Feb 11, 2013 5:33 PM
Florida Men's Basketball Head Coach Billy Donovan
February 11, 2013
On how he plans to deal with Kentucky's size
"It's something we're going to have to deal with. They've got really good length. Across the front line, they've got a lot of different lineups they can play. They're getting (Willie) Cauley-Stein back and then you add (Kyle) Wiltjer and add (Alex) Poythress and (Nerlens) Noel. They have a lot of length up there. Our hand is what it is, in terms of our front court. We know we collectively have to do a good job as a group. I've always been a big believer that it's not one guy's responsibility to take care of another guy. We've got to do it and have done it this year as a team and we'll need to continue to do a good job there as a team."
On the Florida-Kentucky rivalry
"One thing I've always said is that being at Kentucky for a five-year period and finding out a lot more about their history and their tradition, they've set the bar, so to speak. Their program has been in this league a long time. I think every school in this conference looks at Kentucky as being the program to try to become. Obviously, it's hard to do because they've done it for such a long period of time, not just here recently. I think it's great having them in our league. I think that's been terrific because it certainly draws a lot of attention to our league. Since John (Calipari) has been there, he's done a terrific job. I think Tubby (Smith) did a great job. Coach (Rick) Pitino did a great job. Eddie Sutton, the list goes on and on with the coaches that have been there and the jobs they have done. I think that's a great thing for us to be able to constantly try to strive and achieve towards. But that's really, in a lot of ways, a lifetime of trying to achieve something like that because they've done it longer than maybe anybody else in the country or in college basketball for that matter."
On what Patric Young has been doing different this year to stay out of foul trouble
"Well I just think Patric, one, experience, has done a better job understanding and seeing different situations and plays developing before they happen. I think understanding where he gets himself into trouble, where he draws fouls, how he draws fouls, being disciplined. I think it's just normal tendency when you're a frontcourt player in and around the basket to want to leave your feet on different situations, different plays. There's a lot on somebody like Patric. There's a lot on Nerlens Noel for Kentucky or any center for that matter because those guys are in the back of the defense and are anchoring the defense and a lot of times are having to make decisions of when to step over and take a charge, when to try to go block a shot and when to fake and get back to their man. I think any time there's penetration down the lane or at the lane at those guys they're always put in compromising situations to have to make those decisions. I think as Patric has gotten older and he's had some experience, probably coming out of high school, he was a guy that went after probably every shot imaginable and jumped and left his feet. Now, in college, when he's done some of that stuff, he's put himself in harm's way, he's put himself in foul trouble. So, I think for him, just probably his experience is something that's helped him grow in that area."
On preparing for mostly new personnel at Kentucky
"It's not that bad. It would obviously be a lot harder if you didn't have film. They're on TV a lot. We're on TV a lot, so you're always going to be breaking down film. I think every year you go through that with every team. Every team has got a certain amount of departures, losses, new people, new faces, new roles and new responsibilities. Every team changes from year to year. Obviously, their team changed a lot from last year because of what they did have, but with the amount of film that is out there now, you can get a pretty good grasp on individual players and talent. Most of the time, even for us as coaches, we've seen a lot of these guys play on the recruiting trail and in the summer. There's a pretty good feel for what they do, strengths, weaknesses, those kind of things."
On any updates with Will Yeguete's injury
"I don't think we're going to probably find anything out in terms of how quickly he'll be able to return probably for at least another week. He's still on crutches right now. They take the stitches out in about a week to 10 days. Right now, it's more of resting and it's more of him doing leg strengthening exercises, but I don't think at this point in time, with the surgery being on Friday that there is any idea on how he's progressing and how soon he'll be back. I mean, right now, my expectation is to not even address or think about it until the end of the regular season. That would be my guess. But again, different things happen. If he's back before then, great, but I think it's something we'll reevaluate at the end of the year."
On how everyone's roles have changed with loss of Yeguete
"I think the one thing with Will is he does a lot of different things for us. It's not so much redefining roles as much as it is probably with some depth issues in our front court and having to move different pieces into some of those positions based on our personnel lineup and those kinds of things. We need to be able to pick up what he is able to do rebounding, what he is able to do in the press, what he is able to do defensively. It doesn't really fall on one person's shoulders. It is everybody having an awareness, being conscientious of having a little more sense of urgency being able to do that. If we are in the game small tomorrow with (Casey) Prather and he gets stuck on Nerlens Noel, we need to understand that he is going to need some help. Whereas maybe with a guy like Will he wouldn't need as much help, maybe he would, any player for that matter. You've got to be conscientious of who is out there on the floor, what the matchup looks like, and where a guy needs potential help. For us, with our size, we have been fortunate a guy like Patric has been able to play the post one-on-one, (Erik) Murphy has been able to do that, Will has been able to do that. If we ever get into a situation with four guards and (Michael) Frazier has to guard maybe a Kyle Wiltjer, we got to have awareness in the game of what's going on right now. We can't leave that guy on an island; he's probably going to need some help when he's inside. Those are things that I think we have to become...we have to make adjustments or changes that may be a little different from before Will got hurt."
