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Hoops Post-Game: Hamilton, Gray, Koprivica break down Florida State’s win over Clemson

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Seminoles top Tigers for fourth win in a row, move to 9-2 on the season

CREDIT: Mike Olivella, Atlantic Coast Conference

On Saturday afternoon, Florida State jumped out to another huge halftime lead and cruised to top #20 Clemson 80-61. FSU (9-2, 5-1 ACC) used stifling defense in their revenge from a Dec. loss to the Tigers (9-4, 3-4 ACC).

Center Balsa Koprivica had his first career double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Guard RaiQuan Gray poured in 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting with 3 boards.

After the win, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, along with Koprivica and Gray, met with media for post-game comments.

Comments from Leonard Hamilton

On M.J. Walker’s injury: “He ran into Tanor’s elbow at the free throw line. It appeared that he was okay in the locker room. So, I don’t have any further information other than, it appeared that he was okay in the locker room. I haven’t even talked to the doctor yet.”

On Sardaar Calhoun’s progression: “It normally takes a youngster a while when you come from community college where he was the best player on the team, everything is running through you, and you are familiar with that level of volume, and the system that you are running. To Calhoun’s credit, he has worked so hard trying to learn our defensive schemes, our offensive scheme…Play the FSU way. Sometimes almost to a fault. Now that he is more comfortable with what his responsibilities are on the defensive end, he is also very comfortable now understanding what we expect from him offensively, that he is not thinking as much.”

More on Calhoun: “He is acting and responding and he is actually not only coaching himself but he is coaching some of the other guys as well. His best basketball no doubt is ahead of him. I have said it all along that we are going to improve in direct proportion to how well Tanor, Calhoun, Jack, Malik Osborne, as well as those guys play. They are showing signs to be able to give us what we need. That is one of the reasons why we have been a little better the last four games.”

On Anthony Polite’s status: “Anthony has some type of strain in his shoulder, I don’t know the exact terminology. But he is going to be out for a week or two. I don’t expect him for a while he is recovering…We don’t expect to have him at least for a week or two.”

On Balsa Koprivica: “He had his first double-double today. I thought that he did a very good job of rolling to the front of the rim, being active. I still think his best basketball is ahead of him as well. We are still a developing team…Today was definitely a step in the right direction.”

“I thought that our guys were extremely aggressive throughout the game. We had a point there in the second half where I thought we got a little sloppy. The fact that we maintained our effort even though I didn’t think we executed well during that stretch was refreshing. I didn’t think we had a letdown from lack of effort, I thought maybe our execution wasn’t quite as sharp. We had one possession where I think we had three turnovers in a row.”

On the start of the second half for the Noles: “I thought the guys at halftime wanted to see whether or not they could come out and start playing like the score was 0-0. They came out in the second half with the type of mentality that you like to see. Everybody moving the ball, everybody concentrating, talking and pointing. We haven’t always been consistent with that. That shows the team is maturing. They are holding each other accountable, they are calling each other out. They are holding each other accountable to the little things that we think are important: deflections, steals. What we try to do is get what we call kills, which is three stops in a row. Tonight I know we had at least 9 or 10 of those, and that is not easy to do from a defensive standpoint.”

“I thought we were reaching and grabbing and fouling a little too much. We have to do a better job of defending without fouling. They had 24 points in the first half, 14 of them came from the free throw line. We have to do a better job in that area.”

On the comparison of Saturday’s 80-61 win to Dec. 77-67 loss to Clemson: “I thought they played harder and with more focus than we did the first time we played them. I thought our guys came out tonight and they redeemed themselves, so to speak. They didn’t allow Clemson to work harder than us. I was pleased with the overall effort that we gave for forty minutes.”

Comments from RaiQuan Gray

On his impressive past few games: “I was just watching film. My coaches do a great job of showing me ways I can be effective and effect the game. I think I just tried to focus on doing things without the ball, move without the ball, not being a guy who needs the ball to score or anything like that. So just focusing on things like rebounding and making the right plays and making the right pass, just being aggressive. I think our team is better when we are all playing in attack mode including myself. So that’s part of my game just being in attack mode being aggressive and taking what the defense gives me.”

On revenge motivation versus Clemson: “I think that we are playing good basketball right now so we just had to keep doing what we are doing. But we knew coming in that it was going to be a tough game, obviously, we wanted to get that win back from last time. They are a great team, we shot the ball well tonight and executed our game plan. I think that is what it came down to. We have the same mentality going into each game, it is just another game for us, but we executed tonight and it showed on the scoreboard.”

On Sardaar Calhoun’s progression this season: “’Daar is a great offensive player. He is still learning things on the defensive end, trying to pick up the techniques and the base of our defense. Once he gets the going…He scores the ball effortlessly. You saw that tonight, he can do that, I see it all the time. Whether its pick-up games or practice, that is nothing new for him. That is who he is. He can get a lot of buckets really quick. Once he learns the defense and the base of our offense, he will be more confident. That will definitely come along as the season goes own.”

On the 4-game winning streak: “Just focusing on making the right play and winning…We had the COVID-19 break and we had time to regroup mentally and physically to get ourselves right. We just came together as a team. We are better than how we played before. We had a lot of slip-ups, lost some games that we shouldn’t have lost. We feel that we are the best team in the country and we want to go out each night and prove it, so that’s kind of our mentality. Mark everybody off the list and next man up.”

On the defensive energy of the team: “If you watch Florida State basketball than you know that’s our style of play. We like to get after you, use a lot of energy, play a lot of guys. I think coach Ham does a great job of keeping guys fresh throughout the rotation so we can keep that high level of energy up and keep that same pressure an intensity each game. I credit our coaches for knowing how to sub us, and we are the types of guys who actually want to come out of the game to share playing time. As long as we keep doing that then I think we will be able to defend anybody in the country.”

On strong play of Koprivica this season: “Our relationship goes back when we were kids, seventh or eighth grade down in Fort Lauderdale. He has made a lot of progress throughout the years. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when it was coming. He is definitely being more physical in his second year playing. He is just doing what we need of him, he is running hard in transition, blocking shots, rebounding, guarding the guards. When he does that on a nightly basis, his energy brings points and rebounds. Tonight he could have had a huge game, the numbers show. I see so much in him and he has so much potential. We are going to go kind of as far as he can bring us. He has a great mindset and a great skill set, and he is playing well right now.”

On upcoming game with rival Miami: “Its just another game. Obviously, we are from down that way, but there is no extra motivation. When you play in the ACC each night, you are going to play against good competition. If that’s not enough to get you going to want to play basketball, then you have a problem.”

Comments from Balsa Koprivica

On his steady improvement: “I have just been trying to play harder, when I am out on the floor, I have been trying to focus on just playing more freely, not over-thinking it, being more patient. Making better reads on offense and defense.”

On the revenge factor versus Clemson: “It really meant a lot because the last 11 months we have lost three games and two of those have been against Clemson. We just wanted to come out and play as hard as we can. Look into the mistakes that we made the past two times we have played them. We made a couple adjustments defensively and offensively. Just played hard, got open shots, played with a lot of energy the entire game. We had a lot of guys come off the bench, step in and play hard, and we came out with the victory.”

On defensive strategy versus Clemson: “In general, we have worked a lot on help defense. That was one of our weaknesses in some of the games earlier. We just decided to work on it a lot in practice and we drilled it a lot. So, I think it is just starting to show a little bit more each game.”

On Osborne’s block in the first half: “I was right next to it and I was really fired up. I was yelling, screaming, and he was yelling, I think. It was great because it got the whole team up. We were already energized, but it gave it a little bit more of a boost as well. It is great to have those plays.”