3/23: Florida’s Sweet 16 press conference quotes

Arriving in New Orleans, LA for their Sweet 16 match-up against the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan along with senior Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin met with the media to discuss a number of topics. OGGOA has compiled most of those quotes for you below (click the link below) with the rest coming in a post Thursday afternoon.

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Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

Overseas in Spain starting every game for C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 of the ACB, former Florida Gators two-time National Championship-winning point guard Taurean Green took some nearly 45 minutes out of his busy schedule to sit down with OGGOA for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview late Tuesday evening.

Green, one of the four members of the Oh Fours and an integral part to the team’s success from 2005-07, discussed at length his college career and continuing relationship with his Gators teammates and coaches. He also provided some insight into what the current team is going through during their 2011 NCAA Tournament run and how they can improve going forward and make the most out of their opportunity.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: With your father being a former NBA player and college coach as your adviser, what was it about Florida and Billy Donovan that had you winding up playing for the Gators out of high school?
TAUREAN GREEN: “Obviously Coach Donovan was a huge factor, the style of play, Coach [Anthony] Grant was a huge factor, too. It was just basically the style of play, how they get up-and-down [the court], and he’s a guard’s coach. I knew that he played for a great coach in Rick Pitino at Providence, and then he played some years in the NBA. Just from what everybody told me and from what I heard, he’s a guard’s coach and you’ll definitely get better [playing for him]. He’ll give you freedom out there but along with the freedom comes responsibility in running the team.”

AS: Your first year at Florida was obviously an adjustment as there were still a bunch of upperclassmen holding starting roles on the team. How was it walking into a team with established guys like David Lee, Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson already comfortable with each other and running the show?
TG: “That was good for me. Some guys can adapt – you see freshmen get thrown into the fire right away nowadays. I felt like I needed that year to go against Anthony Roberson and all those guys just to get my feet wet. At the same time, I knew that I was going to be getting better going against Peep every day in practice. They led the way, and we just tried to contribute in whatever way we could.”

AS: You won the SEC Tournament that season and were a No. 4-seed going into the NCAA Tournament. What was it like playing at such a big stage so early in your career?
TG: “It was fun! When I was at Florida, the main thing was we just lived in the moment. We took it game-by-game. We wanted to do stuff that no other team really had done at Florida. We knew that we had David, Matt and Anthony, and we just wanted to contribute in any way we could. The main thing was just going out and playing hard, doing whatever it took to win.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Taurean Green…after the break!
Continue Reading » Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

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Lineup choices may decide Florida-BYU game

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

In October 2005, the Villanova Wildcats received depressing news. Forward Curtis Sumpter, who had torn his ACL that April, had reinjured himself and would likely miss the entire upcoming season. At the time, head coach Jay Wright made the unconventional decision not to replace Sumpter with a forward; instead he decided to use a four-guard lineup as his team’s base set rather than just a change of pace.

Villanova began the year ranked No. 4, lost only three regular season games and advanced to the Elite Eight, losing to the eventual champion Florida Gators.

In a bit of a parallel, BYU Cougars head coach Dave Rose has also chosen to take a somewhat unconventional route to replace suspended sophomore F Brandon Davies. Blessed with a senior backcourt of all-time BYU steals leader Jackson Emery and All-American Jimmer Fredette, Rose has chosen to the duo play all 40 minutes while going with four guards and 6’8” F Noah Hartsock to round out the starting five.

The players who have seen their minutes increase the most in Davies’ absence have been the guards and wing players rather than the two taller players on the roster: 6’8” Stephen Rogers and 6’10” James Anderson. It’s interesting to compare the Cougars’ rotation and bench compared with their Sweet 16 opponent Gators, especially when you look at how the minutes have been distributed over the last seven games:

FLORIDA (minutes per game)
5’8” G Erving Walker (32.5) – 6’2” G Scottie Wilbekin (17.1)
6’2” G Kenny Boynton (32.5) – 6’6” G/F Casey Prather (6.7)
6’9” F Chandler Parsons (33.7) – 6’7” F Will Yeguete (7.1)
6’8” F Alex Tyus (24.4) – 6’9” F Erik Murphy (11.1)
6’10” C Vernon Macklin (24.3) – 6’9” F/C Patric Young (17.9)

