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Wednesday October 9, 2013Media Day Recap: Donovan Press Conference & Player Quotes

Gainesville, Fla.

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Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan

Media Day Press Conference Transcript

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013


Opening Statement:

Were excited to get started, this has been a little of a different start for all of us just with the new rule thats been implemented, you have 42 days to get in 30 practices. Weve done some team workouts over the last couple of weeks, but in terms of getting into a rhythm and routine, well really start on Friday.


Just an update right now on our team where were at: starting practice on Friday, Will Yeguete will be out with his injury, he will not be available. Eli Carter is out. Scottie Wilbekin, right now and at least at the end of the week provided he can continue to do what hes been doing, will start practicing on Friday with our team. Up to this point in time, touching on Scottie a little bit, I have had a chance to comment some. I am really, really proud of him and what he has done and the way he has handled and conducted himself. From the spring all the way until now, it has been a long, long road for him being disconnected from our team, not working out with our team and not really being around our team and slowly trying to work his way back. He has done everything that I could ask of him as a player in terms of taking responsibility and growing. He still has some things in front of him before he is fully back on our team, but we will give him the opportunity to practice. Right now, our main focus is getting prepared and ready to start practice on Friday.


Because of Scotties situation, because of Eli Carter, because of Will Yeguete, certainly our team looks a little bit different in addition to the absence of Chris Walker, as well. Our team is a little different, and were going to get ready to start practice on Friday and get prepared for the season.


On how you deal with uncertainty early in practice and work around it until the team is back together:

Right now, (we) have to go with the guys that are there and in practice right away. Those are the guys you have to rely on and get them ready to play. When does a guy like Will Yeguete get back? Were not really sure. I feel bad for Eli Carter. Any time you transfer in and you start your career at a different school on an injured note and not really able to go out there and prove yourself and play every day, I think thats been difficult. Those two guys (Yeguete and Carter), I dont know when theyll be back. All I know is Friday they will not be available. Well try to prepare like those guys are not going to be there ready to play. Hopefully there will be a time when they can get themselves ready. Theyll have to do a lot of things in terms of maintaining and conditioning and picking up on whats going on. I have less of a worry about Will because this is obviously his senior year. He has an understanding, but for Eli who is trying to pick up a new system and a new style of play, everything is going to be different. When you cant go through things on a daily basis, thats always challenging. Well have to see the way he progresses, he has gotten better, he is just not ready to play.


On a report regarding additional suspensions:

Everybody but Will Yeguete and Eli Carter is ready to practice going forward and on our team.


On the pluses and minuses on early schedule being tough with Wisconsin, UConn, Kansas and FSU:

One of the things that I thought was helpful to our team last year was having to play Wisconsin early, having the chance to play Marquette and go on the road to Arizona. I really felt like our non-conference schedule really prepared us for our conference schedule. Last year was the first year we had 18 (conference) games. Right now, for us, getting that same kind of non-conference schedule although the opponents are a little different will allow us to find out a lot more about our team. Those early games, when you look at playing Wisconsin so early on the road, will be a great challenge and test for us. Looking at the injuries and guys on our team who will be back, it will be interesting to see who is on our team and ready to play in those kind of games. There is some uncertainty going into those games, but I do think those games really make you better and get you prepared for your conference.


On having four seniors and what they bring to the table, leadership and passing experience along to other team:

The thing I would say right now is I have some concerns going into this season just from the standpoint of losing three players (Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario) that were proven players at this level. Murphy is playing with the Chicago Bulls right now, Boynton was the second all-time leading scorer and Mike Rosario probably scored 1,700 points for his career (at Florida and Rutgers). You take three really, really good players (away), then you take what happened with Scottie this spring. Our team really needs to come together, more so than it is right now. Im not saying that they are not together right now, but when youre dealing with two of the four seniors one hurt (Yeguete) and one suspended (Wilbekin) as long as hes been suspended, you dont necessarily have all four seniors. You have Casey Prather, who has been here the whole summer and worked really hard, and you have Patric Young who is coming off ankle surgery but was back here for Summer B. He has also worked hard. Im not so sure that group, up until this point, has handled that very well. Some of their own to do and some they didnt have control over. I know Will certainly doesnt want to be hurt. There is a lot of uncertainty in terms of our leadership moving forward. Were anxious for Friday and to see how those guys can handle these situations.


