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October 24, 2018

Leonard Hamilton

Terance Mann

Trent Forrest

Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. Coach Leonard Hamilton, this is a question about energy and karma. How would you describe the energy that your tremendous run in the NCAA Tournament has brought to this season? And then on the question of karma, we're sitting here in Charlotte, just a stone's throw from where you grew up in Gastonia. We'll be coming back here for the ACC Tournament in Charlotte. What does the karma of that and the energy of your NCAA Tournament have to do with this possibly being a Florida State season?
LEONARD HAMILTON: To be honest with you, I think our players understood beginning of last year we had an opportunity to have a really good season and we had the potential to be a good basketball team. We had 22 weeks of injuries. We had 17 games a combination of three players missed. So we played with a lot of energy, but we kind of sputtered a lot with making the adjustment.

We feel that we fell a little short last year. We thought we had a chance to get to the Final Four. No one else thought we did, but that's how we felt at the beginning of the year. So the energy was good during the year. We just had some challenges that we had to overcome. We've gone into this year now even more determined, and we've utilized what we think we came up a little short as a motivator to evaluate what we could have done a little better last year to maybe not come up short, and obviously, we couldn't avoid the injuries.

But I think that we shot 35 percent from three-point range. Could we have spent a little bit more time at the gym and put that at 38? That would have won three or four more games for us. We shot 69 percent from the free-throw line, which we should have shot, let's say, 76 percent, 75 percent. 70 percent of all games in the ACC are decided by four points or less. So if those two things alone could have improved our record a little bit. We didn't get to the free-throw line nearly as much. So we focus on those areas where we think we can throw.

Sure, we've had energy. Sure, there's some excitement about our program, and on the outside people feel good about where we are and what we were able to accomplish by going to the Elite Eight. But as a team, we feel we came up a little short. So even though we enjoyed it, we realize we still have a lot of work to do. We have some goals we'd like to reach, and I think that's going to parlay itself into hopefully a little better focus. It has in the preseason, and it also is working well for us as we go through our preparation for practice as we look to the start of the season.

As far as being close to Gastonia, obviously, growing up as a kid in North Carolina admiring and respecting and being an ACC basketball fan, it meant an awful lot to me. I remember all the good old days. I remember Vick (inaudible), Bones McKinney, and Norm Sloan. Gosh, those guys were legends to me, and I read about them every day. I couldn't wait the next morning to get the newspaper to read what happened the night before. So I was an avid ACC fan and watched the whole transition when Tyler Scott and Davis and all those kids matriculated into school.

But coming back to the ACC area to play in the tournament, I realize that, because of the Tobacco Road teams, the teams in the close proximity to each other, they created years and years of excitement with the competitive spirit and the energy that it brought in this generally located area, and it's kind of spilled off into Virginia and added Clemson, Georgia Tech. Those teams all got caught up in it. So coming back to Charlotte, where fans have not had an opportunity to see the tournament for a number of years, I'm expecting them to be at their most highest level of enthusiasm and support and looking forward to it.

The tournament has always been run well here in North Carolina, but the excitement, I think, that the tournament will bring to an area of people who have grown to love and respect ACC basketball is going to be extremely exciting.

Q. Terance, a question from the podium. You had a birthday last week, and you're starting your senior season. Where did the time go? How did all this happen?
TERANCE MANN: Yeah, I know. I came here an 18-year-old freshman from Massachusetts not really knowing much, but I've grown in my four years here so far. It's been an amazing experience to be able to go to the tournament and make an impact on an ACC team. It's just a dream come true really.

Q. Trent, what does a guy like Terance Mann mean to this program?
TRENT FORREST: Terance means a lot. He's the glue guy for our team. He's the voice of our team. All the players, we look up to Terance. He's a great leader for us. We enjoy playing and following after Terance.

Q. Obviously, there's a little bit of injury going on with Florida State. Phil Cofer was due to be here, Coach. How's he doing? What's his mindset? What's the team's mindset knowing that Phil may be out for a little while?
LEONARD HAMILTON: We're probably one of the more experienced teams in the ACC in dealing with injuries. Last year Christ Koumadje had a stress fracture. He was out seven weeks. Trent had a bone bruise. He was out eight weeks. P.J. Savoy had another bone bruise. He was out seven weeks. A total of 17 games that those guys missed.

