Post Game Donovan

Billy Donovan is off to another Sweet 16 with a guard heavy team that came out firing, but even more came out playing defense Sunday. Donovan spoke to the media following the game about his pride in this team and what they have overcome injury wise and with limitations in the front court. read on or watch the video of the media conference inside.

Billy Donovan talks to the Florida media following their 84-50 win over Norfolk State that has propelled them into the NCAA tournament.

COACH DONOVAN Introduction: I think anytime you have a quick turn-around, when you advance in the tournament there is a lot to get prepared for. I thought our guys coming out of that game on Friday, yesterday, did a terrific job. They zeroed in on what we needed to do in the game. Certainly we thought O'Quinn was going to be a factor and how we tried to handle him was important. I thought we trapped him well and didn't let him get into a rhythm or flow. The next thing that was important was three-point shooting. They made 10 against Missouri, but even if you look at their MEAC tournament games they shot the ball well from behind the line. It was something that, in my opinion, was overshadowed because of open Quinn's performance against Missouri. The third thing I thought was important was the rebounding and they hurt Missouri on the backboard. Not only did they do it with O'Quinn but with their backcourt players. Brad grabbed nine rebounds, Kenny during the year it would take him five games to get eight rebounds, but he got in there and rebounded well. Those are great things, and we shot the ball pretty well in the first half. It was a great win. I was proud of the effort these guys but put in over the last 24 hours to get prosecuted to play.

Q. Billy, their starters logged a lot of minutes the other night, was that part of the reason why you wanted to pick them up full court?

COACH DONOVAN: I think a couple of things I noticed in the games that they have played. The one thing that's hard, when you're watching them play, you know, in their conference, it's hard to gauge how big the players are they're going against.
Then having a chance to watch them play against Missouri, it was clear Chris McEachin and Williams had a huge size advantage over Missouri's guys. In particular, I thought Williams was able to shoot over Pressey a lot. I was concerned about that going into the game. When I told the guys is Brad obviously has size, but they had to get under those guys. They had to get them picked up before they got to the three-point line. Our press was a little different today than it was maybe against Virginia. I think that these guys would look to attack more, I didn't want to give up open three's or easy baskets. Picking up full court didn't allow Williams to get in a comfort zone. We wanted to pick up early. I think their first 12 shots, 8 of them were three's, so they still got 'em off. That's a concern when you have a team that is willing to take those shots. I thought defending a three-point line was as important as anything. I know O'Quinn got a lot of publicity and he had a tremendous game against Missouri. I thought the thing that went unnoticed in that game was the three-point line. That was huge for them and Williams in that game against Missouri was four for four. And all their guys shot it well, Chris McEachin and Tamares.

Q. Billy, feelings about Marquette? I know they played yesterday in terms of getting ready for a team that is physical?

COACH DONOVAN: I think it would probably be very similar when people asked me about Missouri. I haven't seen Marquette play a lot. I've heard unbelievable things about them, the kind of team they are. Certainly their seed is a reflection of who they are. I see teams out of our league a little bit. Certainly I will have a chance to watch them a lot starting tonight. I know they're a good team. I know they play hard, but I'm not in a position to make comments about them because I haven't seen them enough to talk from a point of experience. I haven't watched enough tape.

Q. Billy, what is the margin of victory here in Omaha tell you about your team?

COACH DONOVAN: Well, I know that when Yeguete got hurt it changed our team, it changed our press, the rotation in the front court. We had to sometimes go small out of weakness instead of strength. That was a different dynamic because of our lack of depth. When that happened against Auburn, we didn't have very much time to try to make adjustments. Then I felt like coming out of the Vanderbilt game, we played harder and better after that Georgia game. I was disappointed in that game. I think we were able to work on some things. After playing Kentucky, we had five days because we had a bye in the SEC tournament. I thought that 8 or 10 days of practice helped them kinda see how they had to play. The adjustments-- I think I talked about a vision for them now with him being out. That took a little bit of time. I know we dropped some games at the end of the year but those four games we dropped, two were against Kentucky, one was against Vanderbilt on the road and obviously the Georgia game was disappointing. We played an NCAA Tournament team in Alabama in the first SEC tournament. I felt like we were playing better than what we did. We beat teams earlier and wasn't excited about the way we were playing. Actually I thought-- we beat Auburn at home, I thought we played either at Vanderbilt but sometimes you don't get that result. It was important our guys understand how they were playing and what they were doing and what needed to change. The one thing about these guys is they listen and tie to implement what you ask 'em to. There was a period of time there where there was definitely an adjustment that had to go on. I think we've played with our players-- we still have had to deal with injuries. Casey Prather had a 101 fever, strep throat, comes off a great game against Virginia. Larson, you try to use him, he has a hyperextended knee. So even though it hasn't been season-ending injuries, it's been different ailments.
Coming out of Casey I didn't know what we would get. He had an unbelievable block, but you could tell how exhausted he was. Mike Rosario stepped up and gave us points and it's been adjustment.

