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Leonard Hamilton Interview (9-1-20)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
September 1, 2020 4:33 pm

Leonard Hamilton Interview (9-1-20)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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September 1, 2020 4:33 pm

Leonard Hamilton joined The Drive with Josh Graham to discuss the passing of John Thompson and more. 


Doing a little research for this interview. We're now being joined now by Florida State head coach, Leonard Hamilton. I came across a couple of things that I thought were pretty interesting. Stats that you might not think about how great Florida State basketball has been over the last five years in the ACC. In the last five years, here are the only teams that have a better record than Florida State. North Carolina, Michigan State, Virginia, Kansas, and Duke. When you look at specifically in the ACC, ACC record altogether in the last five years, the Seminoles have a better record than North Carolina by a couple of games. And the only teams ahead of them, Virginia and Duke. That's the type of program Florida State's leading right now. And we saw it with them winning the ACC outright this year and technically winning the ACC Basketball Championship, the tournament in Greensboro. At least they got the trophy.

And in fact, that's where I want to start with Coach Hamilton. Coach, where the heck is that championship trophy from Greensboro? I'm sure it's around here somewhere because when we got off the plane and come back from Greensboro, we all just disbanded and we really have not really been back in the office except sparingly up to this point. So to be honest with you, we haven't had a chance to place the trophy. I'm sure it's in the case around here somewhere, but no one's been around in the building because we've all been kind of locked out on certain descents and people aren't allowed in the building.

So we're still dealing with the overload of the pandemic. Yeah, I still think about March the 12th quite a bit where the image that sticks with me, it's your players receiving that ACC tournament trophy on a Thursday without having played any games in the tournament. No fans in the stands. But what sticks with me is the look on your players faces having wanted to play that day. What do you remember most from that locker room and really that day as a whole, which ended with us learning that that was the end of the college basketball season? Well, to be very honest with you, I had anticipated us not playing in the ACC tournament.

And to be very honest with you, I felt very uncomfortable the night before and getting on the bus. I told my staff that I would be surprised if we played the game. And quite frankly, it was a little unsettling to me to think about going out and playing and under the circumstances that we were dealing with, with limited amount of people in the stands. And in my mind, I'm saying if we're concerned about this virus, I'm not really sure the virus is going to set in those empty seats and not come out on the court and tap somebody on the shoulder.

And it just was not settling right with me. And then as we were given our pregame preparation, when after that, the director walked in and motioned for me to come over to my locker. And then I really, my mind was racing and wondering what I'm going to say to my guys and realizing that the tournament has been canceled. But to be very honest with you, I didn't pay enough attention to the particulars once I realized the tournament was over. And I didn't understand that we were going to be presented a trophy before the game.

That didn't rest on me until we actually got on the floor. And I thought maybe the comment was that we were just going to be the representative of the ACC conference at the NCAA. Normally, that would be the team that won the tournament, but we had won the regular season. So we were going to be the representative. And then that came with the trophy. I understood we were going to represent, but I didn't understand that we actually was going to be presented the trophy. And so it was a little unsettling to me. I'm not real sure our players really knew what was going on.

That's why you saw some bewildered facial expressions during the ceremony. Leonard Hamilton with us here on Sports Hub Triad. You're being broadcast across your home state in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point. Speaking of High Point, Tubby Spiff going to be with us a little bit later on.

And the Piedmont Triad. We were talking to Steve Forbes last week, Wake Forest new basketball coach, and he said on these weekly calls that you guys do, there were a couple options available. He said that January 1st wasn't something that was really being considered yet, but starting the season on time is one option. Posting things a week back was another. Thanksgiving seems to be the most popular option with students not being on campus and having maybe a little bit more of a bubble surrounding things. And December 1st was also being looked at. Are those the options as you understand it?

And which one do you prefer, you think? Now, Josh, to be very honest with you, I have not allowed myself to get caught up in when we're going to start. I'm only concerned myself with preparing our guys the best we possibly can because all this speculation is really predicated on what happens with the virus, whether or not there's a vaccine, whether or not there are flare-ups. So all these things we're talking about are discussion points and what we want is going to be dictated by science and what the medical people say is the best approach for us to play and keep our kids safe. So I have not allowed myself to get caught up in what is better because what's better to me is what's going to allow our guys to be as safe as possible as we move forward. And I really don't care when we play as long as everybody is safe and that we don't have any issues. That's the most important thing to me.

