Following tonight’s 83-62 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, you can hear the collective groans of disappointment from the Florida State Seminoles fan base. There will be no defending of their ACC crown that they earned last March. Not to mention, the ‘Noles will not even be attending the NCAA Tournament now. Best case scenario, the Seminoles are NIT bound.
However, when you look at it, the fact that the FSU faithful are disappointed about a trip to the NIT isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Actually, considering the history, or lack thereof, of the Florida State basketball program, signs of frustration about how this season is ending up are merely a testament to how far the program has come since 2002.
Why specifically 2002? Because that is when Leonard Hamilton stepped in, and the Florida State basketball program hasn’t been the same since.
Leonard Hamilton took the FSU head job in 2002, taking control of a basketball program that was virtually non-existent. Up to that point, if you were to ask any casual college basketball fan what they knew about FSU basketball, their answer would more than likely have included the name “Charlie Ward“, whom as we all know, is more famous for his football accomplishments in Tallahassee.
Hamilton had the daunting task of trying to make a basketball program relevant at an institution where football is everything. Looking back now, more than 10 years later, and Hamilton has done just that. He’s given the Seminole fan base moments and players to remember for a lifetime to come.
Under his reign, Hamilton has molded players like Al Thornton, Chris Singleton, Toney Douglas and Bernard James, just to name a few, and watched them get drafted into the NBA. And soon, he’ll be able to watch maybe his most prized possession to date, senior Guard Michael Snaer, take the next step.
Compared to last season’s success, winning not only the regular season ACC crown, but the tournament as well, this year was considered a “down year.” Well, if you’re already down, then the only way to go from there is up, correct? And again, Hamilton has the Seminoles looking in that direction.
Already receiving a commitment from top prep star Xavier Rathan Mayes, Florida State is also a front-runner for locking up the number one overall player in the country, and Mayes’ teammate, Andrew Wiggins. Undoubtedly, luring Wiggins from such traditional powerhouses as the Kentucky Wildcats, the Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels would solidify Hamilton’s place in the college basketball coaching echelon.
How long Leonard Hamilton has the Florida State Seminoles competing with the “big boys” remains to be seen. But judging from the past, as well as what may lay ahead in the future, it doesn’t seem that Hamilton nor the ‘Noles will be disappearing any time soon.