Postgame: Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton on win over Virginia Tech

accFlorida State coach Leonard Hamilton and players comment on FSU’s win over Virginia Tech in the 2017 ACC Tournament.

 

LEONARD HAMILTON: Virginia Tech was very well-prepared. We had a very difficult time at the beginning of the game because they confused us, made us somewhat tentative with their defensive coverages. We made some adjustments there midway in the second half, and we were able to climb back into the lead offensively, and we also went to a seldom-used zone. I thought Christ Koumadje came in and gave us a good lift. He just clogged up the middle there and gave them a different look.

Second half we came out and it was still nip and tuck, very hard-fought game, but I thought we got some stops, got some easy baskets. Dwayne hit a couple of baskets, and we got some put-backs, extended the lead a little bit, and we were able to kind of get the game and the tempo that we like.

Q. Dwayne, what did you think happened in that stretch there, I think you guys scored in nine consecutive possessions to push things out a little bit.
DWAYNE BACON: I think we stayed in attack mode, me, myself, Christ was making the shots he can make. Every guy that we had on the team that was in the game at the time was just pitching in in a positive way, and I think that’s what made us have a successful run.

Q. Coach, when LeDay had to leave the floor with the fouls, you guys took advantage and had that big run. Talk about that as a difference maker in the game.
LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, we had intended in our game to be extremely aggressive in terms of taking the ball to the basket, but their schemes and their ability to plug the hole and not give you clear vision of how you can get to the basket was problematic for us, but during that period, I thought we moved the ball a little better, created some wider gaps, and we were able to get in, drive, and got some put-backs, and I thought that really made the difference. In fact we were a lot more aggressive during that period because our ball movement was a lot better.

Q. Do you feel like in the second half, could you sense you were wearing them down and the depth advantage you had was kicking in there?
JONATHAN ISAAC: Yeah, that’s our thing, and this team has a great depth and that’s exactly what we do. We wear teams down. So we already know what’s going to happen. When we start off slow, we’re in the locker room saying we’re going to wear them down because that’s what we do.

Q. Coach, you mentioned Koumadje, just the presence you guys had down low, seemed like that was a real big advantage for you guys, and for the players, the vindication of picking up a big win on the road.
LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, it’s important that we got to the next round, no doubt about that, just for the confidence of our players and the fact that they’ve worked real hard all year. The fact that Ojo had two fouls and Jarquez had two fouls and we were able to go to our third-string center and he was able to come in and be effective, I thought that was huge for us. All year long the quality of our depth has raised its head there during most of the games and given us an opportunity to win games.

DWAYNE BACON: I think there’s a chance right now where every game is going to be on the road so we can’t look at any game and be like, oh, this is on the road or this is on the road because it’s tournament time, so every time we play now from here on out is going to be on the road so we’ve just got to compete like if we were home and that’s kind of what we did tonight when we came out in the second half.

JONATHAN ISAAC: Like Dwayne said, you could tell in the first half, we had a little bit of jitters, but we ironed it out in the second half and we felt comfortable and just went to work.

Q. Dwayne, I think you were 0-5 in the first half and you’ve excelled on every level in every big game. Did you say something to yourself or did anybody say something to you?
DWAYNE BACON: I don’t talk to myself, but I did, you know — I go in the locker room every time, just be quiet, listen to what everybody got to say and come out in the second half and play my game like I did the first half. It was tough. I had to adjust because it was kind of a mix up. We haven’t played here since earlier in the season, so I kind of had to adjust and had some hand issues but I came out in the second half, sucked it up and played as hard as I could.

Q. Since you don’t talk to yourself, did anybody talk to you?
DWAYNE BACON: Yeah, a couple players told me, this is your half, it’s time to will it in and let’s get this win. We were down 2, so it wasn’t too bad when we came back from halftime. We had a chance to fight back, and that’s what we came out and did.

Q. You had seven three-pointers in the first half, but I don’t think they had another one until the last minute of the game. Did your defense do certain things to make a tougher shooting day for them in the second half?
LEONARD HAMILTON: We tried to make it a tough shooting day for them in the first half. They’re a very good basketball team, and they’re the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the ACC. They’re in the top 10 in the nation. When we played them earlier in the year, they only made four threes. We wanted to try to keep them under their limit.

I thought the second half we didn’t give up as much penetration. We backed off a little bit and contained the dribble a little better, and we were able to contain and not give them the kick-out jump shots as much as what they had been accustomed to in the first half.

