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Monday March 19, 2007Men's Basketball Prepares For Butler

Gainesville, FL

University of Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan

Media Luncheon Quotes

March 19, 2007

 

Opening statement:

“We’re excited about the opportunity to go to St. Louis and play. There’s a lot to get ready for in playing Butler. They’re a terrific team, a team that’s had a great year. They’ve fought all season long, they’ve played against a high level competition at the beginning of the season, they play in a good league and they’ve certainly been able to win two very good games in the NCAA tournament. They’ve shown that they’re a great team and there’s more to them than just shooting the three. There’s a lot of balance, and they are good offensively and defensively. It is a little bit of a unique style they have that we’ll have to prepare for. Playing Friday is definitely helpful so we have another day to prepare for them, break down film, scout them out and do what we need to do to be as ready as possible for Friday night.”

 

On the matchup versus Butler in the 200 NCAA Tournament:

“It was a great basketball game. It went back and forth. We had to battle from behind to get back in to the game. We had to make some plays, and I think a lot of people remember Mike Miller’s shot. One of the things about it I remember is that we were down by three with about 20 seconds to go and Kenyon Weeks drove the ball to the goal and got a two-point basket that cut it to one. Obviously, the missed free-throws that helped us to do what we could with the nine seconds remaining, but (Teddy) Dupay and Mike (Miller) played great together. It was one of those games where you feel bad because both teams play so hard and both teams seem to deserve to win the game equally because it was such tough competition. We had the last shot, though, and luckily we were able to make it. It was a great game. Butler’s program with Barry Collier, obviously he’s not there anymore, but they had a lot of success and they’re experiencing success with Ed Lickliter. They’re one of those programs where people like to talk about major, mid-major programs, but there are programs out there like Gonzaga, like Butler, that have gone out and done it so many years outside of their conference that I don’t think can be considered that weak. I have a lot of respect for them and I think there’s a lot of national notoriety for the program right now because of getting to several Sweet Sixteen rounds, because of what they can do in non-conference play.”

 

On the benefit of recognizing the fragility of each tournament game:

“It definitely helped. The year before, we were in a similar situation where Casey Calvary from Gonzaga tipped one in and sent us home a little bit early, but sometimes plays like that propel you, and I think that anytime there’s a chance to advance and help your program, it does a lot of great things. You also realize that when you’re in a game like that, you see how fragile it all is and the room and margin for error is so small, and there are so many things that are out of your control, that you go through a game like that and you realize that there is only so much you can do as a player and coach. For example, those missed free-throws and Michael Miller making that shot (against Butler in 2000), and then Calvary’s tip-in, those demonstrated the fragility of the game. Let’s say that the bounce went somewhere else – the game is over.  Those sorts of things happen sometimes that make the game and make the tournament special – it’s when things like that happen.”

 

On Butler’s style of play:

“They’re a very physical team defensively. I think they do a great job on post defense, they do a real good job of trying to dislodge you off the block. For example, they do a good job of catching your post off-guard, guarding you off the block, they can push you off the block and they play good help-defense. They’re a team that’s out-pressuring you for 94-feet and they’re very physical, very aggressive and very quick wit their hands. Sometimes when you look at a player, for instance, (Chris) Kramer from Purdue, I was very impressed with him on tape because he had such good anticipation for the plays. He got his hand on a lot of basketball. Butler has a lot of guys like that on their team that are really smart, intelligent players. They’re getting a lot of good angles – good passing angles, they get their hand on a lot of basketballs and they’re very disruptive in a lot of ways. Obviously, they don’t turn it over. They hold onto the basketball, and they do a great job of keeping possession of the ball.”

 

On familiarity and fatigue:

“I think it’s probably a combination of things. There are always things you’re going to try to adjust, from an x-and-o standpoint. There’s an adjustment the players go through after playing a 20-minute half and being able to regroup, there are things they can see a little bit more clearly because they’ve had the time to reflect back on it, but I think also there’s a fatigue factor in every game. I thought Purdue was really aggressive and I thought Matt Painter did a great job subbing everyone in and out, so everyone was fresh. I still think both teams, by the time we got to the last five minutes of play, were pretty tired and looked really winded. A certain level of fatigue, without question plays a role in every game. We played 17 league games, and then three in the SEC tournament, so that’s 19 league games of familiarity. When you see the same groups of people over the same three months, you know how tall, how quick everyone is. You get a better feel for the style of play you‘ll be facing. There’s the anticipation factor. Then, you’re in the NCAA Tournament, and there is no familiarity. You’re going on the floor to play against a team you’ve never met before, in an arena you’ve never been in maybe. And you try to scout and point things out to your guys, but sometimes they’re things that aren’t fully recognized and respected until you experience it for yourself. Then you experience it and you can talk about it at time-outs, at half-time. I think it’s everyone adjusting, though. It’s players, coaches, everyone.”

 

On preparation and trust:

“There’s a mutual trust between players and coaches. Sometimes there are things that are staples of your program that need to remain consistent, but I think we try to give our guys the best information we can in terms of preparing them. Our guys this year are very intelligent guys. They absorb and retain information well. You can give them a lot and they can handle it. There will be a lot to get ready for with Butler, but I think our players do a good job of paying attention to what we teach them and I think that can lend itself to being an advantage.”

