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February 9, 2009
On Monday afternoon, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton and Virginia's Dave Leitao participated in their weekly teleconference. The two coaches talked about their upcoming match-up on Tuesday evening in Tallahassee, the play of Solomon Alabi, and much more.
Virginia head coach Dave Leitao
"As we prepare to leave Charlottesville and get down to Tallahassee I look at tomorrow night as well as the remaining schedule for the week with Clemson coming up on Sunday as continued challenges for our young group and how we will respond to those. Having played Florida State more recently, we are working on specifics and adjustments and things that we need to do better regardless of who we are playing and things we need to do better from the last time we played them."
Q: What is it like preparing for Alabi defensively and what he does for them ? how do you attack him and the way he patrols the paint?
Leitao: Well obviously when you have a guy who is one, 7-1, and his reach is about 7-18, just by size alone he becomes a defensive presence. That is one of the reasons they are so good defensively. I think anybody, especially when you are young and developing like that, you have to continue to intelligently challenge. You can't go in there and take a normal lay-up because his size will intimidate you and force you to change your shot ultimately. Usually against a shot blocker you have to go at their body, and that is one of the things you have to talk about. As I said yesterday in our staff meeting when talking about him, every day that he wakes up he becomes a whole lot better. He continues to emerge as a guy who has a number of things that he is learning to do well and a guy with some tremendous potential.
Q: With the lineup you played in the second half against Boston College and again started the other day, it seems like you were setting a tone with that lineup. Is that a lineup you can use long term?
Leitao: Time will tell with that. Obviously it has given us thus far, one of the initial things that we were seeking, which was some more energy and attention to detail and things like that. On the other hand, it doesn't give us certain things. We have to continue to manage and see how. I think with where we are at now and one of the reasons for the change is that you can't worry about some of the aftermath things that we are trying to get which is better defense, trying to score the ball better, and those kind of things until you get consistency in how you play the game.
Q: With as big of a frontcourt as Florida State has, does it make it difficult to put Solomon Tat in at the four?
Leitao: No, not really because there is no bigger or better, maybe taller but not bigger or better frontcourt than we just faced (with UNC). Obviously we didn't win and didn't play as well as we wanted to but at the same point in time I don't think (Solomon) being in there to start the game or at different points is a big time deal. I think sometimes size matter when the size of your intensity and all those things matter too. We have enjoyed the energy and spirit for the game, the position that he is in that is needed for us. Obviously there are some structure things. Anyways, with Echefu and Florida State he is not nearly as much a post-up guy as a face-up guy.
Q: You were talking earlier about Florida State's defense, specifically Solomon Alabi, is there something you can do adjustment wise to counter act or to take advantage of that aggressiveness?
Leitao: Well just looking at it, reviewing the film, it is similar to the North Carolina game and we looked at specifically what they did to us with their transition and what had happened and what we didn't do. We looked at it in terms of the Florida State game and there were a number of cases where they played really good defense. I think defensively they are structured great because at the top of it they have a fifth year guy who is a tremendous defender on the ball and off the ball and he anticipates very well. Then on the back line, which is another key part of it, on defense they are very long and active with Alibi, Echefu, and others. They have good structure, at the same point in time, there were as many, probably more instances where we had a lot of correctable issues offensively - waiting for a screen, setting a screen, timing of things, working better and more together as a five-man unit. If we clean a lot of those things up in our adjustment then we obviously stand a better chance to right what was wronged. That is kind of how we are looking at it and how we are preparing for the game tomorrow night.