NCAA Tournament: Gators’ postgame thoughts

Shortly after the No. 2-seed Florida Gators completed a hard-fought 73-65 victory over the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins, a handful of players and head coach Billy Donovan participated in the postgame press conference. OGGOA has compiled some choice notes and quotes from the media availabilities.

LOCKER ROOM VIDEO

MR. BIG SHOT

Scoring 10 of Florida’s final 12 points including the last seven with 1:15 to go in the game, the only word to describe junior point guard Erving Walker on Saturday is “clutch.” However, Walker’s triumphant second half actually began with four minutes to go earlier when he drove into UCLA center Joshua Smith in an attempt to force his fifth foul but instead bounced off the 6’10” 323-pound freshman and hit an awe-inspiring bank shot to put UF up five. Though Donovan and his teammates were all pleased with his performance, not a single one of them were surprised by his heroics.

“Erv’s fearless. Anytime that guy shoots the ball, I think it’s going in,” senior forward Chandler Parsons said. “He’s got a knack for hitting big shots. This one [over Smith] definitely ranks up there. He was just trying to draw contact; it was a crazy shot and just went in. He’s been doing that for us all year long, so it really doesn’t surprise me because he’s a gutsy player who is willing and wants to take the last shot like that.”

Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin is similarly not fazed by his teammate’s accomplishments. “I’m not surprised no more. I’m like, ‘That’s just Erv,’” he said. “When he shoots it, I always get excited, because I know there’s a high probability it’s going in.”

Donovan also praised Walker’s evening. “He really played well. He was out of sorts a little bit in the first half,” he said. “He had a couple plays where he took a bad three and he had a drive that got blocked; both of those plays led to free throws and fouls for our frontcourt. I was pretty hard on him during the game and at halftime because I felt like he was going to need to step up. Not so much making shots but just… When he’s got his engine running and he’s got that fire and that passion, it changes the complexion of our team and opens up things for other guys on our team. He is a great competitor.

“When you’re that small, and you’re always having to fight for respect, he’s adopted that kind of thing that he knows he’s got to earn it. He’s got that mentality that he realizes he’s going to be evaluated and judged on winning and losing on a point guard and as a player. With his size, he really takes on those challenges.”

Equally complimentary of Walker was Bruins head coach Ben Howland. “He’s so quick. He’s very fast, athletic, and he’s very skilled. He can really shoot it. He’s a fearless little guy,” he said, before discussing Walker’s shot over Smith. “It was a big play. He just kind of bounced off him and hung in the air. That was a very big play.”

Walker took his two clutch shots in stride. “I tried to get past him and I thought he fouled me,” he said of his shot over Smith. “I felt a lot of contact so I tried to just get the ball up on the rim and I was expecting a call, but I didn’t get it and it luckily went in.” Walker also discussed his big three with 1:15 remaining. “We was having a little trouble getting the ball in bounds so Scottie threw it long to me. Malcom Lee went for the steal and I check just to make sure I had time to get the shot off. It was a good look and I felt that would have been a good shot for me to take. I was able to knock the shot down.”

TAKING BACK THE GLASS

Out-rebounded 20-10 in the first half, Donovan wanted to make sure the Gators made a conscious effort to reverse that disparity coming out of the break. That is exactly what they did, out-rebounding their opponent by the same margin to finish the games with each team grabbing 30 apiece.

“We just wanted to stop them from getting second-chance shots. They were really going hard on the offensive glass in the first half,” said senior F Alex Tyus, who brought down a career-high 13 rebounds in the contest. “We answered that in the second half. Alex did a great job on the glass,” Donovan said. “A big key in the game was both frontcourts were battling foul trouble back-and-forth. People can see why I made some of the comments about Smith the other day, because he’s certainly a load. He’s a terrific player, has great hands.”

