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Monday January 7, 2013Quotes and Video from Head Coach Billy Donovan's Monday Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan
Jan. 7, 2013

On what he’s learned about his team during the non-conference season
“I think we’ve gone against a lot of different styles and we’ve played in a lot of different venues and we’ve traveled quite a bit, we’ve played in some hostile environments, we’ve played in some neutral sites, so I think this all a work in progress. I think for us the first part of the year if you start with the Georgetown game, we didn’t have a full complement of players with Scottie (Wilbekin) and Casey (Prather) being out. Then we lose (Erik) Murphy with a hip pointer and doesn’t really play the second half against Marquette or much against Florida State and Patric (Young) being out of the starting lineup, Murphy getting hurt again, Scottie breaking a finger. So really, the first 12 games we’ve had a couple games where we’ve had a full complement of players, but I think that one thing for me is just that through all these the experiences we are going through, where can we get better? Where can we improve? I think it’s really on both sides, I think we can get better defensively, and I think we can get better offensively.

“I was a little bit more pleased, I thought our turnovers were a little bit high yesterday, but it was good to getting back to 19 assists in a game because I think when we make the game easy for each other we’re a lot more difficult to guard. I think going back to Kansas State where we kind of broke away from that a little and we didn’t have the high number of assists and didn’t do a great job defensively and came back against Air Force and really didn’t do a great job defensively in the first half from the three-point line and from inside the line and scored 32 points in the half and then played a little bit better in the second half. This is a game where I thought our guys with having eight days off we got better. We got better at moving the ball, passing the ball. I thought our press, which we spent a lot of time on these past eight days was effective in the game yesterday, so what you try to do is continue to carry on. I thought we’ve had some individual players, Kenny (Boynton) obviously went through a time where everyone was talking about his shooting and he comes out and makes eight threes and people say, ‘Well, he’s out of his slump.’ I think every game is always different and a different set of circumstances and challenges, and just because he shot the ball well against Yale doesn’t mean it’s going to continue for the rest of the year. Just as he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well early in the year, that isn’t going to continue, too. I think getting Will Yeguete back where he played yesterday with the level of intensity and passion, the things he’s capable of doing, really helped our team. I think getting our guys to understand the process of trying to get better, trying to improve is something that we’ve been focused on.

“What did I learn? I learned that we can still get better, and that’s an encouraging thing. The hard part is when you go in and watch your team play in November and December and say, ‘Gee, we really can’t play much better than this.’ There is still room for improvement for our team on both sides of the floor and it could be a lot of different things: half-court defense, the press, the extra pass, making the right pass, making the right decisions, making the right plays, shot selection, finding Patric (Young) when he’s open, finding (Erik) Murphy when he’s open, using screens, setting the screens – all those kinds of things. When you’ve play a schedule like we’ve played up to this point in time, some of those things you don’t do well get really exposed and I think we really had a chance going into the Air Force game and in this last week or eight days.”

On if the team is comfortable being the favorite in the SEC
“I don’t think our guys are worried about that. I think we’ve got an older group of guys that understand that anything can happen. It doesn’t for me, that doesn’t make a difference. I don’t think our guys feel any extra burden or pressure because we’re picked to win the league. First of all, you’re never, ever going to have a true league champion because it’s no longer a round-robin, so the scheduling and the way its offset I think for us its just trying to get the guys to understand that to me the most important thing for me is the process; they have to embrace the process every single day. I thought we had some slippage coming into Southeastern Louisiana and going into Kansas State and the first half against Air Force. I didn’t sense from our team early last week that we were committed to the process. You’ve got this thing for eight days where there is no school and we’re in the gym twice a day practicing and when you come in with that mindset it’s really difficult to get better and improve. I think one of the things I’ve tried to do with these guys is get them to a place where I’ve taken them to their limits physically so they start to develop a mentally of pushing through difficulties, pushing through challenges. Early in the week, we were really poor at it and as the week went on we got better and better at it. We’re going to need that kind of resiliency this year.

On if it was good to see Kenny Boynton come out of his slump and if it was weighing on Boynton
“I think the one thing you try to do as a coach is always to give your guys who are three-point shooters confidence. I think one of the things is always a fine line, and obviously I played, was when your coach says, ‘Stop shooting. You’re not shooting well.’ I think that takes away players’ confidence when you say that. My biggest thing with Kenny has always been breaking down his shot, not so much his form and technique, but breaking down the shots that he’s taking. I think he took a lot of challenged, difficult shots and he made himself one-dimensional for a few weeks there.

