3/11: Donovan discusses quarterfinals victory

By Adam Silverstein
March 12, 2011

The No. 12/12 Florida Gators (25-6) advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday night with a 85-74 win over the Tennessee Volunteers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Florida head coach Billy Donovan and his players had plenty to say after the game as they prepared to face No. 24 Vanderbilt for the third time this season. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the post-game press conference.

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QUOTES

Donovan on having a bye: “Where a bye, you probably have an advantage, is if you’re fortunate to move deeper into the tournament.”

Donovan on how Tennessee ended the first half: “As they turned up the defensive pressure, our guys didn’t respond well to that. There was a reason why we shot so many free throws in the second half. As they started to be aggressive, we responded and became aggressive offensively by putting the ball on the floor, going strong to the rim, and then it got us to the free throw line. Their aggressiveness created turnovers, it broke our flow. They deserve a lot of credit for doing that. I thought we responded much better in the second half.”

Donovan on the second-half turnaround: “Our guys really settled down going into the second half. We were much more connected as a team; we looked like a cohesive unit in the second half. Ten-minute mark until the end of the first half, I didn’t feel that way.”

Donovan on how good the team is overall: “We played a really good second half, but it doesn’t ensure that you’re going to play well tomorrow. If we would have continued on like we did in the first half, you’d be saying, ‘Gee, is your team going into the tournament on a downswing?’ You cannot embrace day-to-day. Just because you did something yesterday or a game ago doesn’t mean it’s going to carry over unless you understand why you play well. We cannot embrace where we’ve been; we have to understand that tomorrow afternoon creates a whole different challenge. Because we won the league or played a second half last night, that doesn’t mean anything going into the [next] game.”

[EXPAND Click to expand the rest of the team’s post-game thoughts!]Donovan on fixing foul shooting woes: “We’ve tried to spend a lot of time on that. As best you can to create a game-like atmosphere in practice; I don’t think you can ever really simulate what it’s like. It’s something we want to focus on. It was an area that we’ve tried to get better at; I still think we can get better at it. I don’t think we’re a great free throw-shooting team, but I do think we’ve made some strides in a positive direction.”

Donovan on advancing in a tournament: “First game in a tournament is always hard; it’s a hard game. It’s a different feeling playing when it’s one-and-done. If you don’t play well, you’re not going to advance. When you have four teams remaining, the four teams that are remaining are pretty well-connected and playing well in this league right now. You can expect that. Now it comes down to execution and how well you can utilize each other and how well you can play together.”

Donovan on the performance and honors given to senior forward Chandler Parsons: “Go look at where his scoring numbers are at in terms of our league. It’s a great thing that he was on a winning team, getting less than 12 points a game, but he’s just multidimensional. The coaches see this guy affects the game in a lot of ways. Because of his ability to be so versatile, it’s not about points. It was good to see him get the award by being a guy who was really unselfish [and] multidimensional.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker on the Vols’ physical defense: “It was kind of a shock for us. We know they’re an aggressive team, but they didn’t start off like that. They started hand checking and swiping at the ball, and we just wasn’t aggressive enough with the ball. They got some steals and some easy layups. In the second half, we were able to be aggressive and be strong with the ball and get shots.”

Walker on if he was embarrassed with the team’s first half: “Definitely. Coach yelled at us at halftime and put us in our place. It’s great to play for him, and he got us going. We just didn’t want to continue to look like that. We wanted to play how Florida is supposed to play in the second half.”

Walker on advancing to the semifinals: “This is huge. I’ve been knocked out in the quarterfinals the last two years of my career. Any time you can win in this league, in a tournament like this, it’s a good feeling.”[/EXPAND]

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