BYU (minutes per game – season)
6’3” G Jackson Emery (32.5) – 6’0” G Nick Martineau (4.8)
6’2” G Jimmer Fredette (35.5) – 6’6” G/F Brock Zylstra (4.8)
6’6” G Kyle Collinsworth (25.4) – 6’6” F Logan Magnusson (11.4)
6’5” G/F Charles Abouo (20.7) – 6’8” F Stephen Rogers (10.0)
6’8” F Noah Hartsock (29.4) – 6’10” F/C James Anderson (7.8)

BYU (minutes per game – since suspension)
Fredette (38.7, + 3.2) – Emery (35.4, +2.9)
Hartsock (30.9, +1.4) – Collinsworth (30.1, +4.7)
Abouo (27.7, +7.0) – Magnusson (15.7, +4.3)
Rogers (8.3, -3.1) – Anderson (8.7, -0.9)
Zylstra (3.7, -1.1) -Martineau (1.5, -3.3)

The Sweet 16 match-up between the Cougars and Gators may come down to which team blinks first. Florida has three players that normally play double-figure minutes off the bench. Since Davies’ departure, BYU has only one that does so: Magnusson.

If the young men from Provo are able to maintain the top-10 national offensive efficiency and top-20 tempo going with the 6’5” Abouo and 6’6” Collinsworth, they may force UF head coach Billy Donovan to go with a smaller lineup. Conversely, if the comparatively huge front line of Florida (starters and reserves) are able to punish BYU’s smaller lineup, Rose may be have to play Rogers and Anderson more than he’d like.

The other question that immediately comes to mind is whether Emery and Fredette can continue to play effectively without being substituted. Considering their conditioning playing in high altitude, there should not be any doubt they can do so physically. No, the question is whether the 5’8” Walker and 6’2” Boynton can manage to cause any foul trouble for the BYU backcourt at all.

Fredette is notoriously uninterested in playing defense (managing, for example, to escape without being called for a single foul vs. Gonzaga), but Emery’s reputation as a defensive standout will at least be tested by the often unpredictable decisions of Walker in the lane and on the break.

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FOUR BITS: Black, Horford, Brewer, SEC b-ball

1 » Florida Gators safety Ahmad Black wishes Brian Billick was still a head coach in the NFL. Why? Because Billick, unlike some other scouts and coaches, understands exactly what Black can bring to the table at the next level. Writing a column for WNST AM1570, Billick had this to say about him:

Many NFL scouts and talent evaluator will tell you that Ahmad Black is undersized and doesn’t have elite speed or quickness. […] But what I will tell you, is that despite his lack of size and speed, Black always seems to be around the football. On the field, he plays faster than his 40-time suggests by playing smart and instinctive. You will rarely find him out of position in zone schemes and he reads WRs well in man coverage. […] He displays a smooth and fluid backpedal with an efficient transition into his break on the ball. He is a reliable tackler, but gets in trouble when he leaves his feet in an effort to make a lunging hit. While Ahmad Black may not be physically intimidating, he shows up on the field and makes big plays against the best of competition. […] Black may not be the most gifted athlete, but he is an exceptional football player.

2 » Two former Gators will be squaring off on the hardwood for the third time already in March as the Chicago Bulls travel south to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Atlanta forward/center Al Horford relishes the occasions he gets to take on former teammate and now Chicago center Joakim Noah, something Horford told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “It’s going to be a battle, but we’re looking forward to it,” he said. The paper also spoke to Hawks forward Marvin Williams, who said the team can tell that Horford is extra enthusiastic when he gets to face Noah.

