MONTREAL, Canada – For so many reasons, it’s good to be a Florida State Basketball player.
College basketball teams are fortunate to travel and play games internationally once every four years. The Seminoles have certainly taken advantage of their opportunities to prepare for upcoming seasons during the 21-year tenure of Head Coach Leonard Hamilton.
Since Hamilton began his career at Florida State in 2002, the Seminoles have traveled to Spain, Greece, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Over the course of the next 10 days, the Seminoles will spend time competing and learning about the culture of our neighbors to the north in Canada.
The Seminoles left Tallahassee on August 2 for a 10-day trip to Canada where they will play two scrimmages and three games against upper-level Canadian college teams. The trip also includes sightseeing tours of the beautiful and historic city of Montreal and an amphibious tour of Ottawa – a city known for its picturesque waterways and the Chaudiere Falls. The Chaudiere Falls are a set of cascades and waterfalls in the center of the metropolitan city, which is the capital of Canada.
“This trip is really coming at a great time for us,” said Hamilton. “We have so many new guys that we are counting on to be part of our rotation for us to be successful. We have guys that are returning who are in their second years … so we are probably have one of the more inexperienced teams we have had here. But, I really like this team.
“We are talented enough; we’ve just got to find a way to accelerate our ability to come together, and have a full understanding of what we do in our system. We have put more things in this summer than we have in the last number of years because we have so many new guys.”
Hamilton and his staff have already taught the concepts of Florida State’s press and zone offense, as well as its zone defense, to the team which includes nine players who will suit up in Garnet and Gold for their first time on this trip.
Sophomore Jalen Warley, a beneficiary of nearly 20 minutes of playing time each game as a freshman, understands how this trip will help the Seminoles when the season tips-off in November at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
“I’m really excited because we’ve been preparing all summer to get ready for this,” said Warley. “This trip is going to be a big learning experience for us. With such a young team, there are going to be a lot of growing moments. I’m excited to get there and play against some other people, not just our team.”
Florida State is coming off an injury-plagued season in 2022 where four of its five starters were lost to season-ending injuries, and several other front-line contributors missed numerous games throughout the season. The Seminoles were in first place in the ACC standings with a 6-2 record after eight games in late January (with two wins over Miami and a victory over Duke), and finished with a 10-10 mark in conference play.
To illustrate just how well the Seminoles were playing before injuries decimated their lineup, Miami advanced to the Elite Eight and Duke to the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
One thing Warley is excited about is the continued maturation of Florida State’s highly connected group of newcomers, which includes five true freshmen as well as graduate transfers Jaylan Gainey (Brown University) and Darin Green, Jr. (UCF). Gainey comes to Florida State as the all-time leader in Ivy League history with a .699 career field goal shooting percentage. Green finished his career ranked 10th in the AAC history with 208 career 3-point field goals made.
“They are learning really fast,” said Warley. “We are in the gym almost every day and I can just see the steps of guys getting acclimated to our system. We have so many talented guys coming from the high school level who are just learning how to play in our system. I see them getting better every day.”
Following scrimages against the University of Ottawa, University of Carleton and McGill University, the Seminoles will then play games against Ottawa, Carleton and McGill to close out the trip.
“There is no doubt that this is one of the more important trips that we have taken whenever we have gone on international trips because we have so many new guys,” said Hamilton. “We are talented; we like this team. We think we have potential to surprise a lot of people. In order for us to come together, we need time practicing. That’s why this trip might be one of the most important trips internationally.
“We need this trip. We need to find out who we were. We play a system where we depend on creating for each other, sharing the ball, and sharing playing time. You can’t do that well when you don’t really know the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. This is really important for us.”