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Monday March 18, 2013Quotes and Video from Head Coach Billy Donovan's Monday Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida men’s basketball head coach Billy Donovan held his weekly press conference on Monday and discussed the Gators’ upcoming trip to the NCAA Tournament where they will face Northwestern State in Austin, Texas, on Friday night.


Florida Men’s Basketball Head Coach Billy Donovan

March 18, 2013


On getting named a three-seed in the NCAA Tournament and playing Northwestern State in the first round

“We’re excited this time of year, to be able to get in the tournament and to play in the tournament. Certainly, there’s a lot of talk about it once you start hitting February. We’re playing against a team that’s leading the country in scoring, so they can get up and down the floor. They are a deep basketball team. They can cause a lot of turnovers, and right now we’re in the early stages of finding more and more about their team. The little bit I’ve watched, they are very impressive and they’ve had a great year.”


On playing a team like Northwestern State that plays at a fast pace

“Well, we like to play fast, too. They’ve gotten to this point in time of the season and the NCAA Tournament for their style of play and the way they play. They do a great job at it. We’ve got to obviously play our style, too. I think the game is going to certainly be played in transition. They’re really good in transition, and they can score quickly. They can turn you over a lot. They are really good at those things.”


On what he needs to work on with the team defensively following the performance against Ole Miss

“Two totally different (opponents). I look at totally different from that. You’re looking at teams that do different things. Marshall Henderson is a unique player, so you have to guard him a little bit differently and obviously, (Murphy) Holloway and (Reginald) Buckner up front, they’re style of play and what Ole Miss does is totally different from what Northwestern State does. I thought in the game against Ole Miss, going back and watching the tape, although we shot a woeful percentage in the second half, the things that really hurt us was that we were 3-for-11 from the free throw line and 4-for-17 from three. I really, after watching the film, was really pleased with the looks we got in the second half. Good ball movement, good player movement, we got the ball inside and we got to the free throw line. But as you mentioned, the defense giving up about 54 percent was a major problem. You can’t just sit there and say ‘Us guarding Ole Miss is going to be exactly like guarding them.’ I didn’t think Ole Miss was a team that got out in transition a lot, so our transition defense in the game yesterday was never challenged. Our transition defense in this game is going to be challenged, so there’s different things you have to look at.”


On if Northwestern State’s showing against SEC teams in the regular season helps with preparation

“One, it was very early in the year. Teams always get better and improve as the year goes on. I think the other thing you look at too is, going on the road and playing in an SEC environment is very challenging. Those are hard basketball games and not necessarily neutral-site games. But at least it will give me some familiarity as it relates to, we know Arkansas’ size, strength, speed, quickness. LSU, the same thing. That may help there a little bit. I think because you’re so far removed from those games, I don’t know how much value they bring as watching their most recent games.”


On how wide open the tournament seems with the way the field is lined up

“What makes this tournament so unique and special, in my opinion, is the fact that you’re playing a one-game series on a neutral floor and anything can happen. If you go back and look at the months of November and December, just go back and look at some scores, you’ll see some upsets, not only at a neutral site, but you’ll see teams going in and beating a BCS or a high major team on their own court. But, because it doesn’t end their season and there’s another game coming after it, there’s not the same attention on those games as in November and December. So, I think that’s what makes it so exciting. I always think the tournament is pretty much open when you are dealing with that. Certainly, last year, Kentucky’s basketball team was really dominant and they were clearly the best team, but you still have to go through that journey and anything can happen in those situations.”


On Kenny Boynton getting his shooting stroke back in SEC Tournament

“I thought that was a good bright spot for us with that. For him I think it was good, as long as he is taking good shots and doing that. I thought one of the things that was apparent in our last six games was Kenny’s shooting percentage along with Mike Rosario’s. Then you look at the last game against Ole Miss, those guys shot a fairly decent percentage and made some threes whereas probably Scottie (Wilbekin) and Erik (Murphy) really struggled. I think those two guys were combined 2-for-12 and 6-for-22 and had pretty good looks that just didn’t go down. That happens, but we have to do a better job defensively.”


On keeping Patric Young in late-game situations

“I think sometimes it is time-score situation. Alabama elected to foul him there late and he made one of two. A lot of it depends on matchups, because Will (Yeguete) is not a great free throw shooter either, so do you now put Murphy at the center spot and play with four guards? You sometimes have to look at who the other team has out there. You can decide we are going to go a little bit smaller and what ends up happening is it is hard sometimes to shift offense and defense because you are playing defense and a shot goes up and we rebound it and you have front court guys in the game that aren’t good free throw shooters. There is no way to get them off the floor now. You have to play the whole possession through. If you don’t put them out there, the shot goes up and they miss it good chance for them to get second chance points. So it is really who you are playing against, lineups, matchups. Do we think some of these guys who are a little bit smaller can do a better job rebounding?”