Donovan also praised Tyus’s efforts. “When he’s playing active like that, even against front lines that are big and strong, he’s so athletic that when he plays with that kind of motor, he’s really a hard guy to block out,” he said.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Florida’s trip to the Sweet 16 is a huge step up from how they have finished the past three seasons. That being said, no one on the team is content with the multiple accomplishments the Gators have already obtained. “We’re not satisfied. We want to keep going,” Parsons said after the game. “We’re excited to see who we play, and we’re excited to get back to work tomorrow and keep taking it one game at a time.”

Freshmen Wilbekin and C Patric Young agreed. “I knew coming in we had a chance to go deep in the tournament with this team. That’s part of the reason I chose to come early, because I knew we had a great team, great starting five returning,” Wilbekin said. “We’re happy for this win but we can’t celebrate it too much. We have more games to go. We’re trying to get to the Final Four and win the championship.” Young shared a similar sentiment on the team’s goals. “You want to make it all the way. We all have our dreams of winning a national championship,” he said.

TWO OTHER BIG MOMENTS

In addition to Walker’s athletic bank shot and dynamic three-pointer, a number of other memorable plays were made down the stretch. Walker and Parsons discuss two game-changing plays they were involved in near the end of the game.

Walker on the trap turnover he and Wilbekin forced: “We were just trying to force the tempo the whole game and they did a good job handling our pressure. Scottie got him in a speed dribble when I came from behind and we got a huge turnover. I think that just changed the momentum for us.”

Parsons on his athletic block of the much-bigger Smith: “There were multiple plays in the game that were big, like Erving’s shot and different defensive stops we made. It was actually my fault on the block because I was late rotating there, so I just tried to get a hand on the ball. That guy’s really strong. It was just a big play.”

QUOTES

Donovan on UCLA as a quality opponent: “UCLA was as good as any team we’ve played all year long. […] We were as tested by them as any team we’ve played all year.”

Donovan on coaching Walker: “I love coaching him just because he’s highly competitive. When you’re dealing with a guy that’s highly competitive, you can always do things to get that competitiveness to come out. It is pretty remarkable what he has been able to do at his size. Six-seven years ago, when his high school coach called me about him, he visited our campus when he was a sophomore in high school and he’s telling me how good he is. I’m like, ‘Listen, you got to be kidding me. This guy is like 5’2”. He’s got no chance.’ Erving’s one of those guys that kind of bides his time during the game and I want to see his engine running a little bit earlier. What you saw the last six minutes of the game, I want that for 40 minutes when he’s out there. I’m always pulling and grabbing for more time to play like that.”

Donovan on how the team will be viewed after this win: “If we would have lost today, my dealing with them every single day would not change at all just because we made it to the Sweet 16. I understand how fragile winning and losing is in this tournament – and even during the year. It has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to see where these guys have gotten to at this point in time. Because we’ve won and gotten to the Sweet 16, people now want to talk about the interesting story of where these guys have come [from] to get to that point.”

Parsons on beating UCLA three-straight times: “Any game that has take place before our team is really irrelevant to us. It’s definitely exciting to beat a team of that caliber, because they’re very good.”

Parsons on the team having experience in close games: “Our schedule all year long has really prepared us for teams we’re going to face this late into March. Our freshmen have been great all year long just asking questions and being listeners. They understand their role perfectly and they’ve been providing us good minutes all year long.”

Walker on the team’s toughness: “We try to do everything in a total team effort. All five of our starters are basically averaging double figures, and if one person is down, we try to pick each other up. Coach does a good job of keeping us connected and all on the same page.”

Walker on if he has/had a nickname: “I had a couple, but we can just go with what Kenny [Boynton] said [Big Shot Erv], I like that one.”

Young on the team’s balance: “Any given night one of our guys can just go off and have whatever amount of points. If someone’s not having a good game [scoring], they can still affect the game in another way and help our team out.”

Murphy on Walker’s big shot ability: “I’ve seen him hit some ridiculous shots. The Georgia game? That was unbelievable. I inbounded him the ball on that play when he hit that three to send it to double overtime. He told me as I inbounded it to him, he told me he was going to hit it. He just makes crazy plays.”