3 » Former Florida F Corey Brewer made headlines after the NBA trade deadline came to a close. After being sent from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the New York Knicks, he was waived by the latter team and was quickly snatched up by the Dallas Mavericks as a defensive specialist who is athletic and can play significant minutes. However, as ESPN Dallas’ Jeff Caplan points out, Brewer has had some difficulties in his short tenure with the Mavericks. Caplan reports that Brewer has acquired 19 fouls in 62 minutes of game action (one per 3.26 minutes), much higher than his 2.5 fouls-per-game average with the Timberwolves. The likely reason? He is pressing as he tries to fit in to a new situation and do whatever he can to succeed.

“I felt good about [signing with Dallas], but at the same time I knew it was going to be tough,” Brewer told ESPN. “These guys were playing really good basketball before I got here, one of the best records in the league. I knew coach was comfortable with the guys he already has so I’m just trying to earn some minutes any way I can right now. […] I’m not discouraged. This is a different situation. These guys have been here. They’ve been playing well. I’m just trying to find my way and just trying to get in line, whatever I can do to help right now. I’m not trying to push the issue of ‘I want to play, I need to play.’”

4 » With the Sweet 16 of the 2011 NCAA Tournament finalized over the weekend, there has been plenty of talk about the Big East being overrated while the ACC has been somewhat disrespected – simply because of the number of teams who have advanced to this stage. Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive heard the rumblings and wanted to make sure his league was not overlooked either. Speaking with USA Today, Slive propped up the SEC’s accomplishments in the NCAAs. “For 22 straight years, we have had at least one of our teams make it to the Sweet 16,” noted Slive, “and for the sixth time in the last 10 years, we have had multiple teams in the Sweet 16. With two teams in the Sweet 16 again this year, the SEC’s success in basketball does not take a back seat to anyone.”

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, Fredette, Larson

1 » With Kyle Orton as a veteran “starter,” and Tim Tebow as a second-year up-and-comer and Brady Quinn as an emergency safety valve, the Denver Broncos will not be drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft…or will they? Denver has been taking a very close look at a number of athletic rookie QBs including Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick…even though they already have one in Tebow on their roster. Asked why they are paying so much attention to the position, Broncos president John Elway said the following to the Denver Post: “We’re always looking for that guy. We may already have the guy who can pull the trigger and win us a championship someday. We may have him. We don’t know. We believe in Tim, but he’s not there yet.” Elway and Denver are also taking a look at defensive tackle, a position they will likely end up drafting – or so Tebow should hope.

2 » Speaking with Chris Dortch for an article posted on NBA.com, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons praised the game of former Boston Celtics star F Larry Bird, someone who the writer brought up in conversation because of the way he impacted games as a facilitator. “Oh, I’m a big Larry Bird fan,” Parsons said of the player’s NBA spread. “I always thought Larry Bird played basketball the way it ought to be played.” Dortch put Parsons up against his “Bill Russell Test” to determine if he has the chance to be successful playing at the next level. He also spoke with NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake about Parsons. “One of his advantage is that he has a number of skills he does well,” Blake said. “He shoots the ball. He’s got size. He passes very well. He’s a rebounder. And he’s a hard worker and has a professional approach.”

3 » Though BYU Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette had his way with Florida in 2010 – especially in the two overtime periods – he is well-aware that the Gators are a much improved team this time around. “They’re just better because they’re more experienced and have played together for two years,” he told the Associated Press. “They won two games in the NCAA Tournament together as a team and they’re used to winning.” He also discussed how Florida might guard him. “I think they’re just going to be really tenacious…run at my ball screens hard, maybe double them and try to get the bal out of my hands,” Fredette said.

4 » Freshman F Cody Larson will be redshirting this season and has spent every game from the bench watching his teammates achieve great success. Donovan praised Larson’s contributions during a media availability at the beginning of March, but assistant Larry Shyatt expanded on those comments to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “He’s been terrific,” Shyatt said. “He’s helped our frontline get better this year. Great work ethic, improved offensively, inside and out. We’re excited he’s going to be eligible next season.” Though Larson himself says sitting is “tough,” he understands the reasoning. “I’m looking at it like I’m not going to play if I don’t get better,” he said. “I just need to keep improving.”

