Image Credit: FSU Athletics
Florida State University is getting close to putting up another national championship banner – not at Bobby Bowden or Joanne Graf or Mike Martin Fields, but at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. It might not be not this year, but I wouldn’t count the possibility out. The hard work, money, and patience that’s been invested into the basketball program is finally paying off.
Joining the ACC
Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s and watching the football program and the basketball program, I was shocked that we joined the ACC. When James Coleman and I interviewed Bobby Bowden, he noted that one of the many reasons for joining the ACC over the SEC was to improve the basketball program. Welcome to the future.
Journey to the Present
I recall the glory days of Charlie Ward and Bob Sura. The ‘Noles made it to the Elite Eight, and we wondered if we would ever get back there. I remember the intensity then, and I see that same intensity now, but with depth.
Coming into the season, many wondered if we could replace what we had lost in consecutive Sweet 16 runs. Think about it – we lost Mann, Kabengele, Koumadje, Savoy, Nichols. But here, in March, we see – it didn’t matter. Our program is deep – more so than at any point in its history. We now look forward to one of FSU Basketball’s greatest recruiting classes ever, and a program that’s 22-4 in the All Carolina Conference. Wow. What a journey.
Slow and Steady
It wasn’t easy. There was a point in which we didn’t think Ham would make it. It took time. Ham’s recruiting missed a couple big-time recruits. It took patience, years of recruiting players into a new system, all the while developing, disciplining, and holding them accountable. Between 2002-2018, 98.3% of the players who played all four years graduated. His steady presence on the hardwood has been key as we had issues academically and between the lines on the football field.
That is who Leonard Hamilton is.
For all the woes we’ve endured with football in the last half a decade, there are no questions about stars or dynamic players for Leonard Hamilton. He will bench you if you don’t perform to his standard – the Florida State standard. When asked about specific player discipline, the answer is standard – “Do you talk about how you discipline your children?” The culture Ham has planted, fostered, and grown is paying off. The question of FSU Basketball isn’t one of getting the ball to a player, but to finding the hot hand. It doesn’t matter who scores – from Trent Forrest to the “Green Vipers”. Someone steps up. Every game. There’s always someone – if it’s not you, your job is to be a team player.
And that is how he wins.