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Hoops Post-Game: Hamilton, Gray talk Florida State’s win over Pittsburgh

Read complete comments from the FSU head coach and star junior following 79-72 victory

CREDIT: Maggie Boulton, Atlantic Coast Conference

No. 16 Florida State earned their third straight win, holding off Pittsburgh 79-72. Junior RaiQuan Gray once again led FSU in scoring with 16 points to go along with 8 boards. Malik Osborne started and had 12 points and 9 rebounds.

After the win, FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton and Gray spoke to media for post-game comments. Read their full quotes below.




Leonard Hamilton’s comments:

Opening statement: “They intended just to spread the floor and drive us, attack us off the bounce. And they did a very good job of getting in our paint. Even though at times I thought we did a very good job of containing the dribble, it’s been the strength of their team. We tried to play good solid defense without fouling but it was very challenging because the strength of this team is their ability to drive and get kickouts. But I was pleased that we did all the little things with the game on the line that gave us a chance to win. Our bench was phenomenal. We had 33 points off the bench. I thought we had a lot of guys contributing. M.J. Walker didn’t have one of his better games- he didn’t get a chance to practice this week, he was dealing with some light injuries that didn’t keep him out from playing but that just probably threw him out of rhythm a little bit. I could tell that Anthony Polite is still trying to shake the rust off from his layoff, as well as Balsa. So, with all that going on to go on the road, to come away with a victory I am very pleased.”

On attacking the basket offensively: “I didn’t think that we did a very good job of getting into the paint to get kick-out threes. They did a very good job defensively of being physical inside and we must’ve missed probably 7 point-blank layups that we probably could have gotten, but they were so physical that we didn’t handle it very well. You gotta take your hat off to them. I thought they were very well-prepared. I thought they never allowed us to get a whole lot of separation. They were extremely patient with the ball. But at the end of the day, I thought we got the stops we had to when the game was on the line. And I thought our guys executed and made big plays and got some second shots off the boards that kind of secured the victory for us.”

On FSU winning without M.J. Walker scoring, strength of depth: “But even though he didn’t score a point, I though his contributions defensively, his leadership on the bench was unbelievable. I mean M.J. didn’t practice two days, he might have practiced 30 minutes since the last game…But he gave us great leadership, I thought his defense was excellent. And we were able to win games again by committee. The quality of our depth, getting 33 points off our bench, really represent who we are as a basketball team, continuing to win games by committee.”

On whether FSU was able to wear down Pitt’s shorter rotation of players: “They were extremely determined, because this was a very big game for them. If they had an opportunity to win this game it probably could have put them back into the NCAA tournament picture, being that we’re ranked and one of the top teams in the ACC. We got their best shot, there’s no doubt about that. They were very deliberate, they were very, very calculating, they knew exactly what they wanted. They really wanted to take us off the dribble. Probably could have played more zone, but you got to give them credit. It was a hard-fought game for us. That’s why I feel so good about the game because they did a lot of things good, they were extremely determined to try and get this victory. We never could get any separation, that just shows how determined they were.”

On Pitt missing a key player: “In the ACC, everybody is loaded with talent. You are going to have injuries. We have had our share. I thought when I looked at Horton and Johnson and Sibande, I think they all represented themselves very well. Somehow or another, this time of year, you look around and we all seem to have some aches and pains, that’s why I am so proud of our guys. We share playing time, we share the ball. Hopefully the little issues that we are dealing with won’t be issues that will affect us for the remainder of the season.”

On how FSU is playing right now compared to the start of the season: “I think we have played better. I think that we have got to shake the rust off a little bit. I think that we are not totally in sync. Now, we played exceptionally well against Virginia, there is no doubt about that, but I still think we have a lot more room for improvement. I think the upside for this team is still pretty high. I don’t think we have come close to reaching our potential, that’s the one of the things I like about this team, I think we still have some areas where we can be more consistent in. I think our players understand that and believe that. That is allowing us to stay focused and keep working hard.”

On RaiQuan Gray’s performance: “RaiQuan Gray has a great feel for the game. He sees the game almost from a coach’s eyes. It is amazing to me how knowledgeable he is about our system and how he verbalizes that on a consistent basis with our team. That gives us a guy on the court who is really, along with M.J., has given us great leadership. He misses his shot, gets his own rebound, handles the ball against the press. He is a guy who is really, really a utility guy who is know taking over Terance Mann’s role as a stat-stuffer. He is doing all the little things giving us a chance to win. And he is doing so much behind the scenes with his leadership, that makes him even more valuable to us.”

On RayQuan Evans’ performance: “Obviously he gives us great leadership. He is so important to us because he makes very few poor decisions, he is a guy who distributes the ball, his defense is solid, hits his free throws. He is a really good perimeter shooter. Sometimes when we need a guy to break the defense down, get in there and draw a layup, he is a guy who does that as well as anybody on the team. He is such an unselfish player, and he is a team player. He has given us great floor leadership while he is on the floor.”

RaiQuan Gray’s comments:

On FSU winning at Pitt and their home-court environment: “Pitt is a tough team, first of all. They are going to bring it every time they step on the floor, especially against us. Every time we have played those guys it has been a tough, hard-fought game for 40 minutes. They have a great environment here just with the students. The environment they have here, it is a tough place to play, and that is probably why we have struggled in the past, but obviously it is a new time today, with no fans and stuff like that. But they are a great team and we just pulled out the win making our free throws and making a few more plays than they did.”

On finding different ways to win: “Like I said before, we made winning plays. When we needed the big rebound, we got those, a steal or deflection, things like that. When you are on the road you have to have those things in order to win. You’re not always going to shoot the ball well. You have to play defense on the road and young have to guard people and rebound the ball. We did those things and came out with the win.”

On the energy level of FSU: “We tried to focus on that coming out. Stay at the whole level, the magic level, not every team can do it. We want to be that team to stay at that level and obviously win a national championship. So that is our goal every time we go out on the floor. Just play as hard as we can and keep that energy level at that level and keep it throughout the whole game. That’s what we did today. We made enough winning plays to come out with a win on the road, that is the most important thing.”

On responding to Pitt’s late run: “We practice situations like that all the time. If a team gets us on the run like that, we just have to execute our offense and get stops on defense. Our coaches do a great job of preparing us in practice. I think as the season goes on, we are going to keep getting better and maturing, learn from our past mistakes…That has kind of helped us, and we showed that today. They are a tough team, they were gonna come out at us, so we just kept fighting for the full 40 minutes.”

On Malik Osborne’s performance: “Malik has been huge for us this season. He fills in where we need him, from each forward spot to the center spot. He does whatever we need to win. He gets all the dirty baskets, the tip ins, the put back dunks, the energy plays, that is who he is. He embraces that role, and whenever we need a big stop or a big rebound or a big block he always comes through, so that’s kind of his role for this team. I think he did that today and that was why we had a huge win on the road, he was a huge part of it.”