Murphy on Walker: “He’s got that New York swagger to him.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Gators claw past Bruins 73-65 to reach Sweet 16

Fighting for a berth in the Sweet 16, the No. 2-seed Florida Gators had to deal with a familiar postseason foe in the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins. Utilizing a spectacularly clutch three-pointer by junior point guard Erving Walker as part of a 7-0 run over the final 1:15, the Gators (28-7) defeated the Bruins (23-11) 73-65 in the third round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL on Saturday.

Walker scored a team-high 21 points – on 5-of-8 shooting (3-for-5 from downtown) with eight free throws in 10 attempts – to give UF their third-straight victory over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and a 3-0 all-time record against the Bruins. The Gators improved to 20-1 on the season when leading at the half and 23-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points while reaching the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history.

Florida and UCLA each achieved four-point leads in the first half, which was filled with plenty of back-and-forth action including four ties and eight lead changes. The Bruins started with a 20-10 rebounding advantage (9-0 on the offensive glass), but the Gators outscored them 7-4 to close the half and took a 35-33 lead going into the break.

The give-and-take action continued in the second half with either the score being tied or Florida holding a slight advantage through most of the latter period. With the contest coming to a conclusion and 6:34 left to play, the Gators stepped up their efforts.

UF senior forward Chandler Parsons registered an athletic rejection on UCLA center Joshua Smith with the game tied at 55, an action that jump-started his team to a 6-0 run via a pair of threes from sophomores guard Kenny Boynton and F Erik Murphy.

Bruins F Tyler Honeycutt immediately cut the Gators’ lead in half with a big trey and Florida held on to their three-point advantage until Smith hit a layup to reduce UCLA’s deficit to one with 1:33 remaining in the game.

Back on offense, Gators redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin missed a layup; UF got the ball back and inbounded it near half court to Walker, who drained a triple from beyond the arc. With Florida up four and the clock ticking down, all UCLA could do is foul. Walker hit four free throws down the stretch and scored 10 of his team’s final 12 points to give the Gators a game-high eight-point lead, which also ended up as the margin of victory.

Florida utilized a total team effort to take down Los Angeles. Macklin finished the game with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and three boards (two offensive), and freshman C Patric Young posted eight points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks in reserve minutes behind him. Senior F Alex Tyus contributed eight points as well as a career- and team-high 13 rebounds, and Murphy scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting.

Walker and Boynton were responsible for all of the backcourt production, with Boynton scoring 12 points even though he was limited toward the end of the game after injuring his ankle coming down from a three-pointer. Parsons and Boynton each posted a team-high five assists with Parsons also adding seven points and five boards.

The Bruins saw four players score in double figures with Smith and F Reeves Nelson each contributing a team-high 16 points; Nelson also notched a team-high 11 rebounds. Honeycutt scored 13 and hit three of his six attempts from downtown, while G Malcom Lee added 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Though the differential was two-to-one in the first half, UF and UCLA each grabbed 30 rebounds. The Gators outshot the Bruins 50.0 percent to 41.8 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent to 23.1 percent from downtown. Florida was also faced with a 5-15 free throw disparity early but saw a 12-10 advantage in the second half.

UF will face the winner of BYU/Gonzaga (to be contested Saturday at 7:55 p.m.) in regional semifinals action on March 24. Additional information forthcoming.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2011 NCAA Tournament: (2) Florida vs. (7) UCLA

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Round of 32
Location: St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 20,500]
Time: 2:45 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online Video: —->
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (7) UCLA BRUINS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Ben Howland
Record: 27-7 Record: 23-10
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5; O/U 135

