Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan, senior point guard Erving Walker and junior guard Kenny Boynton took the podium in Omaha, NE on Thursday to discuss the team’s upcoming second-round NCAA Tournament game against the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday at 2:10 p.m. The contest will air live on TNT.
NOT CONCERNED ABOUT THE PACK LINE
Virginia’s Pack Line defense has received plenty of press both this season and leading up to the game but neither Donovan nor Florida’s players are worried about taking on the nation’s second-ranked defensive team.
“We’ve seen tape and there’s been teams that have played defense like that. You never know until you’re out there exactly how it is,” Walker said, “but we think our offense, we have enough weapons and shooting and Patric [Young] on the inside where we can attack any defense if we play the right way and move the ball.”
Boynton shared a similar opinion. “This year we’ve seen pretty much every kind of defense we can. The type of offense we have and the type of players we have, I think we can adjust to any type of defense,” he added.
Not as cavalier (no pun intended) about the match-up was Donovan, who said that each team has seen versions of the other this season so UVA’s defense should not be anything foreign to UF.
“Like any defense, there is no solution defensively for every single thing on offense. Obviously one of the things that always helps on any offense is when teams can make shots,” he said. “With Virginia, they are an outstanding defensive team. They’ve done it against everybody all year long. Teams that have had success against them have been teams that maybe have been able to make some shots. They do a great job of providing a lot of help, being in a position to help.
“For us, our spacing, how we move the basketball, what we try to take advantage of, what we see as being open, making decisions will become very important. I don’t know if necessarily our offense or what we do offensively is an advantage going against their defense. [...] Although the styles may be somewhat contrasting, I don’t think it’s going to be taken by surprise – us or them – at some point during the time during the course of this lengthy season that we have not seen some similarities in each other’s systems.”
He did, however, admit that the teams have “contrasting styles” as the Gators want to “run and press and go up-and-down the floor on a regular basis” while the Cavaliers would prefer to run a half-court offense and get the best shot possible every time.
“Maybe one of the misconceptions with Virginia is that they don’t want to run at all. They’re an opportunistic running team when they have the opportunity to,” he said. “For us defensively, we’re out pressuring more and Virginia is probably in position where they’re taking away dribble-drives, paint touches, those kinds of things. You look at their scores, they’re playing in the mid-50s, a team that obviously defends very well and has held teams down all year wrong. Then there’s probably a team like ours that is looking to play in the mid-70s and 80s.”
Donovan is not concerned where the score is at the end of the day as he believes that Florida can be successful in any type of contest.
“Every game, you’re always trying to impose your will on the other team so to speak. Regardless of where the score is at, I think our basketball team has an opportunity to win regardless of where the game is being played at. And I do think that Virginia is capable of winning the game wherever the score is at,” he said. “Our team has got to be prepared to play whether it gets up-and-down a little bit or whether it gets caught in the half-court.”
ROSARIO ALSO PLANNING TO RETURN
“I love Florida and I just can’t wait to provide whatever I can for this program and stay a part of this team and do whatever I can to help us win a national championship,” he said.
Rosario has not done much for the Gators recently, missing three games in the month of February due to a hip pointer and scoring just 34 points over the remaining 10 contests. He hopes to improve both his health and his impact going forward.
“The injury has set me back, and the little things I could have done on the floor to help the team, I haven’t been able to do,” he said. “I was a little bit upset that I couldn’t go out there and perform to the best of my ability at the time. I’m just happy to be healthy.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Boynton on he and Walker being experienced in the tourney: “Our role here is basically to calm everybody down before the game, let them know it’s another game but to give it their all because if you lose now it’s the end of the season.”
» Walker on Florida setting the tone offensively: “We want to play our pace and keep the pace going fast, but we got to be prepared because they’re a good team and they may not turn it over. So we got to be prepared to play their style and grind it out if it comes to that.”
» Walker on how the season has gone: “I feel personally like we could have had a better season so far, but this is a new season. Our ceiling is still very high and we can continue to get better as we practice and follow Coach Donovan. Hopefully we can make this a long trip.”
» Donovan on possibly limiting Boynton and Walker’s freedom to shoot when they’re not making baskets: “My whole thing with our guards shooting is, when they are open they need to let it go. They have a responsibility to themselves and to their teammates to shoot the ball with confidence. I tell them all the time, ‘If you’re open and you’re about to go up and shoot and you’re not sure it’s going to go in, you’re better off not even taking the shot and passing it.’ I want them to have confidence when they’re shooting the basketball. My job as a coach is to try to get them to understand and see what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot. Generally guys are not going to shoot a high percentage when they take bad shots.”