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

Gator Basketball Coach Billy Donovan talks about the LSU game and the upcoming game against Vanderbilt which will be an important one.

On why LSU got to the line so frequently in Saturday's game:

"I think LSU did a good job of getting the ball inside. Bass and Davis did a good job of getting fouled. We probably put them to the free throw line about eight times late in the second half trying to get back in the game. From an officiating standpoint, like any game, there were some flip-flopped calls. But the officials did a good job. There were some fouls that weren't called against us that should have been. There were probably some fouls that weren't called against LSU that could have been. I think it was a matter of our guys getting into some bad defensive position. Sometimes we had the foul. The free throw line was definitely a big difference in the game, but I think we probably created more of that for ourselves.

On Horford's push off late in the game:

"It's always a tough thing when you get judgement calls like that, when an official has to (decide) in a split-second. As a coach, we can rewind (the film) and say it was a good call or a bad call. Generally, the things we're talking about are issues of judgement that can be very difficult. If it wasn't called, I wouldn't have said ‘Wow, we got away with that.' It could have not been called. But, the angle that Al took, it did get called. The question becomes with everything that had gone on in the game, was it enough to call (the foul)? It's one of those judgement things that could go either way."

On the final stretch before March Madness:

I feel right now our league isn't being given enough respect. The biggest thing you do is start worrying about who you are playing, what the standings are and who's playing who. You waste energy that way. My main focus is Vanderbilt. It's no different than when I sat up here last week and you guys were saying ‘Is this a big week?' To me, my main focus is on Vanderbilt and getting ready to play those guys."

On preparing for Vanderbilt:

"This will be a little different playing Vanderbilt. Every team we'll play the last four games of the (regular season), we've already played once. The one thing about the Vanderbilt game is it was one of the first road games of our SEC schedule. We played the game without Matt Walsh, he's back. Vanderbilt has changed up their starting lineup a little and are playing with more speed than earlier in the year. Their team has improved over the course of the season and so has ours. You always have some peaks and valleys during the season. If you look at Vanderbilt right now, they have won four of the last six and are playing very good basketball. I think they'll come in very confident. Hopefully, playing at home and with only two games remaining, our guys will play with good effort. I expect that it will be a complete battle all the way through."

On David Lee since the FSU game:

" David has made some good strides as a player. When people see how he performed against LSU, they ask ‘Why can't he do that all the time?' Bass is smart and Lawrence Roberts is smart. David Lee is the type of guy, with the way he plays, he can get you in foul trouble. Bass did a good job picking and choosing where he wanted to block shots and be physical. Sometimes, when you play against those guys and David catches the basketball, they have to be smart with their fouls. David was very aggressive. He rebounded the ball and made some very good post moves. It was a game where they decided they wanted to play him head up, and didn't double-team him. David converted and made things happen and our guys did a good job getting the ball to him. I think David has grown as a player and his confidence is high right now. When he performs like that, it really helps our basketball team."

On needed improvements:

"The room for error when playing against these teams is so small. Everyone talks about Kentucky's starting five and Alabama's starting five being the best. LSU's starting five is as good as any in the country. They have five really good players up front. Davis and Bass might leave and go to the NBA. I go back and look at the game: we shot 57% from the field and 35% from the three-point line. There is no question that the biggest difference in the game was the free-throw line. We had four possessions in a row with a bout four minutes to go in the (first) half where David Lee takes his second foul and goes to the bench. Matt Walsh takes a quick shot that's a pretty good look that he doesn't make. It was a long rebound, (LSU) ran it out and got a quick score. We came down and Matt was somewhat open, but his feet weren't set and he shot and missed another one. They got another run-out shot. Then Lee Humphrey tried to post-feed Al Horford and the ball got stolen, (resulting in) another run-out fast break. Then we came down again and Horford has a bad possession. Next thing you know, we were down six going into the half. That's how quickly it changes. In the second half, Anthony Roberson had some good looks that just didn't come down. We have to overcome that with better defense. It's the little plays over the course of the game that accumulate over a forty minute period and then you have to battle and fight and overcome. It could be something different each game: turnovers, shot selection or blocking out. There are so many things our team has to do, and our room for error is not big. We played a good solid game against LSU. We had one of our better players, who's played exceptionally well all year long in Roberson, 1-for-8 from the three-point line with forty seconds to go in the game. We have to find other ways to win the game. We're closer to that than we were a year ago, which is encouraging."

On the veterans leading the team down the stretch:

"I don't think that's our team's personality, nor has it ever been a make up of complacency. Our guys compete all the time. I'm not looking at this as four games. We have to play Vanderbilt right now. Our guys don't even know what day it is, they can't think 24 hours ahead. For me to sit there and talk about two weeks out or Selection Sunday, it has no bearing on them. My only thing right now is getting our basketball team prepared to play a good game against Vanderbilt. Tomorrow we will do the same thing. Hopefully, Wednesday we'll go out and perform really well."

On adjustments Vanderbilt will make to account for Florida's freshmen:

"I think it's easier when you see a freshman that is playing a lot. If we played Auburn right now, I'd have a much better feel on Tony Douglas than we did the first time we played him. It's always easier to prepare for a freshman the second time you see them through. We rebounded the ball well against Vanderbilt there, and Horford had a really good rebounding game. I would imagine he will challenged quite a bit in this game. Corey (Brewer) played a good game in the transition, and I imagine they will try to take that away from him. Vanderbilt will have a better feel for some of our younger players (compared to) the first time we played them."

On the SEC being young this year:

"When you have a young league like we do - someone said at SEC Media Day that eight of the 12 teams started this season with a new point guard - when you change point guards, that's a big adjustment. We're starting two freshmen, Kentucky is starting two freshmen. There are some teams in our league that are starting some young people. I don't think the teams in the SEC, in the months of November and December, were playing our best basketball. After the first few weeks, that's when you start getting RPIs and I don't necessarily agree with that right now. I can tell a good team and a team that's not good. LSU is really good. Our league did not perform very well against teams in the top 25. Kentucky's the one program with great tradition and national prominence. They played three ranked teams in Kansas, North Carolina and Louisville, and there were 1-for-2 in those games. I'm not saying that we'd beat Louisville or Miami, but I know we are better today than we were in November and December. You also have to remember that these other teams may be better too."

On the RPI:

"My thing with the RPI is I don't know how you do it. How do you determine, after three or four weeks, who's number one and who's number 316. How do you decide that?"

On Vanderbilt's arc attack:

"They made , I think, 12 three-point shots in the (first) game against (Florida). That's a lot of threes. We played some zone and some man, they had some pretty decent looks they didn't knock down. We'll have to be conscientious of their offense. They are a team that wants to take two types of shots: lay-ups and threes. We're going to have to do a good job understanding personnel, knowing where back doors are and where to match up in our zone defesne. It's going to be interesting."

On Florida's three-point shooting:

"It's hard sometimes (to hold back on three-point shooting). I go back to the Mississippi game. They played some zone, and we took three or four three-point shots, where the ball went to David Lee and he through it back out. We missed three or four right in a row. The assistant coaches were telling me ‘Billy, we have to get the ball inside.' I told them ‘If Matt Walsh, Lee Humphrey and Roberson are getting wide-open threes, we don't need to tell them not to shoot. They need to shoot and let those go.' Then what happened? We ran off nine in a row. The biggest thing for me from the three-point line is the shot selection and teaching (the players) what a good shot is. The last thing I want our guys doing, especially our shooters, is to think about should I or shouldn't I shoot. If Matt Walsh is open, he needs to shoot the ball. We took some quick ones against LSU that (the percentage) wasn't high that they would be good."


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