November 7, 2000 - by
Steve Robinson Question and Answer With The Osceola

Nov. 7, 2000

FSU basketball coach Steve Robinson chatted with members of the media following the Seminoles’ Garnet and Gold Game last week. Here is that conversation.

Opening comments:

Actually, it was pretty exciting for a Garnet and Gold Game down the stretch. I liked what I saw, their effort. We have a lot of things we have to continue to build on, but I was very encouraged by their play, certainly by their effort from start to finish. It’s always good to see how those new guys are going to respond when you put them out there for the first time and I thought the response was very favorable.

I’ve said all along that I think our team can be a very unselfish team and I think they show the willingness to distribute the basketball around and then take advantage of it. It seems like we have a good feeling for playing basketball, when to take shots and when not to take shots. But it’s something we have to continue to work on.

Nigel Dixon seems to be showing more aggressiveness around the basket. He seems to be looking for his shot.

I think the other thing is our guys are looking for him. I think Nigel has always looked for his shot, but we just didn’t do a very good job of getting him the basketball. We were just a perimeter-oriented team over the last two years that those (inside) guys don’t get chances. I think they’ve made a conscious effort to have more balance and not be afraid to throw the ball in there. You know, when you have a guy in there and you throw it to him and he’s finishing plays, that just encourages you to throw it back in there again. And our guys have been very willing to get the ball inside to him.

It seems this team takes it more to the basket than past years.

That’s a part of balance. I’ve said all along I think we have good legs. Our team has good legs, pretty athletic. And with that, we have some guys who are more natural in their position. A guard, an off guard, or a point guard.

Talk about your newcomers.

Mike Mathews can score. I think he shows that. The better balance he has, the better scorer he is. I think he has a habit sometimes that he’s so quick to get the shot off that he doesn’t always have good balance with his shot right now. The athleticism is there. I think the ability is there. It’s just can we get the light bulb turned on for him to make those kind of plays.

Monte (Cummings) is what I’ve said all along, he’s a very athletic, explosive athlete who can score from the perimeter and can get closer to the basket. Michael Joiner stepped out and made two three-pointers right away, showed ability to drive the ball to the basket as well.
We have guys who can handle the basketball, and I think that helps you be unselfish because they are willing to look for guys who are open and get them the basketball. I think Andrew Wilson had the most stage fright of any of them to start with. He seemed to struggle a little bit but he made a big shot, hit a nice three-pointer. Hit a shot at the buzzer underneath a guy’s armpit.

I thought Ryan (Lowery) did a nice job, coming in and having to play a lot more minutes because Dee Dee (Arrington) got stitches in the eye, and did well. It’s a luxury that we have this year that we didn’t have last year.

It seems like with the type of guys you have, chemistry is really going to be a key.

In any athletic event, team chemistry is always going to be so important in terms of your plays that are made. I think the way to describe this team, from what I see right now, is depth. Depth is the key. We have depth. Now, how do we get those guys in position where they can be most effective? The ability for some of these kids to make plays, they have to get better and they have to continue to mature, but the ability is there.

Can you get Nigel Dixon to play 20 minutes a game?

I don’t know. I think he probably played more than 20 minutes (tonight), going up and down the floor. I thought he had some really nice stretches where he did some (good things). None of you can tell me that Nigel is not in better shape right now than what he was in at the end of last season. That’s what I’ve said, Nigel is at a better starting point now then when he ended. I think he’s going to continue to get better as long he continues to work. He’s going to get better.

It looks like your team ran more during this game. Is that simply a product of the game or is that a quality of this team?

I think we have more pieces of the puzzle and when you have more depth, well, one way I got to get more guys opportunity to play, a lot of times that pace has got to be a little bit quicker. Can you get the ball up and down the floor, because of the fact that other guys want to play. Other guys are going to be pushing other guys from the rear and saying, hey, I want to get on the floor. If you are not giving effort then I am going to give effort. I think that’s how you make it all kind of work for you.

Is this more your kind of team?