On over 50 percent of offensive production moving on/graduating:

Im not comparing this team to the same team, but were in the similar situation as years ago with (Matt) Walsh, (Anthony) Roberson and David Lee leaving, (Corey) Brewer was our leading scorer coming back with six points per game. Obviously that team turned out to be a whole lot better than everyone thought they would be with the departure of those guys. Were in the same situation offensively. Its not about looking for one guy. We have to be a team thats balanced. We have to be an unselfish team, an extra pass team, we have to be really great at moving and passing the basketball. I do think and really believe that we have to be a team that has five or six guys in double-digit scoring. Michael Frazier will move up into a bigger role than he had last year. Hes unproven there. You look at Kasey Hill, being a freshman, how well does he handle the point guard position? Can he handle all the stuff thats going to be thrown at him with the non-conference schedule and the start of practice on Friday? Certainly, you know what youre getting out of Patric, you know what youre getting out of Casey. Dorian Finney-Smith has obviously been out from playing sitting out last year. Damontre Harris is another guy had a dislocated shoulder and didnt do anything (last season). There are just so many unknowns on our team right now. As a coach, because there are the unknowns, you cant just say, OK, youre that guy for us right now. It has to be done collectively as a group.


On what he told Patric Young to do on the offseason and where he is at heading into the season:

I think one of the things Patric has had to deal with, which has been really challenging for him and I feel bad for him, is that he came out of high school very, very decorated and people start comparing him to other people. He looks like Dwight Howard, hes supposed to play like Dwight Howard, hes supposed to do this, hes supposed to do that. I think for Patric, he really feels good about the progress he has made over his three years here, but in a lot of ways everybody always wants more from him. They want to see him do more, score more, grab more rebounds. The guy is a two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, goes to every single class, hes a great kid, worked really, really hard, has gotten better. I want him to enjoy his senior year. Last year I really felt that with the injuries to Will (Yeguete) and (Erik) Murphy battling some different issues, we probably had him playing too many minutes. Now with Damontre Harris now eligible to play, Dorian Finney-Smith eligible to play and hopefully Will back relatively soon, well at least have some depth and some length and size around him that we can rest him accordingly and appropriately. Im not so sure we were able to do that last year as much as I would have liked. Im happy where Patric is at right now, but its been a real challenge for him and I know hes really battled that. When youre a young kid, one of the things you try to differentiate between is: Do I live up to my own expectations or do I live up to the expectations of everyone else around me? When youre a young kid and you get compared to people, it feels good, but then all of a sudden when youre not playing as good as the person that youre being compared to, that can be frustrating and disappointing. I hope this year, being a senior, that he can really take time to enjoy what hes accomplished up to this point in time and finish his career on a positive, strong note.


On Patric Young losing weight helping with getting up and down the court:

Thats important. One of the things that Patric has always had a hard time with, because of how muscular he is, is his tightness, his size we have tried to keep his weight down and adjusted his lifting. I think conditioning-wise, hell be better with eight or 10 pounds off of him. His body fat has always been low. The more muscle he puts on, he becomes a lot stiffer, hes not as fluid. Hes strong enough as is. How much stronger can the guy get? Hes strong enough right now. We just have to make sure that strength relates to basketball more right now. That has been a conscientious effort by the strength coach (Preston Greene) and by Patric to focus on that.


On the challenges he faces as a coach with so many unknowns going into a season:

