MEN'S HOOPS: Q and A with Coach Billy Donovan

Coach Donovan: "Georgia's a team that we played at the end of January. They were missing their leading scorer, Levi Stukes. He's back, I believe he had an ankle injury he was dealing with. I think it's always tough, in this league, to go on the road and play a team without your leading scorer. I think he had missed one or two games before playing in Gainesville."

"We're expecting it to be a battle as it is always on the road in the SEC. We're just trying to get our guys ready today. Generally, we usually have a day off. When we play on Saturday, Sunday is our day off. (We want to try to) get our guys back emotionally, mentally, physically. Try to have a good day today and get prepared and ready because we leave again tomorrow to go back on the road."

On the possibility of the crowd storming the court again this year:

"I think our league has been very, very proactive. When people rush the court, it always looks great on tv, and it draws out the effect and enthusiasm of college basketball. The thing is, when you're in that situation, you hate to see something terrible happen, an altercation or somebody getting knocked down, somebody getting hurt. I think there was a point or a time there in Georgia last year where we did get into a little bit of a close situation. But I have trust and confidence that our basketball team will go in there and worry about just playing basketball. I feel fine, as proactive as our league has been and the administrators have been trying to get that rectified. I don't think there's been that many incidents of that happening this year. Again, it looks great on TV, it's great for the game of basketball, but sometimes for the players, you just worry about a kid missing a last-second shot or losing an emotional game and being taunted."

On the comeback against South Carolina:

"I think we really have been a good comeback team. We got down by 10 against LSU. Then LSU, I said this after the game, give them credit, they made their free throws. South Carolina's a team that, I think, was 6-of-17 from the free- throw line, which gave us a chance. At Kentucky, we got down by 10 and cut it all the way back to three on the road. Louisville at home, we were down (by a lot.) I think our team has been a really good comeback team. I just don't think you get credit for a comeback unless you come back and win the game. Our team has always been pretty resilient this year when we've gotten down. We've always fought to get back in the game, which is an encouraging sign. It just so happened to be that this was a game where Powell made that jump shot, let's say Roberson's shot bounces the other way and now they rebound the ball. Now, you're looking at it like, ‘Well, it was a good comeback, but why did Florida get down 17?' I think you've got to give South Carolina credit. They played pretty good basketball for 30 minutes. They did their job pretty well. You can't take a lot away from their kids, they did a good job. But sometimes the ball bounces here, bounces there and thank God, David Lee bounced it to himself and put it in and Tre' Kelley's three didn't go in. Now all the sudden, the comeback, and it's like we got over the hump. But our team has done a good job this year to fighting to get back into games when maybe we've been down and out. The only game I think we didn't do a great job of fighting to get back into, for whatever reason, our first real road test in a hostile environment, was Mississippi State. Outside of that, I think the guys have competed pretty well."

On David Lee:

"I think David, when he first came here, he played with (Udonis) Haslem and he played with Matt Bonner which was great for him. David was a pretty solid role player. Then he's playing with Matt Bonner his sophomore year and had, I thought, an exceptional sophomore year. He really played very, very well. Bonner was there to relieve some of the pressure, because of the attention that Bonner got. That year we won 25 games. David's junior year, Bonner's gone, Haslem's gone, and all the sudden, it's kind of like he's the guy. And I don't know if David's game is such that he is going to dominate and take over games scoring. People say, ‘David's got to pull stuff. He's got to get the basketball. He's got to go score.' That's not really what David's game is. David is a great offensive rebounder. He's a great passer. He's a great handler. He's quick. In certain situations, he can score well. But, right now, in the league, the guy is averaging 14 (points) and 10 (rebounds). I don't know the last time that a player at Florida averaged a double-double in the SEC. I think sometimes you feel like people want more. You know, ‘What's wrong with David? David's not getting enough touches. David not scoring enough. The ball didn't go inside to David.' But, really that's not who David is. So, I've got to coach him and utilize him for his strengths and what he feels comfortable with. There are times that David Lee doesn't feel comfortable or feels like he's got to manage going inside all the time. Some of David Lee's greatness to me is when he just plays, sometimes on the perimeter, sometimes on the side, sometimes offensive rebounding. But you know what? Everybody wanted the same things out of Mike Miller. (Saying) ‘Why won't Mike Miller score more? He's only averaging 13 points a game. He needs to be more aggressive.' David Lee is a confident team player who is unselfish, who doesn't take bad shots, who totally sacrifices for the team. He'll be aggressive where he feels comfortable. There's no question I'm pushing him to be more aggressive. I wish he would shoot the ball more. Sometimes he is too unselfish, but I think that's a good thing. It's better than having a guy take 25 or 30 shots, saying, ‘I have got to get mine.' David Lee's a constant team player. It almost seems like people want more and more and more from David. I mean, 14 (points) and 10 (rebounds). I don't know the last time a guy averaged a double-double in our league. I'm really proud of his development and the progress he has made."

On players' growth:

"Similar to David, when Roberson stepped into a position without Brett Nelson and Justin Hamilton being there, and now all the sudden, he's the guy, like David was the guy up front, I think there's a process that these kids have to go through. I can say this very sincerely, we're a much, much better team today than we were last year, and last year we made it to number one in the country. People see that (last year) and they say, ‘Wow, number one. They have a chance to win a national championship.' Last year, we were a good solid basketball team that, in my opinion, overachieved when (Christian) Drejer left just to get into the tournament and to get to the SEC finals. What puts a bad taste in your mouth is the way it ended. But Roberson now, having a year under his belt, you want to see him do what he's doing. I take great pleasure when I see a guy like Matt Walsh get hurt and come back from an injury. To see him struggle for three or four games, and then the kid's in until four o'clock in the morning working on his game. Then all of the sudden, it starts to turn for him because he's being persistent. When you see David Lee, trying to figure it out, good things happened. Then Roberson, trying to figure it out. I really believe that you cannot have success in anything you do in life unless you have failures or setbacks worth fighting for. That's just the way it is. You have to have setbacks in life. You have to have something to build on, to grow on. If it was always easy, if you always won, I don't know if a player could get better under those circumstances. I really believe that failure, and I mean setbacks or disappointments, is the fertilizer and the opportunity for growth. You can't have growth without some level of change. Often, those guys need to change. Some of their changes, mentally, experience-wise, help them have better understanding."

On his comment that this year's team is "better" than last:

"I say that (this team is better than last year's), but I don't even like going back to last year because we've got a game Wednesday against Georgia. I was just throwing that out to say that last year we had to shoot the basketball to win. This year, we have other ways to win a game. I know yesterday was an example, shooting 35 percent from the field, 34 percent from the three-point line. We found a way to win the game by defending and rebounding. I just think that we have more ways, as a team, to win. That ultimately is what you look at if a team is a good team, a mediocre team or a great team. When you say someone's a great team or a really good team, generally, they have a lot of different ways to win a game. We have another way, or more ways to win than we did a year ago. That's why I say we're better. I'm not trying to compare personnel that we've got this year. Part of it is the growth and development of our older guys and the mindset, the mentality and the competitiveness of our younger guys."

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