Yes. No question in my mind. I think it’s an unselfish team that will play hard, have balance. I probably will coach better with a team like that than with a very one-dimensional group.

What’s your next step with this team?

Polishing up. We have to polish it up, shine it up, make it better. Everything we do have we have to do better. We have to do better than what we did tonight. We have to keep getting better. We told them today that when we get to practice, practice better pick up. I don’t think we’re ready to play an all-out, 40-minute game. We probably could play with all-out effort for about 25 minutes. I would say we have to get to 40 minutes plus, 50 minutes, 60 minutes if we need be, so expect the intensity level to pick up. I expect their effort in practice to pick up. If we have to get on the end line and run a little bit, then let’s get on the end line and run a little bit. Don’t give me any cross looks because we have to pick it up some more.

How has the chemistry been with the new assistant coaches?

I think the chemistry has been great. I think they have all added so much. Rob (Wilkes), Stephen (Giles) and, my director of basketball of operations, slash, creative services Red Johnson. I think the chemistry has been good and I think it has been good for our team that those guys have added a different dimension to our program and to our team. And I think the players have responded well to that and just everybody just seems to be… there’s a lot of upbeat (feelings) about what we are doing. I think everything we’ve done right now, we kind of really, I won’t say we’ve struck gold, but I think we are moving in the right direction.

Have you noticed a change in Antwuan Dixon’s game this year?

If I had to look at the guys, Antwuan was probably the most active, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He deflected probably five or six balls, came up with three or four steals. I said when he first got here he was an explosive, high-wire athlete and that’s probably the thing that he does best. He’s still learning that part of being out there as a perimeter player. But he has given us some solid plays and is going to be a solid player for us. But he’s like everybody else right now. They are all getting pushed by somebody. And so you have to play your best ball, if not, somebody else is going to step forward and step on the court and do things that we have to have done to be successful.

You really seem upbeat about these guys.

I like this team. I just like this team. I believe in this team. I don’t have any idea of what’s going to happen down the road. I am going to coach as hard as I possibly can and they are going to play as hard as they can and we will come out and we are going to try to be fun. We are going to try to be exciting and entertaining and we are going to give effort and somewhere along the line we are going to try to win as many games as we can.

What has been your most pleasant surprise of the preseason?

Nigel’s conditioning. I thought his effort and his conditioning have been really good. I think it has stood out because there have been times when he has totally dominated us. I really wanted to see how long he goes and how long he can give it at a high pace and how well he responded. He did some real good things. He scored when he got his hands on the ball. He rebounded. He’s just a different player than what he was last year.
As far as the teaching aspect in practice, are you going at the speed you would like?
I am going slower. I am slower, no question. Have to be slower. New group, young group. I have to be maybe a little slower than what I normally would like to go because I am trying to say, okay, I want you to do it well. I think we have to take our time. If we can do it well, it’s better than trying to put lot things in there and doing it average. Hopefully, what we have in we will do well and those are the things as we continue to grow into them.

It sounds as if you have to be more patient with this team compared to your past teams.
I have to be patient period. I have to be patient with players. I have to be patient with my coaches, everybody. Come out (tonight) and do two-line layups and we have three lines out on the court (laughing). I am going oh, gosh. In explaining to them I have to be as elementary and simple as I can because I’ve had such experienced groups over the last couple of years. It was like, okay, they just did it. This group is, oh, yeah. I forgot. I needed to tell them that. In having new coaches, those guys don’t know either. A lot of times it’s whew, man, we will get there eventually. It has been fun for me. I am very encouraged by what I see and the effort I am getting. Again, the kids are playing hard. That’s all I ask them. They are paying attention and their attention to detail, I think, has been much improved. Just the overall chemistry of our group, I really like this team. Like I said, I don’t know when, where, how we will wind up, but they make it fun to come to work and want to coach those guys every day. I think that’s huge as far as the comfort level that you can have with everybody and all the players on the team. That’s what you want to have and that’s where you want to be. Now we just have to polish it up and see how we can get better. How fast can we get better?

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