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Monday February 24, 2014Florida Basketball Press Conference Transcripts

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida Menís Basketball Head Coach Billy Donovan

Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, Press Conference Transcript

 

Head coach Billy Donovan, sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and senior forward Will Yeguete met with the media on Monday morning to review the win against Ole Miss, talk about Tuesdayís game at Vanderbilt and discuss being named the No. 1 team in the nation. The AP poll was released while Coach Donovanís press conference was in progress.

 

On the second half adjustments against Ole Miss:

ďI think the first thing was Ė and obviously (Marshall) Henderson accounted for 22 of the first 42 points in the first half Ė I thought he had way too much freedom too close to the (three-point) line. We tried to switch out on him a couple of times and take away some catches. When we did do that and he did catch the ball, there were two or three shots that he made that were really hard shots. There was one two-point shot on the baseline that I didnít mind because it was a long and tough two. Then there was a couple where heís catching the ball on a free run and heís at the top of the three-point line. Thatís too easy for him. I thought in the second half that we maybe extended his catches a little bit deeper. Iíve said this before, youíre at the mercy of him. I donít know how many guys in the country that average 11 three point field goal attempts per game a game. Thatís an incredible stat. Heís going against everyoneís defense that is trying to eliminate him shooting threes. He still gets them off. I just thought in the first half that it was too close to the line compared to where it needed to be in the second half.Ē

 

On guarding Vanderbiltís Rod Odom:

ďHeís as versatile as any player in our league offensively. Kevin (Stallings) has played him some throughout his career at the four, and at the three right now. (Damian) Jones as a freshman has really evolved and come along real well. Heís going to be a terrific player for them, just (based on) what he has done as a freshman this year. But Odom has that versatility where they can slide him to the three to the four, he shoots threes, he can post and do it off the bounce. Kevin runs great stuff for him to get him shots. Heís a really good player, one of the better players in this league.Ē

 

On if Kasey Hill will play:

ďI would say that right now that he is getting better. It is probably going to be a decision that is made tomorrow if he is available. My guess right now, if youíre asking me what I think, I donít think he will play tomorrow. That is where I am at. If that does change, and he is available to play, Iíll make sure Denver lets everyone know. Iím not ducking the question or trying to hide a player. It is one of those things where he is progressing, going through individual workouts, running, moving and getting better, but I think it is going to be the trainerís decision. Weíve come this far, what is the risk and reward of him playing and what is the potential of him getting injured again. Is he beyond that? He can always get hurt, but I donít think we want to put him in a bad situation. Heís probably not going to play.Ē

 

On the benefits of being voted the number one team:

ďI always think anytime that it happens that it is an honor. Iím not dismissing that, dismissing the polls or dismissing any of that stuff. I think that what happens is that sometimes you can get focused on that. What happens is, now everything that you do is attached to a ranking. Number one Florida, if we stay number one. I donít even know if itís out yet. You very rarely hear, ĎNumber two Florida.í Itís that ranking that gets dragged with your team. My point is for our guys, that means nothing. In reality in terms of us preparing, us getting ready to play and us doing what we need to do to play against Vanderbilt. Itís a very nice honor. Itís kind of like individual awards. Theyíre very nice. Youíre playing in a team sport and trying to win competitively. Although they are nice, I donít think our guys are playing for individual accolades, awards or for rankings. I think our guys are in the process of competing in a very tough SEC race right now, then the SEC Tournament will come and then postseason play will come. Those things to me right now, when a guy like Scottie Wilbekin gets SEC player of the week, that is a nice accomplishment. I donít think Scottie goes into the year thinking I want to be SEC player of the week for five weeks. They just donít do that. Itís a nice compliment. Letís be honest right now, the only reason we have garnered number one, and we would have never been number one if it had not been for the teams in front of us losing. You could probably in a lot of ways make the argument for Wichita State. I havenít watched Wichita State play, but anytime you do something like Syracuse did and run out 25 games in a row, and you kind of do what Arizona did before they had Brandon Ashleyís injury and you do what Wichita State is doing, I mean those are really impressive things what theyíre doing on the court in my opinion. A lot of times when you get that ranking, a lot of times it has nothing to do with what you do, but has to do with what other people do. When you start to be affected by other people, you get focused on the wrong things and your focused gets a lot broader. Where you really need to narrow your focus this time of year on what you need to do.Ē

