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October 12, 2021

Leonard Hamilton

Malik Osborne

Anthony Polite

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Florida State Seminoles

Press Conference


Q. I will ask it from the podium. With the retirement of Coach Williams and with Coach K's retirement on the way given Florida State's tenure in the conference, you're about to become the older statesman. It's sort of an open-ended comment.

LEONARD HAMILTON: There's no doubt that those two guys have been the pillars of our league. They are icons. We're going to really miss them. Not only what they brought to us, the conference on the court. I thought their leadership in legislations and the respect that they brought to the game of basketball will be missed.

But because they're such rich traditions and successful programs, I expect the guys that are replacing them, you know, could not have been selected better. I expect Scheyer and Davis to step right in and keep the beat going. They have probably two of the most successful programs in the history of basketball.

And the tradition and support and the legacy that the school has built for itself, I'm sure that even though they'll miss them, you expect them to maintain their rightful place in the hierarchy of basketball programs around the country.

Q. Coach Hamilton, how are you doing? I just want to know from your perspective as far as your program, where do you feel it is from a national perspective? And are you seeing that on the recruiting trails as far as the respect you're getting outside of the region?

LEONARD HAMILTON: We don't really worry that much about respect. Respect is something that you earn. And when you're in a conference with the rich tradition like the ACC, programs have 70 and 80 years of successful traditional exposure, like the programs in our league have enjoyed over the years, it's very difficult for us to expect to make up the ground for 75, 80 years of success.

So that's why we call ourselves the new bloods. And our players say we're not going anywhere. So maybe we're not as well known. Maybe. I really don't know because we don't try to measure ourselves. We just try to represent who we are now, and we're not worrying about the respect.

When you look at the things we've been able to do at Florida State, I think that that -- it requires you to at least take notice. We've won 25 straight home games in the ACC. Next one we win at home we'll tie the all time winningest home record in the history of the ACC.

We lost four games in five years at home. We won 11 straight overtime games. We've been to three straight Sweet 16s. So I think we're carving out our own niche. We're not going to try to compare ourselves with those programs of the past. We're just trying to represent ourselves right now, and sooner or later whatever is to come our way will come our way.

Q. Coach, these last 18 months, the transfer portal, being able to play right away, as well as NIL, a pandemic, how have you navigated the 18 months? And what have you seen out of your team and out of Tallahassee in general, the community, as you try to build together on court and off court through a very unique time?

LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, you talking about two different things. The rules that govern college basketball is what they are, so we have to make adjustments that's necessary. There's one thing good about college basketball: you have a lot of great high school players, a lot of athletes, a lot of kids to choose from. So you have to work hard at evaluating and finding the niche those youngsters who find who we are appealing.

Then as far as the NIL, the portal, the overtime, the one and dones, the transfer that -- and be eligible immediately, that's just part of the new landscape of college basketball, and you have to find a way to adjust. We're not going to change the rules. It's just the way it is.

And what we try to do is just be observant, be who we are, worry about that which we can control, and move on. And our guys are focused. We try not to clog their minds with a lot of the challenges. We feel that we -- if we just stay focused on us and be the best we can be, everything else will fall in place.

Q. Little bit of a similar question, but how impressed are you that you guys were able to navigate the challenges of last year so well, finish tied for first in the conference? And how much does that help you going into this year?

LEONARD HAMILTON: I'm so proud of the discipline that our players displayed last year. We had a couple of what you call false positives that created a little bit of an issue. It wasn't their doing. It was just some laboratory miss-reads that caused us a little -- some problems.

And we had another youngster that had COVID from the summer and he tested before his 90 days were up, and that created a problem. But these guys were just fabulous.

And I look back at being 19, 20 years old and then I'm confined to my room, I'm taking all my classes online, I'm not going out, I'm not being a regular student and I'm confined. Dealing with my guys all year, confined to each other, that was somewhat challenging.

