On Monday afternoon, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton and Miami's Frank Haith participated in their weekly teleconference. Among the topics discussed are Florida State's loss to Wake Forest, the play of Toney Douglas and Jack McClinton, the focus on elbow incidents coming from officials recently, and more.
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton
"We played a red-hot Wake Forest team over the weekend that kind of took us to the woodshed. I was very impressed with the intensity that they played with. I thought they did a very good job of being extremely physical, probably the most physical game we have played all year. I didn't think we did a very good job matching their physicality. I was impressed with their execution on the offensive end but I was more impressed with how physical they were and how much they took advantage of our lack of physicality."
Q: Can you talk about your freshman and whether or not with the long, intense season they are hitting a wall and is it tough for them to handle that or are they handling it pretty well?
Hamilton: It is interesting that you ask that question because I just got out of a staff meeting and this was, the last week after the Clemson game going into the Virginia game , was the first time I have noticed a glazed look in their eye. Before the Clemson game we had two of our kids that we had to get fluid into them because they were suffering from the flu and then the next day that was (Chris) Singleton and (Xavier) Gibson and then the very next day it was (Deividas) Dulkys, and (Brian) Hoff, and Uche (Echefu) so it just seemed like we had five kids in the last four days with flu-like symptoms. I felt that, I've heard people talk about that wall that sometimes freshmen hit but I kind of think that we experienced a little of that the last five or six, seven, eight days. Because I just didn't see the fire in their eyes and obviously coming into this week we need to make sure we re-energize ourselves and refocus because we depend on our young kids to be instrumental in our team and we can't afford to not have everybody functioning well as we move into the latter stages of the conference race.
Q: Can you talk about the Miami game with both teams coming off tough losses and a rivalry game like this?
Hamilton: Well obviously each game takes on added importance when you're this late into the season and everyone's trying to build their I guess you could call it your conference resume as strong as you can. The Miami game, they played extremely well the last time we played them and even though it was nip and tuck, they kind of extended the lead there toward the end, we couldn't find an answer for (Jack) McClinton and it looks like everyone else is having the same problem. But I felt that they outrebounded us and were able to outmuscle us around the basket. I was very disappointed in that. They seem to be a team that just finds a way. As long as you have a guy like McClinton on the court, he'll go for periods of the game and then he'll hit several shots in a row and the thing I thought in last game's they're doing so well is they have a supporting class that you give McClinton all the attention and (Brian) Asbury and (James) Dews and the other players just step up and make shots. The game was in a little lull and Asbury made eight straight points and then (Adrian) Thomas is coming off the bench and shooting the ball really well. You can no longer just concentrate on McClinton. You have to concentrate on the entire team and that makes them even more difficult to defend.
Q: There was an incident in the Wake Forest game with an elbow, and watching games around the country that seems to be a point of emphasis, as a coach do you think they are going overboard, doing it right, or what has caused all the elbow incidents?
Hamilton: Well, I think some kids are more clever than others and when you go back and watch the film, you see the entire game and you see as soon as the game started, you know, I told the officials that we need to be careful not to let that type of stuff get out of hand and a lot of times, you can't blame the officials because they see sometimes a reaction. In Solomon's (Alabi) case, as I watched the film, same incident happened to us last year, and I told the media that I didn't think any of our kids had been kicked out, but (Ryan) Reid had a same similar situation last year where he was running down the floor and one of the players grabbed him on the arm and he tries to pull his arm away, it appears that he's throwing, in an attempt to hit someone when he's actually trying to pull his arm away from someone who is grabbing him and as I watch the film, it appears that that could have been kind of a similar action. I don't think that the officials are overreacting. I'm not real sure that they are. I think kids just got to make sure that they maintain their composure regardless of what goes on during the game. The game has to take more of a value and you can't allow yourself to allow anything personal to get you so emotionally wrapped up that you respond in a way that affects your team. And I'm not condoning it, that type of response, I don't think there is any place for it in basketball but we all know it is emotional and it is a physical game and sometimes a well-meaning kid can overreact and I think that was the case in Solomon. Whether or not, when I watch the film, you can't see it as clear as you would like to so I am not going to try to be negative towards the Wake Forest player (Chas McFarland). I just don't think we played well enough to win the game and I don't think the incident had anything to do with the outcome of the game. I am just going to try to encourage my players not to respond regardless of what happens throughout the course of the game.
Miami head coach Frank Haith
"We are just coming off a tough loss last night against North Carolina. I thought our kids played really hard and competed. A couple of breaks just didn't go our way and bounces and what not. So we have to get ready to go play on the road against a good Florida State team and then come back home against Boston College next week."
Q: With how you have played the last three games, do you almost feel you should be on a three-game winning streak if you had played anybody else in the country?
Haith: (laughs) At times because I think we played three of the best teams in the country. We have been right in every ballgame. … We only won one game, the Wake game here (in Miami), so we are playing good basketball right now. We are playing the best we have played all year. Obviously we didn't have Dwayne Collins last night but I still thought our guys put ourselves in position to win that ballgame.
Q: Can you talk about the difference with Toney Douglas this season compared to last year?
Haith: He is really confident. He has always been a really good defender in terms of having really quick hands and active hands, but I think just the way he plays, last year he had those other two guys, Jason Rich and Isaiah Swann and even (Ralph) Mims, they shared the responsibilities. You can see him just becoming a better leader and taking control out there. He is one of the best guards in this league, that is as an all-around guard, because he does it on both ends. I think his leadership qualities show this year and his ability to just take over the game, particularly late in the game. Like the kid we have, Jack (McClinton), he has that ability when the game is on the line to make plays.
Q: Do you think there are more elbows being thrown now or is it just a point of emphasis this year?
Haith: I think what happened is there was a situation in the Big Ten that caused a focus on it and they have cracked down since that incident in the Big Ten with Michigan, I think it was. They have been told, officials, that even if there is no contact and there is an elbow thrown it is a violation which was the case last night with Cyrus (McGowan) and I think they are really looking for that and trying to clean up the game and not have an incident like they had in the Big Ten.
Q: Are you okay with the way it is being officiated and called?
Haith: (laughs) I mean, we have got to adapt to what is going on. I think I don't want to see guys throwing elbows and anybody getting hurt. I don't like that. But I think if a guy is rebounding a ball and just makes one movement to move the ball away from the defense then he is not throwing an intentional elbow and I think that is part of the game. An aggressive play and not getting tied up when people are reaching for the ball but obviously I am not encouraging a blatant elbow in trying to create space.