 

On the possible effects on seeding and potentially being a No. 1 seed:

ďI think if you look at seeding in any kind of NCAA tournament, you can make the argument that it does help. But Iíve also been a part of teams here where we havenít had that kind of seed and weíve done well in the tournament. Percentages would show that that is the way to go, but at the same point, itís not a goal for us. Itís just not. I think that stuff will play itself out how you perform and how you play. If you play well, youíre going to earn that. If you play well, youíre going to earn an SEC Championship. If you play well, maybe youíll earn an SEC Tournament championship. Youíre always going to earn what youíre kind of given. People may argue that this team should be this seed or this team should be that seed, they got it wrong. That stuff is always up for debate. But inevitably, based on how you perform in between the linesÖ Thatís not a goal of ours, the seeding. Itís just not. Our goal is to play as well as we can. Letís say we did get the number one seed and we were number one, and letís say we were playing awful. I would give all that up to have our team play great and be ranked 15th in the country and be a five seed. You want your team playing well. That is the most important thing, in my opinion. How is your team playing and how is your team performing, and keeping the focus on that. You can have all of those things around you, and if youíre not playing well, it wonít mean a lot.Ē

 

On if it is fair for others to call Florida the best team in the country:

ďI would say this, and itís not like Iíve watched a lot of college basketball, Iíve seen teams play here and there, so I donít want to sit there and say that Iíve got the whole country scouted, I think that between the lines on any given night there are a lot of teams that could be number one in the country. On any given night anybody can play to that level. Iím sure that have been times where Michigan State has looked like the number one team. Iím sure there have been nights where Arizona being number one looked like number one. Or Wichita State, or Michigan, there has been plenty of teams that can have looked like the best teams in the country. Syracuse looks like the best team in the country, and Duke just ended up beating Syracuse, theyíre the best team in the country. A lot of teams can look that way, but to me itís about the process of continuing to get better and staying locked in to the things you can keep control over. Listen, we donít have control over the rankings. Someone can easily say, ĎYou know what? Florida is not the number one team in the country. Itís Wichita State.í Thatís great. Weíve still got to get prepared to play Vanderbilt and do the things that we do. I think there are a lot of teams out there with the parity of college basketball that can be considered the best team in the country. Louisville is playing great basketball right now. They could be that. There is a lot of teams out there. Itís not like all of a sudden Florida is number one or we get a ranking like that, that weíre in my opinion the best in the country. Weíve been given a number, and that is the extent of it.Ē

 

On if there is a benefit to losing games late in the year:

ďI donít know. I know how I view it. I view every game as an opportunity. That is how I view it. I donít view it is as we have pressure on us or anything else. I view every game as an opportunity to go out there and compete and play. I think that any coach will tell you that the best way to learn is through winning, but losing does help you grow as well. I donít know how to answer that in terms of does it help you or does it not help you. Itís one of those things that I say after every game, there are always residual effects that you have to deal with as a coach. Whether itís your team didnít play well or whether itís your team played well, guys donít handle success, guys lose confidence, guys canít handle a bad performance, there is always some type of effects. Whether you win or lose, youíre trying to move your team forward.Ē

 

On players staying in the moment:

