Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton has been with the Seminoles since 2002, and his contract keeps him in Tallahassee through 2017. He’s been named the National Coach of the the Year three times, the ACC Coach of the Year twice, and he led the ‘Noles to a conference title in 2012. He’s a very good coach. But is he the right man for the job, considering where the game’s going?
We’ve got to look at this from an increasingly big-picture point of view. In which direction are rule changes and officiating trending in college basketball? In basketball overall? In sports in general? In the instant-gratification, microwave culture we find ourselves, attention spans continue to dwindle as society emphasizes the immediate. Translation: we want action, and that shows in the sports world as well. Governing bodies continue to approve legislation that facilitates offensive output and heightens the entertainment value of games, all the while keeping fantasy owners tuned in.
Think about it. The NFL has all but put a red jersey on its quarterbacks, and defenders’ contact with receivers is limited to the point that referees may as well double as chaperones. Basketball rules have shifted in the same direction. Pop in a late 80s NBA game some time– preferably one of the period’s most successful team, the old Detroit Pistons. The “Bad Boys,” as they were known, regularly defended in a manner that would now result in players being ejected, fined, and suspended. But now hand checking is heavily regulated.
With the money involved in the industry continuing to skyrocket, sports are viewed increasingly as businesses. And to facilitate more business, they must entertain. Hoosiers is almost 30 years old– we now live in the post Fab Five era.
FSU football got it right. One of Bobby Bowden’s most important yet unrecognized contributions to building the program was his recognition of not just where the game was at that moment, but where it was heading. He knew that the ground and pound of the Big Ten and the wishbone sets of Oklahoma were a dying breed. Society was speeding up, and it would want its entertainment to reflect that.
Which brings us back to Hamilton. His approach emphasizes defense and shortening the game via lengthy possessions. And while Hamilton’s teams typically play excellent defense, they are also prone to extended offensive droughts, which just becomes more and more of a liability as the game continues to evolve. To wit: the ‘Noles are currently 185th, nationally, in scoring.
Leonard Hamilton is a fine basketball coach. Right now. Most years he’ll have FSU in the upper half of the ACC and fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid. But we owe it to the future of Seminole hoops to consider the future of college basketball, which suggests that offense should be a larger priority.