My challenge, as a coach, based on your personnel is to evolve. Were going to have some things philosophically that were always going to believe and that were always going to do, but I feel like my responsibility on the offensive end of the floor is to put these guys in situations to take advantage of the skillset that they have. You add a guy like Dorian Finney-Smith to our team, who is a completely different player than Erik Murphy. He doesnt shoot it like Erik, but he puts it on the floor and maybe passes it better than Erik. He maybe doesnt have Eriks length or size, but he has a little bit more quickness. How do we take his skillset and how do we utilize it? You have a guy like Kasey Hill coming in right now and based on where Scottie (Wilbekin) is at and how well continues to progress how do I coach and handle a freshman point guard at this level where hes going to be thrown to the fire right away? How do I keep his confidence level up? Michael Frazier, it was great to be together with him this summer with (USA Basketball), but hes totally stepping into a different role and responsibility and different challenge. He was great last year at his role, but how does he handle this other role? Im always trying to find ideas and ways and be creative trying to utilize our personnel to take advantage of the things those guys can do well. There will have to be some changes and adjustments on the offensive end of the floor just because we are different. Were not the same shooting team we were a year ago, losing Murphy, (Kenny) Boynton and (Mike) Rosario. Those three guys started pretty much every single game. You had three big-time three-point shooters out there. Frazier has been a really good shooter. Dorian (Finney-Smith) doesnt shoot the ball like Erik did, but brings different things to the table. The idea of playing big with Patric Young and Damontre Harris at times will be something that well look at. Taking a guy like Dorian Finney-Smith and going big across the front line, moving him to the small forward spot at times. We can do some things that we maybe didnt have the luxury of doing a year ago.


On Dorian Finney-Smiths versatility:

The first thing Ive dealt with this with (Mike) Rosario and (Vernon) Macklin when a guy transfers in here and hes very decorated coming out of high school like those guys have been, what happens is sometimes when people dont watch a guy play for a year, their legend grows by leaps and bounds of how good they actually are. In fairness to Dorian, I dont want him to feel undue pressure on himself. Hes always been a team guy, hes really unselfish and he plays the game the right way. I dont want him to feel the burden of having to feel like he had to carry our team because its unfair to him and its not who he is. I like the idea of having the chance to use a guy like that and create different lineups with different sizes and I like the fact I can move him around to some different spots. As great as Erik (Murphy) was, as great a career as he head here and as well as he shot the ball he was one of the best shooters Ive ever coaches we couldnt really move Erik around other than the power forward and center spot. There are things with Dorian that you can slide him back to the point a little bit and play with him back there as kind of a point forward. You can do a lot of different things with him. I dont want to put pressure on him scoring, because I dont think thats who he is, but I do think he can facilitate, he can put it on the floor, he can pass and he really can rebound. If he can make the game easier for guys around him, thats going to make our team better.


On the expectations of Kasey Hill:

The two hardest things for guys to come into (in college) is the point guard position coming out of high school and when someone goes right to the frontcourt as, say, a true center out of high school. The first time for guys at either one of those positions is totally different than high school. Kasey has played for a great high school program and a great high school coach. Hes as prepared coming into this season as he possibly could be as a high school senior. He has to learn a whole new system, he has to learn a lot of different things. The foundation and the basis he has from high school in terms of work ethic, pushing himself, being challenged in practice, I think hell be fine with those things. Its just that the game is going to move a lot faster, hes playing with a lot more talented players around him, its going to be different. I think the biggest thing Ive talked to him about thats going to be different is the length of the season. Its a long season. Im hopeful. If a guy like Scottie (Wilbekin) can continue on the pace that hes on, that at some point Scottie can be a great, great helper to Kaseys evolvement and growth. Our team and myself are going to have to be patient with Kasey. What you can do as a coach when you have an unknown youve never coached a guy, youve never been in a game with a guy, never been in a huddle with a guy I dont know how hes going to respond in certain situations. Hes going to really have to be able to understand there is going to be a lot on him, but I dont need to overwhelm him, I need to help him. Kasey and I really need to be connected the next month and a half as we get ready to play games.


On confidence he can get Chris Walker and breaking him into the rotation:

Hes working really, really hard. Im optimistic that hell be back here. Thats the challenge (getting into rotation) is him trying to play catch up for what he will have missed. Well have to see how much or how well he can pick it up. Thats the unknown for me. You have a guy that could potentially be here in December. If he is here, what kind of condition is he in? How quickly can he absorb whats going on? Do you cut down what youre doing if you have to just to be on floor playing just to make it a little bit more simple for him well probably have to do that with him being a freshman. If that opportunity presents itself for us, well figure out a way to try to utilize him as best we can.