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3/21: Donovan on Boynton’s ankle, facing BYU

Two days after his team advanced to the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after defeating the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins 73-65, No. 2-seed Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss his team and its upcoming game against the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars on Thursday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the press conference.

SIGNS POINTING TO “GO” FOR BOYNTON

As sophomore guard Kenny Boynton laid on the court in agony Saturday with the game up for grabs, Florida’s chances of advancing looked to have suffered a setback. Just minutes later, Boynton returned from getting his sprained ankle taped up by the trainers and continued to play as UF took down UCLA. Immediately after the game, Donovan noted the Boynton had suffered a mild sprain and would likely miss practice this week but be good-to-go on Thursday against BYU. He reinforced that opinion on Monday.

“We fully expect him to play. He’s not going to do anything [Monday] in practice,” he said. “He definitely has some discomfort there, but I don’t feel like it’s a discomfort that will prevent him from playing. […] I’m still a little bit cautious of where he’s at because I haven’t seen him sprint, cut, change direction, do those kind of things. Kenny has had some ankle problems during his career. He has sprained that ankle quite a bit; he’s had to deal with it at different times during his career. I also think there’s probably a mental hurdle for him that he’s going to need to get over.”

Boynton, who is neither wearing a walking boot nor utilizing crutches, has already seen the swelling go down. Like in the 2010 match-up, he would have been tasked with defending Cougars star G Jimmer Fredette the majority of the time on Saturday. With a tender ankle, Boynton will probably have some help in that endeavor this time around.

“There’s going to be a lot of guys on [Fredette],” Donovan said. “Last year, because of our lack of depth, Boynton was having such a good offensive night he got worn out as we got into the first overtime, second overtime. I don’t think it can be one guy. Whoever’s going to be on him, they’re going to be on an island by themselves.”

That being said, Donovan does believe Boynton is the team’s best on-the-ball defender, comparing him to Corey Brewer and Justin Hamilton in terms of athleticism and ability to avoid screens. “What makes him good is he’s got great, great feet and he’s got great lateral movement. He can play close enough to people and keep people out of the lane,” he said. “He can really spread himself out, and athletically he can really move his feet. Because of his feet and his speed, he’s a guy that can get off and around screens.”

FIGURING OUT FREDETTE

Donovan had a chance to see Fredette last year, months before the hype machine surrounding him really got underway. Since then, he has been enthusiastic about what Fredette has been able to accomplish. “It’s pretty impressive what he has been able to do coming out of last year, taking his game and his team to a different level than they were a year ago,” he said. “I always have great admiration and respect when somebody can do what he did last year, have the publicity and exposure that he had last year, and then do it even better this year.”

Due to his experience coaching against Fredette, Donovan knows that there is no stopping him – but it is possible to contain him. “I really thought we did a pretty nice job defending Fredette last year. In regulation he had 23 points and then he exploded in the overtimes and ended up with 37,” he said. “If you look at the stat sheet, it was really the other players. They made 10 three-point shots in the game a year ago, and Fredette made three of them. There were other guys on that stat sheet that played well.”

That being said, Donovan also realizes that there is no underestimating or overlooking what Fredette brings to the table. “He’s going to make some very difficult shots,” he said. “Every game that he’s played, everybody’s trying to stop him, everybody’s trying to slow him down. He still averages 28 a game; he still does it regardless.”

TYUS THE UNSUNG HERO

With a career-high 13 rebounds on Saturday, senior forward Alex Tyus’s contributions against UCLA were certainly overlooked by the majority of fans and analysts. What Tyus was able to do throughout the game did not get past Donovan, who provided him with plenty of praise on Monday. “The one thing that got lost on the game that no one really talked about was Alex Tyus’s rebounding the last two minutes of the game – where we limited them to one shot and at least we closed the gap on the rebounding margin,” he said before discussing Tyus’s performance as a whole this season.

“I am really proud of him. People hear me talk about Chandler [Parsons], and there’s been a lot of talk about Chandler just because he was [SEC] Player of the Year and there was a lot more attention on Chandler and the way Chandler was playing the last eight games of the year. But I have an enormous amount of respect for Alex, just his attitude and the way he’s approached this year.

