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March 22, 2018

Leonard Hamilton

Terance Mann

Trent Forrest

CJ Walker

Los Angeles, California

Florida State - 75, Gonzaga - 60

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Florida State. Coach, an opening statement?

LEONARD HAMILTON: I thought we got off to a fast start because we got some deflections and some stops and got some easy baskets. But like most great teams will do, they came back at us. It was kind of nip and tuck there in the first half. I thought our defense was solid, obviously. Wasn't pleased because we got so many guys in foul trouble, so we both had guys in foul trouble.

But the last two or three minutes of the first half I thought really, really gave us a little breathing room. I think CJ hit a shot, PJ hit one. We got to transfer some baskets, and they gave us a little momentum going into halftime. We were just kind of able to keep them at bay, nip and tuck for the remainder of the game.

They're a very, very good basketball team, and with a lot of rich tradition, and we knew they would execute very well. But I thought our guys were dialed in defensively, and we got some good stops. I think we might have had nine blocks, eight steals, and each one of those possessions were critical. That gave us an opportunity to keep them at bay.

They're a very, very good basketball team, very similar to a lot of the teams we play in the ACC.

Q. Terance, I believe -- I don't have the stat sheet in front of me, I believe Gonzaga shot only 36%. What did you guys do to make it tough for them to get clean looks and make their baskets?
TERANCE MANN: I think we did a good job of speeding them up, and then we stuck to our game plan, and we contested all their shots and their tough shots that they were taking, and we rebounded the ball, so that's what we did.

Q. Are you fully recovered from your injury, or just partly? And I think you had four dunks tonight. How does that rank from your past?
TERANCE MANN: Yeah, I'm good. I'm fully recovered. I'm fine. My legs feel good today, so I was out there to be able to dunk a ball.

Q. Is four as high as you've had?
TERANCE MANN: Oh, no, I'm sure I've had more in a game before, yeah.

Q. Can you comment on this run your team is having? You're winning games and you're beating higher seeds, so you're upsetting teams here. It's been a remarkable ride so far. Can you give us an overview?
TERANCE MANN: Yeah, it's been amazing. It's been an amazing run for us. We've all been together. We've all been sticking to the game plan night in and night out. We're here and going to the Elite Eight, so it feels good.

Q. You just had one player in double digits tonight, but a lot with 7 and 9. Could you talk about the balance of your team?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, we're a team that operates with the philosophy that we have to win games by committee. This has been our philosophy for a number of years. We try to get the guys to buy into 18 strong. We have T-shirts that the guys have that say "18 Strong." Because they believe there is strength in numbers.

We in the ACC, there are a lot of one and dones and McDonald All-Americans, so in order for us to compete, we feel that we can compete if we have a number of guys contributing from night in and night out. We've had -- just about everybody on our team has probably led us in scoring at one point in time. Our guys feel that's the best way for us to operate, and they're all able to contribute offensively and defensively because of that philosophy.

Q. I know Final Four likely your long-term goal, but getting here, Elite Eight is something you haven't done in 25 years. That's a significant step for your club. What is your thought about getting that far?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, this team has had confidence all year long that we were capable of doing some good things with the opportunity that's been presented. We've had some very good games. Our youthful inexperience, I think, has raised its ugly head several times, and it's cost us. But we've maintained a level of confidence that if we just keep learning, keep growing, keep maturing, that we can put ourselves in this position.

It's interesting that we probably are the only ones believe that we're capable of doing this, and it's fun because we're overcoming -- we're always the underdog, and we're clawing and scratching and scratching and clawing, just trying to put ourselves in position where we feel that we're capable of going.

Q. How do you balance this, which is very much a career achievement, which besides one more game and you get to the Final Four?
LEONARD HAMILTON: How do I balance it?

Q. Yeah, it's a career achievement to be one game away from a Final Four?
LEONARD HAMILTON: You know, I've been very fortunate my entire coaching career to have some unbelievable opportunities. For me personally, I just want our team, our players, our staff, our school, our administration to enjoy the position that we're in. I've been fortunate I've been to three Final Fours. I was there as assistant coach. But as a head coach, this is a good opportunity.

But it's more for our school, our team and how hard these guys have worked. They deserve to have an opportunity and to realize it's right there in front of them. What we have to do now is not allow ourselves to get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to stay focused and continue to keep doing what has gotten us to this point. That's what we talked about in the locker room after the game.

The most important thing is for us to stay dialed in together and making sure that we're focused and understand that the team that has the right mental approach more than likely will be the team that's going to be successful, because every team in the tournament is good. The team that's dialed in, the team that's playing connected with that level five commitment that we talk about as a staff, as a team, sometimes we feel they're the team that normally comes out on top.

So what we want to do is not allow ourselves to do anything other than what's gotten us to this point and don't allow anything else to interfere with our focus.

Q. How much difference did Tillie's injury make?
LEONARD HAMILTON: I'm sure that it had a significant difference in their team and their rotation that it obviously hurt the quality of their depth. But they're a good basketball team. It was unfortunate that he didn't have the opportunity to play.

Q. Although Terance said he was fully recovered, four days ago he was not expected to play that morning. Would you guys have beaten Xavier without him?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Did you ask me would we have beaten Xavier?

Q. Yes. And talk about the four days, the progress he's made since then?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Obviously, I can't speak to that. If I had a crystal ball maybe I could figure that out, but I'm not really sure I can answer that. But Terance had a strain, and we had two MRIs the day before the game to make sure that we were handling it and treating it properly. Our doctors did a great job. Our trainer did a great job.

We were going to hold him out if necessary. But the treatment that he was getting, obviously, promoted the healing process, and he's been playing well. He played well for the last two games, and I think it's a result of our doctors and our trainers doing a great job with giving him the proper treatment to promote the healing process.

Q. You guys don't play like underdogs. It's not just that you're winning, it's the confidence with which you play. How much of that comes from the confidence you're in or the teams you play every night, or does it go back to your philosophy of everyone together?
LEONARD HAMILTON: There's no doubt every night we're playing against a worthy opponent in our league. You can play really good in the ACC and come away with a loss, and we've experienced that. That's why we're prepared to play against really outstanding teams because we play in a league where you have to be prepared every night out.

But more than anything else, the most important thing is that our guys are connected and they're together. They believe in each other, and they can call each other out. They can get in each other's face, they hold each other accountable. And I think that's one of the reasons why we're playing with such confidence.

Q. You've had an awful lot of success recruiting internationally. What made you initially decide to go down that road?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, I haven't had the luxury of inheriting basketball programs that were already successful with rich tradition. The type of programs -- my first head coaching job was at Oklahoma State, and my second job was at the University of Miami. A team that they were independent with no conference affiliation, and I had to be -- as a staff, we had to be as creative as possible. Look under every rock, knock on every door to see whether or not we could build a team that we felt comfortable that could compete at the highest level. So it's necessary for us to be creative.

I've had great relationships with people all over the world. We've had kids graduate and gotten their degrees and they're good citizens. A lot of them still live here in the United States. So we've enjoyed that process, and we feel that's kind of what we have to do to make up for, maybe, the lack of tradition, maybe, that we're building in basketball.

Q. Lastly, you guys are a really good defensive team, and Michigan is a high-scoring team. What are your thoughts on that match-up coming up?
LEONARD HAMILTON: I saw bits and pieces of the game today, and I know they're very good. I am so impressed with Coach Beilein. He's won everywhere he's been. I think they do a great job of identifying players that they think can be successful in their system.

We know we have our hands full. But to be very honest with you, we're going to spend just a little time enjoying this victory tonight, and we'll start giving Michigan our full attention maybe in two or three hours.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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