Q. Jon and Dwayne, you guys kind of mentioned you’re playing every game outside of the Tucker Center from here on out, you had a little bit of jitters to start the game. To go on that run after letting them lead 8 to 6 points that first half, to cut it to 2 at the half, how big was that to keep that game in front of you and keep it from getting away?
DWAYNE BACON: I think it was pretty big because I don’t even think I was in when we went on that run. It was our bench players and they were just wearing them down, and that’s what we’ve been getting from those guys all year. A lot of those guys are freshmen or newcomers but those guys can play as hard as we can, and that’s what they did. They wore them down, and they had a chance to make a run.

JONATHAN ISAAC: For me it just kept everything in perspective. Our second time playing in the Barclays Center, they played here yesterday, so they’re more accustomed to it, so going into the second half I wasn’t scared at all where we were at. We were down 2. First game coming back to the Barclays Center, so I thought we were in good position, and we made a run.

Q. Jonathan, your length and height really were impactful when you made the big run to get your big lead in the second half; when you’re getting all of those offensive rebounds against them, what are you seeing in them? How is it affecting them when you guys are getting all those offensive rebounds and blocked shots?
JONATHAN ISAAC: I think offensive rebounds, it affects every team. When that other team gets offensive rebounds and puts it back you kind of feel helpless, and we had that mantra going into this game that we were going to beat them on the glass and we’ll try to get 20 offensive rebounds, and I don’t know if we got 20, but we got a lot, 18, so we did our job on the boards.

Q. Just the potential match-up with Virginia-Notre Dame. Your thoughts on the two teams?
LEONARD HAMILTON: This time of year, we all are who we are. We’ll make the necessary adjustments, in-game adjustments, but we’re not going to change very much, so we’re very familiar with them, they’re very familiar with us. We split the season with Notre Dame. We were successful at Virginia. So they know us, we know them. It’s going to be more about us and how well we play, how we execute our defensive philosophy, our offensive philosophy versus what they do. It won’t be a hard prepare for either school. We’ve just got to go be who we are this time of year, and hopefully that’s enough for us to move on to the next round.

Q. Coach, you dominated with points in the paint. Can you talk about how difficult it is for a team whose tallest player is 6’7″ to defend against those guys?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Getting the 18 offensive rebounds obviously was huge for us because we got a chance to get to the foul line, we got a chance to get some easy put-backs. I don’t know how many deflections we got, but we were trying to — we had to back off because they’re such a great team of getting in the lane, and when they get in the lane, they kick out. We decided that what we would do the second half, they would have to make tough twos, and they made quite a few of them, but they didn’t make the tough twos and the threes. So the lift, I thought bothered them somewhat because we tried to play with our hands up to try to make it as difficult for them to see past the lanes and finish lanes as possible.

Q. I think this is the first time you guys have gotten to the semis since ’12. Is there any significance to that for you guys? I know it’s obviously been a great year for you guys, but to get back to this point in this particular event?
LEONARD HAMILTON: I didn’t understand your question.

Q. Is there any significance to you guys getting back to the semifinals after having not been for the last four or five years?
LEONARD HAMILTON: The two times we played for the championship in the ACC, we’ve had similar teams that had quality depth, and we’ve been able to extend, play with a lot of energy, keep people fresh. When we played for the championship and we lost to Duke, I think — what year was that, ’09? And then we won the championship in ’12. We had six seniors and we played 10, 11 guys, and we were able to stay fresh and play with a lot of effort. Our defense was able to be a factor like it was tonight.

Q. Leonard, forget the shooting for a second; how would you assess his play in the first half?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Who?

Q. Handsome on the end there. How would you assess Dwayne’s play in the first half, and do you just expect a player of that caliber will get it going?
LEONARD HAMILTON: I wasn’t concerned at all. I mean, you don’t expect — you would love for your players to be on point all the time, but when you see them every day and you have confidence in them, I whispered in his ear at halftime and told him to be as aggressive as he could the second half. That’s the only thing I said to him, wanted him to be aggressive, because those shots would start falling.

Dwayne has a way of creating offense not only for himself but for his teammates, and the fact that people give him a lot of attention, which opens up opportunities for other people.

Q. Coach, you mentioned that you had to go to a zone at a certain point in this game. This is the second straight game you’ve had to do it. Is it nice to know that you can sometimes when you have to move out of your normal defensive principles have a defense that can deliver like you guys did in zone today?
LEONARD HAMILTON: Well, we work on it quite a bit. Tonight it was working. I’m not a zone guy, but we found out that the caliber of teams that exist in the ACC, you can’t always go all man-to-man with these guys because every team is loaded with players that can make you pay. So sometimes it’s making a little bit of adjustment or creating enough indecision for another team just to give you a chance to get it going on the offensive end, and that’s what happened tonight.

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