3/3: Donovan on Parsons, Vanderbilt, SEC

By Adam Silverstein
March 3, 2011

No. 14/14 Florida Gators (23-6, 12-3 SEC) head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following his press availability Thursday.

KEEPING THEIR MINDS RIGHT

Capturing a portion of the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season title is quite an accomplishment but having it all to yourself is even more special. Donovan did not distinguish between the two scenarios, noting that he was just happy the team has achieved a SEC Championship in general.

“If you win a SEC Championship, you win a SEC Championship. Anytime you’re a part of a SEC Championship, it is meaningful,” he said. “Obviously we have an opportunity and a chance to win it outright on Saturday, but we got to play against a really good team that has been exceptional at home and had a great year.”

With Alabama and Georgia squaring off before Florida takes on No. 20/21 Vanderbilt, Donovan is aware that he has to do something to make sure the Gators are focused on winning their game no matter the earlier outcome.

“I talked to our guys about this. We cannot allow ourselves to emotionally get caught up spectating in that game. That’s the human element and human nature that I’ve always talked about. They’ve got to distance themselves from that,” he said. “We’re going to know something before we go into Vanderbilt, and they’re probably going to hear things. But you can emotionally get sucked into that. We need to be focused on what we got to do in this game. We should not even worry or concern ourselves with stuff that’s going on outside of the guys that are inside that locker room. That’s something that I’ve got to address with those guys and I’ve got to talk to them about. That game should have no bearing on how we go out and play; to me, that’s easier said than done.”

Though Donovan indicated he has yet to discuss the topic with his team, senior forward Chandler Parsons seemed to have an idea what his coach’s instructions would be.

“I’m sure obviously we’re going to know who won going into the game, but I don’t think with as good of a team as we are…we’re still going to want to win the game even if Georgia happens to win, he said. “We’re still going to come out with the same mentality that we want to win the game. The same mentality we come out with for every game. It doesn’t matter what other teams do; it just matters what we do.”

FLORIDA’s FIRST SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR?

Donovan refused to prop himself up Tuesday night after his team’s big win for SEC Coach of the Year, but he had no problem heaping praise on Parsons in the hopes that he captures SEC Player of the Year honors.

“Chandler has had a terrific year. In my opinion, he should really, really strongly be considered for that,” Donovan said. “He is really multi-dimensional. He does a lot for our team. He rebounds, he passes it, he’s shot the ball better, he take sit to the basket. You can put the ball in his hands to make plays. There’s no question as far as versatility is concerned, he’s definitely the most versatile small forward in the league with all the things he can do.”

Asked who he thinks should win the award, Parsons refused to say himself, nervously stammering and trying to find the right words. Eventually he was able to answer the question in a politically correct manner.

“That’s really a tough question. I put myself in a good situation where I can be talked about, but I don’t know if I’m going to win or not. It really doesn’t matter to me. I just worry about my team right now,” he said. “It’s really flattering and stuff that people are talking about me winning it, but seriously I’m more worried about us winning Saturday, us going to the SEC Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament.”

Read what else Donovan and Parsons had to say…after the break!

FOCUSING ON SATURDAY AND BEING RESILIENT

“Tuesday night has been written about, talked about and, whenever the time is ready, there will be a banner hanging in the O’Dome. That’s done. That’s over with now. Can we come into Nashville right now, as a team, and go out there and play our best game?” Donovan rhetorically asked Thursday.

“Because after that game, we’re moving into the SEC Tournament. My biggest thing with them, and I’ve talked about this, is: Can they handle success? It’s my biggest thing with them. They’ve always been a resilient group. They get knocked back down and they come back and they fight. That is a great, great quality. The other part they got to figure out right now is how to handle that. Getting them to understand how to handle success has probably been the most challenging part for me. There’s an awareness they have of it but, ‘How do I do that?’ That’s something I try to help them with.”

One thing the Gators will have to overcome this week is the brutal stretch of playing three games in six days. Donovan is proud of the way his team fought through three tough opponents and came out relatively unscathed.