“I also think the thing people talk about because they isolate the fact that he can shoot the ball well is that it’s a totally different mindset when you’re playing the point guard position. When you’re anywhere else on the floor, you can kind of get focused and locked in on yourself and what you need to do and what your job responsibilities are. When Kenny is off the ball a lot of the times he can do what he does, he’s aggressive, he can attack he can be difficult coming off screens and putting it on the floor. But all of a sudden you’re coming down the floor as the point guard and you’ve got to be concerned with four people and you’re less focused on yourself. It was hard for him because he’s not shooting the ball well, and he knows shooting the ball well helps our team. But he’s also got this responsibly over here to run the team and that’s a totally different mindset, and that was totally different from the last three years so getting him to understand shot selection-wise and shooting percentage-wise was why was it happening, why are you not shooting the ball like you are capable of? One, I think there had to be a shift mentally for him playing the point and two. I think him taking shots that are hard shots to make, and I think what happens for any player is when you make your first couple shots you have a tendency to make a little bit more difficult shots as time goes on. When you take difficult shots and when the ball isn’t going through the basket, it kind of sets a tone for you during the course of the game.

“But Kenny in the first half yesterday during the first half was patient and missed his first three and it was wide open and then he made one late in the second half that was a little more of a challenged shot, he had to drive to the basket and then in the second half he got some clean looks that he could make and he got in a rhythm and he felt really good about it. But trying to understand why. And when you see a guy shoot 28 or 29 percent, it one of two things: either the guy can’t shoot, which I think Kenny has proven he can, or it’s his shot selection. That’s what I tried to show him. It’s not necessarily bad shots but it was the decisions he was making when he was shooting the ball. There’s is a guy running at him at 6’6” flying through the air at him and he’s trying to get it off over the top of the guy instead of going around him and giving someone else a shot. When that happens, guys then have a tendency to sit there and say we have to close out a little bit shorter and contain him on the dribble that then creates space for him to shoot over the top, and I think that’s what happened yesterday because he was in the lane a lot to start the game.”

On if he thought Kenny lost confidence
“I think anytime a player goes through that, there is always a confidence issue. That’s what I was saying before is if I were to say to him, ‘You’re not shooting the ball well, don’t shoot,’ his probably second guessing, his probably waning (confidence) a bit, that only piles on top of it. So what I’ve got to sit there and do is break it down and show him clips and say why, ‘Why are you not shooting the ball (well)? Here is why, this is why you’re not shooting the ball as well as you are capable of.’ Coming out of the Kansas State game, I feel like (since) showing him film, he’s tried to do a better job of doing the things that he needs to do to shoot at a higher percentage.”

On Georgia sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
“He is really a talented guy. He is a guy that was somewhat under the radar as a freshman last year because of (Bradley) Beal, (Michael Kidd-)Gilchrist, Anthony Davis. Those guys kind of dominated a lot of the talk about the freshmen inside of our league. But he was one of those guys that scored a lot last year and maybe didn’t get a whole lot of recognition. The thing that is really impressive about him is he has great size, great length. He can really score, he can put it down, rebound his position. He is very aggressive on offense. Mark (Fox) does a great job of putting him in situations and taking advantage of his talent and his skill set. He clearly has emerged as one of the better players in our league. I am not so sure he was given his proper due respect last year as a freshman because he was really, really a good freshman last year.”

On what stands out about the rest of Georgia’s team
“Their system and their style. They are really efficient on offense with what they do. Mark’s teams always run great things offensively, always takes advantage of his personnel. They are a physical team. They are going to rebound the basketball, play their style of play and their system. Certainly, he (Caldwell-Pope) stands out just because when you look at their total number of shots and how much he is responsible for that total number it is obvious a lot goes through him with his ability to score. I think, like all of us, they are dealing with some injuries and some setbacks. They are a team with some guys that will continue to get better and improve as a lot of teams in our league will.”

On team being eager to get into conference play
“I think our guys are excited now to get into that. It has been a long non-conference schedule for us, it really has. A lot of it has to do with the amount of travel. We had one home game in the month of December. When you talk about going to Arizona, to Kansas City, to Connecticut, down to Miami, having to travel to FSU, a neutral-site game against Middle Tennessee State. We have always been going somewhere for the most part to play. We haven’t really played in the O’Connell Center in quite some time. I think our guys need to get rejuvenated and refreshed from these first 13 games. It is just how our schedule has gone up to this point in time. I think our guys are excited. I think everybody is excited because it is almost like this is a new start to the season for everybody, not just us but everybody across the country.”