Q. Is it starting to come together in your mind?

COACH DONOVAN: I think we're playing better. When Yeguete got hurt I thought we were playing well. When he got hurt it changed our team and there was an adjustment period. I think we're playing better because we've played more games without him. We have a better understanding of our role and what needs to be done.

Q. Billy, can you talk about the 25-0 run? It could not have been scripted any better for your team. COACH DONOVAN: I think people say the good thing is jump out, get off to a good start and I think every coach in the country wants that to happen. We didn't get off to a very good start against Virginia. You're down 10-2. But I thought the key was doing a great job defensively. We rebounded the basketball. I thought that was the ending of the plays, when shots went up we needed to rebound the ball. Once we rebound, they do such a great job of applying pressure on the backboard with their guards, so I thought if we could come down with rebounds we could get out in transition and run. We didn't necessarily turn them over, but the pace got going up and down and they were missing shots. I thought we had good looks that we missed.
And I thought Mike Rosario's shots gave us great momentum going into the locker room.

Q. Billy, what does it mean for this group to get back to the Sweet 16 considering the ups and downs during the regular season?

COACH DONOVAN: I think these guys have done a great job. It's been frustrating at times. I've said as a coach you want to expedite sometimes the growing process because you want 'em to get there "now!" And I don't think that's fair because Patric and Bradley and others playing in the role that they have, and we're fortunate that Brad as a freshman has been able to handle the length of the season and still be able to play at a high level. Murphy tweaks his knee, Patric has dealt with ailments there has been growing and maturing. Mike Rosario comes into a totally different situation. He's been a trooper all the way through. Scotty's role has been similar although he does play a power forward for us. It's been rewarding for them to have success and you see them go through the ups and downs for the season and every team goes through those, but it's been rewarding.

Q. Billy, since struggling in this tournament, you have been 17-2? Have you learned that much? Is it a combination of other things?

COACH DONOVAN: I think every coach and I put myself there, you try to get better every year as a coach. There is room for improvement all the time. I think match-ups have something to do with it. I also think your team's mentality in handling these moments and situations is important. I've been fortunate, even with a Chandler and Macklin there has been growth there. You know what, Pat, there are certain guys that want this kind of stage. There just are. As much as you can talk to guys about wanting the stage, sometimes it's a different kind of stage. It's a little different for them. That kind of mentality can go a long way. I think in this tournament, you've got to have players that play fearlessly on both ends of the floor. And they are not worried about making mistakes. They are competitive. They are driven to want to be great and want to be the best they can. That's not to say that the teams that got knocked out early were not that way, but when you get guys in those situations in terms of advancing, understanding what goes on and as a coach the more you're in these situations the more you learn. I have probably learned and grown as well as a coach. I do think match-ups, who you are playing against, styles-- I do think those have an impact. There are certain teams where, it doesn't make a difference. Even the 2007 team that was ranked No. 1 all year and got a No. 1 seed, Purdue was a bad match-up for us, but we found a way to win. It's seeding, draw, who you're playing, bounce of the ball, there are so many things out of your control. One thing you try to do is get your team in the right mind-set in terms of how they have to approach every game.

Q. Billy you touched on Casey but given the contributions you got from him, Mike, Eric, how dangerous does that make you when it's all around the guys getting the performances you are?

COACH DONOVAN: I think, Rachel, it's a tribute to those guys that they're that locked in and focused. I didn't tell Mike, "Hey, listen we need your scoring," or tell Casey anything. When you're locked in those things happen for you. I felt like Mike the last couple days-- although he didn't play a lot of minutes against Virginia, he had a good day on Saturday getting ready for this game. He gave us good contributions. I think in this tournament you have to have different guys step up at different times and different moments.

Q. How well do you know Buzz Williams?

COACH DONOVAN: I know Buzz pretty well. I've gotten to know him over the last several years. We have a coaching clinic in August and he was kind enough to come and speak at it and got a chance to spend time with him. Our paths haven't crossed that much in recruiting based on geographics. I know him pretty well, but I wouldn't say he is somebody that I'm talking to once a month or once every two months. Certainly with him coming into campus and spending time I got a chance to know him in that venue.

VIDEO PART 1

VIDEO PART 2


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