MEN'S HOOPS: Donovan and Team Talk Hoops

Coach Donovan: "We are excited to get started with another year. Personally, I'm very excited about our team and the guys we have returning. The last six or eight weeks is always a little tough for me because a lot of it is tied up recruiting on the road and doing home visits and trying to balance being back here at home trying to work our guys out."

Head Coach Billy Donovan

On creating an identity for this year's team: "Trying to create an identity for our team is going to be very important. I think certainly we have to talk about how we're going to score after losing so many points from last year. Quite honestly, I'm not really worried about that. I'm much more concerned about this team understanding what's a good shot, what's a bad shot. We have to be a consummate team. Going into last year's season, I think we were a team that 70 percent of our offensive was going to go through the three guys that we lost. This year's team is without a proven scorer, and we have to be able to become a team where we have four or five guys averaging between 10 and 15 points a game. We have to be a team who moves the basketball, passes the ball, makes the extra pass, and they play to help one another. I think this year's team will be strong rebounding the ball and defending. With our front court, [Joakim] Noah being a year older, [Al] Horford a year older, Chris Richard a year older, Adrian Moss now back off his back injury. Corey Brewer is a good rebounder at 6'8". I think the strength of our team is athleticism and our ability to defend. I would have liked to be a little deeper than we are right now. I think this could be a good pressing team, but at the same point, depth, how much we can press, and how long we're able to press is going to be something that we'll have to wait and see. I think for our season, having 10 guys out there, we're probably not going to be able to bang in to each other as much as we'd like to, and we're going to have to alter some things."

On the season starting so early this year, and the NCAA's new rule allowing the entire team to workout together with the coaches for two hours a week: "Also, with the season starting so early this year for us, because we're in a preseason tournament, we're losing about 10 days of practice. So, I think the first two and a half weeks of practice, we're going to have to get a lot of things done. One thing that did help us was the new rule the NCAA put in* allowing us to workout our entire team for two hours a week. I think there were some key things that we were able to get in. That was my concern, trying not to overload the guys the first two and a half or three weeks of practice. We put some things in offensively, we put some things in defensively, we put some out-of-bounds plays in. If we needed to scrimmage on Friday, the first day of practice, we would be able to. We try to balance that with skill development, and also us continuing to improve on the defensive end of the floor.

On the team's youth: "We are going to be reliant this year on a lot of guys that have a very, very limited amount of experience. [Joakim] Noah is going to have to play a lot more than he did a year ago, being a guy who didn't play a whole lot. You've got Walter Hodge and {David} Huertas in the background being freshman who are going to have to contribute. Chris Richard continues to make some strides in the right direction, which is positive for us. But we've got some youthfulness in certain areas that we're going to have to be able to address, and guys are going to have to step up in a hurry and grow and develop. I'm going to preach to these guys that it's about our team, it's about being great defensively, about being unselfish on offensive and it's about creating an identity where our work ethic is far superior than anybody we play against. That to me is going to be very, very exciting. I think that this team is going to reflect a personality, an image that I think a lot of people will be very proud of. I'm anxious to get started. I'm looking forward to it. I think for me as a coach, this will be a great, great team for me to work with."

On pressing: "When you are pressing, you have to have guys that have a great level of threshold, pain-wise, to be able to play through fatigue and battle. We have a very tough team when it comes to playing under fatigue and playing tired. I think a guy like David Lee or Anthony Roberson, they had a tough time playing through fatigue, so I couldn't really press as much, especially during late-game situations, because we needed those guys offensively to be able to make some plays and score. Walsh is one of those guys who had a great threshold, played through being hurt, played through being tired. I think we have a tough team, even when freshman [Walter] Hodges and [David] Huertas come in, they have a level of toughness about them that when they get tired, they have the ability to push through some things. So, I'd like to do it, and I think we have a team that will be able to do it. But, I don't know if we'll be able to press 40 minutes non-stop all the time. I also think we'll be able to do a little bit more with the pressure because of the make-up of these guys individually."

