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January 21, 2008On Monday afternoon, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton and Virginia's Dave Leitao participated in their weekly ACC teleconference. During that teleconference, both coaches talked about the upcoming Virginia at Florida State game, as well as team specific news, like Hamilton talking about establishing an inside game, and more.
"We lost two games to two teams that I thought played extremely well during critical parts of the game.
Duke, we lost earlier in the week, I thought they played extremely well in the first half and we dug a hole for ourselves. We took a two-point lead with under four minutes to go and they continued to maintain poise, completed their plays, and we weren't able to the finish the game well.
Same thing kind of happened to us against Wake Forest. I thought we played fairly well in the first half until about the 10-minute mark. I don't know if we kind of ran out of gas because we played six guys for about three weeks with some injuries that we have had. Once again a very poised freshman, I think beyond his years, James Johnson stepped up and really had several possessions where I thought he played well and we weren't able to recover from that.
We have played three of our first four games have been on the road, now we have two home games. Hopefully we can kind of catch back up now that we are going to be back home for a few games."
Q: Since conference play started, Isaiah Swann has seemed to struggle. Is there anything going on with him in particular?
LH: I think he is kind of going through one of those periods that a lot of kids go through where they don't seem to be shooting very well and they have a tendency to lose their confidence a little bit. He was fairly consistent from last season into the beginning of this season. Once we get into conference play, I think adjusting to a little more attention he has been receiving has been a little more difficult for him.
That is kind of the way our team has gone, we have not had all our players hitting on those at the same time. We are the kind of team now that has to win by committee. We don't have that one particular guy that can step up and be the homerun guy for us, all of us need to be hitting base hits. We need him to play at a consistent level and I am sure he will get back on top of his game and will make a big difference on our team.
Q: As far as injuries are concerned, is there anybody you expect to heal up and be able to return?
LH: We got Ryan Reid back on the team. His conditioning is not where we need it to be. He has been practicing with us and doing some extra running but he is not in game-shape. Julian (Vaughn), after his 15 day absence from practice or any type of physical activity, we got his clearance. He is working very hard in practice. I think they just need a little more time to get back into the rhythm. Those are our two main concerns. Obviously, we don't have Solomon Alabi for the remainder of the season. I think we are probably going to have to apply for a red-shirt for him. He has had some surgery on his stress fracture.
We have had players in-and-out of lineups playing 47 minutes. We had three guys play 47 minutes against Clemson and one play 41 and close to the same against Duke with guys playing 37 or 38 minutes. I have not been accustomed to utilizing players that much on a consistent basis - a game or two once in a while. It seemed like we kind of wore down some against Wake Forest. Hopefully we can back off in practice a little bit and still maintain our consistency with our execution and kind of get the right balance. Hopefully this week we can establish a little bit more of a balance of an inside-and-outside attack which has really been void in our offensive system since we have had all of these injuries and stuff.
Q: Without getting into specifics, do you try to shut down Sean Singletary or admit that he is going to get his and try to focus on the other guys?
LH: Well I think we normally just try to play good, solid fundamental defense. Obviously you always want to try to stop the opponents best time because most of the time that is the key. Last year when we played Virginia up at their place we got hurt by several of the other players. We have tremendous amount of respect for their team. They shoot the ball well. If you give those guys good looks ? (Adrian) Joseph, he really hurt us up there last year, and (Mamadi) Diane, I thought he has come along strong ? you can't really overlook any of the other guys. Singletary is who he is, I think he is probably one of the top point guards in the nation. You see where he is getting assists as well as scoring points. He just destroyed a very good Boston College team the other day. We have a healthy respect for the entire squad. On the ACC, in any given night, any of those players can step up and have a big night. I think that is what is going on and is why you are having so many close games. Sometimes statistically a guy might not be having great stats but he is a very good player and it is just a matter of him getting it going on that particular night. They are a good basketball team, just like every team in the ACC and we know we need to give everyone of their players the proper attention.
Q: Does Toney Douglas mean to you guys what Singletary means to Virginia?
LH: Well, I think Toney has been a guy who has really had to adjust to being a point guard. He came to us as basically a scoring guard who has really worked hard at adjusting his game. He has made tremendous progress. I think Sean has been kind of an elite guard his entire life. He has demonstrated that if you look at his assist-to-turnover ratio and those types of things. Toney does mean an awful lot to us in a different kind of way. Sean is one of those guys that I think has mastered that leadership position and I don't think Toney is very, very good as far as our team is concerned. We know that he is going to be very, very good for the remainder of the season and for the ACC conference race because he seems to be getting better with each game.
Q: Toney didn't start against Wake Forest and I was wondering if that had to do with fatigue, trying to get a certain rotation, or looking for a spark off the bench?
LH: Not really. That was kind of insignificant to our gameplan or anything. Toney has been very solid for us. I think Ralph (Mims) has been playing very well. We know we need all four of those guys playing. We need a little bit better of a rotation. We need to get (Jordan) Demercy a few more minutes and we need to take the pressure off of Jason (Rich) having to play so much four (power forward) and only being 6-foot-3. We need to get Ryan and Julian back into the rotation a little bit more on the backline so we don't have to be playing small-ball because I don't think that is very effective once you get into the league. We might want to do that to close out games and in certain periods of games but that lack of size, I think it is taking it's toll on our team. We are going to have to get a little bit bigger, stronger, and more powerful inside.
"We are preparing ourselves to go down to Tallahassee and having only been down there one time previous to this, it wasn't an environment we played real well in two years ago. We have to do obviously a really good job especially mentally of preparing for an environment such as that. Especially with a team coming off of a loss and that is particularly a senior dominated backcourt that will be ready physically as well as mentally so we have to be prepared for that. Obviously for us it is another opportunity to try to continue to improve ourselves as we did Saturday by playing well on the road in back-to-back games. We have our work cut out for ourselves in continuing to get better particularly on the defensive end."