Florida State will play its first exhibition game in just a few weeks when the Seminoles take the court against Mississippi College on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. It’s the first of two warm-up games ahead of the opener on Nov. 10 against Penn at 9 p.m.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, guard Anthony Polite and forward Malik Osborne spoke on Tuesday at the ACC Tip Off media event in Charlotte, N.C. Below are a few highlights:
Where do you feel the program is from a national perspective? And are you seeing that on the recruiting trail as far as the respect you’re getting outside of the region?
Hamilton: We don’t really worry that much about respect. Respect is something that you earn. And when you’re in a conference with the rich tradition like the ACC, programs have 70 and 80 years of successful traditional exposure, like the programs in our league have enjoyed over the years, it’s very difficult for us to expect to make up the ground for 75, 80 years of success.
So that’s why we call ourselves the new bloods. And our players say we’re not going anywhere. So maybe we’re not as well known. Maybe. I really don’t know because we don’t try to measure ourselves. We just try to represent who we are now, and we’re not worrying about the respect.
When you look at the things we’ve been able to do at Florida State, I think that it requires you to at least take notice. We’ve won 25 straight home games in the ACC. Next one we win at home we’ll tie the all-time winningest home record in the history of the ACC.
We lost four games in five years at home. We won 11 straight overtime games. We’ve been to three straight Sweet 16s. So I think we’re carving out our own niche. We’re not going to try to compare ourselves with those programs of the past. We’re just trying to represent ourselves right now, and sooner or later whatever is to come our way will come our way.
What has Coach Hamilton done with the team and how has the program evolved during your time at FSU?
Malik Osborne: When I first came in I kind of saw the change towards the basketball culture. When I first came in we became the new bloods, but I just saw the emphasis that Coach Ham had on the team as opposed to a lot of other coaches that I had experienced or viewed.
He really focused on just the chemistry, the connectivity of the players, open relationship, being transparent. So that’s what really made it different for me I would say as a player coming in.
It usually is kind of like a business relationship from what I’ve seen in the past where people are like employees on the court and then off court they’re their own people.
But the culture Coach Ham has established, it’s like a family, it’s a brotherhood, and it makes us play harder for each other, play for him. It makes us play for a different purpose, which I think has always been the catalyst for us making long runs in the postseason or having stretches in conference where we’ve gone on like a decent winning streak.
Anthony Polite: When I came on my visit I thought that the environment of the team was just like a family, and that made it super easy way to make my choice. The way that we are just around each other, not just on the basketball court but off court, we’re super close, and it makes everything a lot easier to just play on court and just play off each other.
I believe Coach Ham, the coaching staff, does a great job of looking for guys and making sure that their chemistry is great and I believe that that’s what’s been making a difference in these past couple years.
ACC Network interview
Polite on the offseason: We have been practicing all summer. We have a lot of new guys. They love being in the gym. They love to ask questions and learn.
Polite on lack of recognition in preseason: Coach Ham has built a culture, every year we’re not in the top 25 in the preseason but each year we are ranked toward the top. It’s been showing the past few years. “I think it’s time that new bloods gets some respect.”
Osborne on if FSU has a chip on its shoulder: Of course. Being constantly underrated has a been a blessing and a curse. You know that you are a lot better than what people assume you should be. But it does allow them to focus on just us. “We know who we are and we’re confident in who we are.”
Polite on the three top 100 recruits in Cleveland, Warley and Butler: Very competitive guys that come in the gym every day. They don’t back down from anything.
Osborne on the newcomers: They’re willing to learn. They are not stubborn. They are blank sheets of paper. Even if they are five-stars or four-stars, they come in with a sense of being humble. They are confident in their game but they trust the coaches and players and have bought into the culture and program.
Osborne and Polite are asked if Caleb Mills is the best defender, apparently the transfer guard said it: There was a lot of laughing. They think he is very good and fitting in well but remains to be seen if he is the best defensive player on the Seminoles.