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second-straight and 16th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gators are 30-13 all-time in the event with two national titles, three championship game appearances and four Final Four appearances.
» UCLA is making its 44th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bruins are 99-46 all-time in the event and have the third-most wins behind North Carolina and Kentucky.
» UF’s No. 2 seed is their second-highest opening position in school history.
» Donovan is 23-8 all-time in the tournament including two national championships and three Final Four appearances. His .742 winning percentage at the Big Dance is fourth among active coaches and second all-time among SEC coaches. He is also the youngest active coach to win a national title (age 40 in 2006).
» Florida is 14-3 against the 2011 NCAA field and finished the regular season with the third outright SEC championship in school history (1989, 2007). The Gators have captured five overall SEC titles including four under Donovan (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011).
» The Gators and Bruins are meeting for just the third time in the history of the two programs. Florida is 2-0 in those match-ups, defeating UCLA in back-to-back seasons, first for the national championship in 2006 and then in the 2007 Final Four to eventually go on and win a second-straight title.
» Florida is 5-3 all-time in the St. Pete Times Forum (2-1 in the NCAA Tournament).
» UF is averaging a +14.3-point margin of victory in 23 tournament wins under Donovan.
» The Gators are 22-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» Florida has won 19 of their last 23 games (and 11 of their last 13) including 16 against RPI top 100 teams. The Gators have not lost back-to-back contests since Feb. 2010.
» UF is 10-3 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,412 points) and is one of only two active Division I players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals.
» Florida bests UCLA in in three of four major national statistical categories. The Gators lead the Bruins in points per game 71.5-70.0 (98th-137th), rebounding 37.5-37.3 (49th-61st) and field goal percentage .462-.456 (51st-74nd); however, UCLA dishes more assists 14.6-13.7 (57th-106th). UF also sports a superior defense, holding opponents fewer points per game 62.6-65.8 while they grab more steals 6.0-5.5 and force more turnovers 12.7-12.1. Florida ranks 10th in RPI (.6353) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to Los Angeles being 43rd (.5785) and 60th, respectively.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

Coming out of the Pac-10, No. 7-seed UCLA defeated No. 10-seed Michigan State 78-76 for the right to face Florida in the round of 32. The Bruins blew a 23-point lead by missing a ton of free throws towards the end of the game but were able to hold on for the victory. They finished second in their conference, just one game behind leader Arizona, with a 13-5 record. Prior to taking down MSU, the Bruins fell 76-59 to Oregon in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. UCLA is 2-2 vs. top 25 opponents, defeating BYU and Arizona but falling to Villanova and Kansas.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.5) while leading the Gators with 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.5 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.416) and three-point percentage (.387). Walker also leads Florida in both turnovers (81) and steals (38).
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but was struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is hitting 38.3 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 14.1 points per game and makes a team-high 81.7 percent of his free throws.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.8 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage and is the only starter who does not score in double digits. He averages just 8.6 points and 5.5 boards each game.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17.5 minutes per game. Wilbekin leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.8 boards.
» UCLA F Reeves Nelson…who leads his team in scoring (13.9 points) and rebounding (9.0 boards) average this season. Nelson also shoots a team-high 57.3 percent from the floor and is second on the team in turnovers with 81 on the year.
» Bruins F Tyler Honeycutt…who averages 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in a team-high 34.9 minutes.
» UCLA C Joshua Smith…who scores 10.7 points and grabs 6.3 boards as a true freshman for the Bruins. Standing 6’10” and weighing 323 lbs., he will be the largest player on the court Saturday.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NCAA Tournament: Florida’s postgame thoughts

Shortly after the No. 2-seed Florida Gators wiped the floor with the No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 79-51, a handful of players and head coach Billy Donovan participated in the postgame press conference OGGOA has compiled some of the choice notes and quotes from the media availability.

EXPLOSIVE FIRST HALF SETS TONE

Florida started hot out of the gate on Thursday, taking a 10-1 advantage in the first few minutes of the game and extending it from there. Donovan noted that it was the team’s pre-game preparation that helped them achieve their goal of winning their first contest and advancing. “We came out and we played well in the first half. We had a lot of balance,” he said. “Our offense was good, but we really did a good job defensively. [...] This is the first time where this is season-ending stuff right now. They came in very focused, and they learned some valuable lessons from the Kentucky game of what they needed to do better. Their focus coming in, and their preparation for the two-or-three days that we had leading into the game, was very good.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker and some of his teammates echoed Donovan’s sentiments. “This is a whole new season,” he said. “We wanted to come out focused, work hard and play hard. We did a good job of that tonight.” Sophomore point guard Kenny Boynton deflected the notion that the Gators were looking to make a statement. “We just came out and we wanted to focus on winning,” he said. We wanted to block out what everyone was saying. We just wanted to come out and play our best game overall – offensively and defensively.”