On recruiting Chris Walker and not having him available for the start of the season:

Its probably like recruiting Kwame Brown. You get him and he never ends up here. There is some hope and some optimism that hes going to be here. Hes really, really worked hard and Im proud of him. Hes handled himself very well. Hes eager to get here and hes working hard. Im hopeful that he can finish up his school work and get it all done and be here in December.


On the best leaders among the players:

Its really hard to say right now. I think in ways there are guys that can do a good job at times. When you talk about leadership, you want a level of consistency. Thats why, even on our team, a lot of guys realize the challenge and how demanding being a leader is because its an everyday requirement. I dont know if theres anybody that I would say is stepping out trying to take control. We have good chemistry, they get along really well. For us to be more connected, more together, is going to be important. A guy like Scottie (Wilbekin), who started every game last year, whenever hes able to get back fulltime hes going to have to get himself reconnected to his teammates. A guy like Kasey Hill being a freshman, he has some work to do there. Dorian Finney-Smith, Damontre Harris - there are a lot of unknowns about how all of this is going to come together.


On Casey Prathers role this year:

The one thing thats helped Casey is when we slid him to the power forward spot and played small, hes really been effective for our team. Hes had two good years, he really started to play well at the end of his sophomore year which was great to see in the NCAA tournament. Last year I thought he got off to a great start, was playing really well until he hurt his ankle, had some concussions, battled some injuries last year. I thought those things got in the way of him having a terrific year. Im hoping he can stay healthy and Im optimistic he can have a really good year for us.


On the biggest thing that will help Kasey Hill adjust:

The biggest thing that is going to help Kasey Hill, in my opinion, is he has done a good job as a McDonalds All-American, highly decorated player of coming in here and endearing himself to his teammates. Hes earned their trust, I think hes earned their respect, hes worked really hard. Hes worked hard off the court with those guys. The guys on our team really, really like him. Thats the best thing. When youre a point guard and you can have a support group around you as a freshman of guys that want to see you succeed and do well, that helps.


On where Patric Young can get better offensively:

Im not looking for him to get better. He needs to post up in front of the rim. There is nothing more he needs to do. When he does that, thats all he needs to do. There is no reason for him to be shooting 15-foot jump shots, no reason for him to be taking eight-foot jump hooks. He needs to post up in the front of the rim, run the floor and do that. Thats the only thing he needs to do. He needs to master that and if he can master that, hell be really effective offensively.


On using Patric Young and Damontre Harris at the same time and how that will help defensively:

The one thing is last year I think Patric developed into one of the best defensive centers in the country. He was really good in terms of clogging up the middle, he was really good on perimeter coverages and guarding pick-and-rolls, he really moved his feet. He was a defensive problem. Our defense was really good because of what he was able to do. Damontre brings a different kind of presence because Damontre is much more of a pure shot blocker naturally than Patric is. Youd probably move Patric to the power forward spot and play Damontre at the center spot. That would give us a lot of size at the basket if we needed to play that way. Damontre probably has to get a little better. The one thing with him that Im a little concerned about and its not his fault but when you have a whole year of being injured like he was, he has missed out on a whole year of growth. He was around and practiced sporadically here or there, but for the most part, he had a year where he probably didnt improve at the level we would have liked for him to improve because he was hurt.


On Dillon Graham and his expectations:

Dillon has done a really good job. The one thing for Dillon, coming in as a freshman with the backcourt players like we had (Mike) Rosario, (Kenny) Boynton, (Scottie) Wilbekin, even Casey Prather playing in the backcourt at times in the small forward spot, I think it was a learning experience for him. Dillon has made some good strides, hes gotten better, hes improved. The one thing he really brings to the table is hes a very good athlete, hes a really good passer and he has good vision. Generally guys make the biggest jump from their freshman to sophomore years, so I can see already that hes improved and gotten better. Were going to need him to step up and be a guy that we can rely on and utilize. I believe he can do that.


#0 Kasey Hill, G, Fr.

On team chemistry:

I see myself fitting in well. I get along with all my teammates.


On what he brings to the team:

Im an unselfish, humble dude. Im caring. I think all three of those things are things my teammates can feed off of. That was the main thing I wanted to do. I try to act as normal as possible. I dont think Im better than anyone else.


On if Donovan has talked to him about other successful freshmen:

He talked about Brad Beal a lot. [Brad] came in and had a great attitude. He worked hard and got along with the team well. Thats exactly what I want to do.


