting better at what we do. I think it’s a very important stage for us right now, having a chance to play in a big-time environment. I think it’s important for us to be able to do that. This might be the youngest team we’ve taken to a tournament of such caliber. This is a teaching experience every day. I can’t explain to you enough how much and how often I have to go back and check and re-check and try to think about everything. I think it will be really good for us, traveling and taking a major trip and having to be together for pretty much a week.

Who opened your eyes more against Florida, Nigel Dixon or Michael Joiner?

I think the combination of both of those guys. I don’t know if I could say one was more than the other. You have to think, here is a freshman (Joiner) starting and handling the basketball against a full-court pressure team. And really made good decisions. He played with poise. He got the ball and scored. He didn’t play like a freshman. I don’t think he played intimidated or shy by any means. Still, I think there is so much more he’s going to learn and do. He played with confidence and poise. He responded.

And Nigel, you can’t tell me you weren’t impressed with Nigel Dixon’s play. He got 19 minutes in the game that was pretty much this way (up and down the floor). If he can give you 19 minutes in that kind of game, then you have to be encouraged that Nigel is going to be able to play a lot more. As long as he continues to stay healthy and continues to (work), there wasn’t a big separation like it was last year I thought sometimes when he was on the floor. It seemed your team attacked the basket more.

Is this a team that’s going to have that ingredient this season?

I think you can describe this as a team that can put the ball on the floor better than it did last year. Not knocking the guys we had, but these guys are more suited for the skilled positions to be able to make plays that way. And the other thing, we shoot the basketball well. I think that’s a great combination. I think that’s a very lethal combination. You have guys who can drive it, you have guys who can shoot it and you got guys who can do both, then it keeps the defense honest. Then you throw in a mix where you can get guys scoring in the post, you have balance. And we have not had balance in our offensive attack the past two years.

It seems like your three captains were pressing a bit while your younger players were oblivious to the pressure surrounding the game.

Isn’t interesting, when you start thinking about the game and how it unfolded and the guys who probably didn’t play their best game, and we’re right there. And our captains weren’t on top of their game. They didn’t play their best game. Was it because of Florida knowing about them and really getting after them? Or was it because they just didn’t make the plays they had? Was it because the freshmen were unknown? All of those questions will be answered over a period time. I don’t think we can get an answer to that one today, but I thought our freshmen didn’t seem to have… they had no fear. They had no fear and that’s the way you have to be. They had no fear about playing or about what they had to do, they just did it. You have to like that. A couple of times on the floor I had three, four newcomers on the floor playing their first game at Florida State. I think that’s a great sign for us. Those young guys weren’t just bodies on the floor. They were very productive in their play.

We can’t afford for them (captains) to have those kinds of games if they expect us to win. They have to lead and they know they have to do a better job. All of them had some areas where they really helped, too. Antwuan getting to the boards. He did a tremendous job of just being active and keeping the ball alive. Delvon, again, he got seven defensive rebounds. Isn’t it amazing, a guy as small as he is gets as many defensive rebounds as he does. He does a great job of chasing the ball down. All of those things are important and that’s a major part of it. It’s not always going to be that they score 20 points a night. But they have to find a way to lead our basketball team on and off the basketball court.

Monte Cummings also came in and performed well.

He has a tremendous upside as a player. I think that he is going to be a guy as the season goes, he will get better. You have not seen near what I think he is capable of doing. It’s kind of that potential thing that you have to keep building and keep building to make sure he gets there. But I think his upside is tremendous. His athleticism, his explosiveness, and he can be an emotional leader out on the floor. He’s got a little bit of a swagger about him that I like on the basketball court.

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