3/1: Donovan’s post-game press conference

By Adam Silverstein
March 2, 2011

Capturing his first Southeastern Conference regular season title since 2007, No. 14/14 Florida Gators (23-6, 12-3 SEC) head basketball coach Billy Donovan spoke to the media after his team thrashed the Alabama Crimson Tide 78-51 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Donovan had plenty to say, so we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following his post-game press conference.

ANOTHER TALE OF TWO HALVES

Before waxing poetic about his senior class and how much they deserved the win on Tuesday, Donovan spoke about the disparity in how the Gators played in the first and second halves of the game. Though Florida showed plenty of energy and intensity from the start, the production simply wasn’t there at the beginning.

“To start the game, our guys were very emotional with it being Senior Night and what we were playing for. We played really hard; we played really aggressive,” he said. “As a coach, when you’re sitting over there and every time you shoot the ball it’s a little bit long, you kind of know that they’re a little bit too excited. Our press was good in the first half. We caused some turnovers that helped us, and we had a nice run to close out the first half.”

That being said, there is absolutely no denying what the Gators did after the break. Florida played perhaps its most impressive half of the season, especially when you consider the points they put up and the lead they generated against perhaps the best defensive team in the conference.

“The second half was as about as good of a game that we’ve played in the second half all year,” Donovan said. “Anthony [Grant]’s team is a terrific defensive team, as everybody knows. For us to play the way we did in the second half on both ends of the floor…we guarded them very well and then we were really efficient on offense. We put together a half there that was really incredible.”

He continued, “When you talk about a team [Alabama] that’s holding their opponents to 38 percent from the field and their last five games in the second half they’ve held teams to like 28 percent, these guys shot 70 percent from the field against them. What our team did for that 20 minutes against arguably the best defensive team in our league was pretty impressive.”

Donovan summed it up pretty succinctly. “I see signs and glimpses of ‘really special.’ As a coach, you’re always trying to pull that out of them to do it more consistently. […] We played special in the second half.”

Read more on Donovan’s emotional night…after the break!

A NIGHT FILLED WITH EMOTION

Locking his now-seniors out of the team’s practice facility four years ago, Donovan has indicated all season – especially this week – that he never thought a night like Tuesday would be possible. With at least a share of the SEC regular season title now in his pocket and the team having come together to form a cohesive unit during conference play, he took a moment to reflect on what his seniors have achieved.

“For [Alex] Tyus, [Vernon] Macklin and [Chandler] Parsons to play the way they did on a night like tonight, the last game they’re ever going to play in the O’Dome, and for them to go out the way they did, and to walk out with at least a share of a SEC Championship, I don’t think it could have been scripted any better for those three guys. And for that, I’m really happy,” Donovan said. “They have come such a long, long way as players and as people and as teammates and having an understanding of what it takes to compete. It really has been incredibly rewarding for me, the process with these guys.

“I’ll tell you, I did not enjoy the process two years ago with them, but to see them figure things out and start to have an idea and an understanding. What those guys did tonight is extremely significant in the history of Florida basketball. Ninety-two years and there’s only been five [SEC titles], so those guys are going to leave with something so significant. I give them credit because they really showed a lot of fortitude, resiliency, and they battled through a lot of adversity to try to figure it out and be the players they are today.”

BEATING HIS “SON” FOR A CONFERENCE TITLE

Donovan’s emotional reaction after the game was not 100 percent focused on his seniors, even though he realized their accomplishment was by far the most important part of the evening. Reflecting on the game, he was obviously felt a sense of remorse that he had to take (at least a portion) of the SEC title away from a good friend in Grant.

“For me emotionally, I can’t imagine how our team feels, but I’m emotionally drained. You’re playing for an SEC Championship, and it would be like me coaching against my son to try to win a SEC Championship and he’s doing the same thing,” Donovan said. “It was a hard game for me because I love our seniors and our team and coaching those guys, but also the guy at the other end of the bench has had a lot to do with the success that has happened in the past for this program. And that was hard for me, especially with so much on the line. It was just a hard game.”

3 Comments

  1. npgator says:

    WOW! Great win!

  2. rick says:

    Billy D is first class and always focuses on what is really important…

  3. Ken says:

    hope those “glimpses of greatness” coalesce fast, only have a few more games before they are one and done, how awesome it would be if they can put it all together, though!

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