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Monday January 21, 2013Quotes and Video from Head Coach Billy Donovan's Monday Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media for his weekly press conference on Monday, discussing the team’s ability to handle success, Mike Rosario’s growth, Scottie Wilbekin’s defense and the upcoming game at Georgia. Below are the full quotes from the press conference.

 

Florida Men’s Basketball Head Coach Billy Donovan

January 21, 2013

 

On team handling success with starting strong in SEC play

“I think it all comes down to our ability and our mentality to be better. Looking at the Missouri game, Texas A&M, last time we played Georgia, there are still areas that we can improve on. I think that our guys having maturity and understanding the process of everyday, the length and time of the season. What is behind you is behind you and what is in front of you is getting ready to come, so the process of preparing here to play Georgia on Wednesday is what this is about. Us trying to get better from the last time we played Georgia. There are some things they may do differently and things we may need to be doing differently, but for me it is all about just getting better. Just getting better than we were yesterday and better than we were the day before that and constantly trying to improve. All the previous success or being 4-0 really has nothing to do with Wednesday’s game. It has zero to do with that. We have to get better.”

 

On defense translating to league play from non-conference play

“Well, I think every game presents different challenges. Whether you are going against a certain style and system or whether you are going against different talented pieces that are inside that system. How we have to guard and how we have to play defensively and what we need to do to try to take away any team’s strengths. What they are going to look to do or try to exploit and take advantage of. I think our guys have done a good job at this point in time with preparation, scouting, personnel, understanding what teams are going to try to do. With that being said, also understanding how teams are going to guard us. How we have to play offensively. Those are the things from a preparation standpoint, those guys being locked in to what we need to do because every game changes. The game against A&M was totally different than the game against Missouri and the game against LSU was totally different than the game against Georgia. There will be some differences here in this next Georgia game that we will have to look at doing differently than we did the opening night in SEC play.”

 

On imagining Mike Rosario’s contribution this point last year

“Mike was a talented player and Mike scored a lot of points at Rutgers, but I think if you looked at his statistics at Rutgers, yes he scored a lot of points, but he was really a high-volume shooter. Didn’t shoot a great percentage from three, didn’t shoot a great percentage from the field. The thing I am trying to get Mike to understand, and I think he has done a pretty good job of it this year, is that when he plays the right way he has really good vision, is a really good passer. When he makes simple, really good plays it makes our team better. It makes him a much better, more effective player on the offensive floor. I think he has made more of a commitment defensively and helping us get better because I thought last year he was really a weak defender and wasn’t really committed to or saw the value in it. As time has gone on I think he has done that, but Mike has been much more consistent. I think I made that comment all the way back when we first opened the season and he had four or five really good weeks, and he continues to impress and continues to get better. But I’m not sure Mike has ever done this for an entire year in college, so we obviously have a long way to go and I want him to embrace that. He still can get better and still can improve. When he plays the right way and takes high percentage shots, takes care of the ball and makes good decisions, he has a really good ability to get people open shots and we become a lot more difficult to defend when he does that. When the ball is in his hands and he makes poor decisions, makes passes that are low return/high risk passes, when he takes high risk shots with very little reward if it goes in, those things really put our team in a bind and that’s an area I think he is getting better at and has improved here in the last several weeks. Really since the Kansas State game is where I started to see some growth in that area.”

 

On being sure that Rosario would be part of the mix this year

“I think that when you are McDonald’s All-American and you have the kind of success he had in his mind scoring 1,000 points in two years at Rutgers, the immediate feeling is ‘I’m going to walk right in to Florida and do the same exact thing. I’m going to play all these minutes.’ And because of his lack of consistency, he didn’t play. So I think he really got to a crossroads at the end of last year, where, ‘Am I going to do what is being asked of me or do I want to move on and do something else?’ Really, the ball was put in his court. It was pretty clear you need to practice every day, you need to play the right way and you need to take care of your responsibilities off the court. If you can’t do those three things, I’m not going to play you. You are not going to play. But it is in your court. If you do those things, then your ability, your talent will get a chance to help our team and you will be in a position to play as much as you want to play. So to answer the question, was I 100 percent sure I could do it? Probably not because he had not done it here up to that point in time, but really all the cards were kind of pushed to him to make the decision of what he wanted to do, and I think from that point it was pretty clear cut what he needed to do. Take care of his responsibilities off the court. Come to practice every single day, the trainer will determine whether you can practice or not and you need to play the right way on the court. Good shots, take care of the ball – don’t turn it over, and you will have the opportunity. And I think he has done that to this point, so I give him all the credit. He is the one that has done it, it has not been me.”