On what Miami has done this season
"I think it is great. We (Donovan and Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga) both went to Providence. He had an unbelievable career there. He's a great guy. Probably a lot of older guys, we have got some older guys. They have done a great job. I think it is very good for basketball in the state of Florida, what they are doing. They have had an exceptional year. The hardest thing is for me is when you get into league play I really never get a chance to watch a lot of other leagues, maybe periodically. I really haven't had the chance to watch them play. From all accounts, it sounds like they are playing tremendously."
On Miami's Kenny Kadji, who transferred from Florida
"I think it was good for Kenny. I think Kenny, probably, needed to grow and mature. I think his experience here probably helped him become who he has become as a player. It's never been a talent issue with Kenny. He's always been very talented, very, very gifted. I think for him, a fresh start was probably the best thing for him and a good thing for him. Again, I haven't seen them play a whole lot, but I've always felt like Kenny is a very gifted and talented player. When he is focused and he is working hard, the sky is the limit for him as a player."
On if there is pressure on older players because they haven't been successful against Kentucky in the past
"You know, I don't know. I think that maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, I don't know. I just know there are certain things and that stuff really doesn't make a different because our team is different from a year ago. Their team is different from a year ago so the faces for them have changed. We're not preparing for Anthony Davis or (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist or (Doron) Lamb or (Marquis) Teague. We're preparing for Nerlens Noel and Wiltjer and Poythress, some very gifted, talented guys who have their own identity and play their own way. Although there have been a lot of departures from a year ago, there's new faces. Our guys need to understand how they're playing against them. Outside of Wiltjer, our guys have never played against these guys before. So from that standpoint it is different. I think maybe they would feel that way if these teams were identical but they're not right now. We've got some players returning from the last couple years playing against them but I think their roster has changed so much that in the last three or four years that they have almost had a new identity almost every single year going into these seasons."
On how Scottie Wilbekin has responded since coming off the bench against Mississippi State
"I thought he played really, really well in the game. He played 33 minutes and I thought he really played the right way. I thought he was really focused and I thought he made really good decisions with the basketball. I thought he got it where it needed to go. He and (Kenny) Boynton accounted for over half of our assists in the game which was great but I was really impressed. My biggest thing with Scottie is just that I have such a high opinion and a high regard for him as a player and how he can impact and affect our team that as a coach I think it is my responsibility to hold him to that standard. I think Scottie is a guy that is very, very tough on himself; he's very demanding on himself and I think he has an expectation on himself of how he needs to play and what he needs to do. When you get into a situation where you're not meeting your own individual standard or not playing at the level you need to play at, that happens all the time to every single player. That's not new. But how you respond to it, to me, is much, much more important and he did not respond well to it coming out of the Arkansas game. Whether he was disappointed in himself, down, frustrated whatever it may be, he did not come back and practice like he normally has. In conversations with him on Thursday and Friday, there was no response, there was no change. I think when you're coming off a loss you want to come back and at least get off to a good start and we were able to do that against Mississippi State and when he got into the game he was able to contribute. But I don't think it's anything like I said after that game. It wasn't a bad attitude, it wasn't him being disrespectful, it wasn't him being late, it wasn't a disciplinary action it was just more of his a lack of not being who he is."
On if Wilbekin sometimes got ahead of himself in the Arkansas game
"No question, no question he did. He takes 15 shots in the game, OK, which is fine; he could take 30 shots in the game as long as they're open. But when the place is going nuts and they're in a run and he's coming down and he's got to get us an offense and he's trying to make plays and take it upon himself to do things and having him understand there's four other guys out there to help him and then taking some difficult shots, taking some challenged shots, taking some tough shots. End of clock situations and we get put in that situation, that's understandable. There's no need for some of those things in the midst of their run. I think for him it snowballed a little bit, where he just was almost trying too hard. I think I got on him about that, I got on him after the game about that and I got on him the next day in film about it. The normal Scottie Wilbekin usually comes out with a chip on his should and an edge and a focus and you know what I'm going to get better and that was anything but his response. It was almost his response was low enthusiasm, dejected, and down and you tried to get him going and you couldn't get him going and he was just in a little bit of a funk. And his credit to coming back into the game, I think he knew what he needed to do against Mississippi State and he went out there and played well. Now yesterday in practice he was really, really good again. I think he was back to his normal self."
On if the experience of the team gives them an advantage
"I think this time of year when you are 22, 23, 24 games into the season, these guys have played a lot of minutes and have a lot of games under their belt. A lot of these kids have played on national stage. I mean Kenny Boynton, Patric Young, Mike Rosario these guys have played in AAU and in college basketball and I don't think it's any different for the Kentucky kids. These guys have played on TV in high school and have been heavily recruited. They've played against all players around the country. They've got 20-something games under their belt, so I don't really see that being that big issue of an issue."