On why he came to Florida:

It was more of Coach Donovan. I trusted him a lot. He played point guard in the NBA so I felt like I could learn a lot from him. He was very honest with me.


#1 Eli Carter, G, Jr.

On what made Florida appealing:

I had a great relationship with Coach (Rashon) Burno. Ive built a great relationship with Coach Donovan. On my visit, all of the players were really cool, really nice, and had a good bond. I just became good friends with them.


On fitting in with the team this year:

I think I bring a lot of intensity, a lot of experience. Ill bring a different side.


On how his injury feels:

It feels good. Its getting better. A lot better since Ive gotten here. Im just going to continue to work with my trainer, one of the PT guys and just continue to get better.


#2 Damontre Harris, F/C, R-Jr.

On being a blocker:

I most definitely take pride in blocking shots, its kind of one my strong points. My competitiveness brings that out in me.


On him and Patric Young being used together:

Its most definitely an advantage. Pat is one of the most aggressive players that Ive seen by far in college basketball. Hes a great talent, so I think he and I together will be a force for the most part. Me, blocking shots, him grabbing a rebound, get position in the post; I think that will work out really well.


On how his game has been influenced by Patric Young:

He has influenced it a lot. Just being there every day, competing against Pat, just his presence makes me a lot better and hopefully it makes him a lot better also.


#4 Patric Young, C, Sr.

On expectations for himself and from Coach Donovan:

I appreciate those words from Coach Donovan. Ive dealt with expectations and pressure ever since Ive gotten here to UF. What I need to realize is I am who I am. Im going to work as hard as I can to become the best I can be. Patric Young isnt Dwight Howard. Patric Young isnt Amare Stoudemire. Im just going to go out there and do the best that I can for my team and do whatever I can to help us win.


On improving on offensive things youre already good at

I really believe its just a matter of confidence and knowing that I am a good player and I am capable of having good nights consistently. Its just a matter of me believing in myself. I believe the work Ive put in this offseason is going to show that when November 1 and November 8 roll around.


On enjoying college and campus life and how that factored into coming back for your senior season

I really love being in a position where I can impact other people just with my presence and my personality. Even though I dont try to, Ive been able to lift up peoples spirits and Ive enjoyed every second Ive been here at the University of Florida. Ive met unbelievable people and I know once I go pro after this season, it becomes a business. There is no more student life, no more class.


On paying less attention to media:

I really just dont care about what anyone outside this program has to say about me. I am what I am. No one knows what goes on inside this program, how hard Ive worked, what the team has gone through. Everyone goes through their own things to get to where they are now, and I believe Ive had a heck of a process to get to where I am now. Im just very thankful.


#10 Dorian Finney-Smith, F, R-So.

On which skills Finney-Smith brings to the table:

Toughness, defense, rebounds, just try to do all the little things it takes to win. Whatever it takes, if it takes scoring Ill do that; Ill just do whatever it takes to win.


On adjusting to a new school and program:

I fit right in. I picked up the plays quick like the pick and rolls, I like the pick and rolls. My teammates, they helped me out with it, so Id say I adjusted pretty good.


On going up against Patric Young every day in practice and seeing his improvements:

Well Damontre [Harris] got hurt last year, so I had to guard Pat every single day, and it was tough. He really worked hard, especially this summer. Hes worked hard ever since Ive been here. Ive never seen Patric not go hard one day. So hes been getting better each day, and I hope I helped him get better; that was my objective, to go hard every day, and try to make him better his skills.


#12 Dillon Graham, G, So.

On what hes looking forward to this season:

Im looking forward to just getting a chance to play. I just want to show the coaches that I can do pretty much anything I want.


On what youve worked on specifically in the offseason:

Ive just worked on my shooting, dribbling and just learning the game a little better. Weve been conditioning the past couple of weeks to get in shape.


On main keys to success for the season:

I feel like this team is more connected. Were more like brothers than last year so thats definitely going to be a good advantage for us this year.


#15 Will Yeguete, F, Sr.