 

On if he gave Rosario an ultimatum

“I think what happens a lot of times is expectations that are placed on a player and when a player gets pushed against a wall like that, the expectations are there or it’s laid out pretty clearly. I think any player needs to make a decision of, ‘Is this for me or not for me?’ It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, get out,’ or I was going to cut his scholarship or anything like that, but for him wanting to impact our team like he wanted to impact our team, that just wasn’t going to be given to him. He was going to have to invest in those things in order to get what he wanted to get. He’s a very talented player and he’s a good basketball player. He’s played in a lot of games, a lot of high-level games. He’s played in the Big East and was highly regarded coming out of high school, so the talent level is there. But how he needed to play and what our expectations were here on him, I had to lay that out very clearly because what I think where one of the disconnects of the year that he got eligible to play was, ‘I’m just going to rely on my talent and go out there and score, and I can miss some practices or not practice.’ And you have other guys out there like Kenny Boynton, who in four years has missed one practice and no games. Erving Walker, in four years, missed one practice and zero games. Now you have a guy in one year, miss 25 practices and five games? You have other guys out there that are working and to his credit, Mike has done that. It wasn’t so much an ultimatum, it was more of, ‘You make the decision if you want to. If you don’t want this, I’m totally OK. I get it. I fully understand, not a problem.’ There’s not any bitter feelings toward Mike last year, and I don’t think he had any bitter feelings toward me. It was a disconnect of me holding him accountable to the things he needed to do that would be good for himself and good for our team.”

 

On what makes Scottie Wilbekin a good on-ball defender and if he’s in a category with guys like Corey Brewer and Justin Hamilton

“I think he’s definitely in that upper category of good defenders. The one thing with Scottie that is really good is Scottie doesn’t really pay much attention at all to points, what position he’s playing or how many shots he’s getting. He has like a Hamilton or a Corey Brewer, he’s got that mentality that he really takes on challenges to defend and he’s made our defense a lot better because he has really good feet and he can move his feet and keep people in front. He’s a physical guard where he’s a hard guy to screen. If he does get screened, he’s got a great ability to get around off contact and get back on the ball. Even when he got here as a freshman, that’s been something that he’s really invested in himself. A lot of times players like to hang their hats on something they are good at. If you have a player that is a really good scorer or shooter, they think the way they get on the floor is by doing those things and sometimes the other parts of the game fall by the way side because they aren’t focused on it. For Scottie, he’s always hung his hat on being a great defender. It’s always been important to him. Because our defense has gotten better and he has a lot to do with that, as a point guard, it’s probably changed our mentality a little bit in going out there and defending the way we have. It certainly starts with your point guard because he’s certainly picking the ball up on the press. He’s out there on the top and he can set the stage. He’s a guy that, it’s important to him personally. I don’t need to motivate him to play defense. It’s important to him.”

 

On Casey Prather’s injury status

“We kept him in a boot for the entire week. He did not do any rehabilitation at all. We kept him in the boot, but yesterday was the first day he got to take the boot off. With those high ankle sprains, they take a little longer to heal. He started to rehab yesterday. My guess would be that he would definitely be out the rest of this week, but the major concern with the injury right now is bringing him back too soon and having to deal with lingering pain, discomfort and him being hobbled by this for the rest of the year. So our feeling is, we’ve come this far, let’s try to get him fully healthy. My guess would be right now that this week he would do rehab and not practice at all. I think he’ll probably get reevaluated in another six days or so and see how he feels in practice before he ever plays in a game.”

 

On how the team has responded when shorthanded at times with injuries

 “I think you have a lot of coaches that always say the same thing, ‘We’re not going to use injuries as an excuse.’ It’s one thing to say that and another thing to believe that. I think our team has done a pretty good job this year, whether it was the opening part having Casey (Prather) and Scottie (Wilbekin) out or Erik Murphy being out. Whether it’s been Casey back out again and then Will Yeguete out. We’ve had different players out, but our team, in certain areas, has stepped up to different challenges. They’ve gone out there and played hard. We’ve ended up winning those games, but I don’t think that our guys at all in that locker room feel like when somebody is out or missing that we can’t win. I think that’s a credit to them that they understand that they have to rally as a group to offset whatever individual player is not playing.”

