Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton Sees a Top 25 / NCAA Tournament Team in Indiana

At 71 years old, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton doesn’t need to sugarcoat anything.

When he gets a technical foul he doesn’t think he deserved, he will tell you about.

Hamilton thought that a five-second call on his team as they tried to inbound the basketball was too quick, and his rapid gesture mocking the way the officials counted to five seconds earned him a technical.

“I got a technical because I gave a gesture, I thought it was pretty quick,” Hamilton said after the game.  “I’d like to earn my technical. I didn’t get my money’s worth on that one. At least I need to say something or do something, but I didn’t get a chance to earn that one.”

Although Hamilton did not get a chance to earn his punishment on Tuesday night, he felt like his team did.

Now in his 34th season as a head coach, Hamilton is well acquainted with what a good basketball team looks like.

“I thought Coach Miller really had his team ready to play,” Hamilton said.  “I thought the fans were ready, I thought the team was ready and I thought the coaches did a great job preparing them.”

Not Hamilton or Miller could have imagined the night that Indiana senior guard Devonte Green would have.

Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-3 IU co-captain amassed a career high 30 points in just 28 minutes on the floor.

“Green, I thought he did a great job of just being in the moment,” Hamilton said.  “This was a very important game for them and I thought he got himself mentally into that zone that sometimes great shooters will get into. You hate to run into them. You’d like to have a few of them on your team yourself, but tonight was his night and honestly, he had a huge difference in the game.”

With Green leading the charge for Indiana (8-0), Hamilton walked away from Tuesday night’s 80-64 Indiana win particularly impressed with the Hoosiers.

The No. 17/19 Seminoles (7-2) have already faced Pittsburgh, Florida, Tennessee and Purdue on the still young 2019-20 season, but Hamilton puts Indiana a step ahead of what he has seen thus far.

“I just thought that the Hoosier players, coaches, fans, I thought they showed that Indiana is on its way back. You have to give them credit, Hamilton said.

“There’s no doubt that this is the best team, we’ve played up till this point. I think they are definitely a top 25 ranked team. I think they are going to be a NCAA tournament team and I think the fans can be very proud and happy that they are showing signs of coming back to the Hoosier style of ball they’ve been accustomed to over the years.”

Hamilton is no stranger to Indiana basketball or Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

A former Kentucky assistant from 1974 to 1986 when the Hoosiers and Wildcats faced off annually on campus, he has seen IU basketball at its pinnacle.

While the Indiana program hasn’t been able to maintain that level of success over the last 20 years, and declining attendance at college basketball games is a national theme, Tuesday night still evoked memories of a different era in Bloomington for Hamilton.

“I thought the fans made a tremendous difference in the game, I thought they were really into the game,” Hamilton said.  “That’s what you’ve always known about the Hoosier fans. I’ve been here many times, been an assistant at Kentucky for 12 years and it was just as loud tonight as it was some of those years I use to come here with the University of Kentucky.”

Hamilton no doubt remembers plenty of great Indiana players during his years at Kentucky.

If there is one constant in college basketball irrespective of the era, it is that one hot player can completely change the course of a game.

With his team attempting to block out the home court noise and mount a comeback against IU, it was Green on this night that kept the crowd energized.

“The only way you compete in an environment like this, you execute well, and you keep the crowd out of it by being productive, Hamilton said.

“Green, seemed like everything he threw up there, especially from three, was going in.”

While he could only joke about receiving a suspect technical foul call, there was no uncertainty in Hamilton’s mind about the impact of Green, or the direction of this Indiana program.


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