On how to defend against people who say the SEC is down this year
“I got asked that during the (SEC coaches’ media) teleconference, and here is my thought on that. One, you have a lot of really good coaches in this league and you also have a lot of departures from a lot of teams. You also have a lot of departures in terms of head coaches. I like in our league to, what it was the last couple of years. Last year to start the season, Tennessee had some difficult non-conference losses. Bruce Pearl did a very good job at Tennessee. Cuonzo Martin comes in there with a new system, new style, doing things differently and they drop some games in November and December, but I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that in January, February and March they were one of the better teams in this league. We went to the Elite Eight, Kentucky won the National Championship. You go back the year before Anthony Grant has a group of guys (at Alabama) that lose some non-conference games in December, then all of a sudden they go 12- 4 in the league and really had an incredible year. I don’t think anyone would dispute that they were won of the better teams in the league. Those two teams didn’t get into the tournament. Now, I’m all for the resume and the whole body of work. I think that’s important, that’s what you have to do. But where that is somewhat flawed for all of us as coaches and teams is, what about the improvement that a team makes over the course of a year? It is like people talking on selection Sunday, ‘Well, back in November they lost this really bad game.’ Well it’s February now, March, that was four months ago. The team could have gotten better. I think what happens a lot of times is, based on November and December your league gets immediately labeled and then once we all play each other it gets labeled whether or not it is a good or bad league based on what you have done outside the conference. Now clearly up to this point in time our league has had some difficult and challenging losses, we all have. I don’t think you take our league and just put it in a box and say therefore the league is not as good because I think teams are going to get better, they are going to improve. Has our league played to the level of some of the other leagues up to this point in time? Maybe not. But I think that’s the hard part to get over is once you get into January and February people look at your league and say it is not as good because of what happened November and December because of some of these losses. I don’t know if that is fair with the departures. Take a team like Vanderbilt. They lost their whole team. Kentucky lost their whole team. Frank Martin is a new coach at South Carolina. There are a lot of different elements that go into this right now that you have players plugged into different roles and positions they have never been in before. I think it takes time for guys to adjust, get better and figure out what they need to do and that is what the schedule is for to continually get better. I don’t necessarily think or agree that our league is down. We may have had some difficult losses, but being in this league as long as I have and being around some of these coaches, we have good coaches and these teams are going to keep getting better and our league will be a very good league. It is just unfortunate now that our league is over with, we are all playing each other and we don’t have the respect level inside of our league because of what happened in the non-conference schedule.”

On Erik Murphy’s injury
“It is in a really bad spot, the injury, because it is right by his lateral so anytime he raises his are up or lifts his arm up it is a significant amount of pain. The biggest thing was to try to figure out if his ribs are broken. If they are broken, we will have a better understanding of how long the healing process will take. If it’s not, and we are hopeful it is just in a bad spot and that’s why he is so uncomfortable, then it can be a little bit of a quicker healing process. I don’t anticipate him practicing today or tomorrow and I can say he is probably doubtful for Georgia as of right now.”

On emphasizing fresh start heading into SEC play
“I think you talk about that now you are playing for something. There is something you are playing for. You are playing inside of a league and there is a league championship that everyone is playing for right now. Whereas maybe some of these games up to this point in time, competitive and challenging game that stretch you, push you, make you better. You find out a little bit more about your time. Find areas you need to improve in. Not to say that non-conference play is not important, but certainly every game now there is something on the line that you are playing for at the beginning of March.”

On evaluating Murphy’s injury
“Because of the spot it was in our trainer basically felt like it was in a bad spot so whether they are broken or not broken, it has nothing to do with anything else where he is at right now. If his ribs are broken, there is no difference really between a bruise and a break except the healing process. He is cleared to play right now, but it is all up to him, how much pain he can tolerate. He is not going to significantly hurt himself anymore because he’s going to be padded up and it’s not going to be a problem, but what happens is if he gets hit there or reaches and stretches it becomes so uncomfortable. His breathing is a problem. His sleeping is a problem right now. So for him, we are just trying to X-ray them because if they are broken it is obviously going to be a much longer process for him to get back. If they are not broken, we will probably have a better understanding of how long it is going to take. In terms of what we are doing treating him, this injury is always going to be, break or bruise, it is up to him and how he feels. I think that Erik is a pretty tough kid and because of where the injury is there is probably no reason to X-ray him. We are probably doing it more just to find out, not so much in terms of treatment, but just in terms of how long this is going to take. I had broken two (ribs) in college and it was probably a good 4-6 weeks before I was pain free. When it is a bruise, it is probably going to be a week to ten days. That’s all we are trying to find out right now. Him playing on Wednesday has nothing to do with if the diagnosis comes back they are broken or if they are bruised. It has nothing to do with him being able to play, it is all up to him.”

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