Gators Need Development and Growth

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Billy Donovan took center stage in Birmingham Thursday as SEC Basketball Media Days concluded. The loquacious Gator head coach held forth on a variety of subjects.

ON HIS TEAM'S DISPOSITION: "Drastically different right now... once we got to the NIT, the point's been made that we're not in the NCAA tournament, that's when the whole thing changed practice wise. There's been an incredible carryover, at least now, in terms of addressing what we need to address."

WHAT HE'S LOOKING FOR: "The two things that we've talked a lot about with our guys this year have been development and growth. The next thing we've got to do is we've got to mature. We've got to grow up. We've got to grow up and handle winning, losing, playing well or not playing well. We've got to be able to handle coming to practice with the right mindset. We've got to grow up, and that's easier said than done because I've got ten freshmen and sophomores."

ON HAVING A FULL ROSTER: "One of the greatest things we lacked last year was competition. We could not get better in practice because of our numbers and our youthfulness. There was no threat that Jai Lucas or Nick Calathes or Speights wasn't going to play 35 minutes. All that's changed. There's five freshmen in there. There's thirteen players on scholarship. Vernon Macklin's transferred in. There's a different aura where it's a little more challenging."

ON THE SEC'S NEW TV DEALS: "What the commissioner and the league has done is really remarkable. One of the things we have all felt like as coaches in the league from when I started thirteen years ago until now is 'Why isn't there more exposure in the SEC?' One of the things that we need for basketball is we need, through TV, to change the perception of how good our conference is. When you can start talking about playing on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesdays, and being on national TV all the time, that is the greatest way I think to change the perception of the way the league is viewed from a basketball perspective."

ON BRUCE PEARL SAYING UF'S STYLE OF PLAY UNDER DONOVAN CHANGED THE SEC: "To me, the one that's changed the league isn't me. It's Jeremy Foley. He's the one that's made the commitment and put the resources in there. I can't tell you how many people in the SEC, administrators, flew in to see our practice facility. When would that have ever happened 35 years ago, that we would have built a practice facility before Kentucky ever built one?"

HIS SEC SLEEPER TEAM: "The one guy that's walked into a great situation and has a chance to have a phenomenal year is LSU. Trent (Johnson)'s got a great situation. Anytime you walk into a highly talented group of players that have not had the level of success and a lot of that was based on injuries and guys being out. I don't think anybody's talking about LSU. To me, they would be the one team that I would look at right from the start to say they've got a chance to be really special."


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