3/12: Donovan, Gators discuss NCAA Tourney

By Adam Silverstein
March 12, 2012

With his team having lost four of their last five games as they head into the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan and a few of his players discussed the upcoming event in a scheduled media availability on Monday.


Listed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee as the No. 28 overall team in the field, the Gators were provided the “worst” seven seed and will take on the 10-seed Virginia Cavaliers on Friday at 2:10 p.m.

» Donovan on if he is pleased with the seeding: “Whenever a seed is handed out, I’ve always believed you kind of move on and move forward and you’re not going to change anything. The committee spends an enormous amount of time, they’re very diligent. I felt like going into it a five, maybe six, somewhere in that range. Compared up or matched up with everybody else in the field they gave us a seed that they thought was fair. I don’t have a problem with it. I’m fine. We’ve got to move on and play. […] For us right now it’s a one-game tournament. We’ve been given the opportunity to play Friday against Virginia and right now that’s the only thing that matters. If you’re fortunate enough to advance and move on, then you worry about the next opponent that comes.”

» Senior point guard Erving Walker on if he was nervous while watching the show: “It wasn’t too bad. We knew we made it – it’s a lot different sitting there on the bubble.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Recently profiled by Sports Illustrated, the Cavaliers’ Pack-Lane defense was pioneered by the father of current Virginia coach Tony Bennett and has been the primary method of UVA’s success this season. As SI notes, Virginia “plays at the 339th slowest pace in D-I because the Pack-Line is next-to-impossible to score on early in the shot clock. By limiting the number of possessions, Pack-Lining can fuel Cinderella runs but also produce aesthetic atrocities.” In 31 games this season, the Cavaliers have held 25 teams to fewer to 62 points (12 of those scored fewer than 50 and three posted fewer than 40).

» Donovan on the defense: “They do a terrific job defensively. They’re well-positioned. They do a great job holding teams down. They’ve done that all year long. Certainly they’ve played in a terrific conference, the ACC. They’ve faced some of the better teams in the country all year long. It will be a little bit different for us so to speak. We have played teams that maybe don’t necessarily do the exact same thing but there are teams that have similar philosophies, similar mindsets in terms of how they want to play defensively. There’s no question that’s obviously a real strength of their team is how well they do defend, the way they help each other, the pressure they apply on the ball, the way they try to eliminate and take away things at the basket. […] I think they’ve done it with their defense. They’re holding teams down. Any time you hold teams down like they do, you’re always going to be in the game and give yourself a chance to win. If you look at a lot of their games and a lot of their scores, they’re always very tight and very close.”

» Freshman guard Bradley Beal on how to attack a tough defense: “We’re going to try to push the tempo and get them out of their comfort zone, get them to play fast and play at our pace.”

» Junior forward Erik Murphy on some offensive philosophy: “We’re always trying to run. It’s what Coach Donovan preaches – trying to run and push the tempo offensively. I think we’ll try and do that.”


» Donovan on Boynton’s recent struggles: “I got great confidence in Kenny that when he’s open he should shoot the ball and take those shots. Like anything else, when the ball’s not going in the basket, you cannot be consumed with it. You’ve got to do other things.”

» Donovan on how Murphy impacts the team: “He stretches the defense. His shots a lot of times are coming from decisions. Erik is not a shot-creator for himself. He has gotten better at catching it, maybe shot-faking, putting the ball on the floor for a couple of dribbles and driving it to the basket. He’s done a little more of that as the season has gone on. He is a recipient of our backcourt players coming off of screens, him popping back. Or Patric’s rolling to the basket and he’s kind of rolling in behind him. He’s really a guy that relies on the floor being moved and spaced and our guards making decisions to find him when he’s open.“

» Donovan on if he is seeing improvements from Young: “I actually thought Patric did a pretty good job. He gave us a low-post presence. In the Alabama game he got great low post position, but he did not finish plays like he is normally capable of and he did not shoot the ball particularly well. In the Kentucky game he had some really good plays in the first half in and around the basket. He went to the basket really strong in the second half offensive rebounding-wise. Patric has been, I’d say the last two weeks, he’s been much better in terms of being more consistent and maybe moving on and trying to block out some of the things that have distracted him health-wise. I think he’s grown and matured. I’m hoping he can see that when he’s prepared really well in practice and he’s been really focused and worked to get better, there has definitely been a significant improvement once the game has come.”

» Donovan on if Young’s inconsistencies are normal for a player at his position and of his age: “The answer would be yes, somewhat. It’s always interesting to me, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find out this answer. There are certain guys that go from a role position the year before and jump into a starting role and can absorb it and handle it and there’s absolutely no transition. A perfect example for that would be Matt Bonner. Matt Bonner his freshman year didn’t really play a whole lot. Brent Wright goes down with an injury, he steps in and from that point forward he averages 15 points a game and was phenomenal. There was very little adjustment. Joakim Noah, there was very little adjustment. But then there have been other players where they kind of come out of a role from a year ago where it’s taken them some time to understand the consistency it takes and the everyday effort and focus it takes to be a key roleplayer and a starter and to be able to perform on a regular basis. As a frontcourt player, it’s not that surprising. I’ve seen Patric really make some great strides and grow from a year ago in terms of his consistency. But I do think, for him, that is part of the maturation process that he is going through. […] I’m always looking for if a guy has gotten better. I think Patric is a better player today than he was a year ago. If Patric was in that role last year and Vernon wasn’t here, there is no way he would have been able to handle what he’s handled this year.”

» Beal on playing in his first NCAA Tournament: “It’s real exciting. The SEC Tournament was just a glimpse of what the NCAA tournament is going to be like. […] I’m actually living a dream now, so I’m just really looking forward to it and I can’t wait until Friday.”

» Walker on why the NCAA Tournament is different: “The intensity of the game. Both teams are so focused and certain teams and players seem to play out of their mind in the NCAA Tournament.”

» Walker on how far the team can go: “We want to go as far as we can – Final Four or Championship – but it all starts with preparation and practice and just taking it one game at a time, focusing on Virginia first.”

» Murphy on if his confidence is up after the Kentucky game: “My confidence is always there. That’s not an issue. Shots fell against Kentucky and they may fall or they may not [in other games]. You just got to do everything else you can to help the team win.”[/EXPAND]

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