I think our team is built to handle adversity. We play a lot of people. We have quality of our depth has been something that we've always tried to put at the forefront of our program. We've used it to the best of our ability. Someone else is going to step up. We have to make some adjustments in our rotation, I'm sure, but hopefully Phil will come back strong. Other guys will have more opportunity to get more minutes here early.

The main thing is we've got to figure out a way to win basketball games without one of our leaders, and hopefully, that will be an adjustment we can make. But we went through this similar situation last year. We sputtered a little bit. Hopefully, we'll be stronger this year and be able to handle it a little better.

Q. Question for the players -- and, Coach, you may want to jump in on this as well -- looking at your roster, I'm counting at least eight players that got quite a bit of playing time last year. That's more than most schools in the league. How does that make practice more competitive? How does that influence the season to have that much experience?
TRENT FORREST: It just adds a lot of experience. Everybody knows what we're supposed to do. Everybody has the feeling that at any time they can be called upon, and I feel like, when we go into practice, that makes it more competitive because we know each other, we know what we're supposed to be doing, and it makes for a good atmosphere. So then when we get to the games, it's much easier when a Coach goes nine, ten, or however far deep in the bench that he wants to, and everybody is okay with that.

TERANCE MANN: Yeah, I agree. I think the competitive spirit is definitely a good thing for us. We've got five teams of five in practice sometimes. So just having that, just competitive, always playing against competition, knowing that, you know, if injury does happen like it does, we've got somebody, people who are prepared for it because they go over stuff in practice, they see it in the games and stuff like that.

LEONARD HAMILTON: What we've tried to do is play positionless basketball, and we only have one guy who only plays one position on our team, and that's Koumadje, the 7'4" guy. He's the only one that doesn't bring the ball down the court. He's the only one that doesn't push it. When he gets the rebound, the only time we throw it to the outlet is when he gets the rebound. Everyone else -- so we're interchangeable. I even have my guards setting ball screens.

So we are prepared, and the interesting thing about our team is that a lot of guys are in close proximity to each other from a talent standpoint. We've had two scrimmages. Yesterday we had a scrimmage, and I think it was a one-point game, I believe, in the first segment. In the second segment, it was tied up, and we actually mixed all the teams up, and they know the plays, they know each other, they know what to expect. But I think our team is so closely divided, in terms of even with talent -- obviously, we have guys like Terance with more experience, he and Phil -- but I think our talent level is close, so we're comfortable playing eight, nine, ten, eleven deep. Many times we'll play 11 guys in the first ten minutes. Not because we're doing anything other than we want everybody to play hard with a tremendous amount of energy.

And we try to develop a system where everyone is on the same page, and we practice that way every day. We normally go five-on-five-on-five. We have three teams of five, and regardless of who, it always seems to work out that way. So we prepare the quality of our depth. We don't put starting lineups out there with any group in practice because we all are intertwined.

Right now if I had to pick a starting lineup, I'd say I have a starting eight, but I'm going to have a starting nine or ten. We feel like the strength of our team is in our numbers, and we win games by committee.

Q. Trent, I say this almost jokingly, though, with that type of practice, knowing that everybody is next up means you've really got to pay attention during the game too, right? It might be your number that's getting ready to be called.
TRENT FORREST: Definitely. I feel like that's what helped me my first two years is always being locked into what's going on in the game, seeing things that maybe the starters don't see, and then when you get in the game, you can execute that, and that's just a way for us to bring energy to the game. At that point in time, you never know, that may be a turning point for the game.

Q. Coach, you talked last year about maybe doing a little bit more to control a destiny, and this is sort of along those lines. When you look at your non-conference schedule, how do you schedule with the idea of putting yourself in the best position possible come conference play?
LEONARD HAMILTON: There's no doubt that this non-conference schedule is a little more challenging. It's as challenging a one as we have faced since I've been at Florida State. They have the opportunity to play against the St. Louis team that's picked to win its conference in Ft. Lauderdale, a neutral site. Obviously, playing in the tournament in Orlando, if we're successful against a UAB, I'm pretty sure we have an opportunity to play LSU. And then if you win that game, you have a chance to play against the National Champions in Villanova. Obviously, Purdue coming through our place this year. In the ACC, challenge is going to be a significant opportunity for us once again. And then we go on the road at Tulane.

