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1 on 1 with Leonard Hamilton: Why he came to FSU, new bloods, reflections on 2019-20

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Hard to fathom, but it has been about a month since Florida State was last on the court as the Seminoles prepared for the ACC Tournament.

They seemingly had weeks of basketball ahead of them with a long postseason, likely beginning as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed at a regional in Tampa. But with the cancelation of the postseason tournaments, the Seminoles returned to Tallahassee and began to take care of themselves and turn their attention to the future.

Few people in college athletics are as positive as Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. In his video chat with the Osceola, he’s often smiling and focusing on the good points of the 2019-20 season that saw the Seminoles raise a banner as the ACC’s regular-season champions.

We hit on a wide range of topics, from what could have been (a Final Four team?) to what he saw in FSU when the job came open in 2002 to his reflections on the fan support that embraced the team with five straight sellouts to finish the year. We of course encourage you to enjoy the full video but, if you’re looking to skip around, we’ve included some time stamps below:

2:10 – Coaches are evaluating film, communicating with players about nutrition and conditioning.

4:50 – When the Florida State job became available, Hamilton had taken a year off and people were measuring his interest but he admits he was “extremely selective” about where he wanted to go next. An in-state job and one in the ACC was appealing. A coaching friend commented to him that FSU has made a commitment to basketball, bringing him a drawing of the basketball training center. “I wasn’t going to call about the job,” Hamilton said but admits he was curious. Friends and colleagues called him and encouraged Hamilton to talk with then-AD Dave Hart. “I felt Florida State had a great brand, a great reputation on a national basis,” Hamilton said.

11:25 – FSU is creating a basketball tradition. “Becoming a blue blood might be out of reach in terms of tradition,” Hamilton said. “That’s why we’ve coined our phrase: We’re the new bloods. … We’re going to carve out our own path.”

13:05 – Hamilton thinks this team, in his view, had the greatest chemistry and unselfish spirit to share the ball, playing time and recognition. Players felt like it was “our turn.”

14:25 – FSU could have been a Final Four team. With no NCAA Tournament, how did Hamilton make peace with it?

17:00 – Hamilton praises his staff, describing how he is surrounded by “quality people.” Many of them have been with Hamilton for decades.

19:05 – Hamilton appreciates the crowd support, FSU fans embracing the team. “Florida State has the potential to be the No. 1 basketball program in the ACC. That’s our goal. If you don’t want to be No. 1, then you don’t need to be a part of who we are right now. And the fan support is part of the identity of any program.”

24:15 – We ask about games and memories from this season and those past. Hamilton begins by reflecting on the start of the season, how the team performed with six new players and how the Seminoles performed well at times (road win over Florida, neutral-site wins over Tennessee and Purdue) but also missed at Pittsburgh and at Indiana. He feels those games helped the Seminoles as they went into the season.

28:25 – His first mentions of games from past years include Deividas Dulkys’ 32 points in a rout of No. 3 UNC in Jan. 2012. He reflects on some NCAA Tournament wins as well as victories over Duke, including Michael Snaer’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium that season.

35:45 – Hamilton encourages FSU fans to stay safe and practice social distancing.

Comments

  1. Dan Densmore Reply

    Noles have it rolling…have a season the FSU ticket department might have a new duo package with football/basketball….I hope

  2. Dan Densmore Reply

    Correction

    The FSU ticket department might have a new duo package with football/basketball….I hope.

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