When I look back -- that would have been very difficult for me. So our guys came through with flying colors. Showed a lot about why we've been as successful as we've been over the years. I know our kids are graduating, staying focused, we're doing the things necessary.

Our culture supersedes any stresses and pressures that I think these guys have been able to -- have endured over the years, especially last year. So I'm proud of them. I think we are in a good place, and I hope that level of discipline and focus carries over to this season and hopefully we can -- now that we have a little more freedom, be somewhat normal, I'm hoping that will give us even a greater encouragement to go out and have another good year.

Q. Wanted to ask you just a little bit more about Coach K and the closeness of the relationship maybe you have with him and if there's any kind of special moments over the years that you guys have shared?

LEONARD HAMILTON: Coach K has been such a icon, such an unselfish person in the way that he's given of his self for the good of the game of basketball. All the committees he's been on.

And when we've been successful against them, which is -- be honest, hasn't been that much -- he's always been gracious and encouraging and complimentary of our team and our program. I can't say enough about the relationship that we've been able to establish.

I think he's been just so good for not only for us personally in the ACC, but he's been good for basketball. And I hope that he finds a way to stay in the game because he's definitely a guy who makes a difference in how basketball is looked around the world.

The fact that he's been able to be as successful as he has been in the ACC and then go right to dealing with the NBA players and be as successful with them speaks for itself. He's a true legend, and we're going to miss him in the ACC. But if I know him, he'll always keep his hand in basketball.

Q. Anthony and Malik, just what you can say about Coach Hamilton and what he's done with this team and how Florida State has evolved to have your own piece of the pie, so to speak?

MALIK OSBORNE: I'll go first. I mean, kind of what -- when I first came in I kind of saw like the change towards the basketball culture. When I first came in we became the new bloods, but I just saw the emphasis that Coach Ham had on the team as opposed to a lot of other coaches that I had experienced or viewed.

He really focused on really just the chemistry, the connectivity of the players, open relationship, being transparent. So that's what really made it different for me I would say as a player coming in.

It usually is kind of like a business relationship from what I've seen in the past where people are like employees on the court and then off court they're their own people.

But the culture Coach Ham has established, it's like a family, it's a brotherhood, and it makes us play harder for each other, play for him. It makes us play for a different purpose, which I think has always been the catalyst for us making long runs in the postseason or having stretches in conference where we've gone on like a decent winning streak.

So I would say Coach Ham has done a great job, which is changing the culture and just emphasizing the right things, bringing the right people, and having the right staff on board to just create an entire family as opposed to just a team.

ANTHONY POLITE: Yeah. I believe the same. I mean, when I came on my visit I thought that the environment of the team was just like a family, and that made it super easy way to make my choice. The way that we are just around each other, not just on the basketball court but off court, we're super close, and it makes everything a lot easier to just play on court and just play off each other.

I believe Coach Ham, the coaching staff, does a great job of looking for guys and making sure that their chemistry is great and I believe that that's what's been making a difference in these past couple years.

Q. Malik, from the podium, Florida State has won 11 straight overtime games. What gives? What's special about those five minutes that seems like Florida State is always going to come out on top?

MALIK OSBORNE: That question kind of ties into really what I had -- we had just answered recently. But like it really is just the chemistry, just the will to fight for your brother knowing that are hard. And, you know, we have so many team activities. Me and the guys, we hang out all the time off court, and that's what really kind of allows us to build that trust not only just amongst each other but just how our systems are.

They're really predicated on trust, and allows us to just breakthrough that adversity. We know that we prepare ourselves mentally and physically for those overtime situations because we know the competition, the ACC, we know that winning by 2 or 3 points according to Coach Ham is an ACC blow out. So we know that every game is going to be tight, every game is going to be competitive, so we mentally prepare ourselves.

But just being able to be connected off court as well as on court allows us to trust each other and push through that adversity in overtime and come out successful.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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