But I think that level, that kind of schedule is ongoing to prepare us for the ACC race. And one thing about the ACC, in regards to who you're playing, home or on the road, if you're not really mentally and emotionally ready, something bad could happen to you. I think the preseason schedule we have, and now that we probably won't have Phil for the majority of it, it's going to be extremely challenging. Someone else has to step up.

Q. Terance, what do you expect of yourself for your senior season? Obviously, you want to contribute, you want to play hard, you want to leave a legacy. Game by game, how are you going to approach it, this being your last run?
TERANCE MANN: Just really playing as hard as I can, just having my teammates know that they can rely on me for whatever it is really, just being that leader out there on the court. Not really too much big expectations. We're just trying to get back to that second weekend in March and get to that Final Four.

Q. Wanted to ask you about Kabengele's development. Made some big plays at tournament time last year, 6'10", can play all over the court. What does he bring to your program?
LEONARD HAMILTON: He has developed in such a positive way that I can't find words to express how proud we are of him. I think he was 6'6" in high school. He went to a prep school. Grew to be 6'10". Well, really grew to be about 6'7-1/2", 6'8". We brought him in and redshirted him as a freshman. Now he's 6'10", 250. He actually shed almost 18, 19 pounds during this process, and he did it all on his own by getting up early in the morning, jogging by himself. What was it, P90?


LEONARD HAMILTON: P-90X, whatever that is, he got involved with that program, watching what he's eating. He's becoming more and more of a complete player. He's kind of our secret weapon. He's a big strong kid that can play the five position, but he's also a guy that can step away from the court and be one of our better three-point shooters. He's a good rebounder.

He's a guy that we're expecting great things from. He's in that eight that I'm talking about, guys that it doesn't really matter, we might change lineups at halftime. I don't know. We haven't even given it a thought. We just know that we've got to develop a large rotation in order for us to compete the way we want to. I'm very pleased with his progress.

There's no doubt that he's one of our better players. Nothing that he does surprises us because we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He has that high motor. Plays with a tremendous amount of energy. He's strong, determined, and he's a guy that I think is going to surprise a lot of people in the ACC.

Q. Coach, speaking of Kabengele's development, M.J. Walker had great moments for you last year too, and I know you give challenges to each of your guys coming into the next year. What's been your big challenge to him coming into the season?
LEONARD HAMILTON: I'm sure I can speak for the whole staff, and I'm sure my players want to step in and make some comments. I have been unbelievably pleased with the progress he's made from his freshman year to his sophomore year. He's a great youngster who gave us a tremendous lift offensively last year, but he was trying to figure it out, and I think he's figured it out. His defense has been outstanding. He's playing with an extreme amount of confidence. He doesn't allow anything to deter him.

Last year I felt, like most freshmen sometimes, when he didn't get off to a good start, sometimes he would maybe not play with the level of confidence that a mature player would play with. But his effort has been excellent. He's a guy that I think we're going to enjoy watching. I mean, he's done a great job up to this point, and I'm really excited about what the prospects of him having an outstanding year.

He's very important for us. He has the ability to defend. He's a very good outside shooter. He takes the ball to the basket aggressively, and he's a good passer and sees the floor. So there's no doubt that in order -- we expected him to be a main contributor to our team.

Q. Terance, your reaction?
TERANCE MANN: Yeah, I agree. I'm really impressed with the way he grew defensively especially. I know during practice he always tries to guard me. He tells everybody, yeah, get away. I'm guarding Terance. Get away. So he's been doing -- he's been having a conscious effort on the defensive end, which is really nice to see because we're definitely going to need that out of him and for him to step up big time this year.

Q. Trent, you get the last question. When you come back here in March, what type of team do you think you're going to be bringing with you?
TRENT FORREST: I would say hungry, a hungry team. The last two years, we haven't done as good as we wanted to in the ACC Championship or in the tournament. So now I feel like that's something that's on our shoulders. We have five seniors. I know they want to go out with a bang and win the ACC Championship. So I feel like, by the time we get there, we're going to be ready to make it to the last day of the tournament.

Q. Quick follow-up. Does it help that you now see the building, that you can see the scale of it?
TRENT FORREST: Definitely. It helps a lot. The atmosphere here, we can already expect there's going to be a lot of energy, a lot of fans, and we're just looking forward to the tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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