More on the team's youth: As a coach, the one thing I can't do is put the ball in the hole for them. But what I can try to do is put them in the best position where they can take advantage of the talent level they have. That they can make plays or be put in a position to score based on their talent level. Right now, we have a bunch of guys who are unproven in that area. So to me, I'm going to really try to eliminate any focus on them worrying about scoring. During my first year here when we had Dan Williams, Jason Anderson and Greg Williams, those guys were not a prolific scoring team, but we scored pretty well. So to me, I think the focus that I've got to do as a coach is take the emphasis off any pressure that they may feel to score and put the pressure on making sure they understand shot selection, what is a good shot* and if they're taking shots, that they can make them * and they're being put in a situation where they can have success in those areas. We have to get good shots based upon our personnel. Where last year, the three guys we had were so gifted offensively* the only way [Al] Horford or [Corey] Brewer or Taurean Green or anybody were going to score is by offensive rebounds or by those guys making a play to have them in a situation where they could score easily. Last year it was no secret that those three guys were going to get 70 percent of the shots. This year we've must have balance all the way through. So, I'm going to eliminate any pressure that those guys feel, just because we lost some scoring that now I've got to step up and supply the scoring. I think that's my challenge this year is getting them to understand that there is no pressure. You know, Corey Brewer, just because Matt Walsh isn't here, you don't have to score 25 points. Taurean [Green], [Anthony] Roberson gone, you're not going to score 19 points. My focus has got to be on them playing with freedom, playing with confidence, and that they're shooting the ball with confidence, and we're getting high percentage shots that our team can make. There will be some games where the ball goes in, there will be some games the ball isn't going to go on. We have to give ourselves a chance to win when we're not making shots or scoring by defending. Because every team, every year has games when you don't shoot well from the free-throw line, don't shoot the ball well from the field, and you've got to do other things. I think this basketball team has those strengths and qualities to do the little things to keep us in games and help us win games."

On Adrian Moss' recovery from back surgery: "[Adrian] Moss is doing well, he really is. He has been out of action here a little bit the last couple of days. He did have some pain in his back, but it was a little bit of a different pain than what happened with his surgery. Right now, he's really made some great strides. We've got two front court players in [Adrian] Moss and Jimmie Sutton that are probably not going to be every day guys practice wise for us. Jimmie [Sutton] had to have his knee, about 10 days ago, re-scoped to take out some meniscus and cartilage that was floating around in there that was creating some swelling for him. But Adrian [Moss] for the most part has participated in everything we've done. I kind of backed off a little bit on his individual workouts to make sure he is somewhat fresh and feeling good going into Friday. But I think he's doing very well. He's doing a good job leadership wise. He's competing, he's in better shape. I think I see a little bit more of the old Adrian Moss. Last year, I really felt like there was a problem, that even though he hid it from me quite a bit, it got to a point where he couldn't take the pain anymore. He had back surgery after the year was over with. Right now, he's doing very, very well. We fully expect him to play and participate and go through most of it. But we've got to keep an eye on him."

On the team's ability to shoot the three and free throws: "I think Taurean [Green] will be a much improved shooter. I think Taurean [Green] can shoot the basketball. I think David Huertas and Walter Hodge, those two guys come in as guys who were very good scorers and shooters in high school. But, it's an unknown. I think it's a little bit different coming out of high school and being consistent in the area of scoring when you're a young player. It takes some time. I think [Joakim] Noah's got the ability be a pretty good scorer. I think the big thing for our front court that I've really emphasized with them is that we could be a team this year that could get fouled a lot due to our size and physicality. I think it's going to be important for Al [Horford], [Joakim] Noah and Chris Richard and Adrian Moss and Jimmie Sutton when he gets healthy that we've got to become a good free throw shooting team. We can't leave points out there. When you get fouled and get to the free throw line, that's another way to score. In that way of scoring, we've got to make sure we become a good free throw shooting team. I'll let [Corey] Brewer take the three, I'll let most of those guy's take it. They've got to feel confident. The way you instill confidence is getting those guys in the gym where they're taking an enormous amount of shots and then me making sure they're taking good shots that they can make. Then I have to have confidence that they can make them. One of the things we're trying to do this year is we're charting the amount of shots they've taken since we started to workout. We give them a piece of paper where they see 5-6-7 thousand three-point shots. They at least know they're working on it. If they're in the gym working on it, they're getting a lot of reps up, I'm going to have to live with Corey Brewer being 2-for-8 one night, but there will be some games where he's 5-for-7. I never like with a perimeter guy to say he's not allowed to shoot. I don't think any of them are bad shooters, but they don't come in with the reputation of a [Matt] Walsh or [Anthony] Roberson. But they're going to be very, good accurate shooters. The other thing with Corey [Brewer] that many people don't realize is that he led us in three-point-field goal percentage. He shot about 46 percent from the three-point line. We need to build on that rather than take that away. Because if he gets so one-dimensional just driving to the basket, people are going to back off from him and take away his level of athleticism."

