It was awkward and unsettling, this exchange between a reporter doing her job and a coach just moments after his team’s disappointing loss Saturday in the NCAA Elite Eight.
On Sunday afternoon, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton explained why he had been unwilling to answer a simple question from CBS’ Dana Jacobson after his team's loss to Michigan, behavior that brought criticism and focused attention on the harsh spotlight of a turnaround interview.
“The combination of the drama and the raw emotion of athletics and the critical analysis of it make for compelling television, but not always for level-headed interviews with the participants who must immediately manage both,” Hamilton said in a statement released by the school. “I wish I could have done better.”
The interview followed on the heels of a series of bizarre coaching decisions by Hamilton over the final 90 seconds — including fouling twice while trailing by three, and then opting to let the final 13 seconds run off the clock with his team trailing by only four.
Jacobson repeatedly asked why Hamilton had not had his players foul over the final seconds, only to have an incredulous Hamilton tell her, “The game was over.” After her fourth attempt at a legitimate question that was being asked by the studio crew as well, he replied, “With 15 seconds left on the clock, what were we down?” The answer was four.
Afterward Jacobson defended Hamilton and tweeted, “Coach Hamilton spoke to me minutes after an emotional FSUHoops loss. It was the right question to ask. He showed emotion and I appreciate him talking through it with me instead of walking off.”