On still being confident this team can win close games

“Yeah, I look at things totally differently. I do. Maybe it is just me doing it for as long as I have done it, but I was much, much more alarmed of – it had nothing to do with the close game, our guys played really tough the last six minutes – but it was a 14 minute period there up 12 in the second half. Now I do think it was a combination of several things. One, I thought there were some calls in the game that were huge momentum-swinging plays. There was a goaltend that clearly was a goaltend that wasn’t called and led a to three-point shot. Then I’m not so sure the six free throws that Henderson got on fouls were actually legitimate. I thought Rosario got the basket and got hit and there was no foul and I thought Murphy taking a charge, no call on Henderson. There were just some plays like that. I am sure Ole Miss can look at the same thing and say, ‘Well, these calls didn’t go our way.’ But I thought some of the calls were huge momentum swings in the game. That being said, I thought we got the shots we wanted, got to the free throw line. Whereas me, earlier in the year, I wasn’t so happy with the shot selection. So I was more disappointed in our defense. That’s what I was more disappointed in in the game was our defense in the second half.”


On what the team needs to do differently that hasn’t happened in these close games

“Listen, the thing that has been great with these guys is these guys keep getting better and better and better and they work at it and they care. The biggest issue I brought up in some of those games during the regular season was we turned the ball over way too much. I don’t think that has been a problem. I would say that the Alabama game, you are down by 10 points, that’s a close game. Just because the score doesn’t say it is close that was not a 10-point game that was a close game. Alabama here at home was close. Sometimes people look at the score and say, ‘OK, that was a close game, that was not.’ Those games were close. I feel confident, but they are going to have to make the plays on the court they need to make. Do I see our guys petrified, uptight, scared, nervous? No, but they are going to have to make those plays.”


On whether he has a go-to guy at the end of the game

“Well, I wanted to get some action toward the basket. There are 22 seconds to go and we are in the double-bonus. I just felt like in that situation, Erik is a really good free throw shooter, he is probably our most consistent guy down inside. He got it in there and he got a shot that he is capable of making that he didn’t make. I think in those situations where you are down by two, there is always an apprehension or nervousness on the defense to not foul and I just believe you have to put pressure at the basket. Scottie was having a tough game from the perimeter and we wanted to try to go inside to Murphy. If they double-teamed him, we throw it out and maybe take a three in that situation. I thought we got exactly what we wanted, to get him a low post touch and we got it to him. I thought that was our best option, to either get a post move, a jump hook or even an inside-pivot jump shot or get fouled and giving him the opportunity to do that I thought gave us the best chance to tie the game.”


On what he looks for in late-game situations

“We have a bunch of stuff. A lot of it depends on matchups, what is going on in a game, is somebody hot or is someone really playing well and where we can get him looks, that kind of thing. I thought at Kentucky we had an advantage with Patric inside and we got him the ball inside, and he didn’t finish the plays around the basket. We ran all the screening action and I thought Scottie had Murphy open on a throwback and he took one extra dribble, which allowed the defense to get back. In those situations I don’t think you can come down and say, ‘This is what we’re running. This is what we’re doing every single time,” because through scouting teams are going to take things away.”


On Young needing to take more shots

“I thought he threw the ball out of the post too much. He got touches and he threw the ball out of the post and I would have liked to have seen him gone and be a little bit more aggressive offensively than he was. Now for about 40 percent of the game they did play some zone and I thought he could have been a little more active but it’s also hard to post-feed against a zone because of the traffic. That’s why a team is in a zone to make you shoot the ball from over the top. But I think it’s probably a combination of when he does get it, going and doing it aggressively. The first two possessions of the game we went to Murphy, he scored. We went to Patric and he scored. There are times where he’s touching the basketball and he’s going to have to make a move. Then obviously the free throw line, too, when he gets there, those are possessions and touches, too. We can always do a better job of getting anyone the ball in a good area of the floor.”


On Wilbekin’s performance against Ole Miss

“Watching it all back, there were two possessions where I thought he over-handled the ball and there were a couple plays where just some clock situations where I thought he could have driven the ball and he settled for a jump shot with a big guy on him. But I thought Scottie in the game really took good open shots. I would take those shots again for Scottie and Murphy. I thought he over-handled it a bit but I thought he did a great job on Henderson, I thought he really guarded him well and chased him all over the place. I thought he did a really good job there.”


On Kenny Boynton’s career at Florida and what stands out the most

“I would say that his consistency every single day. When you’re dealing with young people, there is usually a wide range of emotions sometimes you have to deal with and somebody’s box they play in is pretty wide. He’s about as consistent of a guy that I’ve coached since his freshman year. His mood never changes, he’s the same guy, reliable, you know what you’re getting. I think his consistency of being a dependable guy is really, really important. I think his fearlessness, his aggressiveness, his will and wanting to win as a competitor are things that stand out to me.”


On the urgency of the seniors as they enter their last NCAA Tournament

“I think those guys are pretty reflective because you think about all these guys being heavily recruited. Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton and now all of a sudden they go through their last home game. Murphy is crying on the bench and I think the realization (sets in). All of a sudden you’re coming down the stretch, and I think he hardest part for these guys will be when whenever it comes to an end. I hope it’s not for several more weeks, but the hardest part is when the season ends. And I went through this, and all of a sudden the last class and last exam is given and you’re cleaning out your dorm and then you’re like, ‘OK, now what? Where do I go, where do I live, what do I do?’ You’re not coming back here where it’s been a four-year safe haven where you have friends, a dorm and the workouts and coaches. They are kind of taking that next step and there is always that little bit of uncertainty in that.”