On the leadership ability of the sophomore players (Horford, Green, Brewer and Noah): "To be honest with you, I'm disappointed with them because I don't think they've done a good enough job. I think they have the ability to be great leaders, they have great personalities, they're hard workers, the team respects those guys. I also think last year coming in, they didn't have to provide the leadership. They did a lot of listening and they filled roles. Now all of a sudden, and maybe somewhat unfortunate, but they stepped up into leadership roles and they've got to be more vocal. They've got be more demanding of our team. They've got to create a level of expectation for our team. I still seem them, not selfishly, worrying about themselves. I'm going to play hard, I'm going to do this* But they've got to be able to lift up the spirits of everyone else around them. I think that's just a process. That I've got to work with them as a basketball coach, to teach them how to lead the correct way. It's going to be a process. Today, they're not great leaders, but I think they have the potential to be. I think that's always a big challenge. Those four guys are walking into a completely different situation than they were a year ago, I think one of the most difficult things to do in college is go from being a role player to now a focal point. Your role totally changes. You now move from a guy who was fourth or fifth on an opposing team's blackboard in terms of attention that they're being given, to all of a sudden being first, second or third. It's going to be a totally different experience for them. They've got to learn how to lead, compete and understand what to expect."

Player Quotes

Senior Forward/Center Adrian Moss

On the status of his back (after off-season surgery)
"The back is good, it was a long rehab process. But it went well and I'm feeling good, I'm feeling strong, I'm feeling like my old self.

On his decision not to be on the cover of the media guide or on the poster
"I was on the cover of everything last year, and then I went down. So maybe that was a jinx. So I figure if I could reverse some things, maybe I could go back to normal."

On team dominance
"This is going to be a team dominated team. Everything is going to come from a team aspect. The bigs can do it one night, the guards can do it another."

On the team's playing system
"The system is going to be the same and the way we play is going to be the same. We're still going to run and press, defend, play hard, play aggressive and play the system."

On the high elbows
"Just protect the ball. If you have guards slapping at it, just defend it. If you talk to one guard they rest of them are going to leave you alone the rest of the game."

On leadership
"I really can't teach someone something that I haven't perfected myself. I'm still going down the road on learning how to lead, so I'm learning myself."

Sophomore Guard Corey Brewer

On scoring
"Points are going to come out of the framework of our offense, Coach is going to put us in the right position to score. Coach knows who is hot and who we should go to."

On missing D. Lee, Roberson, and Walsh
"I don't feel like we are looking around for them. We are a different team and know what we have to do to win."

On leadership
"We are just sophomores ourselves, so we're trying to make the transition. We were following three great guys last year, and now we have to step into their roles. So it's a totally different situation. Coach has talked to us about it. I feel like all four sophomores can be leaders, and that's what we are trying to do."

Junior Guard Lee Humphrey

On the expectations of him and the team
"We spent a lot of time preparing, in the summer and in the fall. All of the guys have been working hard and we know we lost our three biggest scorers, so going into this year we're just going to try stay focus on moving the ball, try to penetrate, going inside, working inside out. Just trying to stay within the team concept and try to get each other good shots and help each other out."

On playing last season when Matt Walsh was injured and the effect it has this season
"I think any time you can get experience like that, it's going to be beneficial like my freshman and sophomore year. It's going to help me out this year confidence-wise and experience-wise."

On working the floor
"We've been working on getting up and down the floor a little bit more. We have been working in the summer on putting the ball down a bit more and trying to use the ball fake to get some three point shots."

On go-to guys
"We have several guys on the team to go to every night, it just depends on who is hot. Some nights it might even be evenly spread. I think we just have to stay within the team and get many guys scoring. It's exciting, it's a new year. We lost our three biggest scorers, so we know we have to provide the scoring. We can do it with so many different guys. It's a new team."

Sophomore Forward/Center Al Horford

On the team makeup
"We are excited about the team. I think we are going to work on everything as a team, offense, defense, and stay within our framework. Everyone is going to step in and help this year."

On the team's scheme this year
"I think we're going to run more, and do a few different things, like press, that we didn't do as much last year. What we're doing offensively is how we're going to score. It's going to be a balanced scoring this year."

On playing a lot last season
"It's going to help a lot, I know what to expect this year and I'm more experienced."

On team offense
It's going to be pretty balanced as far as shots from the paint. We have Joakim Noah, Chris Richard, Moss* it's not all going to be on me, so I don't feel that pressure on me. We have a good framework, so if we take good shots, we're going to be just fine. If we stay together, we'll get it done."

On leadership
"I feel older, I feel more experienced. It's funny, even though I've only been here one year, but I feel ready to lead. It's really just trying to teach the freshmen, making sure they stay on top of things."

Fightin Gators Top Stories