For senior forward Chandler Parsons, spreading the ball around (he had eight of the team’s 15 first-half assists) was the key. “It was definitely important to get off to a good start. My guards really found me and I was fortunate enough to knock down some shots early,” he said. “We just kept moving the ball great in the first half; I think we had 15 assists in the first half, which is really good. We just wanted to keep pushing the ball, play smart and limit silly turnovers and things that we can control. Just keep playing unselfish like we have been all season long.”

Boynton was also proud of how Florida performed overall to start the game. “This is definitely one of our best first halves. After the Kentucky game, we wanted to come out and start a game off with good team chemistry,” he said. “In the first half, we moved the ball well, we got good shots, we hit open guys. We worked inside-and-out. On defense we also did a great job making it tough for those guys to score.”

SHOOTING EFFICIENCY MARKEDLY IMPROVED

Less than a week after one of their worst shooting performances of the year, the Gators found their groove once again, shooting better than 70 percent from the floor most of the first half before tailing off around 58 percent to open the game and 54.7 percent overall. Walker was pleased with how the backcourt performed but recognized that Florida needs to do more than just shoot well. “It always feels good to hit shots, but like coach said, we’re focusing on defense,” he said. “We just want to take good shots; we know it’s not going to go in every night. But as long as we play good defense, we’ll stay in the game.”

Asked if the Gators can play this way against better competition, Parsons noted that it was Florida’s relentlessness that was actually the key. “We didn’t stop. Once we were playing well, hitting shots, playing unselfish, we just kept going. We didn’t let up. We didn’t let them come back in the game and we kept our foot on the gas,” he said. “That’s something we need to have, that killer instinct. When we get leads on teams, we can’t afford to let them come back. We’ve got to keep playing for 40 minutes.”

For Donovan, it was the shot selection of Walker and Boynton that really made the difference. “Erving, in the Kentucky game, really needed to understand that, with some of the length and size that he goes against, that there’s other things he can do to really affect the game,” he said. “Because he was scoring so heavily in the SEC Tournament, when we were struggling to score, he was trying to do too much offensively and not letting the game come to him. [Thursday] he scored but it didn’t look like he took very many shots. Kenny was patient and then all of a sudden there were a couple plays where the ball really moved quickly and next thing you know the ball ends up in his hands.”

QUOTES

Donovan on his team’s mindset moving forward: “These guys understand what’s at stake. They realize that, ‘OK, what happened today margin of victory – that’s not going to be the case the next game.’”

Donovan on if he was frustrated having not won a NCAA Tournament game since 2007: “The one thing that’s hard for me to absorb or take or create a level of peace is… I knew after those national championship teams that we were starting over. It has been very difficult. It has been very challenging. It has also been very rewarding being part of a group of guys and trying to help them understand what it takes to win at this level.”

Donovan on his team’s ball movement: “Our ball movement was very good, and I thought we had a stretch there where we really moved the ball at a very high level. We were pretty crisp with our passing and our ball movement and we found open people. Guys had their heads up, the vision was there, and we were able to utilize inside-out action and able to get some of our shooters open looks.”

Boynton on his defensive effort: “Coming into the game, my focus was to make [Orlando] Johnson take tough shots.”

Walker on finally winning a NCAA Tournament game: “This is huge just for us to come out and get the loss out of our brains. We just wanted to come out here and play hard and this should lead us into [UCLA].”

Parsons on finally winning a NCAA Tournament game: “It feels good. This is our first one. No one on our team has ever got one, so it definitely feels good to get one. We’re not satisfied. We don’t just want to come here and win one game. We want to make some noise. It feels good right now, we’re going to celebrate, but we can’t get too happy because we’re on a mission and we got another game here coming up Saturday.”

