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Monday March 17, 2008Men's Basketball Prepares For San Diego State

Gainesville, FL

UF Men’s Basketball Head Coach Billy Donovan
March 17, 2008

 

On the streak of NCAA Tournament appearances coming to an end:

“We were in practice when the show was going on, so right now we’re just trying to get better and improve. I think going forward here just to get these guys developing to become better as a team. I don’t think we ever took time to sit down and analyze how long the streak was, but this gives us an opportunity to move forward and get better as a team right now.”

 

On getting the team focused for the NIT:

“I understand how they feel because I think every player across the country at some point always winds up wanting to get into the NCAA Tournament. I think at that time being asked that question, if they had their choice, I would have been disappointed if they had said ‘well, I don’t care, as long as we get to have any post-season.’ I think the comment they were trying to make was that going to the NCAA Tournament was something that we wanted to do, that’s where every school wants to get to. We’re honored with the fact that the NIT has invited us to continue to play basketball, and there’s no question in their mind, if they had their choice, that they’d rather be. But this is the path that’s in front of us right now, this is the path we have laid out in front of ourselves that we have to address in order to go forward and get where we want to be. We’re just trying to focus on getting our guys prepared and ready to improve more than anything else. We just found out who we are playing, so we’ll get a chance to watch some film. It’ll be somewhat of a quick turnaround, playing someone we haven’t seen before. For me, it’s not like I’ve seen them a lot just because they’re out in California. We have a lot, as a coaching staff, to get prepared for and to present to our guys.”

 

On trying to play with passion:

“I think that probably in some respects, the confetti is still falling down around them and I think that when you have great success that we’ve had I think there’s a chance to become complacent and to lose sight of how good things are around here and to have this attitude of ‘I’m at Florida, this is just what’s going to happen.’ I think one of the things that creates a tremendous amount level of complacency, anybody is after something very big happening. I think it’s very easy to have a “letdown,” and it’s not these guys’ fault. They walked into this, a lot of them; they walked into what happened. They got a facility that the administration has invested a lot in, it’s one of the best in the country. They’ve got a massage therapist that makes sure they’re ok after games, they’ve got a private plane that they take to games, the meals that they eat – all of those things, these guys came here and went right to the penthouse. When you’re on the outside looking in and you walk into something like that, a lot of times you don’t know. You just think ‘I’m right here.’ And I would say that this group, when October 15 started, would have said there is no way that we’re not in the NCAA tournament, and I just think that that’s youthfulness. That’s them not going through it, that’s them not understanding what it’s all about, and it’s just kind of them not necessarily being complacent, but it’s easy for them to lose sight of how hard it really is. There is no idea or understand of how hard it is to get where you want to get to, and there is no reason for them to understand. Marreese (Speights) and Dan (Werner) saw practices, but they really don’t know how hard it is, and I think because of what has happened in the last two years, there was probably a little bit of ‘hey listen, we’ re just going to get where we need to get to.”

 

On San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher:
“I know Steve (Fisher). He’s a great guy. I have known him for awhile. We don’t keep in close contact, but I do see him on the road. I do know him well.”

On if the team is humbled by not making the NCAA Tournament:
“I think sometimes there is a level of entitlement that we feel. You start to get to the point where that is the worse thing that can be. When I say entitlement, I say this is Florida. We go to the NCAA Tournament, and we are going to go. That was my point that I made. I don’t think because you are a year older that resolves what the issues are for us to get better. That does not resolve that. I think there is a perception around here, wait until these guys next year, wait until these guys are a year older. There is a human element to that that is extremely unhealthy to our team. I do think that because of the character of these guys and the type of kids they are, I do think they are trying to figure it out. That’s what we have to try to do is help them figure it out.”

On possibly being tired this time of year:
“Every team is tired this time of year. I don’t think any team is going into a season really, really fresh. I’m sure Georgia’s kids were tired going into the SEC game yesterday. That is just part of the game.”

