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January 29, 2007Opening Comments:
"We have played a very determined Wake Forest team this weekend. The game was in doubt just about the whole way until the latter part of the second half where we made several plays at the end of the game. We were very fortunate that we were able to come away with a victory. Toney Douglas hit a couple of big shots and Jason Rich hit a big shot that extended the lead. We were able to come away with a victory. Our home games now become very, very important and now we are facing another unique challenge on Tuesday night against a very good Maryland team. It appears that if you are going to be successful in the ACC that you definitely need to hold serve at home. This is a very, very big game coming up for us Tuesday."
Q: Jason Rich and Al Thornton have both previously commented that they chose Florida State because they wanted to be a part of building something at Florida State and being a part of the NCAA Tournament. What do you say to convince them that you were heading in the right direction and do you still feel you are heading in that right direction?
Leonard Hamilton: I think the places where we have been, we have had an opportunity to be successful at. I think our track record throughout the past indicates that. If we work hard and continue to keep doing the things we have done in the past. We have a legitimate chance to build something special at Florida State. We have had a couple of hiccups along the way. Sometimes when you are building a program when you have a setback with a player having an injury, going pro, or what have you, then it sometimes has a little more of an effect on you when you are building. But we have the facilities, are in a great conference, in a great location, and a tremendous university. I think those in the proximity to the school are familiar with the tradition of Florida State. I think they all felt we have a legitimate chance to build. Some youngsters want to be a part of building, some want to go be a part of things that are already successful. We were fortunate that they wanted to go somewhere where they could make a difference.
Q: Given what your team went through last year in regards to Selection Sunday, do you even know what you are aiming for when you are talking about number of wins and such to get into the tournament?
Leonard Hamilton: I don't think anyone knows. It appears to me that the powers-that-be went through a real intense process to tweak the evaluation process to evaluate differently than they had in the past. They placed some different values on road victories and home courts. It has gotten to be a little more complicated because schedules that were much more difficult the year before had less credit last year and schedules that appeared to be weaker got more credit. So I am not real sure that we totally understand or have a full understanding of what the formula is for evaluating. What we are doing is just tuning everything out and just trying to take it one game at a time and worrying about what we can control. We are trying to make sure we are prepared as possible and trying to win as many games as possible and hopefully at the end of the season, whatever this new tweaked process is that we are using, I hope that we fall into the criteria.
Q: On that subject, do you have a suggestion on how to improve the selection process whether you would be a proponent of expanding it?
Leonard Hamilton: I would definitely be a proponent of expanding it because number one you already have a play-in game on a designated date. So all you would have to do on the night that we are already playing is add more teams. If it is as important as it appears to be to change the selection process or tweak it, to reevaluate it and if it is that important then we need to make sure that there is a possibility of including more teams without adding any more days or whole lot more expense. I also feel that when I hear people say each criterion is evaluated differently by each person that is on the committee. That is a little discerning to me. I would like for the whole process to be open so everybody can know exactly who is evaluating what and what the evaluation process is so that we will all take the mystery out of it. So whatever the criteria are, then let's just deal with it and move on and open the process up. I think that sometimes we are all a little concerned because there always seems to be a little mystery to it. If it is that important and it means the evaluation process needs to be tweaked then let's come up with a process to include more teams and make it even bigger and better. That is what my suggestion would be.
Q: Toney Douglas came to you as somebody with the reputation of a scorer but this year you have asked him to handle the ball a lot and make the transition into being a point guard, how is he developing in that area of his game and has it taken away from his scoring?
Leonard Hamilton: There is no doubt it has taken away from his offense. But the process of learning to run a team, he has made tremendous progress in running a team and making decisions, creating opportunities for his teammates, and we have to find the proper balance of utilizing his quickness and speed and his ability to create things for other people and also include him offensively so that we can take advantage of his offensive scoring ability as well. The other night when the game was on the line we created some scenarios and gave him more of an opportunity to have the ball in his hands and to create some opportunities for himself and his teammates and we were successful in it. In each game that we have won that has been a major game for us he has always hit big shots for us when we need him to. In order for us to be successful this year we are going to have to find ways to include him and get him a little more involved in the scoring process without taking away from his ability to run the team and make good decisions. I think that it is a process anytime that you have youngster who has been a big-time scorer all of his life and now he comes to a team where he wants to become a guy who can do both, running a team and making good decisions with a new team, new teammates, and a new system that he is adjusting to. I think he has done a tremendous job. I think he is going to get better and better as the season moves on.
Q: What has been the toughest adjustment for him in regards to making that transition of being a point guard?
Leonard Hamilton: I think that when you grow up your entire life having the responsibility of carrying the scoring load for your team then you look at the game through a different set of eyes. To his credit, I think he has done everything he possibly can to develop the skills that we feel a point guard is supposed to have. He is getting better with each game. Earlier this season he had a rash of turnovers, now he is handling the ball and turning the ball over less. At least he is turning the ball over less in situations that matter. So we just feel that he is moving in the right direction and I think it is a matter of time before he reaches the goal of being a complete point guard who knows how to run a team and making good decisions as well as integrating his offense.
Q: There is a lot of balance in the league but even on the national level after UCLA, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and such it seems as though there isn't as much of a gap between the 10th and the 30th best team. Is there not much of a difference on the court between those two tiers of teams?
Leonard Hamilton: I am not sure there is any real difference even starting from the top. I think that sometimes match-ups, schedules, and timing - I think that the parity has set in almost across the board. I wouldn't really concede even the teams that are at the top that you mentioned that are excellent teams because we played Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina, along with Pittsburgh, we have played as many of the top teams as anyone in the country and I think all those teams are outstanding but I think if you go back and look at their schedules they have had some very close games. I just think that college basketball has gotten to the point where every game is exciting and on any given night anything is capable of happening. I think that is what makes it such a great game and so exciting to watch and participate in.