No. 11 Florida State dropped their regular season finale to Notre Dame 83-73 on the road Saturday afternoon. Freshman Scottie Barnes led the Noles (15-5, 11-4 ACC) with 17 points and 9 rebounds off the bench. Junior RaiQuan Gray added 15 points and 10 boards.
After the loss, FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton and Gray spoke with the media for post-game comments.
Leonard Hamilton’s comments:
Opening statement: “You have to give Notre Dame a lot of credit. I thought that they played the kind of ball today that has given us some problems throughout the year. They spread the floor, they took their big guys away from the basket. We know they are one of the better three-point shooting teams. When you rely on your perimeter shooting as much as we do, and we’re one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country, when you have those games where your shots are not falling, you have to make adjustments. Today I thought we had early on really nice uncontested shots that we were just not able to get to fall today. They seemed to be moving the ball and those same shots on the other end, they got them to fall.”
More opening statement: “They really did a great job executing, I thought they moved the ball and made the extra pass. They attacked the basket when they did drive very aggressively. I was very proud of the guys because we got down 20. Cut the lead a little bit there at halftime, then we came back the second half and cut it to 10, hung there for a while, then we cut it to 4 and two turnovers there late. Bottom line is I just thought Notre Dame did a better job of playing to their strengths. And they exploited our weaknesses by not turning the ball over, hitting their open shots, challenging our defensive discipline by making the extra pass. Then at the end they hit their free throws. You have to give them credit they were a lot sharper with their game plan than we were today.”
On the technical foul call on FSU’s bench: “To be very honest with you, I don’t really know what happened with the technical. I don’t know why he gave us a technical. It seemed as though this was one of those days where the officials I thought were a little more sensitive today than what I have noticed in the past. A lot of times when there is an issue that they are concerned about, they’ll mention it to you. But today was one of those days where I guess it wasn’t one of those days. There is no doubt that our team, our kids, our coaches might have been a little mouthy, but nobody disrespected anybody. There was nothing I felt that was disrespectful, unless you want to be overly sensitive. The game is over, we are not going to get it back. Complaining about the officials is not going to do any good. The technical, I am sure we either earned it or we didn’t, but we got it. Whether that had something to do with the game- I like to think that it was those 20 points that we gave up in the first half had a lot more to do with us losing the game than that technical in the second half.”
On the smaller lineup in the second half for FSU: “Well we didn’t have much choice. We have done that plenty of times. When you are down that much, you have to make whatever adjustments that you can in relation to what the other team is doing. I thought they were doing an excellent job with a smaller lineup at times. But even then, their big lineup was more of a perimeter shooting team, and they caused us to space the floor, and because of the success that they were having, we had to go small and match their quickness. Their ability to penetrate and kick and get those threes. We did a much better job for a period of time, we just didn’t do well enough. You have to give Notre Dame a lot of props. This was an important game for us, and I think part of the journey with our team is being in the position mentally and emotionally to handle this moment. The pressure of wanting to play well to win a championship. Emotionally I thought we were ready, but sometimes you have to learn how to handle these situations when they arise, and hopefully we will learn from this and move forward and be stronger for the remainder of the year.”
On M.J. Walker’s struggles today: “I just think that he has had a great year for us, and that is just part of being a human being. Sometimes you don’t play as well as you would want. But I think it wasn’t an M.J. Walker off day, it was a Florida State Seminole off day. We didn’t play well enough to win the game. We have won games with him not scoring before. We win games by committee. We lost the game because we didn’t play well. I don’t M.J.’s numbers or his stats indicate how well he did play. He gave us great leadership, tremendous effort like he always does.”
On 4 of 5 losses coming on the road this season, and not having home court in tournament play: “We are going to be in the same position everybody else is. Everybody is going to be on the road in the ACC Tournament. Its more challenging to win on the road, but I think we are a pretty good basketball team. I think we just have to figure out how to play well. I don’t think its whether it’s on the road. The court is 94 by 50, the goals are 10 feet. Nobody runs out of the stands to get a block or a steal. We just got beat by a team that played better than us today. I am not really sure that had anything to do with where the game was played at. They just played an excellent basketball game in relation to who they were and the talent they have, and you have to give them credit as opposed to trying to figure out or dissect what happened to us today. We just got beat by a team that played better than us today. They have been a good shooting team, and they shot well today. We have proved that we are a pretty good defensive team, and we didn’t defend very well. We weren’t strong going to the basket. You have those days and sometimes it isn’t about what you didn’t do, you have to give Notre Dame credit, they outplayed us.”
RaiQuan Gray’s comments:
On the game overall: “Notre Dame got off to a great start, they hit some key shots at the beginning. Which caused us to kind of spread out a little bit, opened up more room for their offense. They came out with a lot of energy, I think we were kind of slower coming out. I gotta give them credit. They executed their game plan the whole game and stuck with it. We just couldn’t get over the hump at the end.”
On how missing shots offensively affects their defense and the ability to get set: “It doesn’t affect our defense at all. It shouldn’t be that way. We always harp on not letting our offense affect our defense, and it shouldn’t be like that in basketball. Today we let that happen, they made some key runs and hit some key shots because we weren’t focused. I told you guys a couple games back that when we are locked in on the scouting report and executing, that we are the best team in the country. Tonight we didn’t execute the game plan and we weren’t locked in for the full 40 minutes, so we came out with a loss.
On regrouping for the ACC Tourney and NCAA Tourney: “Just go back to the basics. We watch film on this game, previous games that we lost, and just see why we lost. See where our slippage was at and correct those things. We know that each game, basically our life is on the line. It is win or go home now. It’s no time for mistakes and slip-ups. We gotta learn from our mistakes in the past, get back to who we are.”
On the UVA-Louisville game: “I think we will be locked in on it, watching it. Obviously if they lose, we win the ACC title. We didn’t want it to get to that point. We wanted to control what we could control. We could control this game tonight and we didn’t come out with the win. Regardless of the result, we wanted to win this game. Win it our way, finish our way, not have somebody else do our job for us.”