 

On San Diego State:
“They are very athletic and very individually talented. They have a couple of transfers that are good players. (Lorrenzo) Wade transferred from Louisville. He’s a really good player. (Ryan) Amoroso is another really big guy who transferred from Marquette. They have a lot of talented individual pieces. I think getting to know their personnel a little bit more is important for going forward with somewhat of a big turnaround. We practice today, tomorrow and then we play.”

On the extra practices:
“If you go through experiences in life and you look at that experience, you take the experience, and you don’t really have the right disposition or mindset to really grow from the experience in the right way, then I don’t think the experience at all was worthwhile. There is no question, they are getting a lot of experiences here, but because they are getting the experiences, I am very guarded against the fact that they are just going to grow from these experiences. They are going to understand the athleticism. They are going to understand what it is like to go play on the road in the SEC. What is it that is going to make us the best team we can be to get better and to grow and develop moving forward as a unit. We have the opportunity to learn a lot provided it’s internalized the right way. I know there has been a lot made of my comments of what I said. The thing that was disappointing that I thought was unfair was I gave a half-hour media interviews on the podium and back in the locker room. For someone to take those words that I said and build it just around that, there were a lot of things that were missed, that were said before, that were said after, and I think that I have always tried to be candid. Maybe I don’t need to be as candid as I am. There is no question that I worry about our team because these guys are good kids. There is an element around them right now that has been taken away that we have to try to get back. This is Florida or that we are young. There are too many excuses around them to me that we have to be able to put to the side and be able to grow as a team. That is what I am looking to do. You can’t grow unless you have the right mindset. That has been something that I have been trying to get across. When I made the comment that I am not looking forward to sophomores, it had nothing to do with coaching them. Just because it says Nick Calathes, sophomore, that doesn’t ensure that anything that happened this year makes him better. He’s a great kid, a good person, and we have great kids with good families that are trying to do the right things. They can’t get sucked into all of this stuff around them that is going to prevent them from reaching their fullest potential. I do see some of that being a problem right now because of past success, because of how they view themselves, because they are here at Florida. That has to change. It’s no different in a similar situation I went through after the 2000 National Championship Game. There is a process these kids are going to have to go through and they are going to have to figure it out. Sometimes I think I’m too candid. I’ve always had respect for everybody in here for the job they have to do. I’ve always tried to make it easier by panning perspective, so I was disappointed when I saw that was the only thing in a half-hour interview that was up there. My comments about not looking forward to them being sophomores, that seemed to be the only thing taken out about what I said in Atlanta. I thought, well maybe I don’t need to be as candid anymore. Maybe I just need to come in here and coach speak.”

 

 

On how the staff recruits the right athletes with the right frame of mind…

“There are so many ingredients that goes into it.  I think these kids are competitive kids and I think that they, not that they aren’t hard working kids, because I believe they work hard.  But, I think because there is a level of youthfulness, I think we as a coaching staff, and I said this before, we haven’t been able to get through to them to get them to understand where they’ve got to get to.  I think they trust me as a basketball coach, they think I know what I’m talking about on the court, but that’s only a piece of it.  There’s a team element part of it that they’ve got to totally understand.  Like I said, a lot of this is not totally their fault because of what they walked into, and now all of a sudden, we’re playing a lot of guys that have never played together before and there’s no one from last year, it’s a totally new team and in a lot of respects there are some really good things that these guys have done.  My job is always to focus on these guys becoming the best that we can become, and that’s always been my goal.  I think anything that is in the way of trying to prevent that, or in the way that happening, then without question, I need to be able to address and try to get out of here.  They’ve got to see that first, see what I’m talking about, then experience that and then they’ve got to try and work towards it collectively as a group.”

 

 

On the health of the team…

“I think everybody is fine, no one has missed any practices, and guys have worked hard.  I think they want to try and figure out, and I think they want to try and get better.  Like I said, they are all good kids, they are all good guys, I think that our chemistry, they all get along with each other.  I’ve been around guys that all come from different backgrounds and there are different cliques or groups that develop.  Their make up around each other is good, they like each other.”



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