If we don't start until February, I'm fine with it as long as whatever we're doing is in the best interest of our players. I want to get your thoughts on the news of this week. Yesterday on a radio station, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim shared their thoughts on the late, great Big John Thompson passing away at 78 years old. I always hear there are great stories around the games when he was coaching or even when he was broadcasting of the type of personality he was. What's the best John Thompson story you can share with us?

Well, I probably have more of an intimate relationship with John than any of those guys. They knew him from the coaching profession, but he was a friend of mine. He took me under his wings.

He met with me. He probably was responsible as much as anybody for me starting my career as a head coach at Oklahoma State. I thought his recommendation to them off me probably had more to do with me becoming the head coach at Oklahoma State.

Even when I had issues and things that I was inexperienced in, I always leaned on him for that wisdom and that advice that allowed me to make decisions as it relates to my program. Then, my final year at Oklahoma State, I had a really, really good team return. As a matter of fact, I think that team went to the Sweet 16. I was reluctant to want to consider other jobs. University of Miami had expressed a lot of interest.

I had not agreed to even visit with them. The final four was in Denver, and I had avoided interviewing for a Miami job until John and George Ravelin caught me in the lobby. They both put their arms on one shoulder and one on the other and said, You need to go interview for the job. What those guys told me to do, I did. That afternoon, I remember falling in that direction and going over to the hotel and meeting with the AD. Per their recommendation, I left the tournament, went back home, picked my wife up, and we went on the interview to University of Miami. That's why I ended up there for John Thompson's persistence in saying that I at least need to interview for the job.

Had he not told me that, I could still be in Stilwell, Oklahoma, instead of moving on. That's how much influence he had on me. What's the biggest misconception people have about big John Thompson? I really don't know if there is a misconception, because I think what you saw is what you got from him. He was a guy who really, really felt comfortable with who he was and what he represented, and he acted accordingly.

I don't know if there was any misconception. I know he loved his players and his players loved him. Maybe the fact that he was a big guy and everyone knew that his players followed his direction, you probably could have misinterpreted that as being maybe an overly firm and maybe sometimes volatile or abusive guy. I know he led his players to a great level of communication, love, respect, that I think that I always learn things from. I remember doing critical parts in games where players would make mistakes, where you see some coaches expressing their displeasure in a body language way that makes you think that the guys really being aggressive for you. I watched him when guys made mistakes. He would console them, put his arm around them, encourage them in a positive manner, and I always thought that's why his guys gave it up so hard for him. I've always tried to emulate that myself in the way I communicate with my players, and that's probably the only thing I can think of, because he was firm on some things over here, unwaving. But with his players, they loved him because he communicated and taught them to perform out of commitment and respect and for being motivated for themselves as opposed to what you sometimes see with some coaches who lead by intimidation. Follow Leonard Hamilton on Twitter if you don't already.

FSU coach Hammy's with us here on Sports Hub Triad. I mentioned a lot of those things that you guys have done over the last five years on the way in. I mean, five straight 20-win seasons.

I mean, 26, 29, 23, 26, 20. It's a remarkable thing that you've built with the Seminoles, and I don't know if this has been announced yet, but I understand it that you're going to be on the Naismith Hall of Fame ballot for 2021. And I'm just interested, what would getting into a hall like that mean to you? Now, you just made me aware of something, but I didn't know anything about that.

Explain to me what you just asked me about, because I have no clue. Somebody, I was told that there's a good chance you might be on the Naismith Hall of Fame ballot for 2021. Well, you know, that's news to me, but you know, the difference with you, Josh, if you're a coach who coaches to receive one of those, that's one of the highest honors you can receive, you know, and if that's your end goal, then I think that's a little short-sighted. What we do is far more important with how we evaluate.