“I really felt like, going into the three games last week with all that was on the line, we were at a certainly considerable disadvantage in terms of the way the schedule was set-up for us,” he said. “When you have to play Thursday tough physical game, go on the road Saturday and come right back again Tuesday, I thought that was really hard. Especially with what was on the line.

“Our guys competed and played through some of that. Having yesterday off, playing a Tuesday game, maybe we didn’t get relief on the front end, but we’re getting relief on the back end. We have three days where I can really monitor how the team’s doing.”

QUOTES

Donovan on the Memorial Gymnasium: “There are teams traditionally that have played really exceptionally at home, and Vanderbilt is one of those teams. It’s a unique place. I’ve always enjoyed it. There’s some people that may criticize it because of the way the benches are or how it’s set-up structurally; I’ve always liked it. It is a unique place; it’s a different kind of place. I’m not one of those guys that is opposed to it, needs to change it or move the benches to the sideline. It is what it is, and I don’t mind the place. I really don’t.”

Donovan on his team’s improved defense: “Certainly in the frontcourt we’re a lot more physical. The addition of Vernon last year, that really helped us out. Our team is surprisingly long. We’re a very long team. Our guys have gotten better using their length. And then with the length, we have more size and physical presence with Vernon [Macklin], with Patric Young, even Will Yeguete. [Erik] Murphy is 6’10”. We have size and length there and we’ve gotten a lot more physical. When you have that kind of length, and you’re physical there, you can be tough to score against. When teams try to really go inside against you, you have the ability to at least have some physical resistance.”

Donovan on challenges the team faced this year: “The difference for me this year is them wanting more. I’m always talking about the human condition, the human element, because you’re always dealing with it. Always. There was just so much [last year] with them wanting to get into the tournament. They were so consumed with that. You got to take care of what you need to do. I understood it, but I just told them that they got to be thinking about bigger things than getting into the NCAA Tournament. What do you want to do? What do you want to accomplish? I really tried to talk to them about doing something that they’ve never done here before – trying to focus on playing well on the road, trying to compete for a SEC Championship.”

Donovan on working through internal issues: “Every team in the country has internal issues. Nobody’s perfect. Our schedule forced our internal issues to come to the surface, which allowed myself and the coaching staff and them to address what the issues were.”

Donovan on how the team has changed: “I never felt like, in November, we were connected in terms of we were all playing as one. We weren’t utilizing each other’s strengths and talents. Coming out of that Central Florida game, that’s where it really got exposed. We got better and better and better [after] that.”

Donovan on how everything turned around: “We got good enough kids that they are about the team and about each other that they really worked to try to get it fixed.”

Parsons on no UF player ever being named SEC Player of the Year: “It is because there have been some tough players that have come through the University of Florida.”

Parsons on if the team improved after losing to Jacksonville: “It’s a learning process. We’ve had some ups and downs. We’ve lost some tough ones and we’ve won some huge games. It’s just about bouncing back and not hanging your head and keep playing confidently.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on being a second half player: “I got to try to attack the hole more to probably get some easy layups to start the game and hopefully that brings out my shot.”

Boynton on what Donovan did to reverse the team’s fortunes: “Coach told us to move forward. He managed practice hard every day, no matter if we had a game the day before or not.”

Boynton on noticing the team has improved on defense: “We’re much better. I don’t think we focused too much on our defense last year as we did this year. This year we’re focusing more on taking charges, playing more help defense. Our intensity is up. This year our focus is defense no matter if our offense is going or not.”

8 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    just a test ….

  2. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Man I really hope Chandler wins the SEC Player of The Year. He’s deserved it IMO.

    • Basshole says:

      Hell yeah, and I can totally see why he stammered before his response. Of course he is hoping for it and would love to win that title, so he probably had to calm down and think to give an appropriate, humble response.

  3. npgator says:

    Donovan should be SEC coach of the year!

  4. Basshole says:

    Boynton on being a second half player: “I got to try to attack the hole more to probably get some easy layups to start the game and hopefully that brings out my shot.”

    Can I get an amen?

  5. jay d says:

    our team is lucky to be in such a great position for the post season….they have the ability to go deep in the turney ….but also, on any given night, have the ability to lose in the early stages…..it will be exciting to see how far they want to go with their play on the court…

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