Billy Donovan on Shipman, recruiting, coaching

By Adam Silverstein
April 7, 2010

From falling to the Brigham Young Cougars in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament and losing sophomore guard Ray Shipman to transfer to being a name rumored in two head coaching openings (St. Johns, Oregon) while recruiting players for his 2010 and 2011 classes, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has had plenty on his mind in recent weeks.

Speaking with the media Wednesday, Donovan appeared somewhat distraught at losing Shipman, a “great kid” who he empathizes with and would take back “in a heartbeat.”

Read what Donovan said about Shipman and the team’s future after the break!

“I have a total understanding of what any player goes through as it relates to playing time or role,” Donovan said. “And I think the reason I’m maybe more sensitive than most about it is because – 25 years ago – I was the same kid who walked into the coach’s office and asked to transfer, too.”

“If [Shipman] feels like, you know what, ‘I want to come back…’ I think sometimes that epiphany, when they come back, they actually get a lot better,” he added. “Ray is always welcome here. We’re working out our guys today at 3 and 4 [p.m.], and he’ll be out there in the groups. […] The only thing Ray Shipman wants – he wants more playing time. He wants a bigger role. It’s hard to get upset with somebody like that. If Ray ever wanted to come back, I would definitely welcome him back.”

One thing Donovan won’t do, however, is bring somebody back under false pretenses.

“He wants a bigger role, and as a coach, I’m not going to make promises to kids to keep them there if I can’t back up and follow up that kind of promise,” he said. “He has an opportunity like any guy on the court to earn that type of role.”

And that is the same reason Donovan stayed away from commenting on job openings with St. John’s and Oregon, two destinations that were rumored to be heavily pursing him through back channels.

“I think any of that stuff, a lot of time, it’s media-driven speculation,” Donovan said. “I’ve never – and will never – comment on that stuff because none of it was true. There was a lot going on with the St. John’s situation and it was amazing to me, my family and people back in New York [calling me] and I was like I have no idea about any of this stuff.”

Of course, Donovan’s relationship with the University of Florida’s administration and the Gainesville, FL, community would make it difficult for him to even consider leaving.

“I think here, the one thing that makes it unique, is the administration,” he said. “I’ve got a great relationship with Jeremy [Foley]. Although there’s been a couple of different presidents that have come through here, they’ve been extremely supportive and they’ve all been great people. I love Dr. [Bernie] Machen, and he is a terrific guy. I’ve always been very happy here. I like it here in the community, I like the administration. I like everything about it. So I’m very, very happy. And I also think your happiness has got to be created for yourself. I don’t think you can look for exterior things to try to create a level of happiness here. So for me, I’m excited. And looking forward to the future as it relates to jobs and things like that, a lot of time you’re just not going to comment every time something is thrown out there.”

With attention turned back to the 2010-11 season, Donovan poked some fun at those already questioning how far the team can go next year.

“You shifted pretty quickly. Three or four weeks ago it was, ‘Can you even get in [to the NCAA Tournament]? So now it’s, ‘Now can you make a deep run?’” he said. “You flipped it pretty quickly.”

Nevertheless, he realizes that his staff must concentrate on recruiting in order to build the much-needed depth that the Gators lacked this past season.

“We’ve been actively recruiting players all year long,” Donovan said. “I think it all depends on the fit and the need and is it someone we feel is going to be able to contribute over a period of time. I’ve never been a big believer in just jumping in and offering someone a scholarship just to give away a scholarship. […] There is no question we need to continue to add some depth into our backcourt. It could be one [guy], it could be two, it could be three. […] I think it all depends on the fit and the need and is it someone we feel is going to contribute?”

Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images


  1. SaraGator says:

    Billy looks thinner and tired. Hope he’s maintaining his health.

  2. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    This is really good insight as to a big reason Billy is such a good coach and recruiter…he’s been in their shoes and he relates….as far as Shipman I can imagine part of his frustration must have come from watching Werner continue to get PT

  3. gatorzone says:

    Does Shipman really want to sit out a whole year? Seems to be a good kid on and off the court that hasn’t reached the levels of success he expected to coming out of hs. Nobody including myself understands why he was losing minutes to Werner. Billy is not going to makes any promises but Shipman could progress if he works hard his JR and SR years to become the player we thought he was when he came to Gainesville. If Florida wants to win championships, this may be the exact guy we need to keep.

  4. Malikg says:

    I continue to be baffled at why people point to Werner’s play as having anything to do with Ray Shipman. Ray Shipman pretty exclusively played GUARD, while Dan Werner was a FORWARD, and a forward who played INSIDE a great deal of the time to boot!

    The only players who took time away from Ray Shipman were Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, and, at times, Chandler Parsons. Shipman simply didn’t do enough things positively to warrant more minutes. If he had or does come back and plays more, it will be because he improved himself in the offseason.

    The holes in his game seem fixable — being often lost on defense, shaky ballhandling, questionable shot selection.

    For the umpteenth time, Ray Shipman did not lose time to Dan Werner. The only players who could or should gripe about Werner were Parsons, Macklin, Tyus and Murphy. When he was on the court, one of THEM wasn’t. Period. Paragraph. End of comment.

  5. Agreed. I think where some draw the connection is that – in their opinion – instead of playing Werner, the Gators should have gone small with Walker, Boynton, Shipman, Parsons and Macklin (when Tyus needed rest) or Walker, Boynton, Shipman, Tyus, Macklin (when Parsons needed rest).

  6. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    When you play and someone is on the floor who quite frankly was playing horrible I don’t care what position they play that is going to bother you….and Adam is right you can change the line-up and go small if need be…anything beats watching turnovers and bricks…and watching 5 guys guard 4 guys every trip

  7. gatorzone says:

    Macklin( 25.3 mpg), Tyus(28.3mpg), and Murphy(9.1 mpg) only played either PF or C. There are only 80 minutes total leaving 17.2 possible minutes per game anyone else could have played PF or C. Since Werner played 27.7 mpg, Werner saw approximately 10.5 minutes at SF per game. Those minutes were independant of Chandler Parsons SF minutes, thus Shipman could have played SF without cutting into Parsons minutes. Ray averaged 12.4mpg, if you gave him 7 that would have gotten him up to 20 mpg and Werner down to 20 mpg.

    You could have played smaller and then Werner’s role would have been reduce mainly to support the bigs. Shipman also may have been more happy.

  8. FloridaMITCHELL says:

    I think the reason Billy played Werner so much is because he was a senior, he was a leader, and he’s always showed promise. Unfortunately, he never fulfilled that promise to the fullest extent. He’s a good guy and a solid player, but I can’t say I’m sad to see him go. Werner’s departure will open up significant playing time for dynamic freshman Patric Young, and hopefully vastly improved play from Erik Murphy entering his 2nd year. A frontcourt rotation of Young, Macklin, Tyus, Parsons, Murphy, Prather and hopefully Kadji would be VERY TOUGH to compete with for other SEC competitors. Also I was wondering, since backcourt depth may become an issue this season, does that mean Rod Tishman will receive more playing time?

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