Parsons on the team’s defensive effort: “We did a really good job following the scouting report, knowing what they were going to run and their actions. KB and our guys did a good job on Johnson, not giving him easy looks.”

Parsons on if he knew he was within reach of a triple-double: “I saw it. People were talking about it close to the end of the game. It was more important for our guys to get rest than me to do something like that. They were definitely talking about it, but it really doesn’t matter to me. The win is much more important than anything I can do.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

(2) Florida Gators outclass (15) UCSB Gauchos 79-51 to open 2011 NCAA Tournament

In a day filled with buzzer-beaters and close calls, the No. 2-seed Florida Gators (27-7) strayed from the norm and smacked down the No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (18-14) 79-51 in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. with the win, Florida earned its first NCAA Tournament victory since defeating Ohio State for the 2007 national title.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons led the way for the Gators with 10 points, 10 assists and seven boards, while junior point guard Erving Walker was the team’s leading scorer posting 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-for-6 from downtown).

UCSB opened the game by winning the tip-off and hitting a free throw, but it was all Florida the rest of the way. The Gators started their dominance with a 10-0 run including a pair of treys from Parsons and soon after used a 17-2 run to jump ahead 35-13.

Florida took a 25-point lead a few minutes later and outshot Santa Barbara 58.1 percent to 27.3 percent in the first half. The Gators also out-rebounded the Gauchos 19-9 and stole the ball five more times (8-3) to force an extra handful of turnovers (5-10).

UF continued their onslaught after the break, jumping ahead a game-high 34 points midway through the second half. UCSB failed to make any headway in the latter portion of the game as Florida substituted most of their bench and held on for the victory.

Joining Parsons and Walker with impressive outings were sophomore guard Kenny Boynton (13 points) and senior F Alex Tyus (eight points, seven boards). Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin finished with 10 points, and freshman C Patric Young added six points and six rebounds (three offensive).

G/F Orlando Johnson led Santa Barbara with a game-high 21 points, and teammate F James Nunnally contributed 12 points.

The Gators finished the game shooting 54.7 percent from the floor while holding the Gauchos to 36.2 percent efficiency. UF was also 8-for-23 (34.8 percent) from beyond the arc and 13-for-17 from (76.5 percent) from the charity stripe.

Florida will move on to face the winner of No. 7-seed UCLA vs. No. 10-seed Michigan State in round of 32 action on Saturday in Tampa. The game’s start time and television carrier are yet to be determined but will be announced here when available.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2011 NCAA Tournament: (2) Florida vs. (15) UCSB

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Second Round
Location: St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 20,500]
Time: 6:50 p.m. (EST)

TV: TBS / TBS-HD
Online Video: —->
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (15) UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bob Williams
Record: 26-7 Record: 18-13
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -12.5; O/U 127.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second-straight and 16th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gators are 29-13 all-time in the event with two national titles, three championship game appearances and four Final Four appearances.
» UF’s No. 2 seed is their second-highest opening position in school history.
» Donovan is 22-8 all-time in the tournament including two national championships and three Final Four appearances. His .733 winning percentage at the Big Dance is fourth among active coaches and second all-time among SEC coaches. He is also the youngest active coach to win a national title (age 40 in 2006).
» Florida is 13-3 against the 2011 NCAA field and finished the regular season with the third outright SEC championship in school history (1989, 2007). The Gators have captured five overall SEC titles including four under Donovan (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011).
» The Gators and Gauchos are meeting for the first time. Florida will also be facing an opponent from the Big West conference for the first time in school history.
» Florida is 4-3 all-time in the St. Pete Times Forum (1-1 in the NCAA Tournament).
» UF is averaging a +13.7-point margin of victory in 22 tournament wins under Donovan.
» The Gators are 21-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» Florida has won 18 of their last 22 games (and 10 of their last 12) including 16 against RPI top 100 teams. The Gators have not lost back-to-back contests since Feb. 2010.
» UF is 10-3 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,402 points) and is one of only two active Division I players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals.
» Florida bests UC Santa Barbara in three of four major national statistical categories. The Gators lead the Gauchos in points per game 71.5-68.4 (98th-184th), rebounding 37.5-32.6 (49th-284th) and field goal percentage .462-.456 (51st-72nd); however, UCSB dishes more assists 14.5-13.7 (67th-106th). UF also sports a superior defense, forcing opponents to score fewer points per game 63.0-65.4. Florida ranks 10th in RPI (.6353) and seventh in strength of schedule nationally compared to Santa Barbara being 153rd (.5024) and 20th, respectively.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