On the chance to win a starting job:

I do think Im mature enough and Ive been through the process and I think Im ready. Obviously, Im not ready physically but when my time comes, when Im fully ready to go, I think I can talk about getting the starting job. Im going to work for it, I still have to work for it and prove that and earn that spot because the coaches are not just going to give it to me. Well see how it goes and Ive just got to keep working hard.


On how the team can reach a Final Four this year:

Be more focused and together, especially when it starts getting tough. Sometimes I feel like we fell short because we didnt stay connected as well when it got tough.


On guys playing different roles:

We have a different team, obviously. We have a lot of players that, if healthy, can all play different roles. Hopefully, everyone has found their roles because it can actually make you more productive.


#20 Michael Frazier II, G, So.

On his offseason training:

It was great, I feel like my game got a lot better. The team is moving along pretty well, so overall it was a really good summer.


On his improvements while playing for USA U-19 team this summer:

Being able to play against pro talent, because those guys oversees are already playing pro, was probably the biggest thing; being able to compete on that level. I had to raise up all levels of my game because I was playing with such high talented guys. In that kind of atmosphere, playing with those kind of players, it forces you to raise up your game.


On Kasey Hill and the familiarity he has with him:

Hes looking really good in workouts so far. Hes going to continue to improve and be ready for the season. Hes holding his own so Im eager to see what his going to do in the season. We played together my senior year of high school so I kind of know how he likes to play, and he knows how I like to play. Weve both gotten better since the last time we played with each other, but it helps to have the familiarity with each other.


#24 Casey Prather, F, Sr.

On the offseason:

Ive just been working on my body, my focus, and Im just trying to get better at each aspect, trying to be more of a team player, trying to help all the young guys get going to be ready for the season.


On overcoming distractions:

We just still focus on practice instead. Time is a process. Coach Donovan did a good job telling us that we have to focus each day and I think we bought into the system in the process.


On tough non-conference schedule:

I think its going to be a great challenge and a good opportunity to see what our team is made of, but for right now we just focus on practicing, getting better each and every day.


On Kasey Hill and what he brings to the team:

Hes a good player. He still has a lot to learn right now coming in as a freshman. I think hes pretty humble. Hes going to listen to what Coach says and what the players say about him. I think as long as he keeps it up, hell be great.


#25 DeVon Walker, G/F, So.

On getting stronger:

I heard about it every day. I made sure it was a priority every day because last year the smallest times I did get in the game, sometimes I was physically dominated. I felt like I lacked it so every day I was in the weight room and I brought my weight up.


On what stands out about Scottie Wilbekin:

In my mind? Man, Scotties the ultimate competitor. Hes a guy who is going to go hard no matter what. Any challenge that hes faced, hes probably going to try and overcome it.


On his mid-range game:

My range is definitely extended. Ive been shooting every day. I feel very comfortable, more confident. Definitely more confident.


#30 Jacob Kurtz , F, Jr.

On what it means to play basketball at the University of Florida:

Its a dream come true. You get to play basketball every day at the University of Florida, one of the best universities in the country, play for the best coach in the country in Coach Donovan, play with the best players. Its a dream come true. I love it.


On differences of being a walk-on player compared to a scholarship player:

Im treated the same here as everybody else. We get yelled at just the same, we get treated the same, we do everything the same as these guys do, so I dont see the gap between it. They do a really good job of treating everybody equal, they want everybody to be the same, go through the same drills, everything as them.


On Kurtz giving his number 0 from last year to Kasey Hill, a freshman:

Yeah, Kasey Hill coming in told me he wanted to be 0, and I was 0 and 30 in high school. Ive worn 30 before, so I didnt mind changing and he wanted 0 so it was an easy change.


#42 Billy Donovan, G, R-Jr.

On being able to play this year:

I think its a really good opportunity, but then again Im just here to help the team out so whatever they need me to do, Ill do. I feel really blessed and honor to be putting this jersey on.


On how he has worked during offseason:

Hard. Preston Greene (Strength and Conditioning Coordinator) made a commitment to get my body right this year and get in really good shape. Preseason has been great, I feel great, so Im just ready for practice to start.


On the difference between being raised in Gainesville and playing for the team:

Its a whole different realm. Youre able to see the team play in the stands but putting the jersey on is a totally different thing and Im just really excited.


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