Operation Basketball, otherwise known as the ACC media day, happened today in Charlotte, NC. The annual event gives the media access to players and coaches, and is also the release for the media's preseason poll. FSU was picked to finish 8th in conference this year, which is good news if you consider that FSU has met or exceeded media expectations in seven of the previous nine seasons. The Noles average finish in those years is 5th, while the media's average prediction has been 7th.
Juniors Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon were chosen to represent the Noles. Here are highlights of their interviews.
Q. What are you working on in practice right now?
AARON THOMAS: Just working on just being connected, all getting on the same page. We're doing a lot of pick-and-roll things, getting our big men involved more. Coach stressed that a lot, getting our big men the ball more, so we've been working on that.
Q. The three freshmen, how well are they blending into practice and this team?
AARON THOMAS: Oh, they're looking real good. Those guys are willing to learn. They're asking questions. They're actually learning quicker than what Coach Hamilton thought. They're working really hard, so those guys can bring a lot to the table.
Q. Aaron, there's some guys who are not around this year: Ian Miller and some other guys who provided a lot of scoring support and things like that. Do you feel like you'll have to step up your scoring even more this year, or how do you see your role?
AARON THOMAS: I'm not even focused on what I have to do. I'm just focused on us as a team and what we have to do.
THE MODERATOR: Montay, tell us about Aaron.
MONTAY BRANDON: Aaron had a great preseason. He's always been extremely focused. So this summer he had no different perspective on what he had to do this summer. He worked hard, becoming more of a vocal leader and also helpingthe younger guys come along, too.
Q. What is your role this year on the team?
MONTAY BRANDON: Just do a little bit of everything, be the tool guy, a couple points, rebounds, steals, try to guard the best player on each and every team, do a little bit of everything to help the team out.
Q. Leonard Hamilton's teams always seem to have high energy, always big on defense, and you guys seem to have fun. Talk about what it's like playing for him.
MONTAY BRANDON: Playing with Coach Hamilton is awesome. I know he doesn't smile too much to the media and on game days, but off the court he's always cracking jokes, making everybody feel comfortable. So we play as hard as we can for him, because we know he truly cares about all of us.
Q. Montay, you're listed as 6'8" (ed note: an inch taller than last year). A 6'8" guard, there are not a whole lot of those around. How do you feel that helps you playing outside like that?
MONTAY BRANDON: It helps me when it comes to finishing. As you know, Florida State is a defensive school so you can guard the 1 or 2, and get rebounds for us, extend possessions for us, and just anything possible at that height, at my position, helps us in a great way.
Coach Hamilton's interview is here.
ACC Operation Basketball 2014-15 Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
Team & Points
1. Duke (41): 935
2. North Carolina (12): 870
3. Louisville (3): 847
4. Virginia: 824 (7)
5. Syracuse: 706 (2)
6. Pitt: 592
7. Notre Dame: 515
8. Florida State: 506
9. NC State: 478
10. Miami: 442
11. Clemson: 330
12. Wake Forest: 221
13. Georgia Tech: 195
14. Boston College: 184
15. Virginia Tech: 155
2014-15 Preseason All-ACC Team
(votes in parenthesis)
Marcus Paige, North Carolina (63)
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville (58)
Jahlil Okafor, Duke (57)
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia (55)
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (24)
ACC Preseason Player of the Year
Marcus Paige, North Carolina
ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year
Jahlil Okafor, Duke