On Monday, Florida State men's basketball head coach Leonard Hamilton participated in the weekly ACC teleconference. During the discussion with the media, Hamilton talked about the development of Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen, his team not being ranked, and preparing for Duke.
"We have developed into a team that has demonstrated at times that we have all the possibilities of being a very solid and interesting basketball team. Obviously, a majority of our players are freshmen and sophomores so we have shown also that we have a lot to learn. I like this team, they play awfully hard, they have an unselfish spirit, and we are working hard every day to develop into a more consistent team. That seems to be the thing we have to overcome for the most part, but we have been very fortunate to come through the preseason with a 13-2 record. But by no means do we feel we have arrived. We still feel we have a lot of room for growth and that is probably the positive thing about this team."
Q: Talking to Gary Williams and Frank Haith, Gary talked about being surprised that there are only one or two or three (ACC) teams in the top 25 and Frank said that somewhere along the way it seems as though some thought the conference was only a two team or three team conference. What did that win last night by Boston College over North Carolina mean for the conference and say about the depth of this conference?
Hamilton:: I have said all along and I have been consistent with this statement since day one, after being in the SEC and the Big 12 and the Big East in my coaching career, it has become obvious to me that the preseason rankings as it relates to the ACC doesn't really mean anything. It doesn't matter, whenever two ACC teams hook up they are always well coached, they always have plenty of talent, and that anything is capable of happening. If you go back and look at even the Carolina teams that have dominated the last couple of years, you will see there are a lot of close victories, four or five points or less, which means that a lot of games could go either way. That is the nature of our league. People are just very talented, very well coached, and it is a league that on any given night anything is capable of happening regardless of whether you are ranked 1st or 12th (in the conference), anything is capable of happening. You look back a couple of years ago and Virginia was rated high towards the end and they tied North Carolina for the (conference) championship. That year Boston College was somewhere down towards the bottom and they were a good basketball team and that is just the nature of the ACC.
Q: Can you talk a little about Chris Singleton's development?
Hamilton:: I think the most positive thing about Chris Singleton is his unselfish spirit as well as the little things that sometimes young players coming in as freshmen are not willing to do. He works very hard on offense and defense and with his rebounding. He has shown a willingness to defend as well do the dirty work. He has been a very refreshing McDonald's All-American I guess I can say because sometimes as the development process of maturity with incoming freshman he seems to not be going through because he wants to be a complete player and he is demonstrating that in many, many ways.
Q: Many times with McDonald's All-American's there is pressure or expectations for them to come in and be a huge impact early, he has seemed to do a good job of coming in and blending in while contributing.
Hamilton:: One thing he said that I always remember is that he never remembers taking more than 15 shots in a high school game and for a guy to be as talented as he is says a lot about how he views the game. He seems to step up and give us the offense that we need but he also seems to be willing to defend and give the ball up and be a team player.
Q: Do you feel your team has built a case to be ranked with what they have done in the early part of the schedule?
Hamilton:: Well I think we are somewhat of a mystery to people because we have a lot of close victories. We are not winning by large margins. We have elected, because we have so many young players, to play them early as opposed to putting a starting unit or more experienced unit on the floor for longer periods of times where we could have extended the lead. A lot of times we had leads towards the ends of the games in some of the games where we had close victories and we put, trying to get our freshmen playing time, we put them in the game and sometimes they weren't quite ready and they would turn the ball over and made some poor decisions. I thought I would error on the side of gaining some experience for them and we were very fortunate that we didn't stub our toe or get upset in any of those types of circumstances. I think that people are not really sure who we are and what we are about. Maybe that is a good thing now because we are still fighting to get respect of our peers and the people who recognize teams as being good teams. But that is not bad right now, you know as well as I do it isn't how you start, it is how you finish. I still think in many cases they are right, we still have a young team that is improving but I think we are probably a little better than what people are giving us credit for.
Q: What has Derwin Kitchen brought to the team since he has been cleared to play?
Hamilton:: He is making a tremendous contribution because he is another guy who just has a great feel for the game and has an unselfish spirit. He actually gets excited about creating opportunities for his teammates. He is always, constantly, telling the players to get open and I will get you the ball or you just run and I will find you in transition. He is still trying to work his way into condition and he is still trying to adjust to the pace of the game and the level we are playing at. He still has a ways to go before he reaches his potential but we like the leadership that he is bringing to our team.
Q: Can you talk about playing the Duke Blue Devils at home in such an early season game and how can you play well against them?
Hamilton:: Well it is probably good that we are playing a team of their caliber this early because we get a chance with as many youngsters as we have to find out what it is like to play the top teams in the country as well as in our league. Duke is always consistent with their effort, their execution, and they are always loaded with talent and very well coached. For us it is probably good that we get a chance to play against a great team this early. I thought the Pittsburgh game was a very good game for us where to be honest with you they fought hard and they went to the glass and got some tip-in's on us and beat us to some loose balls in a game that was tied with a minute and fifty or fourty seconds to go in the game so we look back at the big game and we learn a lot from the mistakes we made in that game. I am sure we will learn a lot about ourselves playing against a team the caliber of Duke. This is good. We know what to expect from Duke. We know they are a good basketball team. I think it is good for us to have an opportunity to play against a team of this caliber this early.
During his part of the teleconference, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said that they are completely healthy entering a busy week where they play three games, starting with their victory over Virginia Tech last evening. They face Davidson on Wednesday before travelling to Saturday's game at Florida State.