No. 16/18 Florida Gators 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 from his latest media availability in the following post.
COACHING, COMMON BOND UNITE DONOVAN AND FORMER ASSISTANTS
Though Donovan’s talented former assistants have been successful at Florida and been able to head coaching jobs, more than winning back-to-back National Championships unites him with Central Florida’s Donnie Jones, Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Arkansas’ John Pelphrey.
“Not to get too personal or morbid, but I lost a daughter. Anthony Grant lost a son. John Pelphrey lost a son. They’re all buried out on 43rd [Street] together. All their graves are right there together,” Donovan explained Tuesday. “So there are things that have happened over a 13-14-15-year period for the four of us that, no question, we will be ever interwoven in terms of relationships, things that have happened.”
Even with such a history with his assistants – and friends – Donovan does not see any issue competing with them on the court. “That’s the way it is. We’re all competitive, but there’s a fairness inside of competing,” he said. “Our kids are going to go out there and compete. [Jones is] going to prepare his team; I’m going to prepare my team. It’s not like he and I are half court beating each other up.”
EXPECTATIONS DON’T BOTHER DONOVAN, SHOULDN’T DISTRACT MEYER
Asked how it feels that successful men like himself and head football coach Urban Meyer can fall under such heavy criticsm even though they recently won national titles, Donovan explained that it is a part of the business they have chosen.
“We’re in a society that is kind of a microwave. Everybody wants instant, fast results. I don’t think anything worth building or worth lasting is built like that,” he said. “The one person, to me, that puts it all in perspective is Jeremy Foley. He understands that he’s trying to build a foundation. Whether you talk about IBM or some blue-chip stock company, no one ever stays on the top forever. There are peaks and valleys in our own personal lives. Everything just doesn’t go well all the time. That’s the thing that you realize. It happens. No one’s invincible. No one stays on top forever. The days of John Wooden winning 10-straight championships – that’s not happening anymore. There’s too many early departures, guys don’t stay around long enough.”
Donovan also empathizes with where fans and critics come from when they complain (and are perhaps even ungrateful) about team – and coach – performance. “It’s the passion for the University of Florida. People want to see everything at a very, very high level, and that’s understandable,” he said.
NO WAY YOU’RE GOING TO CALL HIM A “LIAR”
While discussing his decision to toss aside his NBA dream to remain at UF, Donovan was jubilant and jovial in explaining that there is no place he would rather be right now.
“One of the hardest parts in coaching is sometimes you don’t know where you’re going to be or what’s going to happen. I’m happy where I’m at, and if I was fortunate enough to stay here for another 15 years, I would really, really be happy with that,” he said. “I’m in a unique situation that the guy that hired me is still there and it’s still a great relationship.
“Sometimes when a coach comes out and says, ‘I’m never leaving,’ and they leave… ‘Liar!’ ‘Well I’m not sure, I’m going to keep my options open.’ ‘He’s not committed there! He’s thinking about…’ All I can say is I’m really happy here, happy with our team, happy with the administration, the people I work with. I am. I’m excited. And do say that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life here at Florida? Things change. God forbid something happens with Jeremy Foley or there’s a new president or there’s a change in administration or they don’t like the way we play. Things can all change in a very quick period of time in this kind of business.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
Donovan on facing Jones on Wednesday: “We do so many similar things that are the same both offensively and defensively. I’ve always said that it’s a little bit harder to go against a guy that’s worked with you and has done such a great job for us here at Florida. But I also think the game’s about the kids; those guys who get the ball are the ones who are going to be playing in between the lines and making plays.”
Donovan on Jones as a person and coach: “The one thing I’ve always respected about Donnie is there’s a lot of substance to him, there’s a lot of character there. […] He was always first-class, great level of character, great work ethic and made a huge impression on me.”
Donovan on advising Jones about UCF: “[Laughing] I don’t know if I said, ‘Don’t do it.’ He called me and we spoke. […] Donnie did a great job [at Marshall], but I think Donnie knowing the state of Florida, being here at the University of Florida, he had really talked to me about what an incredible opportunity [he had at Central Florida].”
Donovan on the team’s defensive effort against Florida State: “Coming out of that FAU game, we really needed some time to practice. We had a lot of games with one day to prepare. The balance of preparation, scouting, player-team development, there was some stuff missing there in terms of our development. We had three really, really good days of practice leading up to the Florida State game. Really, really good.”
Donovan on the Orlando Magic situation: “Anytime you go through life, you’re always going to look at different places you could have been or might have been. I just try to embrace where I’m at right now, but I think there’s a lot of steps in my life that I could probably look back and say, ‘Wow, this has kind of been a little bit unique and different the way it’s worked out.”
Donovan on if he would have handled the Magic situation differently: “The one thing is the speed and pace of which you had to make decisions. I probably should have taken more time myself. In the end it’s all probably worked out the best for everybody.”
Senior forward Chandler Parsons on playing at home in Orlando, FL: “I’m really excited. I think my grandparents bought over 70 and obviously a lot of my family and friends are from back home.”
Parsons on the team’s poor assist-to-turnover ratio: “We got to keep playing unselfish, stop turning the ball over. Everybody takes bad shots now and then, but we have to have the mindset to get the best available shot every possession.”