Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Joiner, FSU Glad He Stayed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Joiner, FSU Glad He Stayed

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

TALLAHASSEE -- There were times last season when Florida State forward Michael Joiner looked nothing like the player who earned ACC All-Rookie honors as a freshman.

Added weight, a nagging leg injury, the disappointment of playing power forward and the Seminoles' struggles took a toll on the 6-foot-7 forward.

"Last year, that experience just humbled me," Joiner said. "I felt like I put a whole lot of pressure on my shoulders, just trying to live up to everyone's expectations. . . . Everyone expected me to come in and have a super sophomore year."

Initially, Joiner was excited when Leonard Hamilton was introduced as FSU's new coach on March 19, but within a month the former North Carolina Mr. Basketball was ready to pack up and move on to another school.

"I was gone," Joiner said. "But really after I made the decision, something was telling me, 'Mike, I don't know.' I had talked to a lot of people, family members and friends, and everybody just said at that particular time to do what you want to do. . . . That's not what I wanted to hear. I really wanted to hear, 'Michael, no. Stay.' "

On the same April day he decided to walk away, Joiner visited Hamilton in his office around midnight to say he had a change of heart.

Neither Hamilton nor associate coach Stan Jones told Joiner to stay. Instead, they painted a realistic picture of what he could expect.

"I've got a 20-year-old and an 18-year-old," said Jones, who has become Joiner's confidante. "The big key is the investment of time. If you spend time and listen to them, you can hear what they're saying. . . . I just try to be honest."

"The coaches said two things to me," Joiner said. "Coach Jones said, 'Mike, we're going to put the five best players on the court.' . . . 'Son, you're a ballplayer. Just be happy that you're a player. Don't worry about what position you're at.' "

Joiner's still starting at power forward, but he couldn't be happier. …

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