On the difficulty of all five starters scoring in double figures at the same time

“I don’t know. I thought Erik took 11 shots and Scottie took 11 shots. I can honestly say, Erik had one play in the game where they threw it over top and he had a lane to go dunk it or take a layup and he tried to push under the basket. We just have to make a better play than that. But I don’t know what the reason for that is. I think that’s probably one of the things that makes us a hard team to guard because you have no idea. It happened to be Murphy against LSU, last game against Alabama Boynton kind of got going and it was kind of like Boynton, Rosario, Murphy. Certainly I would have loved for them all to shoot a high percentage and do that. I don’t know what the reason is why we all can’t do it at the same time. (If they did) that would be very good for the Gators.”


On the difference between NCAA Tournament and regular season games

“The first thing is, going into the SEC Tournament, even though you are in a one-and-done situation, our guys understand this – now you are going into finality. What you’ve got to be able to do in these situations, in these games, is be able to go out there and play with great freedom, great confidence, and just go out there and play. There’s always a level of nervousness, jitters, apprehension. I think that’s totally normal. Then you have to play through some of that stuff. For our guys, I think they are excited about the next step. This was kind of disappointing yesterday for them and for all of us. Losing to Ole Miss, trying to win the regular season and the tournament would have been great. That was disappointing, but I think that they understand right now that this is what they had been playing for all the way through was just to try now get to this point and this stage in the season.”


On last-minute options and if Michael Frazier can be an option

“He’s more a guy that’s got to be a receiver. He is not a guy that can go create his shot. Someone has to go and get one to him. I have no problem with Mike Frazier shooting the ball at the end of the game. I actually felt pretty good. I thought that was another change in momentum when he went to the free throw line with a chance to tie it and we missed. I think they scored and the lead went to four. Those plays hurt, but I have confidence in Mike because I also thought the reason we had a 12-point lead going into the half was because of him.”


On Northwestern State’s upset over Iowa in the 2006 NCAA Tournament

“I think that was that year. I think our guys understand, and are smart enough, that any given time that can happen. They are a very, very good team. They are in the NCAA Tournament for a reason. They have earned their way and they have played great in their conference and won their conference championship. I don’t think what happened a couple of years ago that happening has any relevance to us playing this game. This is its own separate game by itself. Our guys will know more than ever how important this is. People that follow the tournament see those things. It’s not like all of a sudden your team walks out there and they are surprised when they hear of an upset. They know those things are out there. Certainly, Northwestern State is a really, well-deserving team and it will be a great challenge for us.”


On the SEC getting three teams into the NCAA Tournament

“The thing I don’t know or understand is they always talk about taking injuries into consideration, but what does that actually mean? How do you take injuries into consideration? With Nerlens (Noel) being out for Kentucky, how does that get taken into consideration because obviously he is no longer there? Are they evaluating Kentucky without him because he is no longer available? How does Tennessee get viewed without (Jeronne) Maymon? How does Missouri get seeded or viewed with (Laurence) Bowers being out? How does Florida get seeded or viewed without Yeguete, Murphy, or (Casey) Prather? There’s the one thing, I don’t know if there is any clarity on that. When they are playing, who they are playing, who is in, and who is out. Those are tough things. Certainly, Tennessee without Maymon, (Kentucky without) Noel maybe they didn’t win enough games. I don’t know. I thought that both those teams had a chance that would obviously have given us five. But we got three in, and I think the three that got in dealt with injuries. Certainly, (Ole Miss head coach) Andy (Kennedy) had some injuries. That one game against Kentucky they lost their frontcourt guy with a knee and another guy with a foot problem. We’ve had some injuries. Missouri’s had to deal with it. I just don’t know how the committee looks. It’s hard for me to sit there and say they should be in or they shouldn’t be in. Probably everybody across the country has dealt with the same thing.”


On Lon Kruger leading Oklahoma into the NCAA Tournament, the fifth team he has coached into the tournament

“I love Lon. I remember being at Kentucky, it was my first year in coaching I think it was 1989, when Don DeVoe was here during that transition period. I know it was kind of, things were a little bit crazy back then here. I always admired just being in the league the job that Lon did restoring the respect and credibility and the class that he had, the kind of person he was, the way he handled himself. I’ll never forget this. The first day that I came here on the job, obviously I walk into an office that’s totally wiped out and cleaned out. And there is a note. The only thing sitting on the desk is a note in an envelope with my name across it, that just says ‘Billy.’ I opened it up and he wrote me a letter talking about what a great place this was, you’re going to love it, wish you nothing but the best of luck, and anything I can do to help you, let me know. I thought he was really, really class guy. Certainly, he has bounced around some different places and done a very good job wherever he has been.”

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