ďHereís the thing right now that you try to get young people to understand and being around the game and being in these situations Ė every time anybody take a shot on our team, and I could probably say this for every player in the country, they want to make it. And what happens is guys get very, very convicted on results. They want the results and they lose total perspective of the process. Itís the process that ultimately puts you in the best situation to get the kind of results that youíre working for, and when you skip steps in that process, whether it be through practice or in a game or with your mind Ė you miss a shot and you come back down the floor on defense and youíre still living in the last shot, youíre putting our team and youíre putting yourself in the position that youíve avoided that process. Normally in a game, thereís probably going to be for both teams about 65 shots, somewhere in that range, so we have 65 times that we have to come down the floor and weíve got to play defense. Are we going to play, of those 65 possessions, half of them, a third of them, three quarters of them distracted and focused about the past or distracted and focused about the future? I think when you can get young people focused in on what they can controlÖ They canít control the past, itís gone. And they canít control the future, itís not here yet. But you can control your job right now, and thatís what Iíve really tried to work toward with our team is to get them to understand whatís in front of them right now and the process in front of them right now and doing their job to the best of their ability right now. And we need five guys that have a mental discipline and a mental toughness to be able to move past past successes and past failures and focus on whatís in front of them now.Ē

 

On how that philosophy evolved:

ďThe stuff that weíre talking about right now Ė our ranking, our seeding, all that other stuff Ė that stuff to me is down the road. If we are ranked number one in the country, itís a great honor, Iím not dismissing that, but I donít know how that helps our team. What does that ranking give our team? What does it help them do? I donít know. And if we were ranked 15th, what does that ranking do? What do those things do? Youíre always dealing with things that are human nature, and the human nature in any of our lives right now, most of our time is spent either living in the past or looking forward to the future; itís human nature. And youíve got to really be able to have an awareness of when youíre doing that. You can see it in our players. A guy like Dorian Finney-Smith misses a three, heís carrying it to the next possession; heís got to get better Ė thatís over with. Listen, I wish it went in too, it would have helped our team, but you gotta get to the next play. If someone breaks down defensively, Patric (Young) doesnít guard a pick and roll coverage the right way, make your correction, but now weíve got to go down the floor on offense. You canít be distracted. Thatís just normal stuff that happens to all of us. Itís not just our team, itís everybody. Youíre always thinking about, ĎWhere am I going? What am I going to have to eat? I wish I would have done this yesterday. When are we going to make plans for next weekend?í Most of our time is not spent on, ĎWhatís in front of me right now? Where am I at right now? Whatís going on in my life right now in this moment?í And I think when you can get to that place, you have a better job of performing closer to your potential than you would if youíre scattered all over the place thinking, ĎAre we number one? weíre trying to get a number one seed.í Vanderbilt Ė thatís the only thing that matters. At three oíclock when we show up, our focus needs to be totally, solely on Vanderbilt. Thereís times that we do good job at that and thereís time we do a bad job at that. Weíre not perfect at it, but weíre striving towards those things to try and get better at it.Ē

 

On how the team has been impacted by not having Kasey Hill the past couple of games:

ďI think any time youíve got a good player out, it never helps your team. It certainly has impacted the amount of minutes that Scottie (Wilbekin) has played. Heís had some fouls in both the Mississippi game and the Auburn game. But Iíve got confidence in DeVon (Walker), Doe-Doe (Dorian Finney-Smith) and Michael Frazier that if Scottie is off the floor that we can run the offense and do some things while heís out. I would like for our team for Kasey (Hill) to get healthy. I think that helps us. We can play two point guards together. We can play very, very fast. Thereís a lot of different things that we can do with those two guys out there. You can rest Scottie more, you can rest Kasey; he just gives us another body in the back court. I think any time you have a good player out, itís never good for your team. But weíve got to try to make do with what we have.Ē

 

On the younger players not having played at Vanderbilt before:

ďWeíll get a chance at the shoot around. Weíll get a chance to get to the arena. Last year, going to Missouri, it was my first time ever there. It was our teamís first time ever there. Thereís going to be some places that weíre going to go to that our team hasnít been there. Weíve got plenty of time to prepare and get ready for that. The one thing thatís difficult is in the first half itís always easier to adjust and change defenses because their offense is right in front of you. Youíve got to rely on your guards and your team to get us in and out of offense and to recognize defense because itís right in front of them. Then in the second half, youíve got your offense in front of you and our defense is at the other end of the floor. Itís an interesting thing because the whole first half, for the most part, my team is going to have their back to us. Think about it, run down the floor on offense, their backs are to me and they come back on defense, their backs are to me. In the second half, everything is facing me. Our defense is facing me and then obviously, our offense is facing me. So thatís a unique part of playing there. Our guys, we need to get in and out of offenses, we need to get in and out of defenses, we have to address those things, but ultimately our guys have to go out there and play.Ē

 

On Casey Prather not playing late in the Ole Miss game:

ďHeís having some issues right now. Heís having some tendinitis in his knees; he did not practice yesterday, I donít know if heíll practice today or not. He just didnít seem to have it in the game there and just wasnít playing at the level he normally plays at, and we just decided to go bigger in the game. We put Dorian (Finney-Smith) at the small forward spot and got really good minutes out of him there. We rebounded the ball fairly well and did a pretty good job offensively executing in a spot where Dorian hasnít played a lot of minutes there.Ē

 

On making sure to enjoy the successes this season:

ďI always tell the guys this Ė every time we win, we celebrate. We celebrate hard in the locker room and we have a great time going back on the bus or on the flight coming home after the game. We are going to enjoy that moment, without question. I never, ever want to in the position where we go into a game and we put our heart and soul in to preparing and in to playing and then we walk off the courtÖ Even if we didnít play great, if we win, weíre going to celebrate it. Weíre going to enjoy it. Where that ends is when the sun gets up the next morning. Thatís behind us now. Itís a new day, new challenges, and do you have the ability to start back off at the bottom? Without question, I think itís very, very important when youíve got a group of young kids that are working as hard as these guys are and are putting their heart and soul in it that they should have a moment together and some time together to really enjoy that moment and celebrate that moment with each other. And I do think those guys do do that. But theyíve also got to understand that the next day, life is moving, time is moving, thatís now in the past, whatís in front of us now. I think thatís very important and I hope our guys, with what theyíve been able to do so far up to this point in time, have enjoyed that part of it.Ē

 

On whether the experience with USA Basketball helped Frazier shake off missed shots:

ďActually believe it or not, it was much, much worse in the summer for him than it is now. Heís actually gotten better. What happened with Michael over there is it would linger into two and three games, you know? And now I think heís done a better job of understanding. I think our team has encouraged him and given him confidence that if he does miss a shot, you keep on shooting, we need you shooting, we need you doing that. I think theyíve tried to lift him up and give him confidence. I think itís something for Michael because he puts so much time and energy into the game that when itís not going like heís lived with that, heís kind of beaten himself up over it. And it would just linger with him and he would get into one of these funks. And to be honest with you, it drove me nuts at USA. We really needed him to shoot the basketball. We were not a great three-point shooting team, but he was living so much in the previous game and the previous shot and it took him until we were really getting into the medal rounds where he was starting to get into a little more of a rhythm you know, where he shot the ball better. I think heís done a better job here where maybe heís not the shot the ball well but heís kind of come back in the second half and heís bounced back after coming out of the locker room which is encouraging to me. I donít think he handled it great there (with USA Basketball), but I do think that experience without question helped him.Ē

 

On charge calls being tough for the officials:

ďItís tough. Itís tough. You know, itís that whole thing. Itís the one play in basketball thatís a bang-bang play. Itís supposed to be the upward motion. If you really think about it, as theyíre trying to call it right now theyíre looking right now so you gotta see if he started his upward motion then you gotta go to defense and see is the guy really set? Is he moving? Itís like that. So, youíre going to have some plays where in a split second like that thereís going to be some good ones and thereís going to be some bad ones. I think thatís the most difficult call. I think the rules committee, and what theyíve done right now, and I do think itís a good rule because inevitably anytime an offensive player left his feet it was always called a charge. I mean, everything was called a charge. And I think right now thereís at least a little more balance and even that the players can have control, so to speak, and get a charge. And at least when a guy leaves the floor and is going up he canít kind of slide under him.Ē