Coming out of the Big West, No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara awaits Florida in the first round of the tournament. UCSB earned a berth by winning the 2011 Big West Tournament even though they finished the regular season tied for fourth place with an 8-8 league record. The Gauchos defeated Big West-leading Long Beach State in the title game after losing to them by a combined 33 points in two regular season contests. What UCSB does have going for them is guard/forward Orlando Johnson, the Big West’s leading scorer with an average of 21.1 points in 33.2 minutes.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.5) while leading the Gators with 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.4 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.411) and three-point percentage (.378). Walker also leads Florida in both turnovers (80) and steals (37).
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but was struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is hitting 37.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 14.31 points per game and makes a team-high 81.7 percent of his free throws.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.4 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage and is the only starter who does not score in double digits. He averages just 8.7 points and 5.5 boards each game.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17.5 minutes per game. Wilbekin leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.7 boards.
» UCSB G/F Orlando Johnson…who leads his team in scoring and rebounding by posting averages of 21.1 points and 6.3 boards per game. Johnson plays a team-high 33.2 minutes each contest and shoots 40.1 percent from downtown.
» Gauchos F James Nunnally…who is second to only Johnson on UCSB with averages of 16.4 points and 5.7 rebounds. Nunnally hits 82.9 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe and plays 32.9 minutes per game.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Billy Donovan’s pre-NCAA Tournament quotes

Prior to the 2011 NCAA Tournament getting underway, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan spoke with the media in Tampa, FL about a number of topics including his team’s mission, the most difficult part of the event and if it is tough not to look ahead. OGGOA has compiled some choice quotes from Wednesday, which you can find below:

On if his team is on a mission: “When you have a chance to go through different experiences throughout your college career, you hopefully learn from some of your experiences. […] Going into this year, they wanted to try to experience more than they did a year ago, and that can be said in our conference schedule, can be said in a conference tournament, and I think going into the NCAA Tournament.

“There’s not a team in this tournament that doesn’t want the feeling or the excitement of moving on and advancing, so I don’t know if their feeling is any different from any other player that’s in the tournament.”

On if too much is made of site location and traveling: “For Santa Barbara certainly traveling across the country, that’s always a difficult travel. When the game starts tomorrow night and the ball is thrown up, all that stuff will be out the window. The fact that we’re in the state of Florida will be thrown out the window because we’re going to have to go out and play. Although we’re in our own state, this is not an arena that we have played in. Maybe last year we played Syracuse here. But it’s not a place that we’re necessarily comfortable with or have played a lot of games here. It’s a new building for both teams. This time of year, with the excitement of the tournament and guys getting the opportunity to play in postseason play, when the ball goes up, you’re just going to have two teams playing and competing against each other.”

On if it is difficult for the team not to look ahead past UC Santa Barbara: “I really don’t think that’s going to be a problem for us. We have a group of players right now that have never, ever won an NCAA Tournament game on our team in a Florida Gator uniform. So we understand what a challenge Santa Barbara is going to be [Thursday].

“I don’t think those guys are even thinking about anything else but Santa Barbara right now. You know, we’ve had a lot to get prepared for because we’re playing against a team that we’re unfamiliar with, they’re unfamiliar with us. There’s a lot both coaching staffs have got to do to familiarize their teams with personnel and schemes, so I’m not really worried about that. Our guys are totally focused on playing [Thursday].”

On the most difficult part of his job coaching this team in the tournament: “This is different right now than any time in the year. We normally don’t have a media press conference. We normally don’t have an open locker room. We normally don’t have an open practice. There are things that go on that are totally different that your normal daily routine that you would have in your non-conference schedule and your conference schedule. The understanding of how to deal with and manage all that.