On Kentucky's recent success against Florida
"I don't know if I necessarily look at it that way. Clearly last year they were the best team in the country. I think they lost two games the whole year. It's not even necessarily against us, it's against everybody. More importantly for me, the game is right now, (and we're in the middle of) playing for a league championship. That is what really is the most important right now. I always think playing against teams like that, you look at Kentucky, and I think ultimately it makes you better. We get the chance to play against them twice. If we are fortunate enough to win the game on Tuesday, there is another game Saturday, and there is another game coming after that. The world doesn't stop. It's one game right now that's an important game. It's the next one and it is on our schedule right now, one we want to continue moving forward on. But I really never ever get wrapped up in that kind of stuff. Clearly, they have had, the last three or four years, just some incredible talent, incredible pieces. They have been very, very gifted. They have been a very hard team to beat. I think John Calipari has done a terrific job with his team. For us right now, this is an important game because it is right in front of us right now and this is the next one. After this one is over, our focus is going to have to shift right to Auburn. You kind of go through the league schedule, going one at a time."
On improving three-point defense
"I think that our close-outs have been a little bit shorter than normal. We have not gotten out there. I think the last three games we are giving up about 41 percent from the three-point line, where it was for the first seven games right around 26 percent and we need to do a better job. That is an area where we have to do a better job and have more of a sense of urgency. Understanding personnel, understanding who we are closing out to, those kind of things are important. Starting the game against Mississippi State, they go two of their first four and we were late and we didn't need to be late on a couple of them. That is certainly something we have to get better at. Everybody keeps talking about our defense, our defense and I think we have made some strides and gotten better but I also understand as a coach how fragile that is. Just because you are doing something well doesn't mean you are going to maintain doing something well. It is an everyday commitment and a process and focus into doing that stuff and when you play a very high level defense like we have, there is more likelihood that there is going to be slippage. And I think that there has been some slippage in that area and I think our guys can see those stats of what you are talking about and where that slippage is and we have to get better there."
On game getting too physical
"I don't know what triggered it, obviously I saw the situation with (Alex) Oriakhi and (Reginald) Buckner... Regardless of what was going on in the game whatever triggered that, I don't know what happened, but I do know when Buckner went down and was grabbed by his foot by Oriakhi, the official came in and gave and intentional foul. So the official did his job. Now Buckner may not have seen his call, maybe he got frustrated, but I think what happens this time of year for any team is as a player you have enough to worry about in terms of doing your job. Anything that gets in the way of distracting you from doing your job, ultimately it is going to put you into a situation where you are going to lose your control and you are going to get frustrated. I am not blaming either one of those guys because I don't know what happened. All I know is that he was taken down and it was an intentional foul called and obviously he got kicked out. What the officials have to do is hard because there is a lot of contact. You have bigger bodies, faster bodies, it's bang-bang plays, there is no instant replay. There is a balance between letting a team play and maybe letting a team get an advantage, you are trying to keep an even playing field. I think every year that goes by the officials have more and more of a difficult job handling all of that stuff. There is a fine line and a balance there. I have always been a big believer of, we start the season there is usually an official's edit, maybe a conference call, rule change, whatever it is, it's things you have to follow. I think what happens is when you start, sometimes the officials just need to block out and just call the game. If what the ref decides is supposed to be a foul and somebody does it 25 times, call it 25 times. I think a lot of times that is hard human nature-wise, ‘Geez I've already called a couple (times).' It's like carrying, whatever the rule is on carrying, if someone carries the ball and you call it once and he does it six times you have to call it six times. I think that is something that has always been a little bit different. I think it is hard. It is very difficult because you want to let the players determine the outcome of the game."
On Nerlens Noel's shot blocking ability compared to Anthony Davis'
"I think he is just as good as Anthony Davis as a shot blocker, I don't think there is any question about that. He has unbelievable length, has unbelievable timing, he is very gifted at it for a skill guy. He keeps himself out of foul trouble; he can alter shots from a lot different directions and areas on the floor. I think we have to have a level of intelligence, and I think driving in there and trying to shoot over top of him is probably not a wise choice, but I still think we are a team that needs to attack."
On home court advantage
"I think it is always an advantage to play at home. How much of an advantage in terms of points, I'm not so sure, but anytime you are playing in a familiar surrounding on a home court there is always going to be an advantage. To me it is always a challenge and exciting to play on the road in those kinds of situations, but every coach in the country and about every player in the country would say okay we'll take 30 games at home if you had your choice. There is just a comfort playing at home. What the point differential would be, I don't know. But I think most teams always feel a bit more comfortable playing at home."
On Kenny Boynton having a difficult shooting game against Mississippi State
"I think he has gotten some decent shots. He had to start the game against Mississippi State at the point, which is a little bit different for him than the last several games. I thought he had some decent looks, I really did. The ball didn't go in the basket. I don't have a problem at all, and he was 0-5 I think against Mississippi State. I thought all the shots were pretty good. They didn't go in. As long as he is taking those shots I have a lot of confidence in him that he can put together a string and make those kinds of plays."