 

On what is the angriest he has been:

ďAt my team or at the officials? I struggle with that sometimes too, sometimes in the past and you have to move forward. Sometimes I live back in the past myself. I got that problem too. I donít know, we all probably in the heat of the moment get frustrated and live too much in the past and what happened. We all do the emotion of the game. I donít know what the angriest Iíve ever gotten is, but Iím sure Iíve lost my cool over there and Iíve been upset either at my team or at an official. ď

 

Sophomore G Michael Frazier II

On playing at Memorial Gym:

ďYeah, Iíve seen it on TV and Iíve heard about it, but the goal is still 10 feet, the three-point line is still the same so I donít think it will be much different.Ē

 

On if he thinks Florida really is the best team in the country:

ďThatís not really for me to say because I donít know how good every other team in the country is. But I do know that we have a lot of things that we need to get better at. We need to get better. The only thing that matters is us staying to the grind and following the process of getting better every day.Ē

 

On if his wrist bothered him on Saturday:

ďA little bit, but nothing I couldnít play through. Itís still a little sore, but nothing I canít handle.Ē

 

On shaking off missed shots:

ďJust having a short memory, continuing to play the game and not let shots affect me. Understand that I can affect the game by not just shooting the ball. So I think that has helped me focus on other parts of my game, mostly on the defensive end and being locked in on that end and then take good shots, take open shots and shoot with confidence on the other.Ē

 

On if itís hard to not get caught up in poll talk:

ďHonestly, I think we have a good group of guys, guys that are level-headed for the most part, especially our seniors. They do a good job of trying to keep everything in perspective and the coaches as well. So, all in all as a group, I think we understand that thereís a lot we can get better at. I personally think we just want to be the number one team in the nation at the end of the season. So right now, itís all good but we have to continue to get better and fall in love with the process every day.Ē

 

On being ranked number one in the polls:

ďWeíre just concerned about winning every game. Thatís a great honor but we just have to look at the game that is in front of us and thatís tomorrow night. Try not to look too much into the future.Ē

 

On handling distractions:

ďItís definitely a challenge for us, but like I said we have a great group of mature guys, especially our seniors and the coaches, which they do a good job of pushing the group to strive to get better every day. I think weíve done a good job up until this point of handling distractions and I think that we can continue to get better.Ē

 

On facing Odom and Vanderbilt:

ďWeíre definitely going to have to make some adjustments on guarding him but for the most part weíre going to stay locked in and play the defense that we play every game and be focused in on that end of the floor and just try to play hard and you know, be smart on that end. I mean, heís a good player, Vanderbilt is a good team and they are very capable of beating us so we gotta come in with the right mentality and the right focus.Ē

 

On starting slow:

ďIt was emphasized a lot. We just have to do a better job of focusing on the defensive end of the floor at the beginning of the game. Thatís happened the past two games. Weíve come out, and weíre not that focused. Weíve come out pretty slow. So we just have to do a better job of coming out ready to play.Ē

 

On the biggest difference heís seen in Patric Young this season:

ďJust his attitude and the way he approaches the game and approaches practice every day. Heís grown up so much since last year. Heís matured so much, and that just shows a lot about his character and that he internally looked inside of himself and understood that he had to get better in certain areas and I think he has really grown in that part of his life, his attitude. Also, his work ethic. Iíve seen that improve since last year and I think itís showing this year.Ē

 

On examples of his work ethic:

ďIn his work ethic, Iíve seen him in the gym. When I come into shoot at night heís in there working out. Thatís not something that I saw a lot last year. So, I think heís definitely improved on his mindset that he knows that he has to work harder for him to bring more to our team and I think heís been doing that.Ē

 

On Youngís free throw shooting:

ďOh yeah, definitely his free throw shooting. Heís worked on that a lot. We work on it during practice but heís also been shooting free throws on his own so thatís why heís been doing so good in the game.Ē