 

On how Coach Donovan motivates his team:

People talk a lot about the word motivation, and I think that sometimes when people think about the word motivation, they think it’s a ‘rah-rah’ speech everyday. I think there are different ways of motivating different people. I would say that I spend everyday trying to do that for our team. Sometimes people say, ‘OK, they did this motivationally – it must be a gimmick.’ Motivation can be a confrontation and a challenge. Motivation can be taking a young man into your office and sitting down with him and showing him some film. Motivation could have someone coming into speak to your team. Motivation could be showing someone a highlight tape. I spent a large amount of time myself thinking of what would be best to motivate the team and what they need to be hit with.”

 

On a change in effort:

“There’s a fine line. I may have said this last week, but a huge thing I can say about the guys is I know they care. I know they want to do the right things. We may not always play great, but I know they care about playing to the best of their abilities and if we don’t reach that potential, I know it’s never because of a lack of will or try. The greatest compliment I can say is that they care. They’re competitive kids that want to play, want to compete. I don’t see it as they tried harder against Purdue than they did against Vanderbilt or Tennessee. I don’t see it as they tried harder against Jackson State than we did against Kansas back in November. I can say we’ve played better in certain situations, but I know they always give me a great effort and they give each other a great effort.”

 

Florida Player Quotes

March 19, 2007

 

Senior forward Chris Richard

On what happened to make Florida put Purdue away:

"In the last 10 minutes, everything finally clicked. Lee (Humphrey) came in and hit a few threes that gave us a boost. Al (Horford) came in and made a few moves, and got a few rebounds that helped, too. Those were boosts that sparked us. Once we got going, we didn't want to turn around."

 

On whether or not Purdue was the most physical team Florida has faced:

"It was different. They were a very physical team, but they are undersized in the post. They did a lot of banging and put a lot of pressure on us, but they were still undersized at the same time. They banged us a lot and that affected us, but it didn't effect us like it could have if they were as big as Georgia or Ole Miss."

 

On teams trying to be physical against Florida:

"We're used to it. We go against it every day in practice. In the SEC, we go against it all the time. I think we're underrated as far as being physical. I don't know what it is, but a lot of people don't think we're physical. That doesn't really matter as long as we come ready to play. We're competitors. I don't think anything will wear us down at this point in the season. We want to win every game and win another national championship."

 

Junior forward Corey Brewer

On what it feels like to dunk a basketball:

"It feels really good. I probably never dunked for real until eighth grade. My brother used to get on me and say that I couldn't dunk, but then I finally could. Then, in ninth grade I could really dunk. I was dunking in games. The best feeling you can get is when you dunk on somebody."

 

On who his favorite speaker is that Billy Donovan has brought in to talk with the team:

"Bill Belichick, because he knows what it takes to get prepared to win back-to-back championships. He had some great points about how you have to play for your team and that whatever is going on at that moment is what you have to focus on. He had a great point about how we pushed a ball up the hill a certain way and won a championship. Now you have to do it a different way, but you all still have to be on the same page and push it together."

 

Sophomore guard Walter Hodge

On the team playing better in the second half of games:

“In the first half, you have to get a feel for what’s going on in the game. We try to figure out who will be guarding us and try to work them down to the second half. In the second half, we just come with a lot of energy and try to win the game.”

 

On if the team plays better in the second half in the tournament because they get a chance to feel out an unfamiliar opponent in the first half:

“I think that’s true. When we play in the SEC, we know what is going on. Now we are playing against a different style of conference and it’s a different style of play. We just try to play hard and try to win games.”

 

Junior center Al Horford

On playing physical games:

“I like playing physical games. I can adjust to any game I have to play, but it’s going to be a grind from now on.”

 

On if he is worried about any slow start the Gators have had in the first two games:

“I’ve always said, ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’ We got off to a good start in the SEC Tournament. It’s good when you get a good start, but it’s not going to make a difference in the game I don’t think.”

 

On if the team is self-motivated at the point in the season:

“If you’re not motivated, you shouldn’t even be out there trying to play. I feel like all the teams left out there are trying to prove a point.”

 

On the turning point in the win over Purdue:

“It’s a process I feel. You don’t just turn the switch on. I feel that when came out in the second half - in the first few possessions - we didn’t score, but I felt that we were setting the tone in the beginning. After they made their run, I think we focused in and closed out the game.”

 

 

Junior forward Joakim Noah:

On Harry Edwards guest speaking to the team:

“His story is unbelievable. He came to speak to us a couple of times. He spoke to our team and talked about climbing the mountain, and after you win the national championship you have to start all over again. You have to start at the bottom of the mountain and come back. He talked about taking a different path. At the beginning of the season, I don’t think we understood what he was talking about, but I feel like now - what he was talking about – I can really relate and understand. He’s somebody that has won a lot of championships in a lot of different sports. It’s really interesting having him come talk to us in September, and having all of it making sense now.”

 

On the team being able to get rest during the week:

“I think we played a real physical battle yesterday. I think right now it’s all about resting physically and mentally, especially physically because a lot of guys our banged up. This is the final stretch and we’re excited. Right now it’s about enjoying the day, and as soon as coach says ‘Lace ‘em up,’ we have to be ready to go.”

 

On the team playing better in the second half of games:

“It is just our will to win and our sacrifice to win. I think there have been games where we have been hit in the mouth early and we weren’t able to come back even after we made a run. We’ve made a lot of good comebacks in the second half, but at the same time you look at Tennessee on the road and their punch was too strong for us to come back from. Those are learning experiences and we realize you can’t get hit like that, especially in the beginning of the game, because it’s a 40-minute game and those runs are sometimes too hard to overcome. There’s no turning back, there’s no learning when you lose in this tournament. Once you lose, it’s over – there’s no more season, there’s no more practice. We realize that, and right now it’s not about worrying about Butler.”

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