If it runs with you, you don't really can't hardly evaluate us as coaches the five or six years after our players have left us and you evaluate what they're doing with their lives. I mean, if they're good citizens and neighbors and husbands and fathers and they're in a good place in life where they benefited from being in your company for three or four, five, four, several years, then you've accomplished a goal. And we always are trying to win that game, the game of life. When you allow kids to come on, you take kids in when they're teenagers and you usher them to young adulthood, that's what this is all about. You're a surrogate parent for them while they're with you. And if you just worry about taking care of those daily responsibilities and then, by the way, you want to have enough talent where hopefully you can win enough games to keep your job. But coaching and winning games is very important, but the most important thing we do is dealing with young people and helping them in doing that most important part of their life when they're growing and developing their ideas and philosophies of how they're going to live their life. If you're doing that properly, then that's the reward I'm looking for. That's when they call you on Father's Day and they send you a Christmas card with a picture of their family and they want you to be the godfather to the kids or they want you to make sure you come to win and meet their fiancé. To me, those are the rewards I'm looking for and if that means that that unbelievably honor is bestowed upon you, but that honor without the other probably would be pale in comparison.

That's very well said. Leonard Hamilton with us here. I want to close with this. You did get handed an ACC tournament trophy the last time you were in the Greensboro Coliseum, but we love catching up with you because you obviously are a North Carolina guy from Gastonia. I'm just interested in what your earliest basketball memories were watching the ACC. When you think about the earliest days where you started falling in love with college basketball and watching the Atlantic Coast Conference, what comes to mind first, Leonard?

Well, obviously I was just a very basketball fan and there were guys. I think Catawba had a guy named Dwight Duran. Western Carolina had a guy named Henry Logan. I think Dean Littles was at High Point. He had a big guy at Guilford College. Even though he had Mike Malloy at Davidson with Lefty, all the basketball was just circling around in our area. But the ACC obviously was the granddaddy. I remember the tournaments that they had.

Obviously we couldn't see them, but I just watched them on TV with Big Boobus and Bones McKinney. And those guys back in those days, I can just remember watching them. But I can remember it was yesterday and there was an article in the newspaper of Eddie Bietenbach and he was sitting, I believe, at half court and he had about 20 or 30 shoes around him that he had worn out because he played so hard. Obviously, that was a fun memory. But I also remember when Charlie Scott was a freshman in Longburg Institute. They had freshman ball back in those days. And Longburg Institute and Charlie Scott being the first black player, I think, to play at Carolina, they would play in the solid color film and just pack the place. And when Mike Davidson had a freshman team and Carolina had a freshman team, both of those guys integrating basketball in Carolina at that level was huge for the state of North Carolina in basketball. And obviously, Paulie and Charlie and Malloy, who was at Davidson, and Lester Giselle and that whole era of basketball, even with Coach McGuire down in South Carolina when he was in South Carolina was a part of the SEC at that particular time. So I have a lot of fond memories of trying to catch them on TV and reading the newspapers and following them after every game to see who scored points and, you know, even Art Heyman. So I go way back to reading all those articles and I just grew more and more to love basketball and envy it and was hoping one day that I'd have an opportunity to play college basketball and earn my education as well. And you've had such a wonderful career and those are such wonderful stories and I appreciate you sharing them with us and coming on in the Triad. You're always welcome in the heart of the ACC. Coach Hamilton, congratulations on a great season last year and I hope the next time we're speaking, we're going to be talking about basketball sooner rather than later.

Thanks for doing this. Now, Josh, you tell your listeners, don't sleep on the Seminole. You know, I was telling our players the other day, we don't die, we multiply. So we got a good team, Josh. Don't sleep on us, Coach. We're new bloods, man.

We're not new bloods yet, but we're new bloods and we're trying to earn our rightful place. That's a threat. That's Leonard Hamilton. It's a threat here. The Seminoles are coming for you.

All right, y'all have a good day. Yeah, there he is. Leonard Hamilton on Twitter at FSU Coach Ham. That guy's the best, Robert.

The absolute best. Didn't think we'd get Art Heyman in today's show. Who else was he talking about? Mike Gallo talking about Bones McKinney. It's all really good stuff. Spreading it around a bit. All right, Robert, we got I think we have time to do our NFL trading card war in our next segment. Let's do that. Our weekly NFL trading card wars next.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-12 03:43:42 / 2023-02-12 03:50:38 / 7

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