Hamilton won’t be able to downplay Seminoles’ talent, depth too much longer
Coaches have a way of not making too much over winning streaks. No matter how significant.
Especially at this point of the college basketball season.
Leonard Hamilton doesn’t seem willing to buck that trend. Not after FSU beat Virginia Tech to extend its unbeaten ACC streak to three. And, there is a good chance that he won’t be counting these kinds of victories until near the end of the season.
They are significant, mind you.
But let’s not forget that Hamilton has been making a disclaimer after almost every FSU win, although he might phrase it differently each time.
This is how he put it Saturday afternoon after the 93-78 win at the Civic Center.
“No one is going to the NCAA tournament with winning only three conference games,” he said.
A very good point. But the way FSU is playing like a team that won’t be denied what the Seminoles have accomplished simply can’t be overlooked.
There is too much talent for that. Even way down the roster long after the starting five.
Then, consider that the Seminoles (16-1, 3-0) going into Tuesday night’s game against Duke have not had a three-game conference win streak. Ever.
Beating the Hokies was the third time the Seminoles have beaten a ranked team this season. It doesn’t get any easier the rest of the way. Following Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Louisville are up next in consecutive order.
It’s a punishing stretch for any team, especially in the ACC, something Hamilton knows all too well.
“I’m not at the point where I’m ready to start taking bows,” Hamilton said. “By no stretch of the imagination we feel that we can start getting too satisfied with where we are right now.”
There is a good chance they will get much farther, though. Let’s just go out on a limb and say deep in the postseason.
Not that they might agree that FSU is going to be playing in late March, but a lot of folks around the country are taking notice.
Take ESPN’s Jay Bilas for example.
“The Seminoles are starting to look like the Seminoles again,” Bilas said. “This group can score and has the potential to defend with length and athleticism.
“Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes form a solid 1-2 punch, and Jonathan Isaac is a future pro. Watch out for C.J. Walker and Trent Forrest both of whom have point guard skills.”
That said, here’s another early prediction: The bench will have a lot to do with how far they go.
Reserves scored a combined 35 points from the eight who came off the bench to contribute.
The difference in depth was so glaringly clear. Tech got just six points from its bench.
At one point in the second half, Hamilton showed his confidence in his reserves, clearing all except one of his starters in place of a bunch that included Jarquez Smith, who scored 12 points in 17 minutes on the floor.
“Having the ability to come off the bench with guys who are confident, playing with a tremendous amount of energy on the defensive end and give you some offense to keep the flow of the game going has been tremendous for us,” Hamilton said.
And, coach; they are going to get better. Especially during the upcoming stretch of games.