 

Senior F Will Yeguete

On keeping the younger guys level-headed when it comes to having a good record:

ďI mean, I think we all understand that it doesnít really matter and weíre still in the process of getting better every day. I think those guys really trust us and trust the coaches and I think coach is going to do a really good job of making sure we stay focused and not worry about our record right now.Ē

 

On improving defensively:

ďWe watched film yesterday about it. I think thereís a lot of improvement we can do. I think we are not a great defensive team now. I think our help defense is not as good. I thought we did a better job on defense in the second half against Ole Miss than we did in the first half, especially on Marshall Henderson. He was going off on all of us. But I think just making the extra effort, thatís what we talked about, and helping one another. I think we can do a better job of that in the next few games.Ē

 

On the differences he has seen in Young this year:

ďHeís more consistent every day. Heís more vocal and trying to be our leader. I think heís having a really good season and a really good last few games. I think heís more focused and I think talks more to us. I think Scottie is a good leader as well but Pat has done a really good job just stepping into that role and staying consistent and not letting anything get to him, especially in practice.Ē

 

On Pat juggling things in the classroom and on the court:

ďWeíve talked about it several times and especially living together the last few years and how important it was to be a really good student. I think heís done a really good job of being really consistent in the classroom and just being a great student-athlete.Ē

 

On playing at Memorial Gym:

ďFrom what I remember it was really tough. I think I played there, my freshman year, but thatís different because it was my first time playing there. Obviously they are used to that. I think itís going to be another thing we have to put aside and focus on the game. And I think, especially defensively, communication. The coaches wonít really be able to talk to us so itís going to be on us to be able to be more vocal. Especially the big guys, me and Pat being more vocal in the back and communicate with our teammates.Ē

 

On going into Memorial Gym as the top-ranked team:

ďI mean we know being in this position, that the team is going to give us their best shot. So, itís our responsibility to respond and give them our best as well. You know, whether weíre number one or not, I think every team wants to beat us because weíre undefeated in the SEC so we just have to take it one game at a time and just be ready from the get-go and not let them get on a run early.Ē

 

On how Donovan keeps them from taking things lightly:

ďOne thing he did before the game against Auburn was he had a bag on the ground and he put some weights inside of it and he told me to pick it up. He said, ĎWill, this is for you, just pick this up and put it in your locker.í So I picked it up with one hand and he was like, ĎOh, it wasnít easy was it?í And I said, ĎNo, it was heavy.í† And he said, ĎYou thought it was going to be easy, and it wasnít.í So he used that as an example just saying that Auburnís game wasnít going to be easy because we beat them and because of their record, and we canít just go in there and think itís going to be easy. We just have to fight and battle. I took the bag with one hand thinking it was going to be really light and it was really heavy. Iím pretty sure he will come up with something today. We always expect something from him. I think he does a really, really good job of keeping us on the edge and making sure we know what we can work on and how we can improve.Ē

 

On handling this year:

ďI think maybe at the beginning of this year, because Iíve been through a lot battling injuries and everything, and I just started to really enjoy every day of being healthy and just being able to play out there. You know, Coach always says you have to enjoy the win and not think about anything else even if we played bad or how we won the game. And I think as you get older that understand that staying in the moment is really important whether it is in the game or in everyday life. And Iíve think weíve done a better job this year, especially when you have someone like Doe-Doe or Mike thatís having a good shooting game and you just have to stay in the moment and communicate with one another. I think weíve done a really good job this year of staying together, especially down the stretch when we really need it.Ē

 

On being ranked number one:

ďBelieve it or not, I donít think thereís not a lot of things changing. We still have to go to school and do our homework. Our life is in no way changing. Weíre number one, thatís a really good accomplishment. I think Coach D will use that to motivate us. Weíve been number two before, we know what it is to be ranked really high. We know you just have to take it one game at a time and the only thing that matters is the next game.Ē

 

 

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