“But this is really a time of year that’s exciting. There’s a lot more national attention, so to speak, at this point in time than maybe there was before. It’s exciting. But as you mentioned, it also can be distracting and how your players can handle and manage that, I think, is very, very important.”

Tags: , ,

Florida players’ pre-NCAA Tournament quotes

Prior to the 2011 NCAA Tournament getting underway, the Florida Gators spoke with members of the media in Tampa, FL about a number of topics including their recent slow starts, opening game opponent, expectations and preparation. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important quotes over the last two days, which you can find below:

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin on Florida starting slow the last few games: “I think we’ve got to come out more aggressive, looking to attack and looking to pass the ball to each other, just play harder in the first half than we do the second half. We’re going to carry it over to the second half like we always do and play 40 minutes of basketball. We just got to be more aggressive going to the hole and making more plays and extra passes.”

Senior forward Chandler Parsons on the expectations of making a deep run: “I think the biggest thing with us, we can’t worry about expectations. In the beginning of the season, we were preseason Top 10 and people put all these expectations. It’s about what you make of that. As a 2 seed, I think we had a great year and I think we’re very deserving of a 2 seed. The thing is all a 2 seed gives you is just what you’ve done up until now. Basically whatever we’ve done until now is over with and it starts all over again Thursday. We’ve just got to go one game at a time and no matter if we’re a 2 seed or a 10 seed or a 14 seed, we’ve just got to play one game at a time. This is it. When we lose, our three careers are over. So we’ve just got to take it one game at a time.”

Macklin on Santa Barbara: “We know, like Coach [Billy] Donovan said, they have a shooting guard, a small forward that’s pretty aggressive and they know how to put the ball in the hole and win the tournament. In their tournament, their shooting guard averaged 28 points a game for three games and their small forward is putting up 17, and their center was at 12. So that’s an offensively aggressive team and they play great defense, also. We got to go in and play hard against those guys and play hard every single possession.”

Senior F Alex Tyus on having Donovan as a coach: “I think it’s a huge advantage, just knowing that we have a coach that has gotten to a championship game multiple times on this stage, we just really have to take his experience, take what he says and believe in him and follow him and help each other, and we’ll be okay.”

Parsons on losing meaning the end of his Gators career: “It’s huge. Being a senior, this is it for us. And it’s been a great run for us and we’ve had a blast. When we’re out there, we’re going to leave it all out there because we know if we lose a game, that’s it. So we don’t want to have that feeling we had in the locker room after the SEC Tournament against Kentucky. We want to finish our career as a winner. We’re just going to play extremely hard and keep executing our stuff and trying to defend really hard and just do all the things that Coach Donovan has been talking about all year and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”

Parsons on the four-year journey coming to an end: “I think it’s really special. Being a four-year player, I’ve experienced so much here. I’ve been through many ups and downs and it’s been a great season this year for all we’ve accomplished and all the close games and just the way we’ve all played and battled. Last year I felt like we got a taste of getting back to the NCAA Tournament, and I think that’s really helped us with all the close games we had this year, us being a mature and humble team to come back and that’s really helped us for the tournament run we’re going to make this year. We want to go out a winner.”

Parsons on not having won a NCAA Tournament game yet: “I think positively that we’re hungry. We want to win, we want to win big, and we want to go as far as we possibly can in this tournament. Like I said, last year going into double overtime of BYU, we got a taste of what it’s like and how hard you have to compete just to get a win. Because like I said, it came down to the last possession three times last year and we fell short. But I think it really gave us a good experience getting there, and we have a lot better understanding of it this year.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on preparation this season: “We’re much better prepared this year. We know what to expect this year. Last year we were so focused on being in the tournament that we got complacent. This year we’re forced more on us.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker on being more experienced: “That’s huge but that doesn’t necessarily automatically you’ll win games. But that should help us out – just being older and being through different situations and knowing what to expect.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 Page 147 of 215  « First  ... « 145  146  147  148  149 » ...  Last »