No. 12/12 Florida Gators (24-6, 13-3 SEC) 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 following his press availability Monday.
CUTTING DOWN THE NETS
Florida did not get the opportunity to cut down the nets at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, TN seeing as it was Senior Day for the Vanderbilt Commodores, but the team each received a piece of one Monday while also being sized for their Southeastern Conference Championship rings.
SEC BRACKET A NON-ISSUE
Placed in the “bottom” portion of the 2011 SEC Tournament bracket, UF will receive a bye and face either Tennessee [E5] or Arkansas [W4] in quarterfinals action; should they advance, they will likely face either Mississippi State [W2] or Vanderbilt [E3]. Asked about the difficulty of his team’s bracket, Donovan shrugged off the match-ups noting that they simply do not matter. “At this time of year, it doesn’t make a difference. There’s a lot of familiarity amongst [the conference],” he said. “Every game right now adds somewhat of a new life, new challenge for everybody. The regular season is over with, so everybody is basically starting fresh going into Atlanta.”
MO’ MONEY FOR BILLY D
The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway points out that Donovan will be awarded a $50,000 bonus for winning the conference championship, a $37,500 bonus for earning a berth in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and could have more money coming to him in the very near future. Outstanding bonuses he can achieve this season include $37,500 for reaching the Sweet 16, $25,000 on top of that for getting to the Final Four and an additional $150,000 if the Gators win the whole shebang. Should Florida finish in the Associated Press’s Top 10, he would grab $50,000 more.
KEEPING THE FOCUS ON WHAT’s IMPORTANT
Florida has already earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament, something the team has been unable to feel comfortable about over the prior three seasons. With that in mind, Donovan is confident his team will not overlook the upcoming SEC Tournament even though there is a bigger one in their future.
“You go in with an understanding that you can’t get to Saturday without taking care of Friday. We’re going to approach it the same way we always have done. These guys have done a pretty good job of competitively taking on what’s in front of them, and the SEC Tournament is in front of us right now,” he said.
“Winning has been important to these guys. When you win at a high level, it opens up a tremendous amount of doors for opportunity. We have been able to get better because there has been a focus on what we had to do to win and get better.”
DON’T FALL IN LOVE JUST YET…
Though Donovan is sure the team is focused and ready to prepare properly for the challenges in front of them, he continues to provide the same cautionary statement he has all season: “Don’t fall in love.”
“What I mean by that is: I love coaching these guys, they’re great. But the ebbs and flows of big win, tough loss, play great…we still have not conquered that, and that’s still a challenge,” Donovan said. “We’re not quite where we need to be, so I’m not willing to get over to that side. I do love them. I love coaching them. They need to understand that when you win like these guys have won, it becomes more difficult – it does not become easier. In a lot of ways, they’re in uncharted territory.”
Asked when he fell in love with the 2006 and 2007 national title teams, Donovan thought it through before responding. “I was a little bit leery, even the first year. I fell in love with their work ethic, unselfishness and unity as a team,” he said. “I didn’t feel that was ever going to be an issue because I saw how connected they all were. I was concerned about the lack of experience and going through what they were going through.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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