 

On if this team is like previous teams in sustaining the level of success

“I think that the biggest thing in all this stuff to me is, I always use this word the makeup of the individual player. The makeup of your individuals on your team has a lot to do with how your team performs plays and prepares. If you’ve got players inside your team who can’t handle success, can’t handle failure, can’t handle adversity, cannot handle injuries, cannot handle setbacks, cannot handle when things go their way, you’re going to have a very, very fragile team. Very fragile and I’ve had some teams that have had a really good core makeup and through the course of competition you come up a little bit short. I’ve had some teams, in my opinion, that have been very mentally fragile that could not handle success and moving to the next challenge, next opportunity. The human nature in all of us is to want to relax, we don’t want to be stressed or uncomfortable or put under duress. We want everything to be nice, smooth and easy; that’s just human nature. My job as a coach is to try and take these guys out of their comfort level physically and mentally, to get them to try to strive and achieve things that I think every college basketball player  on every college basketball team wants to achieve, and that’s the opportunity to compete for a championship.  But in order to do that, you have got to be willing to mentally and physically take yourself out of your comfort zone and if you want to be comfortable you’re never ever going to reach your true potential.  So this team – up to this point in time, doesn’t mean it’s going to continue – has done a good job of moving from one challenge to the next and is prepared from one challenge to the next correctly. I think they have gone out there and they’ve played that way, but we can’t embrace that and think ‘OK, we’ve got this all figured out.’ There is an enormous amount of effort and energy. You know what’s interesting, after the game I heard (Patriots DT Vince) Wilfork talk after the Patriots lost and I resonated with his comments. He was talking about contemplating retirement or do you want to play because there is so much effort and preparation that goes in to trying to win. And then when you don’t win you, you look back at all that work and say ‘OK, I have to start all over again for another year.’ That’s the part where the more invested you are in the team as a player, the more painful it is when you lose. When you’re not invested, winning or losing doesn’t bother you. That’s because they’re not necessarily invested. I think up to this point in our time this season, our team is invested, they’ve invested. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to lose a game again but we’re making the proper investments, and we need to continue to do that.”

 

On if he sees the same mentality this year like successful teams in the past

“Yes and no. I don’t think personality-wise we have anyone on our team like Joakim Noah, Al Horford or Corey Brewer. But every individual, every person is created differently, so for me to compare and say this guy is just like this guy, I think we’d be doing both of those players a disservice. This team has got its own identity, its own challenges and its own things it has to deal with. But with things you’re talking about needing to have, I don’t know if instinctively for our team this year that is something that has been easy for them. Whereas maybe as for some of the teams I’ve had before, its maybe been a little bit easier because it’s been more of a reflection of their makeup. Patric Young has really grown, and that wasn’t his nature when he came in here. His nature was, ‘Why are we working so hard? We work hard every day.’ And Joakim Noah didn’t have that mentality; he couldn’t get enough. He wanted more, more, more, more, and we kind of had to pull him back. Everybody is different, but when you get them to understand what goes into it, that’s what you want them to do. Then they’ve got to embrace the challenge and the process of making the commitment necessary because as I’ve mentioned to you it’s not human nature to be like that but that’s what it takes to be really successful.”

 

On taking good teams to Athens and losing in the past and if he is stressing that it’s a hard place to play

“It will definitely be a tough game. The first time they played us they had two players out, their starting center Donte’ Williams did not play so it’s always challenging going on the road. They are coming off a good win themselves against LSU. The last couple years, as you mentioned, we have gone up there and not won, but I don’t think there is anything that we can take from those games. This is its own separate identity, its own separate game and its own individual challenge. It will be played on that day, and anything played before has got nothing to do with anything else other than to get prepared for that game. So I definitely think going on the road will be challenging just as it was against LSU or Texas A&M, and we’ll have to prepare well over the next two days and be prepared and ready to play Wednesday.”