“He has been all about the team. He has been all about winning. The one thing we’ve tried to explain to Alex is, because of his athleticism, he can have an impact on the game regardless of if he gets the ball or doesn’t get the ball. His impact on the game was huge; we were getting killed on the backboard. We had 10 rebounds in the first half; Alex had six of them. And then he got seven in the second half.

Erving Walker’s points overshadowed really a big part [of the win]. Those plays kind of get lost. Alex has had a great year. His points may not be what they were, but he’s given up very similar to what [Joakim] Noah, [Al] Horford and Brewer have done for the betterment of our team. He could score more points, but I’m not so sure our team would be where it could be. I do have confidence that, on any given night, Alex could get 20 points. We do need his energy, we do need his rebounding, and we do need his defense. When he does that, it really adds a dimension to our frontcourt.”

QUOTES

On the game being a rematch from 2010: “We could play better than we played last year in the NCAA Tournament and still not beat these guys. […] For us to even think about last year, we have our hands filled just worrying about this BYU team this year. Because this year, they’re better than they were a year ago. We could play better than we did a year ago and still not beat this team.”

On whether or not Florida has improved as well: “We are better as a team, but that does not necessarily mean we are going to play better in the game. […] We’re a little bit of a deeper team than maybe we were a year ago.”

On BYU as a team: “They’re a better team than they were a year ago. Jimmer certainly gets a lot of publicity and a lot of exposure, but it’s really their whole team. He’s certainly a hard guy to defend and stop, but they’ve also got some other good players.”

On Walker controlling the game: “What Erving’s got to understand is, he can’t just think at the end of the game, ‘OK, I’m just going to go right now,’ because he’s got to make the right decision. He can’t allow his competitiveness put our team at a disadvantage.”

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TWO BITS: Boynton’s ankle, Tebow and Fredette

1 » Injuring his ankle after coming down awkwardly on a three-point attempt, Florida Gators sophomore guard Kenny Boynton is expected to be fine for Thursday’s Sweet 16 match-up with the BYU Cougars. “There’s a bit of swelling at this point,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We do not expect him to be in a position where he shouldn’t be able to play. [He] should be fine, should be ready to play.” Donovan also mentioned that Boynton may miss some practice this week while rehabbing the ankle and making sure it is strong enough to play starter’s minutes in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in New Orleans, LA. When Florida and BYU squared off just one year ago, Boynton posted a career-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting (5-of-10 from downtown). However, he fouled out with 3:57 remaining in the second overtime and the Cougars, fueled by star G Jimmer Fredette’s 37 points, went on to win 99-92.

2 » Speaking of Fredette, the comparisons drawn between him and former Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow over the past week have been plenty. Both team leaders who have strong convictions, the players have each received their share of praise and criticism. Asked about having a lot in common with Tebow last Wednesday, Fredette was pleased with the comparison. “I think Tim Tebow is a great guy, a great football player and a great leader,” he told The Denver Post. “I think that one of his greatest qualities is that he knows how to get his team to play the best [it] possibly can. That’s what I try to do, go out there and lead by example, try to say some things, try to get my team motivated to go out and play. He’s been a great story, similar in that people have doubted us throughout our careers. But one thing about both of us I think is that we’re very mentally tough. And we want to show these people that we can do these things, we can go out there and be successful at any level.”

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Florida vs. BYU start time set for Thursday

The No. 2-seed Florida Gators (28-7) will face the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars (32-4) in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 7:27 p.m., the NCAA announced Sunday evening. The game will air live on TBS with Gus Johnson doing play-by-play and Len Elmore providing color commentary.

Florida and BYU will square off in a rematch of the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars defeated the Gators 99-92 in double overtime with BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette scoring a game-high 37 points on 50 percent shooting. Florida, a No. 10-seed to their opponent’s No. 7-seed, had opportunities to win the game at the end of regulation and at the conclusion of the first overtime but failed on both occasions.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan will speak to the media on Monday as the team begins practice for the Sweet 16 contest in New Orleans, LA.

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