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Monday March 13, 2006Donovan Previews NCAA Tournament

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan Quotes

 

Opening Statement:

ďItís always exciting to get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Itís really exciting this year when you consider where and who we are playing. Itís a thrill for me, you spend three years coaching someone and then eight years working with them so closely and then all of a sudden youíre coaching against them. The NCAA must have a sense of humor with the way they try to pair things up. At the same time, I donít want that to take away from the fact that South Alabama had a great year and the University of Florida had a great year. This time of year should be about our kids and about both programs. Certainly there are a lot of similarities between both teams in terms of style of play. They are a team that has great depth, they are a great three point shooting team. They shoot it basically from all five positions. Our ability to guard them from behind the three point line is going to be critical. Their backcourt has good speed and quickness and can get by you on the dribble and create penetration. They are a very good basketball team. It appears, looking at the stats, that theyíve gotten better as the season has gone on. Weíve got a very quick turnaround. We have to play on Thursday and we have a mandatory shootaround (on Wednesday) that the NCAA makes you do, which always throws a wrench into your plans. I think having to do (the shootaround) at that time of day really takes away from your preparation. When you go somewhere else and have to wait to practice, the day becomes very, very long. Physically, I feel like our guys have to take today off. In talking to our trainer and our strength coach, they feel as though we have to take today off. Weíre going to have to get a lot done in a very short period of time tomorrow, because as I said itís hard to get a quality practice in when youíre on the floor for 50 minutes in the middle of the day (Wednesday). My main focus right now is getting our guys back physically, mentally, and emotionally. Hopefully, theyíll be very excited to play on Thursday.Ē

 

On John Pelphreyís success as a coach:

ďIím very, very proud of John. It makes me feel proud to be here and see John have the kind of success he has had. It also creates a level of opportunity for Donnie Jones and Anthony Grant. It helps those guys because someday they want to be head coaches. It makes you proud to have someone that worked under you set the school record for most regular season wins and have a team in the NCAA Tournament in their fourth year. Especially since (South Alabama) hasnít been there in a while. It makes me very, very proud that I may have played a small role in that in terms of helping him get prepared to be a head coach. That means a lot to me. I watched the Western Kentucky game as a fan, I probably would have been rooting against him if Iíd known we were going to play.Ē

 

On possibly scheduling a series with South Alabama:

ďI donít like doing that with a friend like John. If I could help John and his program, I really wouldnít mind doing it. In those situations, itís hard because John would love for us to go back and play at South Alabama. The thing is that I have to put the University of Florida first. Johnís a friend, I love him to death and we are close, but I canít put him ahead of our team. If he wants to come to Gainesville, weíll have him every year, but to start going back and forth to South Alabama makes it more difficult for us. ď

 

On the NCAA Tournament being the sole measure of a teamís success:

ďIt doesnít bother me. Iím at peace with it. Obviously, itís the world, itís the culture we live in. Iím not annoyed or bothered or upset that thatís the way it is. I think everything is defined by the NCAA Tournament and thatís OK. There are guys that cover us every single game and are here all the way through and then someone shows up in March and is going to tell Billy Donovan ĎYour season was unsuccessfulí. I donít think you would agree with that if youíve been with the team for the entire ride, through all the ups and downs, and see the way the kids have developed. If someone wants to say ĎWhat Florida has done up to this point in time means absolutely nothing, the regular season doesnít mean anything, the SEC Tournament championship means nothingí, thatís fine. The regular season means something because you have to win enough games to get in. Everyone wants more, I want more. I want more in the NCAA Tournament. I remember when we were first got here, we had a little more success in the NCAA Tournament than we did in the SEC Tournament. I got asked ĎDo you care about the SEC Tournament? It almost appears that itís not that big of a deal to you.í Weíve been to three straight SEC (tournament) finals and thatís behind us. Now we have to get to the second weekend (of the NCAA Tournament). Weíre striving to try to do that. We want to be able to do that. Iím not annoyed or bothered by that because thatís the way it is. Thatís the way people view it, but I donít think I need to view it that way. Iím not downplaying the NCAA Tournament. Itís a great time for college basketball, itís a great time for the kids. When you can win three or four games in the tournament, itís a great feeling. In my career as a player and coach, Iíve had the chance to experience three Final Fours and one national championship. Iíve been pretty blessed. Iíve been blessed with some great players and some great kids. It starts September 1st all the way through March. It would almost be like taking a doctor and saying ĎIf this one surgery doesnít go well, youíre a bad doctor.í Itís hard for me to buy into that. If people choose to look at it that way, I canít change that. The key for me is am I at peace with myself and my team and I really am.Ē

 

On how the NCAA Tournament has gained popularity:

ďI think itís great, but I also think so much of it is out of your control. I look at Stan Heath. Iím really happy for Stan that he got into the tournament, because they wanted to get back there and they have that great tradition (at Arkansas) and itís been a while since they got in. In his career, he has that one great run at Kent State. John Brady at the SEC Tournament was asked if he was disappointed after his team lost to us and he said that the regular season championship means more, because they proved over a longer period of time that they were the best team in the league. I agree with that. But itís all based on drama, drama sells. Coaches have made money, coaches have gotten fired, and players have been recognized for their achievements (in the NCAA tournament). I was part of Cinderella, but as much as the NCAA Tournament has propelled me and given me a lot of great moments, itís also provided a lot of hurt, pain, and suffering for me. It goes both ways. I canít sit here and say that every year we should be in the Elite Eight, Final Four, or Sweet 16. Itís just like the SEC Tournament, the SEC tournament has given me a lot of pain and suffering. The last two years, itís brought me a lot of joy. I think we sometimes tend to put people and programs in a box. ĎThey donít do well in the SECís, they donít do well in the NCAAís.í

 

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