 

On how Erik Murphy has been able to play well with a fractured rib

“I think that says a lot about him and just his commitment. His commitment to get out there and practice, his commitment to deal with some of the things he’s had to deal with physically, and I think it says a lot about him. That’s what you want. Even when the trainers want him to sit out, he says, ‘No, I want to work out, I want to get out there and play,’ and I respect that and I appreciate that from him. I think probably him playing so quickly after the Yale game has probably set him back from feeling totally pain-free. He hasn’t reinjured himself, he hasn’t set himself back but he’s probably caused it to be much longer of a healing process, but he’s kept it up pretty well. I think the big part for him right now is he just wants to get the padding off because it’s just uncomfortable and awkward to play with.”

 

On Scottie Wilbekin’s offensive game

“He has been good in terms of getting in the lane and making good decisions. He has had a couple of 10-assist game that is an area he has gotten better at. When he is playing in pick-and-roll and getting down the lane, he is making really good decisions and good reads. I thought a little bit in the first half against Missouri, he over-handled a little bit. He kept the ball in his hands too long and they were trapping him, he needed to get rid of it. But his offense continues to grow. He takes good shots. He takes open ones. He is a good finisher at the basket. When he gets down the lane, it opens up things for us. It opens up the perimeter. It opens up the low-post. He has done a really good job because he is strong and physical. A lot of the times when Erving Walker would get down the lane, he would get swallowed up. He would leave his feet sometimes, and it would drive me nuts. Where I think Scottie can get down the lane and finish at the rim a little bit better. If he can’t finish, he can dribble out and get it to where it needs to go. He has made some really nice improvements on the offensive end.”

 

On Scottie Wilbekin returning from his early-season suspension

“I think in life we all make mistakes. I put myself in that category with Scottie as a person. I think a lot of times some of the greatest growth and development outcomes through when you have setbacks or make mistakes. Because of that, I think it has made him a better player. It forced him to maybe look at life and his basketball career playing here at Florida, being here at Gainesville, maybe a little differently than he ever had before. None of us are ever going to go through life being perfect, without making mistakes or without doing things we regret, wish we could take back, or do over. But it doesn’t mean that it needs to define us as a person. If we put our energy into what we can learn from those situations and use those situations as great opportunities to grow, we are going to be a lot better than we were when that situation took place.”

 

On Patric Young’s growth

“I think one thing that happens to all players when they are freshmen is when they are freshmen and when they go from their freshman year to their sophomore year and their role changes. Every player wants to play 40 minutes. Patric, coming in as a freshman, playing behind Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus, and Chandler Parsons, was our third post coming off the bench, he and Will Yeguete. That role, playing 16 to 18 minutes a game, physically, mentally, and emotionally was a lot different than a year ago him having to play 27, 28, 30 minutes in a game with the same intensity. I don’t think he ever realized how hard it was going to be going from his freshman year to his sophomore year. As you mentioned, last year there were moments where he would disappear. He looked exhausted, he looked tired, and he couldn’t run. I think it was overwhelming to him, everything – preparation, scouting, having physical pain, rebounding, running the floor, and all of this stuff, in a lot of ways, was overwhelming to him. He, at times, got frustrated. He disappeared. He almost looked exhausted and drained because that’s what ends up happening. The same thing happens when players go from college to the NBA and the 82-game schedule. You hit that point where it is so overwhelming. The old adage is to be careful for what you wish for. Every player wishes for a bigger role, but when they get that role they realize the pressures and responsibilities are far greater than they could ever imagine. But because he has had one more year under his belt, he has a better understanding now and how to deal with that. I was really proud in the Missouri game because he got the ball several times against Alex Oriakhi, he had five turnovers in the first half. That would generally lead to, a year or two ago, to him getting frustrated, get down, get disappointed. In the second half, he got the ball in the post, and we told him to try to score. He missed some shots and he didn’t really score. But he really defended. He kept his mind and his head in the game at the other end of the floor. I thought that was great growth from his as a player being able to do that because in years past those kinds of situations would have affected the whole entire game. That is really what it all comes down to. As I was trying to say earlier, from a maturity standpoint and that process, once you are on offense, regardless of what happens, you made a mistake, you do something wrong, you miss a shot, you miss free throws, the next part of the process is run back on defense and can you put that behind you and really focus in on what your job and responsibility is right now. He has worked really hard to get better in that area.”

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